Sally Legosz owns Hobart-based tourism business Herbaceous Tours. She asked me to come for a drive with her, so I could experience what she offers to her clients. Sally was bound for the Huon Valley-D’Entrecasteaux Channel region, to visit gourmet food producers. Nice! Who wouldn’t want to do that? So of course I said yes, and now I’m happy to share details of the day’s outing with you.
Herbaceous Tours: The Short Version
The day’s schedule included a variety of stops. This article provides just a snippet about each place, otherwise we’d be in for a thesis! As usual, I found myself enthused and wanting to write more about each individual business, and that will happen later.
Sally includes extra items on her itinerary whenever possible, to make sure her guests enjoy the best possible experience of Tasmania. So before we even met the first producer, we had stopped twice to enjoy the scenery… once at the Mount Nelson Signal Station, and again at a secret location near Margate.
Rex Williams produces certified organic, free-range meat on his Kelty Farm property at Woodbridge, about 40kms south of Hobart. Commanding a stunning view over the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island, Kelty Farm has Black Angus beef, Berkshire and Wessex Saddleback pigs. There’s also an apple orchard that supplies Trial Bay Orchards (see below) as well as the resident piggies.
The Herbaceous Tours contingent then set off for Hartzview Vineyard at Gardners Bay. Carol, Tanya and the cellar door cat made us feel very welcome, and we lined up on our stools for some wine tasting. It was a tad early in the day, but the fortified wines, made with an assortment of berries, cherries and apples, were particularly hard to resist.
Carol gave us suggestions for creating the most amazing-sounding desserts, even suitable for people without any culinary skills… like me! So I came away with a bottle of the raspberry fortified wine stashed in my Herbaceous Tours bag. We also had time for a cappuccino in the cafe and a brief wander around the heritage pickers huts.
Red Velvet Lounge
From there, we drove to Cygnet for lunch, where we had a choice of eating establishments. In her article about Stephanie Alexander, Jen mentioned Steve Cumper, the chef and owner of Red Velvet Lounge. He works with children in the kitchen garden program at the local school, so I was really pleased that Red Velvet Lounge was chosen for our lunch this time. I ordered the minestrone, which was served in the biggest bowl I’ve ever seen, with a thick slice of delicious, house-made sourdough bread. It was such a fabulous meal that I’m keen to take my family back to Cygnet for lunch another day.
Although we could have dallied much longer, Sally had us back in the Herbaceous Tours vehicle for the next leg of our journey. En route, we stopped briefly for another photo opportunity. Again the views overlooking the D’Entrecasteaux Channel were magnificent. But we had to hurry, because we had a date with Chris Read at Diemen Pepper.
Diemen Pepper is another gourmet food producer in the region, this time at Birchs Bay. Besides native pepper, Chris grows Dutch Iris bulbs; distills essential oils, and is currently working on increasing vegetable production. Visitors come to enjoy Fleurtys Cafe and Farm Walks, with sculptures placed strategically around the property. Chris is a fountain of knowledge and very passionate about Diemen Pepper and the native food industry in general, and is happy to talk with guests of Herbaceous Tours.
When we arrived at Grandvewe Cheeses, also at Birchs Bay, we met co-owner of the family business, Ryan Hartshorn. Grandvewe is the only producer of sheep’s milk cheese in Tasmania and the only certified organic sheep dairy in Australia. The company was recently voted one of top six fine food producers in Australia as judged against every food producer… not just those in the various dairy industries.
We tasted the cheeses on offer (including the Saffire Blue, which has just won the prestigious Champion Cheese of the Royal Sydney Show) and the Vanilla Whey Liqueur. We chatted with Ryan about making yoghurt and ice-cream from sheep’s milk. I must say, if there’s anything Ryan doesn’t know about the sheep dairy industry, it probably isn’t worth knowing! After the tasting session, we ventured outside to inspect the “Sheep Hilton: Ovine Accommodation” shed and proceeded to take 100s of photos of baby lambs!
Trial Bay Orchards
Trial Bay Orchards are the latest addition to the Herbaceous Tours family, and we were given a tour of the packing shed at Kettering. Apples from around the district, including some from Kelty Farm, are delivered in pallets and combined with apples grown on site, then sorted and distributed to retailers. The owner, Peter Groombridge, took the wheel of Sally’s car and drove us through the rather soggy orchards for a close-up inspection of the apple blossom and gave us some insight into the life of an apple-grower in Tasmania.
And of course, regular readers would know that our final stop for the day was at Nutpatch Nougat. If you haven’t managed to visit the chocolate shop in Kettering yet… what’s keeping you? Here’s a bit more incentive.
During the day we covered only a small sample of the producers in Sally’s extensive network. Sally is based in Hobart, and covers the surrounding regions on dates that are preset and listed on the Herbaceous Tours website. Many of the properties included in the gourmet food tours are not open to the general public, so the only way you can visit is by joining Sally for a day-trip.
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