Eating Ourselves Stupid in The USA – Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

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New York was such an epic part of our trip that it would take me a million years to detail what we got up to over there and since this is essentially a blog about food I figured I would just include the most important part of our trip – the food.  I have taken it upon myself to just write solely about the most memorable food spots that we visited starting with Smorgasburg in Brooklyn…

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Smorgasburg: I had been following the mouth watering Instagram page of this outdoor food market for quite some time now. Suffice to say that Cairns is severely lacking in the outdoor food market department so anytime I see or hear about a food truck or food market I make a beeline straight for it. At the time of writing Smorgasburg is held outdoors every Saturday in Williamsburg and every Sunday at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5. I had planned for us to do the Brooklyn Bridge walk on our one and only Sunday in New York and then onward to Smorgasburg at Pier 5 on the waterfront to fill our bellies.

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The walk across the bridge only took us about 20 minutes and it gives you fantastic views of the city. Only problem is that it’s quite a popular pastime for tourists and New Yorkers alike so you can expect to spend the walk with literally hundreds of people which can get a little annoying because everyone is constantly stopping to get photos. Be careful of the bike riders going past because they aren’t going slow and some of them definitely aren’t friendly. Never mind that Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed, all MS cared about was that Jay Z had taken a photo on it and we spent a significant portion of our trip across attempting to recreate said photo.

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On the otherside in Brooklyn we found ourselves walking amongst beautiful old buildings and warehouses on our way to Smorgasburg. Brooklyn is clearly the more family friendly and affordable part of New York judging by the amount of young couples and families we saw going about their business and if you’re a Sex and The City fan then you would know that Miranda was horrified when she realised she had to move to Brooklyn to raise her family. Seemed like a pretty nice place to me!

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Back to the food – Smorgasburg kicks off every Sunday at 11am and we arrived there at about 11.45am. By that time a reasonable sized crowd had gathered so we lined up at the first stall that was selling Bao’s. A bao is kind of like a Chinese style pork bun if you haven’t had one before – you know those heavenly sweet buns filled with delicious pork and MSG? We ordered two share for US$9 – a Red Coconut Curry Chicken Bao with Peanuts, Cilantro, Fried Garlic and Shallots and a Braised Pork Belly Bao with Cucumber, Scallions, Hoisin Sauce and Jalapeno’s. Neither of them particularly floated my boat and they didn’t seem to be very fresh. The accolade for Best Bao still goes to the wondrous hidden gem Wonderbao in Melbourne IMO (if you’re in Melbourne it’s an absolute must!)

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Braised Pork Belly Bao with Cucumber, Scallions, Hoisin Sauce and Jalapeno’s (left) Red Coconut Curry Chicken Bao with Peanuts, Cilantro, Fried Garlic and Shallots (right)

Next up MS was chomping at the bit to get his chompers on his own bit of meat from popular stall Carnal. He had seen other big manly men wandering the markets with big bits of meat on the bone and needed one of his own so we joined the line for a Beef Short Rib with Bone Marrow, Ramps and Black Pepper for US$13.

Carnal feeding the hungry meat eaters

Carnal feeding the hungry meat eaters

Carnal was easily one of the most popular stalls out of the more than 100 at Smorgasburg that day so the wait was a little longer than anywhere else but by the end we were met with a freshly grilled and extremely juicy beef rib that MS sprinkled with a mixture of fried garlic and chicken skin. Yep you heard it here. That salty/fatty goodness.

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Beef Short Rib with Bone Marrow, Ramps and Black Pepper sprinkled with fried garlic and chicken skin (US$13)

Onward we wandered to the next stall – another one that I already had pegged from Instagram the Ramen Co. Stall for a Ramen Burger while MS stood off to the side in a state of bliss as he navigated his enormous piece of juicy meat on the bone. While waiting in line at the ramen burger place I chatted to a friendly Chinese guy who was originally from San Francisco but had moved to New York to start a job in IT. I told him that we were going to SF so he gave me a few tips on where to go to get good food over there – namely egg tarts. The Ramen Burger was essentially a bit of meat between two ‘burger’ patties that were made out of fried ramen noodles and Kewpie mayonnaise. It does sound kind of amazing but it was just so fatty that all I could taste was oil. It failed miserably against my very high expectations.

Ramen Burger

Ramen Burger

Whilst waiting for my ramen burger MS had gnawed the last remaining piece of meat of his rib and already cased the next stall he wanted to try – the Scotch Eggs stall so aptly named The Imperial Egg. Much to the delight of my London friend SS who is a connoisseur of Scotch Eggs (or so she says) this was to be my first ever Scotch Egg. Since it was MS’ baby he chose the Lamb Merguez Scotch Egg which was so expertly cooked that when they cut it open the golden yolk was still oozing and just perfect! They must have a technique after cooking hundreds if not thousands of scotch eggs and I can safely say they have it down pat. I will go as far to declare the Scotch Egg the best thing we ate at Smorgasburg that day. After that we were pretty much stuffed and knowing full well that I still had plans for us to go to a famous Brooklyn pizza joint for ‘afternoon tea’ we called it there – ok after we ate some Red Velvet Cupcakes.

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Amazing Lamb Merguez Scotch Eggs


Scotch Eggs cooked to perfection!

Scotch Eggs cooked to perfection!


A Red Velvet Cupcake to finish!

A Red Velvet Cupcake to finish!

So many food stalls, so little time but there were so many more that I wanted to try like the lobster rolls, the ice cream sandwich and all the other flavours of Scotch Eggs. One stall that I did find particularly interesting was the Von Kava stall with a three course tasting menu that they call ‘Flash Fine Dining’ for only $15. Pretty cool idea if you ask me! Would I recommend the Smorgasburg food market? Hell yeah! Just make sure you get there early because by the time we were leaving at about 1pm the place was absolutely packed with people and lines were enormous with some places selling out of food.

Flash Fine Dining at Von Kava!

Flash Fine Dining at Von Kava!

Places that we missed out on in Brooklyn because we just didn’t have enough time (or room in our stomachs were):

Brennan and Carr – another Man Vs Food gem famous for it’s French dipped Roast Beef Sandwiches (pretty much a sandwich dipped in gravy).  Sounds kinda foul but apparently it’s amazing.

Roberta’s – a pizza joint that has been named as one of America’s top 15 pizzeria’s.

Brisket Town – A bbq joint that well, the name speaks for itself really.

Till next time x

Eating Ourselves Stupid in the USA – Philadelphia

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Last time I was in Philadelphia was way back in December 2003 and it was the same day that that the USA captured Saddam Hussein. We didn’t stop in Philly for long back in 2003 because it was snowing but I do recall losing the keys to our family’s RV. Lucky for us they weren’t lost in the snow and after a frantic search I ended up finding them in the kitchen sink, phew! This time around MS and I were overnighting in Philadelphia, a decision we later regretted because of Philly is actually a fantastic place to visit! Sadly I had only booked a one night stopover for the sole purpose of breaking up our drive to New York.  After spending the afternoon there we realised that Philly wasn’t just A) the home of Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches B) where Rocky famously ran up the stairs and C) the only place other than San Francisco that serves decent coffee. Philadelphia is also quite an up and coming destination in the USA and well worth spending a bit of time to explore!

Driving into Philly!

Driving into Philly!

