Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Twin Palates Food Guide - Tasmania

"First we eat, then we do everything else"
- Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher

I LOVE FOOD. I LOVE TRAVELLING. I LOVE MY BROTHER. NOT NECESSARILY IN THAT ORDER...but maybe... If you combine them together, jump on a plane and mix, you have a whole lot of love and the beginnings of the Twin Palates Food Guide. Welcome!

Our holidays revolve around what time a restaurant opens, when we can get a booking and how we can space out our eating times so we're not walking into the next mouthful with a full stomach. But that hasn't stopped us before. 

IN THIS SERIES, WE WILL SHARE OUR FOOD AND TRAVEL RESEARCH ON CITIES AND COUNTRIES, so you too can explore a culture through it's food. This week, we will be covering Hobart and Launceston in Tasmania, Australia.

BIGGEST HIGHLIGHTS: Scallop pies, wineries, exotic produce (wasabi, saffron, truffles and the food derivatives in between)
Last visited: February 2014 
Last updated: June 2014


Tasmanians' are known for their honey, particularly leatherwood. We love filling our suitcases with local food to take home, it reminds us of the holiday, much like a spoon or a magnet does, except it is edible. That being said, sometimes I think the food souvenir is so special, that I can't bring myself to open or eat it, so essentially it just becomes a pantry souvenir. The place we loved the most to get our honey products from was OzHoney. Not the easiest place to find (mid-building, near a hospital), and not the most manicured, but they let their products and bees do the talking. Not only are they a friendly couple, but we basically sampled all their products, which extends beyond the different varieties of honey. The owner has large acreage of apiaries, and is a keen brewer. You can also taste his honey beers, honey wine and mead. 

Speaking of beers, breweries tours worth exploring are the homes of the famous Tasmanian beers Cascade (Launceston) and Boags (Hobart). For wine, Josef Chromy is an absolute must visit vineyard about 10 min drive from Launceston airport. They have a large selection (about 19 wines) on tasting, and they have fantastic cab sav, sparkling white, Riesling (try their Delikat SGR) and stickies.

For food, Navarro’s restaurant in Launceston was a top 3 dining experience in Tasmania. Amazing hand made ravioli, that I had to order both ravioli’s for an entrée, and then had to order them AGAIN after the main to have for dessert. They were that good! Then we ordered dessert. The menu was too enticing, and we were pretty much hypnotized by their food. Highly recommended.

Stillwater restaurant in Launceston is apparently one of the best in Tasmania. We didn't have the best experience there, but the dishes were well presented and sourced locally. Our favourite food memory was the burnt butter icecream, they absolutely nailed that flavour. Sweet, bitter, creamy, flavourful. Better than most of the gelato we've eaten in Italy. Impressive looking dishes and worth a look. For more sweet food and pastries, we found Tant pour tant patisserie our most notable, although we missed out on trying out some mille feuille. Valhalla is also the famous local icecream, but we found it tasted like an everyday supermarket icecream.

On the drive to Hobart we pretty much ate 5 or 6 pies from a handful of bakeries. A lot of good choice. Check out:
  • Brighton Bakehouse - has fantastic pies, close to Hobart. Curried scallop pie is worth a try.
  • Ross village has 2 great bakeries – try the vanilla slice (they dress up in cute French style outfits) at Ross village bakery and scallop pie at the famous home of the scallop pie, Bakery31
For digesting and relaxation, the Launceston Cataract Gorge is Launceston's No.1 tourist attraction, it is where the locals go for a walk or run, a picnic or a walk in a very relaxed park like atmosphere.


Tassie is growing and producing more and more exotic foods – wasabi, truffles, saffron, you name it. Gone is their tag of the "Apple Isle". Their local products also reflect this. We found wild wasabi cheeses, Tasmanian truffle butter, oils and honey, along with a mouth watering selection of gourmet foods at the Wursthaus deli near Salamanca market. 

Salamanca market on a Saturday morning is a must!! You also find Tassal (Tasmanian Salmon brand) shop is near the Salamanca market, next to a popular café called Smolt. A stroll down the wharf to see the floating mini-restaurants is worth a look, or a tasty dinner at Da Angelo’s pizza. It is one of the famous Italian pizza and pasta restaurants in Hobart, which came recommended to us and it certainly delivered on taste. It is about a 5 min walk from the central city, and is casual, reasonably priced and very popular. 

We made a long awaited trip to the much lauded Garagistes, a well recognized restaurant within the Hobart and Australian dining scene. To be completely honest, it was very hit and miss, and we ended up being quite disappointed with the dining experience despite the food looking amazing and well presented.

