Things to do and see in Tasmania – Hobart, Taste of Tasmania & MONA: the most eccentric museum in the world

*Slow clap*. Well done chaps, you’ve actually made it to part 4, somehow. You should pat yourself on the back for making it this far; in fact, I should also self-congratulate – for managing to close out the final chapter of the Tasmania adventures. What a marathon, but we’re finally here!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Date of trip: 21/12/16 – 3/1/17
Known for: fresh seafood, good quality beef, gorgeous state & national parks

Where: Maps

I love travel as much as I do food; it’s simply becoming less of a secret now as I expand I’m Still Hungry’s focus. The world is far bigger than Sydney, and I wish to show it to you. Welcome to another installment of my travel series! 

This final entry in the Tassie series focusses on Hobart. I wish I had spent more than the mere two days I had here; from a foodie’s perspective, you could easily go a whole week chowing down what this great city has to offer!

Tasmania Trip Map

Key:

Red: food destination

Blue: scenery/sight/landmark destination

Destinations with an asterisk (*) are recommended. In this post, everything earns the honour!

Hobart & Surrounds

Drunken Admiral*

Mt Wellington (Kunanyi)*

Salamanca Place / Taste Food Markets*

Rockwall Bar & Grill*

Born in Brunswick*

MONA*

Hobart & Surrounds

The table of contents for this post pretty much gave it away – food, food and more food. Compared to previous posts in the series, it’s almost like a return to form for this food blogger.

As the biggest city in Tasmania, it’s not surprising that Hobart would have a dense concentration of high-quality eating. Given I only had around 3-4 meals here, I made sure that focus was kept on Tasmania’s renowned products of seafood & beef.

Drunken Admiral*

You may as well be boarding a pirate ship when entering Drunken Admiral. A seriously old-school restaurant straight from the get-go, there are no pretenses here: it’s a funky fit-out, but when it comes to seafood Drunken Admiral is means business.

Their perhaps overly extensive menu was somewhat confronting for us in the choices on offer, but the staff do a good job of explaining it all. To take another spin on it: it would be quite surprising if nothing on the menu appealed; I wanted to eat it all!

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Yachtie’s seafood mixed grill: pan-seared garlic marinated skewers of prawns, scallops, squid & fish on an oven-fired stone w/shoestring fries, salad, housemade tomato relish & garlic aioli – $39.9

The only bad thing about this dish was that we shared it. Despite the fact that there’s a great variety of skewed sea creatures, nothing was over or undercooked. Seasoning was also on point, with garlic marinades being a delicious, if safe choice of condiment.

Shoestring fries weren’t really shoestring by any stretch, but they’re there to satisfy potential potato cravings.

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Fish market tasting plate: QLD tiger prawns, mussels, pickled calamari, hot smoked Macquarie harbour ocean trout, marinated Pirates Bay octopus, shucked natural oysters  salmon gravlax. Served w/fresh lemon, cocktail sauce & baked grissini – $38.9

I only tried the octopus and ocean trout, and instantly got an overwhelming case of FOMO – this was the dish for me. Probably the best dish ordered by anyone at our table – Tasmanian seafood expression at its purest.

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Fishmonger’s board – choose a seafood from the board and have it prepared your way (grilled/batter fried, breadcrumb fried, grilled w/creole spices) 

Chosen seafood: Tasmanian scallops; chosen cooking method: grilled w/creole spices. Side: steamed new potatoes.

My order were these diminuitive Tasmanian scallops. While undoubtedly delicious, they weren’t anywhere near filling enough to qualify as a main. Just look at how much potato was provided to serve as fodder! I would recommend against getting this if you’re hungry, and instead go for that lovely seafood platter.

While I made a mistake with my order, Drunken Admiral gets my wholehearted recommendation.

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Mt Wellington (Kunanyi)*

I was looking forward to showing you a brilliant picture from the top of Mt Wellington (Aboriginal name Kunanyi), but the best I can do is…well, absolutely nothing. Torrential rain and absolute shocking fog equated to zero visibility. Of course, Mt Wellington needs to be on any tourist’s itinerary -you’ve already done plenty of googling I’m sure, so you know how pretty it can be. It just wasn’t in my destiny to see it this time round.

