Thursday, January 31, 2013

Farm Gate Markets

January 20, 2013

On our Sunday morning in Hobart Michael snuck out early with the camera, binoculars and a thick coat to go bird-watching at sea. I wasn't sure how to amuse myself, as much of the city still observes this day of rest, but Liz knew the Farm Gate Markets would be worth a look. They're much smaller than the more famous Saturday Salamanca Market but I also found them more appealing. (I recognised quite a few stalls from the previous day's MONA market and here they were, much closer to town!) Stalls are focused very much on food: there are baked goods, juices, fruit and hot meals to eat on the spot; fresh produce, cheese and preserves for later; potted herbs and vegetables to grow yourself.

It's particularly worth noting that there are many vegan-friendly goods for sale, and even a couple of dedicated stalls.


Damn Vegan sells vegan convenience meals like bean chilli, potato curry and polenta squares, and they're very generous with their taste testing. I took home their gluten-free Lavender Cookie mix ($8) and gave it a go. They just needed some olive oil and water and baked into cute little shortbread cookies with a strong floral hit.


Liz wisely led me over to try Healthy Treats by Mrs Rees (note: they aren't all vegan). There were lots more generous samples - muesli squares, cookies, polenta-based crackers and two irresistible chocolate items - a chilli-warmed black bean cookie and chai-spiced chickpea brownie (~$4 each).


I also picked up a breakfast cookie, watermelon juice, bottle of elderflower cordial and half a kilo of the largest, sweetest cherries I've ever eaten. I couldn't fault the Farm Gate - I'd certainly choose it over the Salamanca and MONA markets for a repeat visit next year. It's doubtful that MOFO will rustle up a headliner as dear to me as David Byrne, but I think there'll be a next year regardless.

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Farm Gate Market
49 Melville St, Hobart
6234 5625
http://farmgatemarket.com.au/

Accessibility: The market is located in a carpark with a sloped entry, although the bitumen may be a little uneven in places. The paths between stalls are wide (though they may be crowded) and the vast majority of goods are placed on standard-height tables. I'm not aware of toilet access.

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This is where Michael & the camera were while I visited the markets...



David Byrne...

... & St Vincent. And a glorious brass band.
And choreography. And magic. 

Faux Mo.

Xiao Xia

Like a Rick Rolling stone



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dumpling World

January 19, 2013


On our last visit to Hobart, we stayed quite close to Dumpling World and hung out at the neighbouring Pilgrim Coffee a lot. We should have taken a closer look at the menu - Dumpling World clearly mark their plentiful veg*n and gluten-free items (although those with allergies may wish to exercise extra caution). Alas, we didn't inspect that menu, and it took a blog post on Appetite Affliction to alert us to our mistake.


Our mistake was not repeated this year - we made sure to stop by for an early dinner. While there are veg-friendly rolls, noodles, soups, rice and stir-fries on offer, we focused purely on the eponymous dumplings. Their skins were soft and fresh, though a little thick; their filling included finely minced vegetables, noodles and possibly tofu. Boiled (8 for $7) or pan fried (10 for $10), they were great.


It's a low-cost, no-frills experience that seems popular with the local students. The staff were courteous, the food arrived quickly and the surrounds were cheerful; Dumpling World was the best kind of cheap eat.
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Our visit was inspired by fellow veg*n blogger Appetite Affliction. Dumpling World also gets the nod from Rita's Bite and Too Many Pies.
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Dumpling World
cnr Liverpool & Argyle Sts, Hobart
6224 1830
veg dishes $1-10

Accessibility: I recall 1-2 steps down on entry and a moderately spacious interior. We ordered and paid at a low-ish counter, brought our own cutlery and condiments to the table, then food was delivered where we sat. We didn't visit the toilets.

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The MONA market

A straight shave

Graveyard Train

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pigeon Hole

January 18, 2013


One of our regrets from our last visit to Hobart was our failure to make it to the much-loved Pigeon Hole for brekkie. We rectified things this time around, hitting them up reasonably early on a Friday morning. Early or not, it was already heaving, and our plan to nab enough space to share with friends was soon defeated (by a slightly surly customer who had strict communal table boundaries). Cindy and I pushed on with brekkie anyway, figuring it was probably our last chance.

It's a cosy place, with the inside tables crammed in pretty tightly and big communal tables at the back and out the front. We were on the front table away from the temptation of the sweets cabinet - and the blackboard menu. Luckily, I didn't have much of a decision to make - I was always going to sample the beans after Carla's rave review from last year.


The non-vegan version comes out with a generous dusting of parmesan, but it's probably not that necessary - the beans themselves are loaded with flavours. They're smokey, spicy and rich - one of the tastiest and most well developed serves of baked beans that I've sampled (to be honest, if they weren't clearly marked 'vegetarian', I'd be a bit worried that they were cooked with something meaty). It's a pretty small serve, but at $9.90 that's hardly a problem. Besides, it was enough to fuel me up for the day at MONA ahead (especially with chocolate energy balls waiting for around the corner at Eumarrah).  