For our one night in Philly I had booked a room on AirBnB at a place which also moonlighted as a yoga studio. The price was good and I am all for staying in places that are just a little bit unique – most of the time. When we arrived our host Valerie gave us a tour of what literally was a yoga studio and informed us that we would have to vacate between 6 and 8pm that evening to make way for her yoga class. In that time she would pack up the air mattress and bed side tables and then return it all to its original place for our return.  Yes I know it’s a little random but you seriously couldn’t beat the position of the yoga studio in terms of location – it was literally a 10 minute walk from the Rocky Stairs, fantastic restaurants and the Eastern State Penitentiary (a National Historic Landmark that was no longer in use). The only downside to the yoga studio was a bit of an unpleasant smell that I attributed to her two cats that proceeded to wander in and out until MS locked them out.  Also it turns out that sleeping on an air mattress pretty much guarantees you the worst nights sleep of your life!

Our humble abode/yoga studio for the evening

Our humble abode/yoga studio for the evening

First place we headed after dumping our bags was to the Rocky Stairs where it seems we weren’t the only people attempting to follow in Sylvester Stallone’s footsteps (literally). There was tonnes of tourists there doing exactly this as well as quite a few locals using the stairs for some HIIT.

Behold the Rocky Stairs

Behold the Rocky Stairs

As with most popular landmarks in US cities there was someone at the top offering to take photos of us. l’m not an idiot and I’m also not one to be conned by this type of ‘friendly and helpful’ photographer however I did want some photos of MS and I together for once.  When handing him my iPhone I was fully aware that I was going to be asked for some money at the end of it all.  What I didn’t know was that he would ask me for US$20. That’s nearly AU$30 to take a few pics with my own camera!!! When he finished and asked for the money I nearly fell down the stairs in shock – You’ve got to be kidding me?! Apparently the had been taking photos at the top of the stairs for nearly 20 years and in the end I gave him US$5 for his terrible photos and he moved onto some unsuspecting Chinese tourists.

View from the top

View from the top


The Rocky Statue

The Rocky Statue

Later on that evening, after a few rounds of shadow boxing, we were both feeling pretty hungry andI had carefully researched where to go for the famous Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich in Philadelphia. For those unaware of what a Cheesesteak is (do you live under a rock?!) well it’s a sandwich made from thinly sliced pieces of steak and melted cheese, served in a long roll. Despite there being plenty of places claiming to serve ‘the Best Philly Cheesesteak’ in all of Philly I thought it would be fitting to go to the place that started the Philly Cheesesteak movement – or so they say – “Pat’s King of Steaks”.  Located in South Philadelphia Pat’s Steaks is directly across the road from rival Philly Cheesesteak restaurant Geno’s Steaks.

Navigating those pesky 4 way stop signs

Navigating those pesky 4 way stop signs

After navigating the narrow streets and stopping to ask a friendly lolly pop lady just who had right of way at an ALL WAY STOP SIGN meant MS and I were lucky enough to find a park just across the road from the busy eatery.

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The man that served us at Pat’s was abrupt and spoke in a thick Jersey accent which I found to be not only amusing but pretty awesome! There’s a sign next to the counter that explains to newcomers like ourselves just how to order the Cheesesteak.  As a humorous reference to the Philadelphia accent ordering with the simple words ‘wit’ or ‘wit-out’ means with or without onions so ‘wit’ it.  We also added the wiz cheese instead of provolone after a recommendation from a friend of mine who had only a few weeks earlier visited Philly herself.

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Pat's is the place to be!

Pat’s is the place to be!

I tell you what the cheesesteaks certainly weren’t nutritionally sound but damn they were good! The thinly sliced rib eye steak was surprisingly tender and the artificial bright yellow wiz cheese suggestion from my friend was spot on! In fact I would go as far as to say that these were one of the best things we ate on our entire trip in the USA.  Plus going to Philadelphia and not having a cheesesteak is like going to New York and not going to see the Statue of Liberty (oops which we didn’t do btw). In the meantime a lunchtime line of people had gathered on the side walk with people waiting to order their own cheesesteaks and I could see Geno’s across the road was also just as busy. Whose cheeseteaks are better – Geno’s or Pat’s? We didn’t stick around to find out but in hindsight we probably should have ordered one from each and split them.

His and hers

His and hers

Philadelphia is a city rich in art, culture and history with a burgeoning food scene, great coffee and the world renowned Museum of Art but the search for the best Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia is reason enough for me to go back.

The wonders of NYC next xox

Eating Ourselves Stupid in the USA – South Carolina to Virginia

So it turns out that my USA holiday posts aren’t going to write themselves and I know that there are a few people keen to hear them so I better pull my finger out. We spent a total of 3.5 weeks in the USA – an absolutely amazing country to visit and one that I’ve already had the pleasure of visiting twice previously, although this was MS’ first time. We arrived mid afternoon in LA after about 20 hours of flying and transiting through Sydney and what seemed like an eternity of MS chucking the sh*ts on the flight over because of the lack of leg room in economy. We’re all in the same boat buddy – well kind of. The fact that he is 6 ft 2 and I am all but 5 ft surely makes a difference to the level of comfort onboard a 747.

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We overnighted in LA close to the airport in a reasonably priced hotel. It wasn’t anything flash but the beds were comfy and the copious amounts of hair loss ads on the TV sure made up for it. We ventured down the road to get some food for an early dinner only after confirming with the clerk that it was safe to do so. It is LA after all and almost everyone is packing, or at least that’s what we’re led to believe. We ended up at the clerks recommendation of Waba Grill which was only a 10 minute walk down the road and wasn’t particularly amazing. Imagine a fast food place that serves brown rice and teriyaki marinated meats with avocado and there you have Waba Grill. It was a little better than the other option next door – Little Caesars, whose newest product was bacon wrapped pizza. Actually on second thought maybe we should have gone to Little Caesars. It was the first day of the holiday however and I was still holding onto the completely ridiculous notion that I wasn’t going to put on any weight in the USA despite the long lists of burger and BBQ joints I had in mind.

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Behold the bacon wrapped pizza from Little Caesars

Early next morning we flew from LA to Charlotte in North Carolina for a short stopover that ended up being delayed (thank goodness for the rocking chairs at Charlotte airport) and then finally to Columbia in South Carolina where my uncle met us. My mum’s brother and his family have lived in the USA for about 15 years now and this was MS first time meeting them. Just for a bit of inside info my uncle and his family are moonies and their particular way of life, as you can imagine, is a little different to many including both MS and I. It was MS first time being in such close proximity to people that are so deeply religious and he found it both fascinating and horrifying at the same time. He challenged my uncle on his beliefs (in a polite way) with conversations about the big bang theory, Adam and Eve and even Obama Care over the few days we spent with him – at Walmart, at Sam’s Club, in the car, at Verizon and back at Walmart again. Despite how it sounds it was a very friendly interaction but it’s obviously a conversation that my uncle has had plenty of times.  In fact he freely admits that his responses have been well crafted over the years whereas MS was almost completely out of his depth. We had a great time with them but without being rude or disrespectful since my uncle will most likely read this I live my life very differently to those of the Unification Church.

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Just another day in South Carolina suburbia

Three days after we arrived we hired a car, said goodbye to my South Carolina family and after MS got his bearings for driving on the complete other side of the road in 6 lanes of traffic at 90 miles an hour we were on our way north to Durham in North Carolina (about a 3 hour drive). Along the way we passed a road sign advertising a Gun Expo in Charlotte and since we weren’t constrained by time we figured we would stop off to check it out. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures inside and my Go Pro had to be put away the minute I stepped in the door. Pointing a high powered assault rifle with a scope and a laser sight at someone elses head so they can show me the accuracy of their favourite weapon isn’t something I thought I would ever see myself doing but it was pretty interesting to see the conservatives in their element.

