Thursday, 31 December 2009

Battery Point, An awesome bakery / cafe and Hobart CBD

IMG_3620 This morning I went for a walk through the streets of Battery Point and came across “Jackman & McRoss”, an excellent bakery / cafe located in Hampden Road just across from Waterloo Crescent.  They have lots of indoor seating and a small amount IMG_3617of outdoor seating out the front. 

I had a cafe style meal that consisted of scrambled eggs encased in Tasmanian Smoked Salmon on a brioche (Hmmm, maybe I wrong here) base.  It was excellent as was the Skinny Latte I had with it.  I’m slowly getting used to ordering Skinny Latte’s as opposed to Trim Latte’s, which are often met with a confused look in Australia.

IMG_3621 I then wandered through Princes Park that had what looked like a pretty cool kids play area.  Well, I thought it was cool anyway and noted that it had sand as its protective landing for kids.


IMG_3625From Princes Park I walked along the Esplanade (which didn’t have a lot going for it) to Salamanca Place and cooled down in Parliament Square and watched people on a trapeze setup for the New Years celebrations this evening.

IMG_3629Elizabeth Mall was one of the many places I ventured to in the CBD.  The shopping area felt quite relaxed although I found that some of the malls were a bit outdated.  There are however some beautiful character buildings located in the vicinity of the CBD.

I then met up with Jane and got some Garlic Mussels and a nice Bruny Island Cheese Platter from the Taste festival.  I also tried a “Two Metre Tall” Tasmanian Bitter Ale, that was not to my liking; I thought it actually tasted a bit like a dirty homebrew.  I followed this with a really nice Extra Zingy Ginger Beer from Gillespie’s Ginger Beer.

The temperature today kept creeping up higher and is apparently quite abnormal for Hobart; I noticed at one point it was 36.5˚ Celsius.  Thankfully it is looking cooler for tomorrow.

IMG_3627 IMG_3626

Hobart: Mt Wellington + Long Beach + The Taste Festival

We arrived back in Hobart on yet another beautiful day and the receptionist at our motel (St Ives) recommended it would be a great day to go up Mt Wellington, the huge mountain in Hobart.IMG_3601

It was a 20min drive from our motel to the Summit and the road was quite narrow at times.  Once at the top we were rewarded with magnificent slightly hazy views and a very rocky precipice.

IMG_3612 We then ventured along to Long Beach for a casual lunch at a bakery where we each had salads and cold ice-cream based drinks.  The beach area has a lovely promenade from where we saw some of the Sydney to Hobart yachts arriving.

IMG_3614The Taste Festival is an event run each year in Hobart and this was the next stop on our journey.  This is a Food, Wine & Beer festival with a variety of entertainment that runs for 7 days and nights with superb food and beverages.  Very enjoyable.

Madge Malloys, Coles Bay

IMG_3593This wife and husband run restaurant catches a significant amount of the fish themselves that they have on the menu.

Barb is very friendly and accommodating and makes you feel like you are part of the family as she rushes around but not getting flustered.

We started with the Oysters and the Seafood chowder.  The Oysters are freshly shucked upon ordering them which is nice.  The Seafood chowder was nice although it was a little disappointing to see it padded out with a pre-frozen seafood mix and a little too much potato in my opinion.

IMG_3595I then had the Wild Perch special which was beautifully presented, all-be-it with garnishing that was a little antiquated.  This unfortunately was far too strong on the ginger.  Jane had a lovely Trout that was very delicately flavoured.

For dessert I had a lovely Chocolate Mud cake and Jane had Cassata that she enjoyed although the almond was a little liquid.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Vineyards in the Cranbrook region of Tasmania

We stopped in at four vineyards on our round trip from Coles Bay via Bicheno, St Marys, Campbell Town.


IMG_3590Our first stop was Milton, which has its shop located in a a lovely old home on top of a hill with a lovely backdrop of vines located across a lake.

Having not tasted wines from this region before I tried a variety of different wines (other than the Rose I had tasted the day before) and was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed them all.  It is predominantly a cool-climate region, not too dissimilar to the Marlborough region in terms of flavours.  I tried the Riesling to start and enjoyed the zesty citrus characteristics, the Pinot Gris  had a lovely pear flavour and the Ice Riesling was light, packed with raison flavour and very drinkable. 

If we didn’t have the logistics challenges of getting wine back to New Zealand I would have purchased more from here than the Riesling and Ice Riesling I ended up buying.  This was my pick of the vineyards we visited in this region.

