Tag: whiskey

Last week in gorgeous Tasmania…

I only realized yesterday I never filled you all in on my trip to Tassie last week with Katie that I met in the Hunter Valley.  I took an early early morning flight (I left the house at 4:15 a.m.) for my direct flight to the charming small city of Hobart (direct flights are the way to go, unless you want to spend 6 hours in transit when the flight from Sydney to Hobart is 2).  I got to town really early and couldn’t check in to the YHA there, so I had a few hours to walk around.  I had heard about Lark Distillery, and as I am keen on a good bourbon or whisk(e)y now and again, I was eager to visit–lo and behold, it was a whole two blocks from the hostel!  Their website said they only did tours around 2 or 2:30, but I dropped in and asked and they put me in a tour happening at 12:30 that day.  I had a quick lunch before returning for the “tour,” which was a little informal for my taste.  Not only does the distillery do whiskeys, but they do gin and vodka as well.  The whiskeys were not at all what I was used to, but I enjoyed them all the same and bought some as a souvenir.  Later that evening, Katie and I met up for dinner in Salamanca Place, a strip full of bars and restaurants just near the Brooke St wharf.

The next day, Katie and I got breakfast and decided to visit the world-renowned MONA, or Museum of Old and New Art.  I had heard that the ferry ride alone was amazing, and it was pretty great.  It’s oddly swanky for a ferry, which makes it all the more fun, and the scenery is gorgeous as well.  It’s…an interesting place.  I’ve never been much for contemporary “art,” and this was no exception.  I actually found the place to be just plain freaky and weird on the inside.  Lunch time came around and we made our way to the wine bar and sat outside, as it was a phenomenal day.  On one side, the building was bordered by vines, on another, an open field with a giant stage featuring a live jazz band (on a Wednesday afternoon, even!) and dozens upon dozens of cushions welcoming people to grab a drink and get comfy.  I was bushed by the time Katie and I got back to the YHA, and I still needed to move from there to The Pickled Frog, a place with a ton of character (as well as cheap coffee and beer–essentials for hostellers!).

Thursday morning Katie and I had breakfast at Doctor Coffee again before she flew back to Melbourne.  I had booked a cruise to Peppermint Bay, which included a multi-course lunch once we got there.  It was a fabulous day to be on the water.  The boat was nice, lunch was delicious, and I chatted with some friendly folks as we ate.

I had booked two tours that would keep me occupied for the whole of Friday, and I had saved the best for that morning.  The Pickled Frog provided a free shuttle up Mount Wellington on Wednesdays, but as Katie and I had gone to MONA, I had missed out, so I opted to book a bus tour up the mountain and around town instead.  Mount Wellington is situated adjacent to Hobart, so climbing up the mountain, you get brilliant views of the city.  Being on the mountain was absolutely breathtaking.  There were almost no clouds, just a slight haze over the surrounding area.  In the afternoon, another tour took me to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary for me to see the local fauna, including Tasmanian devils (what’s a trip to Tassie without seeing them, right?).

Saturday morning I was up early enough to get breakfast and wander around the market at Salamanca Place.  The markets didn’t actually open until 9, by which time I’d already be back at the airport, but I did manage to procure a local dark chocolate-macadamia nut bar for myself and a pretty nice Tasmanian devil stuffed animal for a friend.

I was really glad Katie had invited me to Tasmania, as otherwise I might not have gone.  To be honest, I’m a bit burned out on hostelling and living out of a suitcase, and so I’m heading back to the States at the end of the month.  But Tasmania was a fantastic place to take one last trip before going home.  Thanks Katie!

Until next time!

That just happened: The story of the spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten

For dinner, I went to Quattro Formaggi, a gourmet food mart with sit-down dinner service (not to be confused with this Quattro Formaggi–mm, I do miss their pizza).  This happened because I got takeout from here Saturday night, and knowing it was good, I checked out their full menu the other day.  I found that A) they have a burger on the menu; B) they serve bourbon whiskey (no, I still don’t know the difference between the two); and bonus, they serve breakfast all day (a lot of places around here seem to do that; I heartily approve and wish that more places in the States would follow suit).