Later that afternoon we arrived in Durham and headed straight to the Backyard BBQ Pit which was due to close earlier than we expected. It meant an early dinner of 5pm but it would have to do. I had heard about Backyard BBQ Pit on my beloved show Man Vs Food and kept it on a list ever since as one place I wanted to go to. We arrived to an unassuming brick restaurant on the side of the road with a sweet smell of barbecued meats in the air.

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There was quite a line inside because the place was very popular and despite the questionable cleanliness of the eatery (cue waitress swatting blow flies with a broom) we took our place in the line. I’ve eaten at plenty of places where the hygiene was questionable and still lived to tell the tale. One that comes to mind was a road side hut that my cousin and I stopped at whilst touring Sri Lanka with Intrepid. We had a fantastic curry lunch served in large clay pots in an open air dining room. Before getting back on the bus I went to use the bathrooms and caught sight of the blow fly laden kitchen, a sight I would have preferred not to see.

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I wasn’t kidding…

Back at the Backyard BBQ Pit MS ordered the rib dinner with a trio of meats including brisket, ribs and pulled pork with sides for US$10.49 while I chose the Brisket plate with choice of sides for US$6.49. We both chose the mac n cheese as well as the hushpuppies – think deep fried mashed potato – and took a seat at a booth on the side.

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The styrofoam take away boxes that seem to be a popular serving option in the US don’t make for a particularly aesthetic meal but they do the trick. One thing that was very obvious to me in the USA is that they live in very much a throw-away society. I thought we were bad in Australia but sh*t they are leaps and bounds ahead of us in terms of waste produced and no one seems to care (unless they are from San Francisco).

The best part of my meal was easily the mac n cheese. That cheesy, fat ladened pasta was so ridiculously rich I shudder to think what was in it but I didn’t come to the USA so question the calorie content of my food. My brisket was lovely in a vinegary sort of way. I recall my South Carolina cousin telling me about the difference in BBQ in the southern states – some swear by the vinegary type brisket and pulled pork whilst others think covering it in BBQ sauce is the best way. I’m definitely the later. Bring me the BBQ sauce! In fact, you can just leave it on my table. I tasted MS’ ribs and got a bit of food envy – he had definitely made a better meat choice than I had.

Despite how it looks mine on the left was far smaller than MS'

Despite how it looks mine on the left was far smaller than MS’

Later we explored our first Whole Foods supermarket of many which was conveniently located across the road from our hotel. If only for the entire fridge of different Kombucha (my new found love in life) I give Whole Foods 5 out of 5.

The wall of Kombucha at Whole Foods

The wall of Kombucha at Whole Foods

Next morning after a gym session in the ‘no judgement zone’ that is Planet Fitness we were on our way to Richmond in Virginia but not before stopping at the ridiculously popular bagel house Bruegger’s Bagels.

The 'Lunk Alarm' at Planet Fitness that is set off if someone is dropping weights.  Seems a little extreme to me.

The ‘Lunk Alarm’ at Planet Fitness that is set off if someone is dropping weights too loudly. Personally I think its a little extreme.

As you can imagine, bagels are hugely popular in the USA and the line for bagels at this place was well out the door.  Bagels for breakfast soon became our ritual much to the dismay of my ass.

Bruegger's Bagel makers at work

Bruegger’s Bagel makers at work

For lunch we made it to our first Chipotle for the trip as recommended by my mum and dad – think Zambrero but tastier and not such a damn rip off. In my opinion it’s one of the best fast food options in the USA and there are thousands of them around the country.  I can recommend the Barbacoa with lots of Tabasco Sauce.

Lunch at Chipotle

Lunch at Chipotle

Later that night was our second BBQ stop Buz and Ned’s Real BBQ, another one I had seen on Man Vs Food. This was the other type of BBQ that my cousin was telling me about, the one with the BBQ sauce smothered all over the meat (aka my kind of dinner). We both ordered the BBQ Pork Sandwiches (MS had two because he’s a growing boy apparently) with more mac n cheese, hushpuppies and also fried okra (another popular southern dish). The mac n cheese wasn’t nearly as good as the one we had the previous night but I enjoyed the brisket burgers way more. And the fried okra? Well that kind of just tasted like oil.  I love BBQ and it was one of the things I most looked forward to in the USA but I find it very rich and filling and can’t eat a whole lot of it.

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The next day we were back on the road again and after our regular bagel breakfast we stopped at a random servo somewhere on the outskirts of Virginia. Inside I glanced at a newspaper on the counter with about 15 mugshots of people on the front of it. I asked the attendant if those were people that had gone missing and she said that it was people that had gone to jail that week. Only an emoji could convey my reaction to her reply.

To be continued… xo

Wings of Death @ the Green Ant Cantina, Cairns

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If you’re a true Cairns local then it’s more than likely that you’ve heard of the Wings of Death challenge at the Green Ant Cantina on Bunda Street.  For those of you that haven’t well it goes a little like this… The Wings of Death are chicken wings that are coated in secret hot sauces made from ‘some of the hottest chillies known to man’ – the habanero and the ghost chilli. To win the challenge one must eat seven of these wings without any liquids to ease the burn and the plate must be completely sauce free at the end. If you achieve all that then you get a bumper sticker and your name on the ‘Wall of Flame’, because how cool are bumper stickers? Pretty sweet deal huh?  Did I do it?  Well, not exactly…

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As someone that has watched the entire series of Man Vs Food and heard various tales of people that have attempted the Wings of Death I’d be lying if I didn’t say curiosity had gotten the better of me over time. Thinking that I am pretty bulletproof admittedly I have always wondered what it was like to do one of these so called ‘challenges’ last Friday night whilst there with my family for a friend’s birthday dinner MS suggested we give it a go.

Ok, ok initially the suggestion was made for the Birthday Boy to do the entire Wings of Death challenge but he pretty much straight up refused it.  Soon after dad’s curiosity as to how hot these wings really were also got the better of him.  He lay down the challenge to myself and the Birthday Boy saying that we couldn’t/wouldn’t eat one and so we decided that the only way to find out was to order a plate of the Wings of Death and share them.

This wouldn’t be the first time my dad has egged me on and no doubt it won’t be the last.  Ever since I was a kid everything between me and him has been a competition (a friendly one of course) – from who could run the fastest to who could eat dinner the fastest, hence the reason that now as an adult I don’t chew my food, I inhale it. And who could forget our much contested appearance on the live audience version of Fear Factor at Universal Studios back in 2005 where we both drank a concoction of blended up sour milk, fish guts, duck tongues, live maggots and live crickets. I beat dad by drinking two cups of the horrendous tasting gunk to move onto the next round in my unquestionable gut churning domination of the event.  Dad still to this day cannot let it go and swears that he drank it faster than I did unbeknown to the entire studio audience that was watching. Needless to say The Mummy rollercoaster ride later on that day was a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons.

So now you understand how competitive things can get between us I shall go back to my original story. To cut an already long story short the death wings arrived at the table and out of the 9 people there only 3 of us ate a Wing of Death – myself, my dad and the Birthday Boy. My brother put his finger in the chilli to taste it and cried like a little baby, my Sri Lankan mother who barely consumed a ‘bee’s d*ck’ of the sauce made an awful racket about how badly it burned and then the rest of the table just down right refused to go anywhere near it.