Spring Vale Wines

Whilst the wines here were appeared to be quite good, the tasting size was so small it was really hard to be able to assess the wines.  I left empty handed.

Craigie Knowe Vineyard

This was an enjoyable experience.  Finding the vineyard wasn’t the easiest with the signposts hard to see, then there was the driveway to navigate that was more equipped for a 4WD than our 2WD rental car.

The door on the shed had a sign on it saying “Honk for attention” but we didn’t need to do so as the elderly vintner saw us from the house, jumped in his Ute and headed down to meet us, with a half-full bottle of wine in hand.

After being asked what we were there for he then opened the shed and we were then surrounded by chemicals, barrels and packaging.  He then proceeded to get one of the dirty wine glasses down from hanging above the sink and filled it with his Bordeaux blend.   This tasted a little dusty, although maybe that was from the glass, as he proceeded to tell us about the region and Buttons his dog, which shortly after came to see us too.  I then had his only other wine, a Pinot Noir, and this was reasonable enough for me to buy a bottle, although I was probably buying it more for the entertainment value than anything.

Freycinet Vineyard

We decided to stop here because they had a sign out saying they sold Cherries. 

Whilst there it would have been rude not to taste their wines too, so I tried a few.

They had a good selection of wines and I particularly enjoyed their Pinot Noir although decided not to buy any and stick with the cherries.

Coles Bay round trip via Bicheno, St Marys, Campbell Town

IMG_3567 After breakfast in our apartment (and seeing a micro-lite fly overhead) we headed North along the coast and further up the Tasman Highway.  Our first stop was in Bicheno which is a lovely sea-side town where we saw the blowhole – although it was more of IMG_3572a squirt on a day with very little surf.

We then travelled further up the Tasman Highway and turned off to drive inland through Elephant Pass to the quiet town of St Marys.  This was a beautiful drive through the hills and with the windows down on the car we could smell the eucalyptus and hear the birds in the trees.  IMG_3575We contemplated stopping at  the Mt Elephant Pancakes shop just east of St Marys but decided it was a little early for lunch (approximately 11am), and  instead opted for an ice coffee at the Purple Possum Wholefoods and Cafe in St Marys that was excellent.  IMG_3581The staff running the shop were also very relaxed and friendly.

From St Marys we headed further inland on the Esk Highway and filled up the car in Avoca.  The service station consisted of really old petrol pumps and the owner came out and filled the car and had a chat.  He was very friendly and gave us directions on how to get back to Coles Bay which was via Campbell Town.IMG_3584

Campbell Town was bigger than we expected and an excellent stopping point for lunch at Cafe 100 where I had a decent sized burger and Jane had an excellent antipasto platter she thoroughly enjoyed.  This was the hottest part of the day and a dry 28˚ Celcius heat.

From Campbell Town we took the B34 which meant we were heading  towards the coast again and stopped off at Lake Leake (because we could).  The water here actually looked a little swampy but the area was very peaceful.

We eventually connected back with the Tasman Highway and stopped at four vineyards along the way back to Coles Bay; one of which there was a sign outside saying “Honk for attention” and the driveway was more apt for a 4WD.  We must have travelled 200-300km today but it was enjoyable.

The Edge Restaurant, Coles Bay, Tasmania

IMG_3563 For dinner we went to The Edge Restaurant at the Edge of the Bay Resort just North of the Coles Bay township in Tasmania.

We had some great tables for two up against the window that were a triangular shape (i.e. half a normal table). 

I had Trumpeter which I enjoyed and Jane had a Seafood & Saffron Linguine that consisted of well overcooked seafood.  I also enjoyed a Wizards Ale (I think that’s what it was called).  For dessert I had an excellent selection of Tasmanian Cheeses and Jane had a Rhubarb & Apple Crumble on a Shortbread Base with Vanilla Ice cream that she enjoyed although found the all-bran in the crumble a little disconcerting.

Milton Pinot Noir Rose 2009, Freycinet Coast, Tasmania

IMG_3560 I had to buy some local Freycinet Coast wines when given the opportunity in Coles Bay and one of these was Milton Vineyard’s Pinot Noir Rose 2009.

This wine is very pink and has a strong strawberry nose.  To taste I find that it is very easy drinking, but lacking a little body in the middle with medium longevity.  Some nice levels of acidity and quite nice to drink chilled on a hot day (like today!).

