Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Drysdale Christmas shop 2012

YAY! The Drysdale Christmas shop is back again this year, bearing gifts of Xmas puddings, cakes, gingerbread houses and much much more. Bring your purses along and spend up BIG!

See how the students have progressed with their cooking and baking skills. Support them by buying their wonderful products, and save yourself a lot of time in the kitchen too.

Thursday 6th December 2012
11.00 - 4.00
Drysdale (Polytechnic)
59 Collins Street

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Went to another of those absolutely wonderful little hidden treasures in Tasmania on Friday.

We spent four days at Swansea, which, by the way, is preparing for a bumper tourist season with a good start. Some new eating businesses and some old ones with new owners make for an exciting summer up the coast – making Swansea an excellent watering hole for us eaters! Felicity’s, just along from Banc towards the water, is highly recommended for both its vintage wares and food. Browse and eat – what more could you want? Banc has a new owner, and a newly installed wood fired pizza oven. Where Ci Simon was is now a gallery/café, and the former Trellis is now Onyx Providore. The former Ebb is about to commence trading mid-December with two partners from Launceston who already operate a restaurant there. They are expanding to Swansea, and it looks promising. Best spot in town for a restaurant, I reckon.

Anyway, all that aside, I had heard snippets about Tombolo at Coles Bay, but it was uncharted waters as far as I was concerned, and I instinctively knew it had all the earmarks of a great place, given that one of the people involved in it is Shannon, who previously worked front of house at Saffire, and in fact looked after us extremely well when Rita and friends dined there after they first opened.

Shannon was serving morning teas at Tombolo when we arrived in Coles Bay, and we popped in to make a reservation for lunch and check out the menu (in order to salivate for a while!). They start lunches at 12.00, so this gave us time to walk the dog, and ourselves, along the beach.

I was surprised at how busy they were, for such a small establishment, during the period we were there. Lots of tourists, as well as locals popping in for a coffee, or a meal, and I now understand exactly why!

The food was absolutely superb. I could not fault a thing, and nor could Bec. The menu is simple and straightforward. Only about six or seven items on it, and catering for those with a vegetarian desire as well. For such a small space, this is obviously the most sensible and practical way to go when you have a café like that, but I have seen many places of similar size trying to cram appetizers, entrees, mains and desserts onto a menu which must be a nightmare for poor old chef in the kitchen trying to order, prep and cook for such a large variety of food.

Bec selected a steak sandwich with chips – which may well sound mundane to you, good reader, but the difference between this model and others was a world away! For a start it was contained in a lovely crusty white bread roll. The steak contained therein was fillet steak, thus making it the most tender (ergo chewable!) steak sanger ever. It was topped with caramelized onion, a fried egg, tomato, cheese and lettuce. All were top notch ingredients, and not the usual shitty pap which cafes usually fob you off with when you order something like that. From memory it was $14, with the chips, and Bec declared it the best steak sandwich she had ever eaten (mind you, anyone would triumph when she mostly devours Mykonos steak sangers!!). I had a bite and totally agreed with her anyway.

I was torn between a few great sounding menu items but ended up, strangely, deciding on the Beef Curry. I use the word ‘strangely’ because I assumed that at one of Tasmania’s top coastal towns I would elect to eat some form of fish, but in this instance didn’t. It was superb. Mild enough for anyone’s palate (but not too mild): the meat slow cooked so not at all chewy, the sauce a beautiful foil for the rice and poppodums. At $18, the amount on the plate was enough for anyone to feel they were getting value for money, but not too much that you didn’t feel like going off to do some afternoon rambling along a beach, or to Freycinet’s Wineglass Bay.

We drove back to Swansea with a few stopovers en route: firstly at Freycinet Oyster Farm to buy fresh scallops ($11 per 250 gms) and a freshly caught and cooked crayfish at $68! Then at Gala Vineyard for a tasting, leaving with a Reisling and Pinot, then another stop at Milton Vineyard for another tasting, and an Iced Reisling and Pinot! The two women doing the tastings at both vineyards were delightful, mega-friendly and sold their product knowledgeably and well. None of that superior attitude I have observed at some vineyards whilst the tastings are conducted.

We were delighted that on that very day last Friday, the Tasmanian Government had finally declared the fish from the area (after much testing) able to be eaten again following the recall a few weeks ago of all the local products (notably Spring Bay Mussels) from the waters in that area.

On Saturday we whizzed up to Bicheno to check out the Wine and Food Festival – a mini version of Taste of Tasmania. It was great if you like that sort of thing, but I’m sure my regular readers are aware of my dislike of events like this, so I sat peacefully, on my own, in the shade with the dog, reading and enjoying the spectacle of others so happily engaged in eating, drinking and listening to live music. There is a place for all of us in this world, luckily!

Tombolo Cafe
6 Garnet Avenue
Coles Bay
Ph 6257 0124

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Amigos? Oh no, we're not!

Always on the hunt for good palatable food, Tuesday night found a group of us eating at Amigos in North Hobart. Since Tacos closed down, we only have the one Mexican option in town if we feel a taco or enchilada craving coming on! So Amigos it was.

There were eight of us and we ordered a good cross section of food from the menu, so I looked forward to seeing a tasty selection of Mexican food arrayed on the table.

On Tuesday nights, they have a special menu of 3 courses for $22 which contains a small example of some of their typical food. Two of our party opted for that menu with the rest of us ordering off the normal menu. I tasted the dips, and found them extremely lacking in any kind of imagination at all. They could have been so much tastier but, I suppose in the interests of keeping the costs down, they opted for sloppy and boring. The addition of a few spices, plus the chef actually tasting them, would have improved them no end.