The waitress asked me if I wanted ice in my bourbon (according to the menu, it was Basil Hayden’s, which I’d heard was good–very smooth and enjoyable).  Sure.  When I ordered the burger, she also asked me if I was fine with the relish that came on the burger.  Sure, why not?  It’s relish, like you’d have on American hot dogs…right?

The manager came by and politely asked if I would cede my table to a couple who had just arrived, as the table had actually been reserved but hadn’t been marked as such.  (It was busy enough when I got there that it was the only immediately available seat that I saw, and it had only just been vacated as I walked in.)  He promised me a glass of wine in return.

The bourbon came and I was disappointed to find that it was full of the small spherical pieces of ice that melt quickly,  resulting in a watered-down drink.  C’est la vie.  The burger came and it was large.  There was lots of “rocket” (arugula…not sure who thought up that inventive name) and green salad-y stuff happening.  Plus, the burger bun was that kind of bread that is light and outwardly crispy to the extent that when you touch it, much less bite into it, it explodes and shoots EVERYWHERE like confetti.  I looked at it and thought biting into the burger would be a challenge.  As I took the first bite, I sort of laughed for a brief moment as millions of fragments of bun shot everywhere.  And then I registered the horseradish.*  And the peppers.  OH NO.  My sinuses felt the heat within at most two seconds.  So much horseradish.  Could I even finish this burger?  My eyes watered a little.  I took a second bite.  Still painful, my sinuses searing.  Did anyone even notice how miserable I must have looked?  I mean, the manager was at most two feet behind me as he spoke to the two women sitting to my left.  I had the bright idea of scraping off the “relish,” which was really just peppers.  (I have no idea what kind they were, but suffice to say, I am fearful of being in the same room as a ghost chili.)  This did nothing to alleviate the excessive horseradish, but at least the spiciness was diminished to the point where I didn’t feel like I was going to die.  Sadly, I wasn’t even left with the pleasant afterburn that I associate with spicy food.  (I think the burger itself was good, but for obvious reasons, I don’t really remember.)
The manager came by and asked me if I preferred red or white wine (red) and came back with it pretty quickly.  I was glad to know he hadn’t forgotten about it, as the place was loud and busy with not enough waitstaff to handle the crowd without running around like headless chickens.  The wine was fruity with just a hint of spice to it–very enjoyable.
My original waitress asked how I was doing and I ordered some tiramisu.  I didn’t need it to cool me off, but it just sounded good, and I was very glad I had ordered it.  It arrived in a stemless wine glass, which I didn’t expect.  I also didn’t expect it to be so airy with such a light coffee flavor.  Best tiramisu I’ve ever had?  Maybe.  (Will this small amount of coffee and the two drinks I had at dinner keep me from sleeping well tonight?  Likely.)

I wasn’t sure when a waiter or waitress would walk by again, and I saw the manager at the cash register, so I decided to just go over and pay there.  I mentioned that I had the burger (he did seem to appreciate my opinion that it was painfully hot), the wonderful tiramisu and the bourbon.  (“You didn’t have bourbon?”  Yeah, I did.  “My kind of girl.”)  I must have asked about the wine and was surprised to find out that it was a Sangiovese since I don’t normally like Italian wine; he said it was an Italian grape grown in Australia.

In other news, tomorrow I move to my host’s apartment since he is going out of town for a couple of weeks.  This is an upgrade. I had tea with him one day last week and was able to assess his rather minimalist apartment as being nicer than the one I’m currently staying in.  The one I’m in now is nice but a little old-fashioned in its decor and furnishings (I do love the blue and white bathroom though).

I’ll fill you all in later on things I’ve done this week.  For now, I need sleep.  Until next time…

*In my defense, the menu said “mustard,” and it looked like mustard.