Our favourite cafe was Café Ethos. Highly recommended! We had breakfast here and it was a top 3 dining experience in Tasmania. Try their take on "cocopops", very clever and delicious! Coffee is also good and café contains one of Australia’s oldest toilets.

For booze, you absolutely can't go past Overeem single malt Whisky from the Old Hobart Distillery. My favourite Australian Whisky by far! We found some amazing wines in and around Hobart, including:

  • Puddleduck vineyard. Nice little boutique vineyard with a relaxing setting by a pond. Check out their pinot noir and wine dogs out the back!
  • Pooley Wines - A multi-award winning vineyard, which won best cellar door experience the year we went. We bought their trophy dessert wine, which was stunning. They have trophies and awards coming out of their ears, including for their pinot, and we enjoyed their cellar door
  • Frogmore Creek Vineyard - try their Forty Grams Residual Riesling, who also own the 42 degrees South brand which bottle some very good sparkling wines.

For a bit of culture, we made a visit to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). An absolute must do in Hobart!! Many famous pieces of art here, and it is actually a billionaire’s private collection which he has opened to the public. Highly recommended! Experience at their adjacent restaurant, “the Source” was overrated, it felt like the food tried too hard to be spectacular, but fell short. Don’t get us wrong, the chefs work hard, presentation is great and view is beautiful, but we thought it would have been better to do simple food well, rather than complex food poorly. For some further entertainment, we caught the yearly Uni Revue at The Theatre Royal – Australia’s oldest working theatre. While there was a plethora of Tasmanian jokes we didn't 100% understand, it was very well done and we will definately see another show next time we visit.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getting back on the line

WHERE DID THE LAST 5 YEARS GO? 1825 DAYS, 5475 MEALS, OVER 100000 SWALLOWS and 2000000+ chews! At least a quarter of those chews I actively knew I shouldn't have eaten, but I still did. Yet I probably don't regret 80% of it. Actually, no regrets.

When I sit back and think about the last 12 months of food experiences, I have vivid flashbacks of several distinctive flavours, some all encompassing aromas, and many memories of laughter over wine. Oh, and also, many good crunches. I have always loved pork crackling (not ab crunches), but over the years I have developed into an absolute texture junkie.

So while it has been a long time coming (better late than never), I would like to start the first post of the year with a resolve to open up and to use this blog to put the many food musings on paper (or "on the line"). To channel the inner foodie and express it bolder than ever. And more importantly, to have a channel to be creative. In this digital age with multi-channel social media and autocorrect, I feel like I'm just following and reading, and my spelling is getting shocking! But now it is time to lead out and get those creative juices flowing again!


SECOND STEP. INSTAGRAM. BECAME "ONE OF THOSE" WANKERS. BUT THEY ARE SOME very artistic, outgoing and creative wankers. If you can't beat them, join them. @brandothepig

THIRD STEP. THINK ABOUT THE LAST 12 MONTHS AND START WRITING! SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, starting with the big hitters, TP explored the following of the San Pellegrino World's Top 100 restaurants (updated for latest 2014 list):

#3. Osteria Francescana
Modena, Italy (2013 #3)

#5. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
London (2013 #7)

6. Mugaritz
San Sebastian, Spain (2013 #4)

8. Arzak
San Sebastian, Spain (2013 #8)

24. Amber
Hong Kong, China (2013 #36)

32. Attica
Melbourne, Australia (2013 #21)

33. Nihonryori Ryugin 
Tokyo, Japan (2013 #22)

35. Martin Berasategui
San Sebastian, Spain (2013 #64)

47. The Fat Duck, Bray, UK (2013 #33)
55. St John, London, UK (2013 #71)
60. Quay, Sydney, Australia (2013 #48)

85. Caprice
Hong Kong, China (2013 #73)

WE WILL BE POSTING MORE ABOUT THESE RESTAURANTS, ALONG WITH CITY GUIDES, favourite dining hall of fame, cooking tips and more. Stay tuned...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Simple delicious chocolate sauce, sans chocolate!

I WAS BLOWN AWAY YESTERDAY WHEN AFTER DINNER, I TRIED SOME HOMEMADE salted caramel icecream, with a rich chocolate sauce topping. What was even more surprising was that it didn't have any chocolate!

It was a thick, rich chocolate sauce that reminded me of the sauce in a McDonalds chocolate sundae. After begging for the recipe, I was told it was a mix of lots of cocoa, butter, vanilla, sugar and water. Her grandma taught her that recipe, so I felt I was getting a secret family recipe, but she couldnt tell me the quantities, she just knew when to add more until the consistency was right. Googling this, I found this recipe, which appears similar. The beauty is you can keep mixing until you finally get the taste and consistency you want.