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The remaining three of us each consumed a wing whilst waiting for our mains to arrive. It goes without saying that these wings are ridiculously hot but because we weren’t officially doing the challenge (we were just sharing an entree) we could have as much water or in my case blue cheese sauce as we wanted. After the tears and the running noses we all decided that one Wing of Death was indeed enough and the remainder of the wings were pushed to the end of the table never to be thought about again. Or so we thought.

We had dinner, which might I add wasn’t particularly great, and I was about to signal the waitress to bring out the birthday cake. About an hour had passed since we ate ‘one’ Wing of Death each and I began to feel a slight burning in my tummy followed by a strong feeling of being generally ill. I excused myself from the table and went to the ladies toilet which was luckily very close by, all the while using every ounce of my energy not to fall over because I was so dizzy. I sat in there for a good five minutes sweating profusely and wondering if possibly my drink had been spiked.  I also seriously considered lying down and curling up on the cold concrete floor at my feet. I heard a bit of a commotion outside the door and realised that I wasn’t in fact the only one that felt this way.

Because I had so quietly excused myself to go to the toilet when my dad started panting heavily and struggling to breathe MS sincerely thought he may be having a heart attack and went into full emergency mode, which luckily is what he is trained for. A few minutes later when I literally dragged myself from the toilet and the rest of the table saw how deathly white and pouring with sweat I was we all realised it was in fact the Wings of Death. The party was over.  No cake for me and dad, or anyone for that matter.  Mum drove dad home stopping suddenly along the way so he could power spew on the side of the road.  My sister, who pleaded with me to go straight to the emergency ward, on my staunch request took me straight home where I lay on the shower floor in foetal position with severe stomach cramps until MS forced me to drink milk and miraculously as quickly as it had come on the pain subsided.

For dad and I it was a bit of a horrific end to what was a nice birthday dinner for the Birthday Boy, who might I add despite a bit of heart burn didn’t succumb to the Homer Simpson-like experience that dad and I did. Dad is still convinced that someone is probably going to die one day doing the actual challenge which is probably why anyone that does do it has to sign a medical waiver before they commence.  They’re certainly not called the Wings of Death for nothing but in the end I didn’t spew like dad did so that makes me the clear winner.  Again.

Petit Cafe, Cairns

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Have you ever wanted to try somewhere new to eat out and then arrive there only to take one look at the menu and walk out again?  Well that happened to my mum and I yesterday.  Unfortunately for you I’m not going to divulge any more the details or give you the name of the place I am referring to because I didn’t try their food and it might just be amazing, it was just the menu didn’t really float my boat.  Lucky for me, due to my incessant hourly scrolling through Instagram I already had a backup so mum and I jumped in the car and headed straight there.

My backup lunch destination was the newly opened (as of yesterday in fact) Petit Café on Lake Street.  Directly across the road from Woolworths mum and I were both blown away when we entered the schmick Sydney-esque interior with soft blue walls, IKEA type retro furniture and mirror like polished floors (although much to mums dismay no communal table).

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The whole place is very ‘not Cairns’ in a very good way!  The Petit Café on Lake Street is the second such branch of it’s kind in FNQ with the first one being the ever so popular (so I have heard anyway) shop in Kuranda.

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Mum and I took up a table for two in the middle of the floor and had a look over their extensive menus with a page each for Traditional Crepes, Gourmet Crepes and of course Sweet Crepes. With over 30 different types of crepes on the menu it was quite a difficult choice for both of us, even mum who is still – despite my initial thoughts that she would barely last 2 weeks – a vegetarian.  Sorry mum!

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She chose a Traditional Crepe with Creamy Goats Cheese, Homemade Onion Jam, Toasted Almonds, Cherry Tomatoes, Cheese and Spinach while after a tough choice I ended up choosing a Gourmet Crepe with Medium Rare Roast Beef, Homemade Tartar Sauce, Egg, Cherry Tomatoes, Cheese, Cornichons and Baby Spinach. Initially I did think that the prices were a little high – a couple of the Gourmet Crepes are around the $23 mark I instantly changed my mind when I saw the sheer size of the things and the generous toppings.

Mum’s Traditional Crepe came out pizza style whilst mine was folded up a little like a calzone. I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet because there’s not a whole lot that needs to be said other than both of our crepes were absolutely delicious. Mum thought her crepe had a few too many almonds on it but I tasted it and disagreed with her.

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Traditional Crepe with Creamy Goats Cheese, Homemade Onion Jam, Toasted Almonds, Cherry Tomatoes, Cheese and Spinach

My egg was runny and the homemade tartar sauce along with the cornichons gave my Gourmet Crepe a lovely zing! It was so big that I was in fact full for the rest of the afternoon but I am looking forward to my next visit to try the Kangaroo Prosciutto Crepe and of a course one of their amazing sounding Sweet Crepes – and yes of course they have Nutella Crepes for those of you that were wondering!

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Gourmet Crepe with Medium Rare Roast Beef, Homemade Tartar Sauce, Egg, Cherry Tomatoes, Cheese, Cornichons and Baby Spinach

Mmmm runny egg

Mmmm runny egg

Attentive service, knockout decor, beautiful fresh ingredients and crepes made with love I have absolutely no doubt that  it’s going to be on for young and old at the newly opened Petit Café.

Petit Café

Lake St, Cairns

Opening Hours: 7 days 7.30am – 3.30pm

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Eating Ourselves Stupid in Tasmania – Hobart (Part 2)

IMG_6652Last but not least … My fourth and final post about my foodie adventures in Tasmania. The next morning we woke bright and early for our trip back to Hobart. We were served a lovely home cooked breakfast in the cosy front room of the Freycinet Waters BnB overlooking the Great Oyster Bay. MS turned his nose up in disgust when our host Karen asked if we wanted some black pudding with our breakfast fare but I happily obliged. What was yesterday a beautiful sunny day was now a miserable wet and windy day but we had no plans to be outside just yet. An hour later we said goodbye to our Freycinet Waters hosts and were on the road headed to Hobart.

The view from Kate's Berry Farm

The view from Kate’s Berry Farm

We didn’t get far down the road – say about 8 minutes – before we spotted Kate’s Berry Farm to our right. Stopping at a berry farm was non-negotiable so we turned off the main road and drove up to Kate’s for our second (shared) breakfast of Mixed Berry Pancakes on the patio.

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Mixed Berry Pancakes

Kate’s Berry Farm is perched up the top of the hill overlooking Swansea with more breathtaking views of the Great Oyster Bay and Kate herself is an absolutely delightful lady. We spent a small fortune on chocolate covered berries to take home for loved ones and also snack on in the car for driving sustenance.

Our chocolate haul - missing the jar of Choc Coated Raspberries I had already started on

Our chocolate haul – missing the jar of Choc Coated Raspberries I had already started on

Back on the road again we passed some absolutely stunning scenery and out of all the roads we travelled on our short stay in Tassie we both found the road from Swansea to Orford to be the most breathtaking and picturesque route of our journey. All up the drive back to Hobart took just over 2 hours which included two toilet stops for me and MS driving in the wrong direction as he came across the Tasman Bridge (twice) resulting in the one and only argument of our 5 day driving tour of Tasmania.  I then gave him the silent treatment for the next hour.

Being lunchtime I took heed of the words of my Foodvixen followers and we made a beeline straight for Hobart bakery institution Jackman and McRoss for a bite to eat. Most of the parking nearby is permit only but being a Sunday we took the risk. As the sign out the front says “bakers of fine breads, cakes and pastries” and damn they weren’t kidding.

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Upon entering J&MR we were met with the smell of freshly baked delights and cabinets of mouth-watering sweet and savoury goods.