From Hobart to Coles Bay

We got a rental car in Hobart and headed up the East coast towards Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula along the Tasman Highway with the help of our trusty GPS.  It is worth noting though that once out of Hobart, that many of the smaller roads in towns up the East Coast were not covered by the TomTom maps.  This wasn’t a problem due to how few streets there are in some of these towns but does make the GPS a little less useful.

Spring_Beach_Along the way we stopped at Spring Beach which is just out of Orford which was a beautiful beach busy with families today.  Actually, on either side of the shot taken here it was a lot emptier on the beach.  The temperature at this point was about 24˚ Celcius and it was about 11am.

Spiky Bridge_3 Our next stop was about 10km south of Swansea at Spiky Bridge, a convict built construction.  One look at the bridge and it’s not hard to see where the name came from.  We were initially looking at heading down to the beach on the other side of the road but the temperature was getting a bit too warm.

Kates Berry Farm_Swansea_1We stopped a few kilometres up the road at Kate’s Berry Farm. Whilst the cakes and jams looked nice (and I think I saw some ice-cream too), there were literally only two punnets of raspberries and one punnet of strawberries to be seen and it appeared to be a tourist trap with a lovely building and outlook so we escaped.  There were lots of other tourists there on a bus that weren’t so lucky.

Nine_Mile Beach_Swansea_1

Nine Mile Beach just North of Swansea was our next stop along the way, and this beach had significantly more drift wood on the shore than Spiky Beach and did not appear to be as friendly for swimming at but was nice all the same.  It would however be nice if some of these beaches had some sun shelter.

IMG_3553Coles Bay (or to be more accurate Swanwick), our destination was basically at the end of Nine Mile Beach, however there is a little stretch of water at the end without a bridge which means that a 60km (or thereabouts) long drive is required to drive around the bay.  The view from our unit at Freycinet Beach Holiday Apartments is absolutely beautiful and it is lovely listening to the waves arriving on the shore.

For lunch we went to the Freycinet Bakery Cafe in Coles Bay and I had a Curried Scallop Pie which was okay (but the scallops, as expected in a pie, were overdone) and Jane had a Seafood chowder that she enjoyed.  I then went to the Bottle Store at the back of the local Bar and bought a couple of local wines to enjoy over the next couple of days.  We also bought a couple of other bits and pieces at the local store for breakfast and snacks and then returned to our apartment to find a Snake on the driveway.  Thankfully the snake moved and we were able to park the car but it was a little scary.  Unsure of the protocol re snakes, we have been reading a few little bits in some of our guidebooks but without the Internet readily on hand it’s a little hard. Apparently there are four Snake varieties in Tasmania and all are venomous so we are keeping our distance! It does look like he might live in our garden though.

Our first morning in Hobart

IMG_3514 I woke up early this morning and went out for a walk along the waterfront in Hobart.  It was a nice start to our trip away and a magnificently sunny day.

Hobart is so picturesque and has many buildings that have been there since the settlers arrived in the 1800’s looking for the next penal settlement after Sydney.   IMG_3528

Salamanca Place has a number of cafes, bars and shops and this morning when I ventured out many appeared to be just opening up around 7:30.  I can imagine that this area will be buzzing later and there will be lots of people lingering around.




I bought some supplies at the Salamanca Store and then found that there was free Wifi available in this area for up to 5MB download per day so quickly checked Twitter, posted a Twitpic and checked out some emails.Hobart_Latte_3

I then went back to our Hotel (Zero Davey) and Jane & I ventured out to breakfast at The Timeless Way.  We started with some excellent (build-your-own Latte’s) out the front, but it got a tad too chilly so we ventured out the back to a lovely atrium to eat the mediocre breakfast that was made up for the fact that the Waitress was friendly, the food arrived in a timely manner, and the aforementioned coffee.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Blitza Pizza, Birkenhead

We hadn’t been to Blitza for a while but decided to give it a go last night.  The restaurant was reasonably busy when we arrived and had a nice atmosphere.

We started with an excellent Garlic Pizza Bread and I followed this with a lovely Chicken Fettuccine and Jane had the Moussaka which was good as was it’s accompanying Greek salad.  The meals all arrived in a timely manner and were decent sized portions.

Jane also had an Espresso Martini which she thought was excellent.