GIVE IT A TRY. I COULDN'T BELIEVE THERE WASN'T ANY MELTED chocolate or cream, which are the two main ingredients I use in my chocolate sauces.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Can't get you out of my head - food musings...

Marseille, the home of the mighty bouillabaisse

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food" 
- George Bernard Shaw

something, you even write it on your to-do list. But for one reason or another, every other task manages to leap frog it and it just never seems to make it on the top. It becomes a permanent resident, wooden spoon sitting at the bottom forever...

WELL, BABY STEPS I SAY. AFTER ALMOST 3 YEARS, TWIN PALATES ATTEMPTS to get back on the map. While we have been dormant online, offline we have been living the foodies dream. We just need to hire a blogger to dictate our thoughts and experiences. To those with established blogs - well done, we know first hand how much work it takes!

I'm not going to say this a comeback just yet. It's going to take some work, but just a sneak peak into what we've been up to in the last few months below. A separate post will give a sneak peak into the michelin stars, four of the worlds top ten restaurants, and the best food we've EVER EATEN! Stay tuned...

San Sebastian, foodies paradise and world capital of pintxos

Barcelona, iberian ham city

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, some of the finest anchovies & bruschettas

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, limoncello & unforgettable views

Modena, Italy - home of Ferrari & balsamic vinegar

Bologna, Italy - home of pasta ragu (bolognese) & tortellini

Parma, Italy - home of Parma ham & Parmigiano

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taste of Auckland ... the results

By TP Big Bro

After experiencing the wonders of the Taste of Melbourne, I was excited to once again dig into the culinary goldmine and be dazzled by the gastronomic magic at the Taste of Auckland festival. As someone who is trying to conquer Auckland's Top 50 restaurants, to have the heavy hitters of the local culinary scene concentrated together was a victory in itself. It evoked the feeling of productivity, similar to when Sunday night whizzes by but I've caught up with my mates, hit the town, gone to the gym, done the washing, the errands, the shopping, everything on the to-do list.

Having learnt to dismiss the "go late to miss the crowds and get free stuff" theory after it backfired at Taste of Melbourne, I hit the Sunday 11-4pm session at around 1:30pm. That way, it wouldn't be peak feeding, but there should be enough food to last the day. The theory worked, but to be honest, it was probably more of a "it fitted best in my day" convenience rather than a stress-tested Sun Tzu military strategy.

Unfortunately, after avoiding the first pitfall, I fell for the other trap. Hook, line and sinker. The bank account was shaking it's skinny head, but the full, fat and over-fed belly was having a good ole time. Unlike the Melbourne ticketing currency, the Auckland crowns were like thin poker chips that came in small see-through money bags, and with the Sky City casino standing tall in the backdrop, I quickly got the torn feeling of excitement mixed with knowing I was about to burn some serious cash. After some internal rationalisation and the silent chanting of "it's been a hard year" (that old chestnut!), I have effectively given myself a license to splurge. So with the sun unexpectantly shining, the live music lifting the energetic ambience, I slowly lost myself in the smokiness and smells of the foodie wonderland ...

Similar to Melbourne, I managed to taste 8 dishes in total (6 mains, 1 dessert, and I was so full but still had crowns left that I spent it on a cocktail). So counting down from lowest to highest, here were my findings.

8. Saffron gin cocktail (Cocktail exhibitor)
This was an outstanding cocktail (it would be a top 3 or 4 contender), but as it is a drink I am excluding it. Also, it was at the end of the day, and I couldn't remember what was in it, and didn't take a photo. I actually wanted to spend my last crowns on the Clooney's Lemon & Elderflower Tart, but I was so bursting-at-the-seams full, that I couldn't walk straight let alone eat any more. The tartiness and zing of the lemon would have pressed an eject button in my stomach. I have been foolish in the past, but today I was in control and disciplined. Instead of more dessert, I was intrigued by a cocktail stand, and decided to try their Saffron gin. It was the cool refreshing hit I needed. There was some cherry liquer, but I can't find it listed in the guide.

7. South Island Salmon, smoked scallop, iced fennel, orange & nasturtium (Clooney) - 12 Crowns

The dish sung with freshness. It was clean but slightly bland as if it was missing something. I would however, say it won plate of the day. And by that I mean, literally, plate of the day - it was paper but looked like a food tray with entree cutlery. Extra brownie points for presentation

6. Simon Gault Alaskan King crab & prawn in jalapeno crème fraiche sauce topped with tuna wafer (Euro) - 10 Crowns

I was sold by the name. As in, name of the dish, and name of the restaurant. It was probably the dish I wanted to try the most, just by looking at the program. When I got to the Euro stand, besides the two beautiful young cashiers, it was empty. I was surprised. I was also surprised when the dish came out, as it looked much different to what I imagined. The flavours were good, and it was creamy and rich. By the time I ate it though, I was pretty much overloaded and creamy was the last thing I wanted to taste.