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What a view from Mt Wellington’s lookout…aheh. Moving right along now…

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Salamanca Place* / Taste Food Markets*

With the River Derwent’s water frontage, Salamanca Place is the figurative heart of Hobart – no trip to Tasmania’s capital is complete without a saunter here. The stars must have aligned for our trip, as we found ourselves in Hobart at the same time as the Taste of Tasmania food festival. From what I could tell, it’s not too dissimilar from Taste of Sydney festival, except here the produce comes from all across Tasmania, and just as important – you don’t have to pay a ludicrous entry fee.

It was an overwhelmingly positive experience – the festival was massive in scope. I’ve never seen anything like it in Sydney; I’m sorry, but Hobart has you handily beat on food festivals. Taste of Tasmania runs only once a year, so if you’re visiting as a foodie, better check your calendar!

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Fish & chips platter from Fish Frenzy – a famous fish & chippery in Hobart.

I was recommended to try Fish Frenzy from pretty much everyone – it was a bit overrated (the chips were a bit dead), but nonetheless a good feed. That said, this was from their stall at Taste of Tasmania, so I can’t help but assume that an actual Fish Frenzy restaurant would be better. As it stands, Triabunna’s fish & chips van still holds the crown as the best fish & chips I’ve had in Tassie!

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Tasmanian scallops encrusted w/green rice flakes & chilli lime mayonnaise from Sapa Rose Vietnamese.

Crunchy & flakey, these were a rather different way to enjoy Tassie scallops.

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Paella w/mussels & calamari

Paella is just one of those offerings that exist at every food festival. They always smell good, look good, and in this case, taste good. I don’t remember from which stall I got this paella, but it was carb loading at its deeeeelicious best.

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The Amy Winehouse – vanilla soft serve w/chocolate sauce, bourbon caramel, brownies, peanuts & sherbert from Big Bessie dessert truck.

Caramel, brownies, and sherbert? This was right up my alley! It’s my first time discovering Big Bessie dessert truck, and I’m glad I did!

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If you can’t make Taste of Sydney, at least try to time your visit so you’re here on a Saturday in order to enjoy the Salamanca Markets. With over 300 stalls, it seems like a market-goer’s delight. Sure, I can’t vouch for this as I didn’t personally get to experience them, but the lovely Helen from Grab Your Fork has a great rundown.

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Rockwall Bar & Grill*

Also perched on Salamanca’s prime real estate is a restaurant that happens to serve prime cuts of steak. Rockwall Bar & Grill is where you need to be when it comes to all things beef. Signature dish: a famed coffee-rubbed steak taking my heart and my reservation long before I even boarded the plane to Tasmania.

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Moroccan Spiced Quail w/spinach & haloumi salad & raspberry vinaigrette – $17

Not my entree, but I wish I had ordered it. The quail looked sooooooooooo juicy!

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Tasmanian Rock Lobster Paté with grilled sourdough – $18

Also not my entree, though what was I thinking not getting frigging lobster pate? I did have a try of it – smooth and I-don’t-wanna-know-how-much-butter-is-in-there lusciousness, this was rich stuff. Delicious, but best shared.

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Seafood Chowder local shellfish + fish in a rich creamy soup – $16

Don’t underestimate my entree due to its plain-looking veneer: there was a mountain of various seafood in there (I think at least 1/3 of the bowl was seafood by volume). Everything was perfectly cooked; nothing was over/under. The chowder itself was a little bit salty so some bread would have been nice. Oh also, it’s a massive portion for an entree: this one’s for you, big eaters!

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Eye fillet (250g) prepared w/Rockwall’s signature coffee rub mixture – $3, served w/cafe de paris butter -$38

And now, Rockwall’s famed coffee rub steak. It mostly lived up to the hype, the coffee rub endowing the steak with a crusty, spicy and slightly earthy-flavoured exterior which I couldn’t get enough of. The insides were tender, pretty much hitting the medium brief right on the head. My one major criticism is that the inside of the steak needed some more flavour which the cafe de paris butter didn’t completely manage to provide.

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Ferrero Rocher Ice Cream with candied hazelnuts + a shot of frangelico – $14

Ya gotta live a little, ya know? Ice cream = good; ice cream w/hazelnut liqueur = better. Be warned, you really taste the alcohol so this isn’t a dessert for the kids!

