Your Gourmet Guide to Tasmania's Huon Valley

Port Cygnet Cannery

Bruny Island is to the east, where national parks and jet boats await you. The extraordinary dolomite network Hastings Caves and Cockle Creek is to the south. But take your cues from chef turned restaurant critic turned farmer (and star of SBS’ Gourmet Farmer) Matthew Evans, who has called Tasmania’s beautiful Huon Valley home since 2007.

An hour south of Hobart, his Fat Pig Farm is a showpiece for sustainable living. Home to Wessex Saddleback pigs, chickens, a beef herd, two dairy cows and a market garden and heritage orchard, it’s a place visitors can enjoy their own indelible taste of the Apple Isle with his set menu “feast” that features farm fresh produce, cooking classes and workshops. Here are his other favourite places in the Valley.

Matthew Evans

For the miche: Poolish & Co.

Poolish & Co Sourdough

“When Cygnet’s beloved sourdough bakery changed hands, the locals were aghast. A town of fewer than 2000 people, it boasts several cafés, two pubs, two servos and two supermarkets. They certainly weren’t used to having to travel for great bread. But its new incarnation, Poolish (26A Mary Street, Cygnet) – named for the thinner part of a sourdough mother – rocks the wood oven. The Danish pastries are good and the canelé amazing. But the real joy is in the miche, a classic French wholemeal sourdough that’s the size of a beach ball. Thankfully they sell it by the quarter, half and whole.”

For the farm feasts: Port Cygnet Cannery

Port Cygnet Cannery

“Don’t be fooled by the name – it’s no longer a place where they tin apples for the pie market. It’s had a multi-million-dollar conversion into a joyously open, light space that boasts a pizza oven at centrestage in the island kitchen. Port Cygnet Cannery is no ordinary beer barn, despite the size, the pizza and the ping pong tables. They grow their own vegetables and supply their own meat from their farm a few kilometres up the road. Come for thin-based pizza with a slow-risen dough and the requisite amount of ‘leoparding’ – the all-important light charring on the base. More to the point is the Cannery’s ability to hit the high notes on the plate with finesse. Time your visit to enjoy one of the ‘farm feasts’, including the incredible nine-course vegetarian dinner.”

For the pasta: Osteria @ PettySessions

“A long-time please-all café (3445 Huon Highway, Franklin; 03 6204 2706) has gained a strong Italian accent. It’s now a true osteria – like a more local, earthy trattoria – with an Italian chef doing great things with the humble flour and egg. Yes, the gnocchi is as light as a cumulus cloud. And the fish is fresh and cooked with love. But a perfect fettuccine with rabbit is more than a sum of its well-chosen parts. You could also do worse than order the chargrilled, Abruzzo-style lamb skewers, while the house-cured salumi is a cut above.”

For the cider: Willie Smith’s Apple Shed

Willie Smith's Apple Shed

“You come here for some of the best cider in the land. The one-time packing shed doubles as an apple museum and cidery. The best way to get the lay of the land is to order the paddle with four tastes, from approachable everyday ciders to those with layers of tannin and bracing acidity. If the French Blend is on, get that.”

For the atmosphere: Red Velvet Lounge

“Famed for its alternative culture in the 1990s and early 2000s, Cygnet rocks a good folk festival every January and is blessed to the max with musicians. Hear them live every Friday afternoon at this one-time shop turned legendary café, where the bistro food is as friendly as the service.”

For modern Turkish food: Cinnamon and Cherry

“The pretty former ship-building town of Franklin has a few gems, not least this little Turkish café on the main drag (3416 Huon Highway, Franklin; 0419 410 845). Let them choose the mezze for you – a selection of vine leaves and dips, perhaps scented with homegrown dried paprika.

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SEE ALSO: Delicious Reasons to Travel to Tasmania's Food Capital

Image credit: Addam Gibson (Port Cygnet Cannery); Alan Benson (Matthew Evans); Liam Neal (Willie Smith's Apple Farm).

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