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As well as a ‘takeaway’ section Jackman and McRoss has a dining room which is exactly where MS and I parked ourselves for lunch.

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The dining room was packed and there was a steady stream of people stopping in to take some treats home with them. What surprised me the most was how reasonable the prices were with everything on the specials board being no more than about $14.

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After the great despair of finding out that they had run out of Scallop and Wakame Pies I settled for the second best offer of Pulled Pork Fillet in Roti Bread with Kale and Veg Vermicelli and Smoked Cherry Mayo for AU$12.50 while MS, the fatty, ordered a Meat Pie and the Lamb Rack Topped with Herbed Lemon Crust on a Stone Fruit and Salted Balsamic Tart for a mere AU$13.50.  The Meat Pie was good but it had nothing on the one I had at JK’s in Ingham plus I wanted scallops godammit.

Not a very aesthetic Meat Pie

Not a very aesthetic Meat Pie

We waited a little longer than we both would have liked but in the meantime we buried the hatchet of our fight earlier that day caused by MS’ shitty driving and actually began to talk to each other again. The Pulled Pork Fillet Roti thing, which for some reason I didn’t get a photo of, was divine although I did find the filling a little on the sweet side.

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Lamb Rack Topped with Herbed Lemon Crust on a Stone Fruit and Salted Balsamic Tart for AU$13.50 (that curly thing at the bottom is actually some of the veg vermicelli from my roti)

MS decided that the Lamb Rack was a little too rare for his liking despite me insisting that was how it was supposed to be and instead helped himself to my Pulled Pork Roti. It was quite a large serving so I didn’t mind sharing it just this once.

We returned to our car just over an hour later and were pleasantly surprised to find that it hadn’t been towed. For something less food orientated we did a one hour tour of the harbour with Hobart Historic Cruises onboard the ‘Emmalisa’. It wasn’t nearly as flashy as the fandangle camouflaged cat that hurriedly ferries tourists across the Derwent to and from MONA but this boat had plenty of ‘character’. MS confessed he was a little concerned that it wasn’t particularly sea worthy but I assured him I had been on far less sea worthy boats in my time and the Emmalisa certainly wasn’t one of them.  Again I feel like a dumba** that I didn’t get a photo of our Titanic BUT I did get a photo of the MONA cat.

That's one badass cat if I ever saw one.  Forget the luxury yacht I want one of these!

That’s one badass cat if I ever saw one. Forget the luxury yacht I’ll have one of these!

With only four ‘tourists’ onboard, including us, the hour long tour took us past Salamanca Place and the CSIRO Marine Laboratories with their newly commissioned and impressive ship the ‘RV Investigator’ docked out the front, then onwards past the million dollar homes at Battery and Sandy Point, Bellerive, Kangaroo Bay and back to Franklin Wharf for an absolute steal of only AU$20 per person.

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The commentary by the Captain was informative and entertaining and MS and I both really enjoyed the cruise although for us one hour was enough.

RV Investigator

RV Investigator

After our high sea adventures we were both famished – no not really but we ate anyway. We ended up across the road at new Hobart pleaser Frank – from the same people that run Smolt. Earlier that day I had tried in vain to get a booking at Frank for the evening but alas they were all booked out. Shock horror I would have to forgo a meal at a South American influenced restaurant whose menu I had already perused online so we went there for an afternoon ‘snack’.

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MS and I took a seat adjacent to the front window just in time to see the Australian ice breaker ‘Aurora Australis’ coming into port. From the Frank menu I ordered the Prawn, Scallop and White Fish Ceviche, Leche De Tigre (AU$21) washed down with a glass of Smolt Pinot Noir 2013 from Tasmania.

MS who is undoubtedly always that much more hungry that I am ordered the Entrana – inside skirt steak with chimichurri and salsa picante (AU$32) and the Charred Sweet Potato, Goat’s Curd, Muddled Almonds, Garlic and Coriander to share (AU$11).

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Entrana – inside skirt steak with chimichurri and salsa picante (AU$32)

I found the Ceviche to be pretty ‘meh’. More flavour would have been a treat but I think I had built the whole dish up a little too much by drooling over pictures of it on Instagram a few days before.

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Prawn, Scallop and White Fish Ceviche, Leche De Tigre (AU$21)

MS’ steak was certainly better than you’re average steak but the real star of the meal for both of us was the Charred Sweet Potato. I only yesterday wrote to the Gourmet Traveller recipe request section to see if they will publish the recipe because this dish was simply sensational. In fact I would go as far to say that it’s one of the best things I think I have ever put in this big mouth of mine.

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Charred Sweet Potato, Goat’s Curd, Muddled Almonds, Garlic and Coriander (AU$11)

Fast forward a few hours (after a nap and some more tennis) and we were dressed and on our way to dinner at Tassie favourite Smolt – another restaurant recommended to me by some of my readers. We couldn’t get a booking but decided we would try out luck with a walk in. Things were coming up Milhouse for our last meal in Tassie we managed to snavel ourselves an intimate table for two down the back of the Italian eating house.

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More wine and cider ensued with a complimentary starter of fresh baked bread with olive oil and balsamic for dipping. The flavour of the olive oil was exceptional – so much so that I went straight to Victor’s to find my own dipping oil upon returning home. We had the Jamon Croquettes with Smoked Peppers and Aioli for entree and then backed it up with a couple of pizzas as our main.

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Jamon Croquettes with Smoked Peppers and Aioli (AU$14.90)

The White Anchovy, Olive, Calamari, Watercress, Bechamel and Reggiano Pizza came up trumps for me because as some of you may know I’m a sucker for anchovies (and pickles) while MS loves the sausage so he chose the pizza with Pork Sausage, Chorizo, Chilli, Red Onion, Peppers, Lemon and Reggiano (both AU$25.90). The service at Smolt was excellent and the atmosphere was laid back yet sophisticated plus neither of us could fault the food – I can’t recommend that place enough if you’re in Hobart.

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White Anchovy, Olive, Calamari, Watercress, Bechamel and Reggiano Pizza (AU$24.90)

Well there you have it… our trip to Tasmania in a nutshell – or should I say about 1500 words (this post). I’ve travelled overseas and around our beautiful country many times but I can put my hand on my heart and say that Tasmania has been one of my absolute favourite destinations. In the short time that MS and I spent down there we barely scratched the surface of all the things to see and do (and of course eat) in the Apple Isle. MS enjoyed the place so much that he wants to move there permanently. In a state where Scallop Pies are the norm, there’s a vineyard on nearly every corner, world famous oysters, award winning cheeses and cherries are the size of a baby’s fist it’s no wonder that Tasmania was just named in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions to visit in 2015.

Eating Ourselves Stupid in Tasmania – East Coast

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Continuing on from my last post where I rambled about wine and cheese platters in the Tamar Valley the next day we were leaving Launceston bound for Swansea. Being a Saturday I was well aware that one of the biggest and best markets in the country, the Salamanca Markets, was on in Hobart but alas we were a couple of hundred km’s away. I tried to plan our initial itinerary around being in Hobart on that very day but logistics just didn’t allow for it so instead we found ourselves at the Harvest Markets in Launceston.

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I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting much but I was actually pleasantly surprised by the size of the markets and the variety. I mean it was no Salamanca Markets that’s for sure – Salamanca Markets has over 300 stall holders while the Harvest Market in Launceston probably had about 30 but you know what they say ‘size doesn’t matter’. The Harvest Market is held in a carpark in the heart of Launceston every Saturday from 8.30am – 12.30pm. Awarded the Most Outstanding Farmers Market by ABC Delicious Magazine in 2013 it brings the farm gate to you and after my visit I can highly recommend it.