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Born in Brunswick*

You may or may not remember Con Valias, a contestant eliminated early in the 2016 run of the popular cooking show Masterchef. While he may have been turfed early, he hasn’t been sitting on his hands wallowing in it: collaborating with best friend Ben Korkmaz, Con has opened a piece of Melbourne in Hobart – and it’s easily the best cafe I visited on the trip.

The space is gorgeous – and yes – admittedly very Melbourne-esque. The food is sophisticated, highly photogenic, and importantly, really delicious. Pricing just also happens to be reasonable (well, if Cafe Mondello can charge $19 for smashed avocado…)

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Left: Lavender vs blueberry smoothie – coconut water, banana, blueberries, lavender, activated cashews, honey, mesquite, vanilla – $12

Right: Chai Me – almond milk, chai brew, banana, natural yoghurt, honey, LSA, vanilla, mesquite – $12

You know that I don’t do smoothies, so you know that these weren’t mine. However, this time I changed my mind – these are probably the best smoothies I’ve ever had. $12 seems like a price to balk at, but after having more than a few sips, I have to admit that it’s a perfectly reasonable price to pay – you get a lot of the good stuff. The smoothies actually taste like their ingredients: pure, fresh, and wholesome. They are also at the perfect level of sweetness, which is a rare find at a cafe.

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Salmon mi cuit w/garlic cream, seaweed crisps, pickled wakame, slow egg, sourdough – $25

This perfectly-cooked salmon dish would belong in a fine dining restaurant with flavours to match. The salmon was buttery, the egg gooey; everything was well-balanced. A highly-refined dish. It was an impossible struggle to find fault in this dish.

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Brisket, macaroni & cornichon croquette, mustard creme fraiche, puffed amaranth, bean sprouts, fried egg – $24

For those with a bit of a hard work ahead in their day, an energy-loaded mac ‘n’ cheese pork brisket was as rich as it was tasty. Do not order if you’re not feeling ravenous – this will otherwise quickly defeat you.

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Cured wallaby, garlic chive scramble, horseradish, peach, tomato & pepperberry relish, sourdough (GFO) – $23

A dish that may have taken some inspiration from another wallaby dish at The Kettle Black, Born in Brunswick’s Cured Wallaby uses Tasmanian ingredients, giving its own unique character. The pepperberry relish is what really kicked things up a notch, and that’s in addition to the beautiful, garden-like presentation. And to top things all off that omelette was also perfectly cooked – gooey, creamy eggs galore!

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Did I mention the coffee was also on the money? Save yourself the time and just put down Born in Brunswick on your itinerary right now. This is a cafe that would get queues out the door if it were in Melbourne or Sydney, easily.

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MONA*

It started with a chicken, lazily dawdling on the lawn.

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Say hello to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Self-described as “a subversive adult Disneyland” (don’t worry, it’s kid-friendly), MONA is quite possibly the world’s wackiest museum. Featuring a wide variety of artworks whose only common theme is perhaps non-conformity, expect to have your boundaries pushed with exhibits such as plaster casts of female genitalia of all shapes & sizes; a giant room of nothing but black dots amidst a wash of yellow; an actual living, breathing human being whose back tattoo is the artwork, a literal poo machine, and so on.

If I had to describe MONA using just one sentence, it would be this: it’s the museum for those who hate visiting museums. We only had 3-4 hours at MONA, but I could have easily spent a whole day here.

Warm up your mouse wheels, there’s a fair few pictures coming. Of course, these are but a minute fraction of the totality of artwork at MONA – it is truly massive, and you need to set aside plenty of time to give it the attention it deserves.

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The curator and his wife drive Teslas – respect!

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The closer you look, the more NSFW this becomes.

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What being inside of a ladybug is like.

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Yo, did you spill your rug, bro?

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Hokusai!

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Being on LSD without being on LSD.

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Body-movement operated; bad dancers need not apply.

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Also NSFW.

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The poop machine – yes, it literally lives up to its name.

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Hi there Andy Warhol.

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Golly, you’ve reached the end of the Tasmania series! I hope that you’ve been inspired to visit this incredible state, even if just by a little bit. Whether it’s sightseeing, hiking or just plain pigging out, there’s something to suit every type of traveller. Naturally, I couldn’t go into the intense level of detail on each location as per my usual style, so if you have any follow-up questions or feedback on this series, feel free to comment below and my reply is guaranteed!

Till my next adventure folks!

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