Supplementing the hundred-plus food stalls accessed freely every day of the week-long Taste of Tasmania festival (except New Year’s Eve) is a culinary program. It brings together the best of Tasmania’s chefs, sommeliers and producers into a commercial kitchen outfitted by SMEG. This waterfront venue gives you a chance to experience the best of Tasmania, without having to forage it from stalls and then wrangle yourself somewhere to eat it.
Keen to know more about Tasmanian oysters, I booked into Of Sparkling and Sea ($65/head). Presented by the team from Ettie’s, a European-inspired wine bar, bottle shop and bistro in Hobart, the event promised bivalves from three different regions, each matched to a sparkling Tasmanian wine. With the Taste of Tasmania crew responsibly supplying us with hats and sunscreen (Hobart's sun was fierce), we were marshalled onto long waterfront tables adorned with shiny shell bowls. Seated with two Americans and a host of interstate visitors, the festival's global reach was immediately apparent.
With the pairings introduced by Alice Chugg, Ettie’s sommelier and a nominee for Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Young Sommelier of the Year award in 2017, we are quickly enjoying our first Melshell oyster, harvested in Dolphin Sands up near popular Coles Bay. They’re giant but enjoyable, clean-tasting, Pacific oysters. Chef Vladimir Panevin’s topping for them, a sesame emulsion with pickled samphire, is genius (and one I’ve never tasted before). While the dry, frothy Lake Barrington ‘Alexandra’ Sparkling does clean up the dressing’s creaminess, I’m not in love with Alain Rousseau's wine. (You might know this winemaker better as the head winemaker at Frogmore Creek Winery.)
By comparison, the Get Shucked oysters harvested on Bruny Island are much saltier. They’re treated to a rhubarb and pepperberry mignonette that’s interesting, but not exceptional. The sparkling wine on the other hand, a Bellebonne Vintage Rosé from Pipers River is a beauty (and the only one I'd buy to drink again)! There’s the classic strawberry plus some creamier notes coming from the age. It’s made by Jantz’s winemaker, Nat Fryer, who also makes gin under the Abel Gin Co. banner in her down-time.
Against the finely beaded Moores Hill Blanc de Blanc from the famous Tamar Valley region, we eat my favourite bivalve, a Blackman Bay oyster from Dunalley. The all-chardonnay sparkling has a fresh, crisp flavour with some underlying saltiness, while the oyster is tight and small, possessing a pure, almost sweet flavour. Frankly, it’s spoiled a bit by the cucumber and finger lime topping that has been applied way too liberally, masking the excellent oyster.
On our way to our next scallop pie, we stop on the Greener Grass where the festival has cleverly positioned a rotating selection of smaller stallholders, who might not have the resources to stay on for the full seven-day event. The family-orientated crowd of eaters are being entertained by a female contortionist on The Little Big Adventure Stage. Her tennis racquet antics and slightly ribald commentary, is funny enough to capture our attention for a little while.
Scallop Pie Side-Bar:
For our next scallop pie, we went a bit upmarket in the picturesque suburb of Battery Point.
If you’re looking for a Sydney-reference, it’s a bit like Balmain, just with more well-preserved, historic architecture butting right up to the curbs, which gives it plentiful English charm.
As if to illustrate the point, as we pulled up on an outside table at the popular Jackman & McRoss bakery, a horse and cart trotted by.
The picturesque bakery is housed in conjoined two-storey, red brick buildings that have a Victorian Italianate aesthetic. The commercial premises is on the lower floor, with the residence above.
Over here where the rich folk live, the object of our affections is called a Scallop & Wakame Pie ($8.80) but pricing seems pretty standard wherever you choose eat ‘em.
It feels a bit fancier, because it’s served on a plate with rocket and you're expected to use cutlery to eat it.
The Jackman and McRoss scallop pie definitely has the best pastry, but to my palate there’s too much going on in the middle, so you lose the flavour of both the scallops and the curry.
The House Relish ($0.90) is a poor match to this type of pie, so you can probably just skip it.
Jackman & McRoss
57-59 Hampden Road, Battery Point
Ph: (03) 6223 3186
Heading to Tasmania? Does My Bomb Look Big In This? has you covered...
The Taste of Tasmania: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4.
Breakfast (Hobart): Born in Brunswick, Dandy Lane, Room for a Pony & Macquarie St. Food Store.
Lunch (near Hobart): Willie Smith's Apple Shed & The Dunalley Store.
Dinner (Hobart): The Source, Franklin, Frank & Templo.
Beyond Hobart: Freycinet Marine Farm, Harvest Launceston & Mudbar Restaurant.