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When we arrived it seemed like the majority of Launceston was there for a look and to sample some of the local delights. There’s artisan bread, wine, cider, cheese, preserved, fresh fruit and vege, seafood, meat, coffee and also a handful of food trucks serving everything from gozlemes to waffles to Reuben sandwiches. Typically MS and I just couldn’t go past the stall selling Reuben sandwiches so aptly called ‘Meat Bread Cheese’.

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It seems many other people attending had the same idea because they had quite a following of people also keen to have a Reuben. MS and I shared their apparently famous Reuben sandwich with Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Russian Dressing and Sauerkraut on Fresh Rye for those of you that don’t know what a Reuben is (you should be ashamed of yourself). It was a fantastic Reuben and probably the best I’ve had but that will most likely change when I go to Katz Deli in New York for THE Reuben in a couple of months time.

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When we first walked into the markets I spied a stall selling fresh blackberries that was doing an absolute roaring trade. A few stalls over I also spied another stall selling blackberries but with no one buying them. Ever the bleeding heart – I still have pangs of guilt about not buying a piece of fruit cake from an old man trying to sell fruit cake at the weekend markets in Broome over three years ago – I went over and bought a punnet of blackberries from this couple for about $5. Turns out no one was buying their berries because they weren’t very friendly and their blackberries were that sour that we couldn’t even eat them. Anyways we bought a gozleme for the road and jumped in the car headed for Swansea.

The berry stall I should have gone to

The berry stall I should have gone to

The road to Swansea was winding and littered with dead wildlife – I have seriously never seen so much roadkill as I have in Tasmania, it’s a little sad. MS thought it would be a fantastic road to travel on his GSXR and even fantasised about moving to Tasmania just so he could explore new roads at high speeds (and no I do not condone speeding). We were overtaken by a convoy of classic cars and premium sports car prompting an argument about which car we would rather own. In the end the silver Aston Martin won out for me whilst MS refused to go past the 1972 Ford Falcon XY GT.  Come on the two don’t even compare!

We were staying at a cosy little BnB in Swansea that night but we weren’t due to check in till later that afternoon so in the meantime we stopped off at the Bark Mill Tavern and Bakery for a bite to eat because god forbid we had been a good hour and a half without food. I ordered a Curried Scallop pie while MS got a sausage roll and a Steak and Bacon pie. I’ve only ever eaten three scallop pies in my lifetime – in Hobart back in 2009, Bairnsdale in 2002 and this one in Swansea. It wasn’t amazing with no more than 5 or 6 scallops inside but given that it was in fact a scallop pie it automatically gets a few extra points.

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Scallops should only ever be served with their roe on

We jumped back in the car and headed off towards Coles Bay and the Freycinet National Park because I had a mission to eat oysters at the Freycinet Marine Farm. Due to my awesome navigating skills and MS’ lack of sign reading ability (someone navigating for you does not take away from your responsibility to pay attention to any and all signs on your journey) we ended up driving straight past the oyster farm and into Coles Bay. It wasn’t a major drama since we had planned on heading there to get some photos of The Hazards before heading back to Swansea. We parked down at the boat ramp and the place was packed with boaties either launching or recovering their boats after a morning of fishing. By the looks of the boats and the 4WD’s towing them there was certainly a bit of money in the area.

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Beyond the boat ramp though were the spectacular Hazards – rugged mountains that separate Wineglass Bay from Coles Bay. It was a stunning view.  The whole area is just so pristine and beautiful I would love to spend a bit more time there and do the hike up to the Wineglass Bay lookout one day – just not this day.  One things for sure I will be coming back to spend a night or two at Saffire Freycinet – when I win the lotto.

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There was a nice French man fishing off the pontoon and I asked him if I could get a photo of him fishing. He happily obliged as long as I was happy to send the photos to his email address because he said he didn’t have any photos of himself fishing. I put his email address into my phone and sent the photos to him later that evening only to have them bounce back. I tried a few different alternatives to the email he had given me but with no luck. If you are reading this nice French man I am sorry you didn’t receive the photos but I really did try to send them.  I’m a woman of my word!

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The nice French man (if anyone recognises him tell him to PM me)

About 20 minutes later we found ourselves at the Freycinet Marine Farm which was pretty much exactly what the reviews on Trip Advisor had said – a shack in the middle of nowhere. Still we weren’t there for the view we were there for the oysters (well I was anyway). Despite being in the middle of nowhere they were doing a roaring trade with a few actual meals on the

specials board as well as some variations of oysters, mussels and crayfish.

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I ordered a dozen of the natural jumbo sized oysters and a half dozen of the Kilpatrick simply because I’m a glutton plus a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to wash it all down. Despite my desperate pleas for MS to order something he stuck to his guns and instead watched me eat my mollusc delights. The jumbo oysters ($20 for a dozen) were excellent – big and meaty however the Kilpatrick were pretty damn ordinary but personally I’m the kind of person that doesn’t really believe in dressing up oysters, they taste great just the way they are.  Yeah that kind of defeats the purpose of me ordering them I guess.

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Later that afternoon we found ourselves checking into our bnb in Swansea followed by a little afternoon nap. The Freycinet Waters bnb building was a lovely former post office with plenty of character and friendly owners to boot. We spent the afternoon snoozing with the free wifi and the tennis on in the background before heading across the road for some ciders overlooking the Great Oyster Bay on the balcony of local restaurant Salt Shaker.

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That evening at the Salt Shaker restaurant we dined on Seafood Chowder, Calamari and Chicken Parmigiana (not me).  The Calamari was pretty ordinary especially for the price and so was the Chicken Parmi.  I had been longing for Seafood Chowder since arriving in Tasmania and this one was excellent despite the hair that I found in it…  We totted off back to our room at the bnb finishing the night with a tipple of port supplied by our hosts and dreams of Scallop Pies and fresh shucked oysters (me) and MS most likely his other girlfriend (his motorbike).

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Stay tuned for my final post as we head back to Hobart xox

Eating Ourselves Stupid in Tasmania – Launceston

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After our brief adventures in Hobart we headed north to Launceston in our little white ASX fuelled by fresh apricots, cherries the size of a baby’s fist and ginger fudge also from Tasmania.  Apparently MS doesn’t like fudge but that didn’t stop him from eating most of it the fatty.  We arrived in Launceston at about 7.30 in the evening and after checking into our cheap and cheerful hotel the Balmoral on York I found myself googling places to go for dinner.  Ever the organiser I usually have a comprehensive list of places that I want to go for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even just a bite to eat at but in Launceston I have to admit I was really stumped.  In all honesty I wanted to come to Launceston for the wineries and the gorge and that’s it.

Stillwater had been recommended to me by a few of my readers but after our dinner the night before both MS and I were looking forward to a meal that didn’t involve someone refilling our water every 10 minutes and describing each dish in exquisite detail as it was placed in front of us.  Black Bow Bistro was booked out so after reading some ‘decent’ reviews online we headed to Cataract on Paterson. I don’t need to say a whole lot about Cataract on Paterson other than that it was probably the worst meal that we had on our short stay in Tasmania.  I asked for the chowder that I had seen online but according to the girl that was on their old menu that had literally only just changed a few days prior to our visit.  The service was terrible, the food was ordinary, the wait for the food was lengthy and it took over 20 minutes before we received our drinks.  Couple that with the fact that they have just introduced the unique Stone Grill cooking method.  You know the one where you cook your own meat on the hot rock?  I’m sorry but that was just so 10 years ago (remember the Fermented Grape days?)   I learned my lesson. Be more prepared and since when do I ever trust Trip Advisor anyway?