The owner was friendly and the wait staff bubbly.  Whilst the service started off good it went downhill.  We must have waited about 30 minutes after finishing our meal before somebody finally cleared our table.  It was not that we were out of the way, but wait staff walked past several times on their way to other tables but we were unable to catch their eye.  It was then a further 10 minutes until we were asked if we wanted dessert, which we did.

I had a Lemon Meringue Cheesecake which wasn’t really me, and Jane had a Chocolate Brownie (which she described as being more like a 5mm thick chocolate goo) with icecream.  It tasted good but she wouldn’t call it a brownie.

Yeha! We're on holiday!

How does one spell a gargantuan exhalation expressing one's absolute delight at finally being on vacation I wonder? I know how it sounds. And I know how it feels. And I expect that you, dear reader, have been there yourself and know precisely what it is that I'm not even really attempting to describe because I know I'll never do it justice. Suffice to say - ahhhhh. Bliss. Joy. Delight.



I promised myself during my summer holdiay of 08/09 that I would NOT leave it until Christmas 09 before having my next break. I reneged on that I'm very sorry to say. But at this point, that is irrelevant.

Happy days.

I really have nothing for you. Just a gratuitous expression of my sheer and utter joy. Did you notice? :-)

Happy Holidays everyone! Whatever it is you may be celebrating, recognising, rejoicing in or otherwise, may it be pleasant, relaxing and refreshing.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Narita Japanese Restaurant, Glenfield

We had dinner at Narita Japanese Restaurant in Glenfield tonight for the first time.  The restaurant was busy and had a great buzz.

We ordered Edamame, the Meat Lovers Bento box and the Seafood Bento Box and all food arrived in a timely manner.  The wait staff were polite and efficient.

The portions were all of a significant size however I was not wowed by the Meat Lovers Bento box.  It was ok, but nothing special.  Jane found the Seafood Bento box more appealing although she did comment that if she was being critical that the Bento Box at Sakanaya is in fact better.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Satya South Indian Restaurant (Great North Road)

We had heard good reports about Satya and I had in particular been recommended this one in Great North Road so we decided to give it a go this evening and we would happily return.

The restaurant is situated in a slightly weird location but people definitely seem to be able to find it.  The decor is simple but with an Indian theme and silk draped across the ceiling.  Considering our table was originally for four people I expect they try and squash people in; it was a suitable size for two people.

We started with some thick Mango Lassis that were pretty good and for our entree Dahi Puri and Hypderabadi Lamb.  These were both very good and packed with flavour.

For our main we had Apollo Fish (Dry Curry), Mutter Paneer, Garlic Paratha and Cheese Paratha.  We enjoyed all of these dishes and in particular enjoyed having a dry curry for a change.

The service wasn’t friendly or attentive and the wait staff were all very casually dressed.  It is a very relaxed environment so don’t expect anything else.

The food is great and we will be back for it.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Burnt Spur Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006

I found this straw coloured Sauvignon Blanc has a herbaceous, passionfruit, light gooseberry, steely nose.   This resonates with the flavour however is accompanied by a citrus tone.

It is a full-bodied well balanced wine that is still quite zesty with a hint of sourness.  A medium length wine that is drinking well now, but I would not recommend keeping much longer.

A nice drop, that I was initially thinking lacks a wow factor.  I do however possibly feel that way about most Sauv Blancs, and this one does keep wanting me to drink some more and has enough going on to peak my interest.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

mini-Tweetup at The Falls

After the soggiest Friday we've seen in a while, Auckland turned on the weather all weekend - it seems a shame to go back to work tomorrow to be honest. We were fortunate to have a brunch planned with a bunch of Twitter-ites out at The Falls this morning, so could make the most of the sunshine and fresh summer air in their gorgeous outdoor area.

We've been meaning to head out to The Falls for quite a while now, and after this morning, we're looking forward to returning and thinking about who else we can introduce to this fabulous location, and wonderful hosts.

Simon had the vegetarian breakfast (with a side of Bratwurst!) - this was delicious by all accounts, and I absolutely love the way the avocado was presented (ooh, and the crusted mushrooms were scrumptious - I did steal a wee morsel!).

I had the corn beef hash cakes with poached egg and pesto hollandaise - which was really good. Coffees were great - long black for me, trim latte for Simon. And then we both had a chai latte later - which I always find a bit hit or miss - these were most definitely a hit!

Thanks Alan and team, we look forward to seeing you again soon.

PS: if you want to find any of those mentioned here on Twitter:
Me - nztebs
Simon - gianouts
Alan/The Falls - @thefallsnz