5. Crispy wild boar with heirloom beets, apple & hazlenuts (The Grove) - 12 crowns

This dish made me feel I was eating strange but tasty pork and mushroom balls at a Sunday Yum Cha session. There was a chewy elasticky texture which was actually pleasant, combined with a crispy crumbed texture on the outside. It was different, the flavours married together well at the end, and it made me think "a successful progressive dish".

4. Yellowfin tuna , Salmon and Snapper 'New Style' Sashimi (Soto) - 12 Crowns

In hindsight, I should have asked about the "new style", because I kind of didn't get it (Soto are known for their traditional cooking but with modern presentation). As confused as I was, the combination of flavours was harmonious and beautiful. I felt clean and refreshed after eating it, and just wanted more.

3. Gameford Lodge King Cole Duck Breast, pickled apple, maple & mustard (Clooney) - 12 Crowns

This dish was a mythical creature. It didn't actually register on my hit list after reading the menu, but after speaking to several other foodies, the Clooney Duck was repeated that many times that I marched over to see what all the fuss was about. It didn't disappoint. The duck was flavoursome and beautifully cooked, and combined with the other components of the dish, it finished off spectacularly. Loved how the toasted nuts lifted the dish, and the melting sherbety malto was a good touch that didn't distract the dish.
2. Valrhona chocolate pavé, cookie crumbs and strawberry cream (The Grove) - 8 Crowns

Almost equal first, but a very close second place. One bite and I could tell it would be have been the standout dessert of the festival. Dark, rich, smooth and textured. Ticked all the boxes. The strawberries were a refreshing palate cleanser, allowing continous hits of deep chocolatey goodness. Mmmmmmmm..... give me the recipe.

1. Teriyaki Chicken infused with Manuka honey (Soto) - 12 Crowns

Absolute stand out of the day. One bite, and it was a serious reminder of how chicken should be cooked. "Ten-da, jooci and swet" said the Japanese cashier. He was absolutely, without a doubt, 100% right. It was amazingly tender, packed full of juices and masterfully flavoured. I wanted more, more, more. That's even when I found a long curly hair in it. If it wasn't of the hair, I would have licked the plate. Easily the longest queuing line I saw all day. Also loved how efficient it was, in true Japanese style. When I ordered, they gave me some origami and told me to wait in the barbeque line. The smell made me stand up like a grizzly bear and drool with my claws out. I then exchanged my cute origami for my food. Great system, great dish, great service and dish of the day.
Winning restaurant: Soto Japanese Restaurant
13 St Marys Road
Ponsonby 1011
+64 (9) 360 0021

p.s Yes, the very first picture is heir to the Dilmah fortune.

p.p.s If you have a "taste-of" city event that you love or think is worth the travel, I am more than happy to hear about it

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saké Restaurant & Bar

by TP Little bro

Some places attract customers by a great menu, other places by great service. This place attracted me by an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald. Top 50 things every foodie must do

Having recently acquired 1 chef’s hat and sporting an Izakaya setting, I became intrigued and signed up for the signature dishes menu at $88 a head.

Edamame. Points for being the first I’ve seen using sea salt flakes. Nice presentation but because there are flakes, there's an inconsistency in spread over beans, but it's preferred as there’s always a salt hit when you least expect it.

Shumai (chinese inspired steamed prawn dumplings with ponzu dipping sauce). As soon as you lift the lid of the dumpling steamer, it smells authentically chinese. Unlike the traditional chinese dumpling, this one is beautifully wrapped. The firm smooth consistent texture paired with the ponzu dipping sauce, gets this dish a tick of approval.

Panko rice balls (soy bean, bamboo & shiitake mushroom rice balls with wasabi aioli). Deliciously coated in crunchy panko crumbs, first bites are well balanced with the wasabi aioli.

Kingfish Jalapeno (hiramasa kingfish, yuzu soy, thin slices of jalapeno chili and coriander). In each mouth full, I'm given the pleasure of individually tasting each ingredient while simultaneously experiencing syngeries of the flavours working together. It's light, fresh and has two key items which complement the kingfish - a refreshing lemony tang and a thin slice of jalapeno to add just the right amount of spice to elevate the flavour but not overwhelm.