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My scallop dish with white bean puree was actually alright but not good enough to detract from the long list of things that weren’t right that night

The next day was Tamar Valley wine route day.  We started off with a light breakfast at some random breakfast place in the middle of Launceston.  I had begged and pleaded with MS to go to much hyped vegetarian café ‘Fresh on Charles’ but he downright refused it because there was no bacon.  Apparently we were spending the day doing stuff that I wanted to do (visiting vineyards) so the least I could do is choose somewhere that had bacon for him.  Sigh.

As a little detour before our wine tour and with me playing tour guide we took the ‘steep hikers walk’ up to Cataract Gorge only realising when we got there that there was actually a flat, concreted walk on the other side that would have been far easier.  And here’s me wondering why there were women in full Lorna Jane getup huffing and puffing their way past us while I’m climbing mountains of stairs around in a tiny skater dress and ballet flats.  And then to make matters worse we realised there was indeed a car park that took you right up to Cataract Gorge and we needn’t have walked at all.

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Behold the beauty of Cataract Gorge

There was plenty of locals sunning themselves at the gorge and taking advantage of the glorious day as well as a few Chinese tourists running around with their now all too common selfie sticks.  MS and I paid $12 each to take the chair lift from one side of the Gorge to the other with me worrying about the possibility of dropping my shoes in the water the entire way over.  We finally made it back to the car (on the flat walk this time) and continued on to the Tamar Wine Route.  Where’s the food you say?  Yes, yes, I’m getting to it.  Haven’t you heard of a preamble?

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Hang onto your shoes kids

There are over 30 wineries in the Tamar Valley so the night before I had a look over each and every one and decided which ones I wanted to go to. First up we headed to Moores Hill Winery which was about a 25 minute drive from the heart of Launceston – after a brief detour to Beaconsfield to see the mine and get a sausage roll for sustenance from the local bakery.  “Enjoy the vineyard views from the verandah and try and Tasmanian tasting plate” said the Moores Hill Winery website.  That’s it I didn’t need to read anymore.

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As we pulled up at the vineyard I realised we were the only ones there which meant we had the place all to ourselves – though this didn’t last long.  There was a lovely lady whose name I can’t remember for the life of me that ran us (mostly me) through the wine tasting – starting with the sparkling, onto the whites, the reds and finally finishing with a taste of the CGR Late Harvest Riesling which was my pick of the bunch (MS preferred the NV Sparkling).  Because of the cooler climate Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the mostly commonly produced wines in Tasmania.

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MS and chose a glass of our favourite drop from the tastings and kicked back on the veranda overlooking the vineyard with a cheese and meat platter to share.

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Not bad for $25

We got to meet the gorgeous neighbourhood hound Otto – I mean neighbourhood because according to local legend he often turns up at more than just one vineyard throughout the day.  (I may or may not have fed him cheese).

I'm more of a cat person but how could you not love this beautiful dog?

I’m more of a cat person but how could you not love this beautiful dog?

Halfway through our wine and blissful cheese platter another couple arrived for a wine tasting.  The woman had obviously had a little too much to drink at previously wineries and was very loud and annoying.  Maybe it was her Mickey Mouse trackpants or her Adelaide Churchgoers 2012 t-shirt or maybe it was just the fact that she just couldn’t pick up on our ‘please go away and let us enjoy our wine and cheese platter’ cues but she was a real pain the ass and I felt sorry for the lady behind the counter that was stuck with her and her husband when we left. Due to the ridiculous 7kg baggage limit we didn’t buy any wine to take home with us but I haven’t forgotten my promise, nor my desire to buy some of the Moores Hill wines online.

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After Moores Hill I had every intention on going to the Goaty Hill Winery down the road but time was getting away from us and those wine tastings had started to go to my head so we skipped Goaty Hill and headed to the Bay of Fires Winery.  Across the Batman Bridge and about thirty minutes up the road we found ourselves lining up for some wine tastings at the Bay of Fires Winery.  Before I go any further it goes without saying that that MS (my designated driver for the day) despite having a few wine tastings is a very responsible driver and at no point would he risk going over 0.05.

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We tasted most of the wines at the Bay of Fires winery and I wasn’t particularly taken with any of them to be honest.  The only reason that I wanted to go there was because I liked the name but it turns out that the Bay of Fires is actually no where near this winery and is actually about 170km away.  Good marketing ploy though.  I chose a glass of pinot noir to go with the Tasting Platter and we sat out on the patio eating cheese, beetroot relish and quail legs – something we both decided that we didn’t like.  The Tasting Platter was a little extravagant for two people but hey we were on holidays and technically this was lunch.  Plus it had plenty of blue cheese to keep me happy and plenty of non blue cheese to keep MS happy.

Tasmanian Tasting Plate - Two Tasmanian Cheeses, Smoked Quail, Chorizo, Blue Banner Pickled Onions, Wursthaus Terrine, Coal River Olives, Bills Beetroot Marmalade served with Sourdough for $40

Tasmanian Tasting Plate – Two Tasmanian Cheeses, Smoked Quail, Chorizo, Blue Banner Pickled Onions, Wursthaus Terrine, Coal River Olives, Bills Beetroot Marmalade served with Sourdough for $40

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I've certainly had worse days than this...

I’ve certainly had worse days than this…

On the way home we stopped at one of the many fruit farms that we had seen along the way to pick up some cherries and of course some more fudge.  Unfortunately the fruit farm that we stopped at had sold out of XXL cherries so we had to settle for the XL cherries, poor us.  These things were just enormous and so sweet and fleshy I would probably say they are the best cherries I have ever eaten.

The photo just doesn't do it justice but my hands are tiny

The photo just doesn’t do it justice but my hands are tiny

Upon returning to our humble abode at the Balmoral On York we promptly fell into a food coma for the rest of the afternoon.  Yes our day of wineries turned into only two wineries – complete amateurs compared to much of you wino’s I’m sure but any more and I would probably be passed out cold in the shower for the rest of the evening.  Dinner for us that night was fairly low key and we opted for some fish and chips overlooking the Tamar River with a glass of locally made Pagan Cider it was super romantic especially with the Bunnings Warehouse looming in the background.

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If you’re heading to the Tamar Wine Route I would definitely recommend a stop at Moores Hill Winery.  The Bay of Fires was great but we both preferred the wines, the outlook and the warm hospitality at Moores Hill. Stay tuned for the next instalment of my Tassie adventure featuring the Freycinet National Park, Swansea and of course the Oyster Farm x

Eating Ourselves Stupid in Tasmania – Hobart (Part 1)

No longer a ’20 something chick who likes to eat out in and around Cairns’ I recently celebrated my 30th birthday and MS who knows the way to my heart (food and travel) took me to Tasmania a couple of weeks ago to celebrate.  Having travelled to Tassie a few times to attend the Maritime College in Launceston and Beauty Point for various work courses I hadn’t actually had the opportunity to spend any ‘leisurely’ time down there until now.

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With jaw dropping scenery, a thriving food culture built on a diverse range of produce, a plethora of vineyards selling some of the finest drops of pinot noir you’re likely to ever taste, excellent roads and sh*tloads of native roadkill it’s easy to see why Tasmania has been named in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions to travel to in 2015.  For such a small state there is much to see and do in Tasmania and in an ideal world two weeks would be a perfect amount of time to spend there however due to work schedules and upcoming surgical procedures (no I am not getting a boob job) five days in Tassie was all we could muster.