Cindy went for the lighter option: yoghurt, gluten-free crunch, cherries and agave syrup ($11.90).


We hit Hobart in the middle of a phenomenal cherry season, and these were no exception - fat and juicy and bursting with ripeness. The crunchy muesli was light and varied, and the yoghurt tangy. Another small but satisfactory brekkie. 

Pigeon Hole seemed like a real winner - the food we sampled was excellent, and there were a few other dishes on the small menu that sounded promising to me (although less so for Cindy - no pancakes/French toast/etc). Coffee was excellent as well, but it's probably not the smartest time of year to visit - everybody in town for MOFO was on the hunt for coffee/breakfast, so getting a table was almost impossible and the wait for takeaway coffees was ludicrous. It's not really fair to blame Pigeon Hole for their popularity - they're clearly popular because they run a tight business - but it didn't fill me with enthusiasm for revisiting again during MOFO next year. I'd love to go again on a quieter day when things felt a bit more relaxed - maybe we'll have to extend our stay in future to sneak a visit on a quiet day.

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Occasional Food Fairy has a nice piece about spending a few weeks working at Pigeon Hole. 

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Pigeon Hole
93 Goulburn Street, Hobart
03 6236 9306
veg brekkies $6.50 - $12.90
Facebook page

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway, but the interior is quite crowded (at least when it's busy). There's big communal table outside, but the menu is inside on the wall and payment happens at the counter in there. We didn't go to the toilets.
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Some new favourites from our return trip to MONA this year.









Benjamin Skepper looping cello and piano into gorgeous melodies and random noises

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ethos Eat Drink

January 17, 2013


From Hobart's Elizabeth St you can glimpse Ethos Eat Drink's cute courtyard through a passageway. Sometimes there's a menu on display, sometimes not. Last year we noticed the restaurant but didn't visit - the dinner menu looked expensive and not especially veg-friendly, and we couldn't attract any service at breakfast time. This year our local friend-in-the-know Liz offered to book us in for a banquet so we figured we'd give it a shot.


The Ethos ethos is all about minimising impact - they've fitted out a historic building with salvaged and recycled accoutrements and an energy-efficient kitchen; they concentrate on local consumables.


I particularly appreciated the substantive menu of non-alcoholic drinks, which included house-made lemonade, cola, ginger beer and other cordials ($4-5.50 per glass). The elderflower and lilly pilly drinks were both light, sweet and refreshing.


We got started with crusty bread, butter (for the non-vegans) and salt.


The olives and cornichons were cute and not too briny, though perhaps upstaged by the crunchy-fried chilli-salted chickpeas.


Tempura spring onions looked a little bedraggled and were hard to share, but the crunchy gluten-free batter won me over.


Of their three ways with zucchini, I most liked the caramelised (roasted?) one.


The green salad included more purslane, and a surprising dose of salt.


Us vegetarians were served haloumi, and we were compelled to share some of it with the envious omnivores across the table.


Beans came scattered with more salty hard cheese.


The sriracha-dressed gai lan might have been our favourite dish, so fragrant and spicy.


The vegetarian savoury dishes culminated in a perplexing mix of tender carrots in a tea-infused butter, scattered with nori and walnuts.


For dessert we shared blueberry sorbet, stewed rhubarb and fresh berries, covered in a silky, warmly spiced pepper leaf custard.


We had little sense of the meal's structure in advance but happily grazed for several hours. Staff were cheerful and very accommodating, planning a feast to suit a mixed group of omnivores, vegetarians and vegans plus an overstimulated baby. (There was plenty of room for the little one's pram, high-chair and other gear too.) I liked the atmosphere - it's a little fancy but not at all stuffy.


Though the level of expense and locovore sensibility are comparable to Garagistes, our Ethos experience was very different. It seemed a place to laugh and spill a little wine with friends, rather than guffaw over the modern art plated before you. Nevertheless, veg*ns and others with special dietary requirements are probably best off shelving the spontaneity, making a reservation and giving the kitchen their best chance to feed everyone well.
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Ethos Eat Drink
100 Elizabeth St, Hobart
6231 1165
veg banquet $65pp
http://ethoseatdrink.com/

Accessibility: Looks great to my eyes - flat all the way through with relatively spacious tables and full table service. There's a disability-access toilet (although it's towards the back and they've crammed a table too close to it) and all toilets are unisex.
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Sculpture at MONA FOMA wharf

The joyous Mahmoud Ahmed & co.

We were too old for Death Grips.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Garagistes II

April, 2015: Garagistes has closed down. 

