Cosy up by Tasmania’s best fireplaces, eat a degustation dinner served on the edge of the world and forage for black truffles on a farm with dogs. Delicious adventures await.
Eat at the buzziest restaurants
In a city crammed with top-notch eateries, everyone is talking about Peppina, the atmospheric trattoria that recently opened inside Hobart’s The Tasman hotel. Much of the cucina povera comfort food here was inspired by chef Massimo Mele’s beloved Nonna Giuseppina – her house-made paccheri loaded with slow-cooked beef shin and pork belly ragu is the stuff winter dinner dreams are made of. Next door, hip cocktail bar Mary Mary will mix you a bespoke digestivo.
Set in an old flour mill at the mouth of Cataract Gorge, Stillwater dominates the Launceston scene with a rotating menu that plates up the best local produce of every season. The food, such as fried wallaby “wings” served with tamarind and palm sugar, is always beautiful. One meal here is never enough so book a stay in one of the suites upstairs at Seven hotel. Wake up to a breakfast of fluffy scrambled eggs crowned with shaved black truffle and a Bloody Mary made with sheep whey vodka.
Taste the wild
Huon Valley-based chef and author of cookbook How Wild Things Are Analiese Gregory criss-crosses the state to fish, forage and find the best produce of every season. “Tasmanian seafood is at its best in winter,” she says. “Something about the coldness of the ocean gives it a real sweetness.” Taste it for yourself as you learn to shuck creamy Pacific oysters and mineral-rich native angasi oysters at Blue Lagoon Oysters in Boomer Bay east of Hobart. On the north-east coast, watch cooking demonstrations and eat scallops served a dozen ways at Bridport’s Tassie Scallop Fiesta on July 31.
Join an Eat The Wild tour guided by chef Josh Phillips to explore vineyards along the fringes of the scenic Coal River Valley. You’ll be greeted by the owners (and their friendly dogs) at each stop and while they lead a personalised tasting of wines, Phillips transforms his van into a mobile kitchen, cooking up matching dishes that focus on what’s good this season. Crayfish or Cape Grim beef and creamy pink-eye mash sounds good whatever you match it with, right?
Take a shot in the dark
You’ll feel your senses snap to attention as a blindfold lowers over your eyes for a unique tasting experience in the hillside cellar at Brady’s Lookout Cider in the Tamar Valley. Taste heightened by the dark, you’ll detect complex nuances in ciders crafted from 85 varieties of heritage apples. Listen for the unmistakable sound of a cork bursting from a bottle of Tasmanian methode traditionelle and taste the "glow" of rosė cider spiked with cherry liqueur. Each variety of bottle-conditioned cider comes matched with a handmade local chocolate.
Learn to cook with soul
The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in New Norfolk helped kickstart Australia’s love affair with sustainable destination dining. The menu, which rotates by the week, hinges on what’s growing in the garden or comes from nearby farms and fishermen. The kitchen makes cheese, butchers meats, smokes, ferments and wood-fires ingredients on site. To see how produce is transformed for the plate, plan a trip for October 2022, when a new cooking school is set to open. Classes will be taught by some of Tasmania’s best cooks, including The Agrarian Kitchen’s owner and cookbook author, Rodney Dunn, and its head chef Stephen Peak.
Nestled amid the rolling hills of the Huon Valley, The Farmhouse Kitchen cooking school fuses nourishing local produce with time-honoured recipes from Puglia. In the Winter Warmers cooking masterclass on July 23 or August 20, cook Giuliana White will show you how hearty risotto and rich stews, including slow-cooked beef spezzatino, should be done.
Hunt for buried treasure
Crisp winter mornings are the best time to sniff out the distinctive earthy aroma of truffles and no truffle hunter on the island has more experience than Doug. Follow this beloved golden labrador on a hunt for the highly prized fungi at The Truffle Farm, a 40-minute drive west of Launceston. After unearthing your own, you can feast on fresh truffles and a lunch platter of local produce served with warming wines around a crackling fire.
Dine at Australia’s most remote restaurant
With just five sittings a year, only in winter and hidden on the windswept Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula, the Restaurant at the Edge of The World is Tasmania’s most exclusive diner. To reach it, guests have to tackle the four-day Three Capes Lodge Walk with the Tasmanian Walking Company, trekking by day and spending each evening in off-grid luxury at custom-built pavilions dotting the track. On the final evening, pure air blown up from Antarctica is an appropriate palate cleanser for a sumptuous six-course degustation, which chef Luke Burgess serves to the table at the clifftop Cape Pillar Lodge.
Have a romantic beach picnic
Escaping into nature doesn’t have to mean roughing it, especially when Pop-Up Picnic Bicheno can bring a touch of glam to the secluded white sand beaches that dot the east coast around Coles Bay, Swansea and St Helens. You hike in – they set up a wonderland of fairy lights, cushions and rugs under the moody skies. Snuggle under blankets with a hot water bottle as you dig into woodfired pizzas and a grazing board served with elegant pinot noir. When you’re done, there’s no packing up – simply leave everything where you found it and hike off on your next adventure.
Cosy up to Tasmania’s best fireplaces
Any adventure improves when it’s recounted over hearty food next to a roaring fire, and fortunately this is a Tasmanian specialty. At Peacock & Jones on Hobart’s waterfront, sit by the eye-catching suspended fireplace while perusing a menu of dishes such as French onion soufflé packed with local gruyère or an indulgent bombe Alaska given extra zing with yuzu and foraged lemon verbena.
On the Lyell Highway south of Lake St Clair, the expansive Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel augments its alpine aesthetic with an impressive open fireplace. The kitchen’s menu of pub classics adds an element of surprise with authentic Sri Lankan curries.
If you’re staying in Launceston, the short drive south to Evandale ends in a warm welcome at the heritage-listed Clarendon Arms. You’ve got multiple indoor fireplaces to choose from as you sample local craft beers and ciders from one of seven rotating taps. Go on a Sunday and live music is served alongside traditional roast beef with all the trimmings.
Explore flavour under the stars
The still nights of winter make for peak stargazing conditions, when the skies are at their clearest and the Milky Way sits in the centre of the heavens. Low levels of light pollution mean you can enjoy the show from the peak of kunanyi / Mount Wellington right near Hobart. But stars glow even brighter above Spring Bay Mill, a sustainable arts space in Triabunna, just over an hour’s drive from the city. This is where the Dark Sky Dinner, part of the Beaker Street Festival, will set the table on August 12, 2022. As constellations chase each other across the sky, diners settle into a candlelit three-course meal while expert speakers reveal stories and the science behind the heavens above.