Miso butterfish (sweet miso marinated butterfish grilled and wrapped in bamboo with sweet pickled radish and den miso sauce). It's a well cooked dish, soft enough to break apart easily but hard enough to maintain texture. The deep rich miso sauce complemented the fish well and was interestingly creamier, sweeter and richer than any miso sauce I’ve ever tasted.

Popcorn shrimp (bite sized prawn tempura pieces tossed with a creamy spicy sauce). Delightful, playful pieces of crispy tempura, seasoned well, bringing out the flavour of the prawn with the added the light crunch of the tempura. Very addictive!
Beef teriyaki (grass fed beef sirlion cooked medium rare on sautéed shitake and buckwheat with matsuzaka sauce). It was just like a standard steak but the point of difference was the edamame beans sprinkled throughout dish and the rich, authentically japanese flavour of the matsuzaka sauce.

Buttermilk panna cotta, raspberry jelly, raspberry sauce & toasted coconut.
The smallest dessert I've ever seen on a menu, served in shot glasses, simple but delicious panna cotta went down very quickly with the refreshing lightness and sweetness of the raspberry shining through a pinch of tang and the crisp nutty flavour of the toasted coconut.

Overall, this place was worth the investment. There were quality ingredients, cooked well and elegantly explored the many facets of Japanese fusion cooking. The servings were also good servings with each person at the table feeling happily full at the end.

There’s an certain expectation of going to a hatted restaurant and paying hatted prices, but Sake definitely earns their stripes and easily finds a place in my top 5 japanese restaurants in Sydney.

Saké Restaurant & Bar
12 Argyle Street, The Rocks, Sydney. Phone: 9259 5656.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Cookbook challenge - artisan bread making

I had every intention of participating in the MFT cookbook challenge.

I guess life and circumstance took hold and now, in another country, I reawake and see that it is week 48 of the challenge, and my grand total stands at one recipe.

To be fair, I have been unofficially competing, that is, I have been digging through my cookbooks and experimenting with new and used recipes. I have even been taking photos. But it always seems to fall over when I have to post. Not sure if it is because I don't have the time, or that I can't even be bothered loading the dishwasher let alone spend time writing up what I've just cooked. Let this post be a sign of the tides changing.

This week's theme is Bread. My favourite baker is Kiwi Dean Brettschneider. I first saw him when I attended his artisan bread making workshop this year, and found him to be a wealth of knowledge, intelligent, creative and a good laugh. His passion and excellence really came through the workshop, and I was really inspired from all his stories. I bought his 2010 Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards nominated book, Global Baker and flick through it constantly. It is a well put together book with culture sprinkled throughout, with recipes from classical French recipes to modernised Chinese, along with his worldly spin on food. If I could afford it, I would quit my job and work for him for a year.

The below is my favourite bread recipe, obtained from the workshop, which is a variation from one of the recipes in his book.

Savoury Garden Vegetable and Cheese Plaited Scone Loaf
- makes 2 small plaited loaves or one large plaited loaf (about 8 or so servings)

150g tasty cheddar cheese, grated
20g parmesan cheese, grated
1 small egg
30g red onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
25g red, 25g green peppers
2 tbs parsley
40g sundried tomatoes, finely
40g olives, chopped
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Scone Dough
380g plain flour
20g caster sugar
25g baking powder
good pinch salt
70g butter, softened
1 egg
200ml milk

1 egg wished together with 2 tbs water for egg wash
Additional flour for dusting

I usually cut the vegetables the night before (
I usually omit the olives), ready for the next day. I'm fairly flexible with my measurements as I enjoy packing my bread with a lots of ingredients.
- Mix filling together to form a rough spreadable paste.

- Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder
- Add the butter, rubbing into the flour using your finger tips until it's evenly mixed in
- Whisk the milk and egg together, then mix into dry ingredients
- Mix to a soft dough using a wooden spoon
- Tip onto floured bench and knead for 10-20 seconds. Don't over knead or it will become too elastic

- Halve the dough and roll into 2 squares
- Spread the filling evenly, leaving about 1cm free at the bottom edge (I also add tomato or BBQ sauce as I prefer a moist filling)
- Brush the edge with egg wash and roll up tightly into a log
- Make a single lengthways cut down the middle and then plait
- Place on top of baking sheet lined with paper, keeping them well apart to prevent joining
- Brush with egg wash and allow to rest for 10minutes on the bench
- Bake at 190-200 degrees C for approx 30-35min, turning half way through to ensure even colour. Throw in some icecubes for a nice shiny finish
This has become a semi-regular weekend recipe, which I use to accompany an entree or main, and I can also take to work to eat or munch on for breakfast. The worse thing about this is the clean-up :(