Candy Abalone and Saltbush Vodka: Meet the Makers Behind Some of Tasmania's Most Unusual Flavours
Say hello to the farmers, anglers and distillers behind the likes of Australia's original truffle farm and a small-batch potato vodka business.
September 19, 2022
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Tasmania's food scene is filled with incredible tasting experiences centred around local and seasonal ingredients. If you're the kind of traveller who seeks wild flavours that stray from the norm, the island offers a remarkable collection of makers specialising in unique creations made with the very best produce.
No matter which corner of Tasmania you decide to explore, you'll find inventive producers carving out their culinary niche. We've partnered with Tourism Tasmania to highlight the region's most imaginative farmers, fishers and distillers, ranging from Australia's original truffle farmers to small-batch potato vodka pioneers. Let's dig in.
DISCOVER EDIBLE UNDERGROUND MUSHROOMS
It's not every day you stumble across a disused 19th century railway tunnel and find incredible gourmet cuisine inside — but that's precisely what visitors discover when they journey to Tunnel Hill Mushrooms in the charming community of Mount Rumney on Hobart's outskirts.
With the perfect conditions inside the dark, dank tunnel for growing tasty mushies, this excellent operation specialises in winter strains of oyster mushrooms. Therein you'll find the white, grey and tan oyster varieties alongside shiitake. Head along for a tour of the tunnels to explore this underground farming practice — bookings are essential.
TAKE A SALT SOMMELIER TOUR
All good foodies worth their salt (bad pun intended) can appreciate the difference between cheapo table salt and the premium flakes you find in specialty stores. You can deepen your appreciation further with the Salt Sommelier Tour — an exploration into how Tasmania's nutrient-rich waters deliver a superior flavour and texture from one of Australia's finest salt producers, Tasmanian Sea Salt.
Throughout this in-depth journey into the world of salt, you'll roam the saltworks to see how this celebrated maker combines age-old techniques alongside clean energy to harvest its pure product. Along the way, you'll be served locally produced small bites topped with a sprinkling of the good stuff.
EXPLORE LAVENDER AND OLIVE PLANTATIONS
Set on 52 stunning acres in the Huon Valley, Campo de Flori (pictured above) is a destination loaded with indulgent experiences. The property is renowned for its lavender, saffron and olive plantations, all of which you're welcome to explore up close with a guided tour from owners David Peck and Lisa Britzman.
If you consider yourself an olive connoisseur you can test out the farm's goods via a tasting and learning experience that delves into each of the property's nine cultivars. You can also wander through rows of award-winning lavender on a walking tour which includes a sampling of Campo de Flori's farm-grown lavender tea and sparkling lavender lemonade.
LEARN THE SECRETS OF TASMANIAN ABALONE
Tasmania's brisk southern waters make it home to some of the world's best abalone. The expert crew at Candy Abalone use traditional Japanese drying techniques to produce the luxurious product which you can learn about in detail on an insightful hour-long tour of its impressive facilities.
First, you'll receive an overview of the drying and processing rooms before trekking down to the beach to see the oyster lease in action. Punctuated with views of Barilla Bay Oyster Farm and the Coal Valley, the tour concludes with a sampling of organic ginger beer and freshly shucked oysters.
HUNT FOR TRUFFLES
Over the years, truffle farming has exploded beyond the borders of Italy and France to eventually arrive on Australian shores. As the first kid on the block, The Truffle Farm in the central northern town of Deloraine launched the national industry by digging gorgeous black truffles out of the dirt in 1999. From there, a booming local movement in produce was born.
Join second-generation truffle farmer, Anna, and her chief truffle hunting hound, Doug, for a 75-minute experience that is paradise for truffle aficionados. A selection of tours and experiences will get you familiar with the trufferie, uncover black pearls hidden in the earth and, of course, you can feast on a farm-style lunch platter or gorgeous truffle pizza paired with local wine and beer.
SAMPLE SMALL-BATCH POTATO VODKA
Perched above Marion Bay, the Hellfire Bluff Distillery didn't start out producing vodka, but it sure has mastered it. With the first potato crop planted over 30 years ago, this place has long supplied Tasmanian supermarkets with a top-notch produce — yet rather than feeding the cows with cast-off spuds, an idea for a vodka distillery was conceived. True Tasmanian ingenuity!
Today, the distillery has attracted international acclaim for its small-batch, paddock-to-bottle tipples (it was recently awarded Australia's Best Varietal Vodka at the World Vodka Awards in 2022), and also produces gin, coffee liqueur and limoncello — among other drops. With the distillery door open seven days a week, those cruising Tassie's Turrakuna/Tasman Peninsula with a yen for brilliant spirits can't miss a stop at the farm.
SAVOUR WASABI CHEESE
Ashgrove Cheese has made exceptional dairy products for over two decades. Set between Launceston and Devonport, the sprawling farm's free-roaming cows produce everything from cheddar and havarti to gloucester and feta. However, no visit is complete without a sample of Ashgrove's extra sharp wasabi cheese.
Using Tasmanian-grown wasabi to add delicate but zesty heat, it's perfect on an adventurous cheese platter or melted into a steak. Head to Elizabeth Town in northern Tasmania to enjoy a pasture-to-plate menu across breakfast and lunch. There's even a fancy 'high cheese' selection served with tea, coffee and sparkling wine. Who's hungry?
Ready to plan a trip for your tastebuds around Tasmania? To discover more, visit the website.
Top image: Samuel Shelley
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