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We flew in and out of Hobart via Melbourne on Jetstar, somehow managed to bypass the Jetstar baggage Nazi’s for the entire trip down and back to Cairns.  I must have just been lucky because my carry on was 8.5kg before I even left home – slightly above the 7kg allowance.  We picked up our rental and headed into the city to our room at the Travelodge on Macquarie Street.  Clean simple rooms around the $120 a night mark within good walking distance to pretty much everything and most importantly Salamanca Place is only about a 10 minute walk.

That night I had booked us in for dinner at lovacore restaurant Ethos, a place I picked after reading about in a recent issue of Gourmet Traveller.  For those of you wondering what a ‘lovacore’ restaurant is according to Wikipedia it’s a ‘person that’s interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market’ with the term being ‘spawned as a result of interest in sustainability’.  From the sounds of it we were certainly in the right place because there’s no shortage of this type of thing in Tasmania.

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The restaurant itself is housed in a space over 190 years old and illustrates an important part of Hobart’s history.  We were impressed from the moment we entered the arched laneway to Ethos, walking through the thriving veggie garden and onwards into the main part of the restaurant.

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The menu at Ethos is determined by the seasonal produce and offerings that arrive that day therefore each day it is different.  MS and I chose the 6 courses for AU$85 without wine ($160 with a wine pairing) and instead chose our own drinks from the menu.  I chose a Pinot Noir from the Huon Valley while MS ever the non wine drinker chose the locally made Pagan Apple Cider.

Huon Valley Pinot, don't mind if I do

Huon Valley Pinot, don’t mind if I do

Over the 6 courses we dined on dehydrated kingfish, rats tail radish, Bruny Island goat and bonito just to name a few things but my personal favourite was without a doubt the Egg, Asparagus, Kombu (kelp), Magentaspreen (some weird leafy vegetable) and Chickweed (another plant) dish.  I know it sounds complicated but it really wasn’t.  The flavour combination of the of the egg yolk, tempura asparagus and seaweed was exquisite.

Egg, Asparagus, Kombu, Magentaspreen and Chickweed (the reason it doesn't look like much is because I took this photo after I had already eaten some, whoops)

Egg, Asparagus, Kombu, Magentaspreen and Chickweed (the reason it doesn’t look like much is because I took this photo after I had already eaten some, whoops)

Bonito, Spring Onion, Apple and Lime

Bonito, Spring Onion, Apple and Lime

Bruny Island Goat with Smoked Eggplant, Beetroot and Cucumber

Bruny Island Goat with Smoked Eggplant, Beetroot and Cucumber

The entire meal was excellent with exceptionally knowledgeable, albeit seemingly nervous staff to boot but more importantly I love eating somewhere with such an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients.  It really excites me and by excited I mean the ‘gosh what’s going to happen next’ kind rather than the piss your pants kind.  Before I move on I must give a mention to the house made sourdough with butter that is churned in house for a week before serving.  Yes typical me, I go to an expensive restaurant and the most memorable thing for me is the bread.

Housemade butter that takes a week to make with red sauerkraut salt

House made butter that takes a week to make with red sauerkraut salt

That delicious home made sour dough with butter that took a week to make sprinkled with red sauerkraut salt

Homemade sour dough bread slathered in that homemade butter

The next day we headed up the road to highly recommended café Ginger Brown.  I must admit we were both a little disappointed when we arrived.  To put it bluntly it was an unassuming café on a random backstreet of Hobart.

Random Hobart backstreets on our way to Ginger Brown

Random Hobart backstreets on our way to Ginger Brown but look at that Mt Wellington back drop!

I was kind of hoping to have some delightful harbour views while sipping my morning flat white but the predominantly brown vintage décor would have to do.  I chose the House baked crumpets with whipped vanilla bean butter, caramelised nectarines and honey whilst MS chose the Red wine braised beef cheek omelette with sweet chilli, avocado, fried shallots and bean shoots (with a side of bacon of course).

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Red wine braised beef cheek omelette with sweet chilli, avocado, fried shallots and bean shoots (with a side of bacon).  This photo just doesn’t do it justice.

Despite the immense ‘heaviness’ of his breakfast MS enjoyed it but couldn’t finish it, I however nearly licked my plate clean.  My breakfast of House baked crumpets was in fact one of the best breakfasts I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

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House baked crumpets with whipped vanilla bean butter, caramelised nectarines and honey. Pretty sure that’s the perfect breakfast right there.

Next up we headed to Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) which houses the largest privately owned art collection in Australia and without going into it too much because no doubt it’s either somewhere you have already been or heard of, neither of MS or I particularly enjoyed it.  Call me uneducated, call me ignorant, call me what you like but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.  According to the lady at the front counter apparently peoples views on MONA are few and far between – some love it, some hate and some just leave confused.  Having said that I highly recommend that anyone visiting Hobart takes a trip to MONA to see it for themselves.

One of the more controversial exhibits at MONA... 'The wall of vaginas' which features over 70 real plaster vaginas

One of the more controversial exhibits at MONA… ‘The wall of vaginas’ which features over 70 real plaster vaginas

Beyond the art the museum itself is very impressive having cost over $70 million to build, including a winery, a brewery and a restaurant as well as a sweet a** outdoor area where you can sit on bean bags whilst drinking wine and eating cheese.  Pretty sure that right there is my lifelong dream.

This photo doesn't really capture how sweet a** this place actually is but you get the gist

This photo doesn’t really capture how sweet a** this place actually is but you get the gist

At the MONA’s above ground Wine Bar (yes there is a below ground one also) MS ordered a Lemon Tart that he didn’t realise was a Lemon Tart (he sure is special sometimes) while I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and some cheese and biccies to ‘nibble on’.

My morning tea of Shropshire Blue Cheese (not from Tassie) with Lavosh, Quince Paste and Fig (AU$10).  Don't you wish all morning teas were like this?

My morning tea of Shropshire Blue Cheese (not from Tassie) with Lavosh, Quince Paste and Fig (AU$10). Don’t you wish all morning teas were like this?

After our MONA visit we headed up to the top of Mt Wellington for stunning 360 degree views and if it wasn’t for little bit of cloud cover to the north I am pretty sure we could have almost seen Melbourne the views are that vast.  Before we made the two hour drive to Launceston where we were booked in for the next night we drove in completely the other direction (stupidly at my request) to Peppermint Bay for a bite to eat.

IMG_6540The Peppermint Bay restaurant in Woodbridge was also suggested by one of my readers (thanks Bernard) as somewhere to visit and after having a look at it online I decided it was a must-do.  The food there was great with an exciting lunch menu and a few specials on the board but the best part was probably the location.

Woodbridge cold smoked trout, labneh, sourdough and lemon (AU$18)

Woodbridge cold smoked trout, labneh, sourdough and lemon (AU$18)

The former resting place for Tassie favourite ‘The Stackings’ Peppermint Bay looks out over the pristine Tasmanian waterway towards Bruny Island where you can watch the barges making their way in and out of Hobart whilst enjoying a glass of wine and lifes simple pleasures.

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Peppermint Bay would also be a fantastic place to go for dinner and drinks during winter.  With the fire crackling in the background and the cold chill of the outside air pressing up against the floor to ceiling glass windows I think it would be absolute magic.  Yes it’s a tough life but someone’s got to do it.

Stay tuned for my next post about Launceston and the Tamar Valley Wine Region xox

To plan your own trip to Tasmania check out the Discover Tasmania website here