January 16, 2013



After getting MOFO started with Los Coronas, Cindy and I snuck away before the opening night party really heated up to try our luck at Garagistes. We went early last year and still had an hour to wait (there are no bookings, naturally), so I wasn't feeling very optimistic when we wandered up at 7:40pm. But stunningly (as with Cumulus a few days earlier) we were seated immediately!

The recent fires in Tassie had affected quite a few of Garagistes suppliers, so the a la carte options from last year had been replaced with fairly inflexible 3- or 5-course set menus. We called ahead and were assured that they had a vegetarian version although after a quick chat with staff on the night, it was clear that they really weren't going to be able to cater for vegans (this may change as things return to normal though, so if you're a vegan feeling like a fancy meal I'd give them a call and double-check).

The fit-out hasn't changed since our last visit - it's the same trendy industrial interior, with exposed beams and big communal benches (I heard someone down the table whose friends weren't sure that it was finished). The staff were the perfect balance of friendly and unobtrusive, although things were a bit slow at the start during what was probably their busiest twenty minutes. Still, they sorted us out with wine and vego menus and left us to ponder. It was a pretty simple choice: 3 or 5 courses ($50 or $75), and naturally we embraced our holiday gluttony and went with the longer one.

Before the meal proper was underway we were served these little parmesan bites (with onion cream and dried sea lettuce) and some lovely bread with olive oil for dunking.


Dried sea lettuce is a cool-sounding ingredient, but it was too subtle for my tastebuds - lucky for me that parmesan and onion cream are so delicious.

The first real dish was the glazed heirloom carrots with burnt eggplant, hazelnuts and grains.


In presentation, this was very reminiscent of the carrot dish we has last time, although the actual flavours were pretty different. This was all about the smoky burnt eggplant, the few remnants of which I ended up scooping up with my fingers. Because I know how to behave in fine-dining establishments. Once again, the heirloom carrots were probably the savoury highlight of the meal.

Next up were the sugarsnap peas, yoghurt curd, lovage, sunrose and purslane.


This dish was on the meaty menu as well, and fits right into the Garagistes local/foraged ingredient philosophy - purslane apparently grows in backyards around Hobart. Weed or otherwise, it's a thick and surprisingly juicy succulent, which was actually really fun to eat. The peas were fresh and sweet, with a mild curd adding a bit depth and some texture coming from the crumbly parmesan-flavoured pastry shards scattered on top.

Our third course was Holy Goat 'la luna' cheese, toasted oat bread, honeycomb, dried leek and caraway seed. This felt weirdly like a course that should sit between sweets and savouries - the transition course that prepares you for dessert. Instead, it came out before the main course.


Regardless, it was outstanding - the cheese in particular was to die for (we shall be purchasing some for our own enjoyment in the not-too-distant future). Salty cheese and sweet, delicious honey are a superb combo, and the slivers of oat bread and dried leeks were nice additions. 

Next came our heartiest dish: oyster mushrooms a la plancha, slow cooked duck eggs, potato mousse and dried olives.


This. Was. Rich. Two incredibly gooey duck eggs, thick potato mousse and some chewy mushrooms and olive crumbs. The duck eggs were a bit much - I'd have happily settled for one and some more mushrooms in place of the second (although to be honest, I did end up eating Cindy's second, so they can't have been that bad). 

After a little break to let everything settle, our dessert came out - we tried to engineer a dessert swap where one of us got the blueberry dish that came with the three-course menu and the other got the regulation option, but Garagistes didn't want to play along so we both got the same dish: cherries, raspberries, fenugreek cream, red currant granita and frozen sable (which is basically shortbread).


The frozen shaved shortbread was fascinating - you could barely touch it before it crumbled away to nothing, but it still somehow provided some shortbready goodness. The berries and granita hidden away under there were excellent as well - light, fresh and tangy. A refreshing end to a pretty impressive meal. 

We were very happy to have another shot at Garagistes - this was probably a more impressive experience than last time (partly because we didn't have to rush off to a gig and skip dessert). It's a shame that they're not really catering for vegans anymore, and the five course vego degustation wasn't balanced as well as it might have been, but the food is still great, the service excellent and the atmosphere top notch. It's definitely worth a stop on any Hobart food tour.

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Read about our last visit to Garagistes here (and catch up on Carla's post from the same meal at easy as (vegan) pie). Since then The Airloom, The Gourmet Goddess, Lucy in the Larder, Paw Paw Food and Fika & Kuidaore have loved it, while Hold the Peas were a bit less impressed.

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Garagistes
103 Murray Street, Hobart
(03) 6231 0558
veg snacks $3.50, dishes $14-$19
http://www.garagistes.com.au/

Accessibility: Pretty good - there's a flat entryway and the interior is relatively spacious. Bathrooms are accessible and ordering and payment all happens at the table. Most of the tables are a bit higher than usual, but the one nearest the door is regular height.