The Amigos version of garlic bread ($5.50) with salsa, herbs, garlic and cheese was served, as well as a pinto bean dip ($11) which was quite nice. I had a beef taco for entrée ($5) in the interests of experimentation, as I often make tacos at home, and was curious as to how my home made babies measured up to the pro jobs. As modest as I am, I must say that mine stand out head and shoulders above Amigos!

The nachos ($9) were disgusting. The minimal amount of cheese on the corn chips was overcooked, ensuring you didn’t get that yummy runny cheese action as you pick out your corn chip to dip in the salsa and sour cream, so you were left with dry unappetizing nachos. Nachos were one of the biggest sellers at my café and if I had 5c for every plate of nachos I’d ever made, I’d be in the Bahamas now, so I can assure you I know my nachos, and no plate I ever made was as bad as that one at Amigos. Big thumbs down for those!

For mains, everyone’s food appeared to be a slight variation on the theme – they all looked similar, and most probably tasted the same too. We had Enchilada, Chimichangas ($19.50), Faijitas and Fajitas Pollo Mariscos ($20) which was a seafood dish served on a sizzle platter.

The food was very mediocre. It was mass produced food designed to appeal to the most diverse range of Hobart’s population (maybe the Maccas crowd?) and stunningly unspectacular. For a lover of Mexican food, this was most definitely not a shining example of same.

The service was SO slow, especially as they have the most constant stream of takeaway orders being telephoned in, and customers coming in to collect their takeaways. It was the most unrelaxing evening I’ve had for a long time, and exactly the opposite of a good night out, for me anyway. But, I’m positive it’s a money spinner for the owner, and in Hobart’s current economic climate, that would have to be a bonus!

Amigos Restaurant
329 Elizabeth Street
North Hobart
Ph 6234 6115

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Anatolia Restaurant 2012

Had an interesting meal the other night at Anatolia in North Hobart. Some of the food was outstanding, while other aspects were abysmal.

I’ll set the scene for you. We are the first diners to arrive, and in fact are the only customers in the place for the duration of our meal there. Hence it would be reasonable to assume we would be on the receiving end of some good hospitality customer service – not so. We had to wait a good 15 minutes after we finished eating each course for the plates to be cleared, and further questioning from waitperson/owner as to whether or not our needs were being met.

Wanting to try and sample as much a cross section of their food as we could, we ordered, to start with, a shared Seafood Gourmet Platter ($15 pp) which comprised a king prawn each, a natural oyster each topped with a heavy-ish oil mix, and two small round shallow dishes, one containing a tomato-based sauce with marinated octopus, and the other containing a creamy sauce with mussels and diced fish. On the side of the platter was what the menu describes as “spoon salad” – god knows what that is, but it was awful. It presented like a salad I had made yesterday and accidentally left out on the bench overnight – with torn lettuce leaves, and a few other typical salad ingredients all looking quite unappetizing and wilted, and tasting worse. It was dressed with a bitter dressing, and one that did absolutely nothing to enhance the food.

The tomato-y octopus, the creamy mussel and fish ‘stew’ (for want of a better descriptor) and the prawns were fabulous, and I would return any time for those. Half way through eating these, we requested some Turkish bread to sop up all the sauce – an inspired idea, and one they should incorporate into the menu description. Leave out the crap salad and add some hot bread! Yummo!

For mains, we both ordered the Anatolian Mixed Grill Platter ($38), as it sounded good, and I remembered fondly years ago having the same menu item there (under previous owners) and thoroughly enjoying it.

The menu describes it as containing lamb cutlet, chicken shish, Turkish meatball and prawn, and that’s indeed what it did contain, along with another generous helping of the ubiquitous bitter salad! All were fine, with the lamb cutlet being cooked medium, the chicken kebab and the prawn well done, and the meatball ditto.

The mains were a slight disappointment, as they weren’t (in our opinions) as tasty as the great entrée, but I’m sure if we hadn’t had the seafood entrée previously, we would have been very happy with our mains.

The menu itself reads extremely well, with pretty well all menu items being ones I’d love to have been able to try.

But – and there is a huge ‘but’ – the atmosphere was what I can only describe as ‘weird’. From a previous random conversation with the owner, I knew that the current owners have come from overseas/mainland with no previous experience in hospitality. They were intending retiring, as they are of that age, then decided to buy Anatolia and take on a life as restaurateurs.

Unfortunately the overarching ‘old peoples’ attitude and logic applies to a lot of their approach to the restaurant business, and, being an old person myself, I well recognize the signs!

No music in a deserted restaurant room is noticeable. The owners (being the only waitstaff working that evening) sitting down in the restaurant and eating their evening meal is something I have never seen before. Yes – many restaurant owners/managers sit down in their restaurant and eat, but it’s usually when they have other staff rostered on working, or they join a friend or guest at a table and eat or drink with them. That made it awkward when we (as customers) wanted to ask for something (ie bread, or another drink, or a look at the dessert menu) and knew we were going to have to ask our waitperson who was sitting across the room at another table eating, and disturb them while they were eating their meal!

Look – good luck to them, and may they prosper, but despite some good food there, I would have to think seriously about a return visit there, or ensure I was there on a busy Friday night – just for the atmosphere!

Anatolia Restaurant
Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine
321 Elizabeth St
North Hobart
Ph 6231 1770
Website www.tasteofanatolia.com