Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Taste of the Huon 2012

I made the simple statement on Facebook, on my return from Sunday’s visit to Taste of the Huon, that Taste of Huon shit all over Taste of Tasmania. To be frank, it did indeed shit all over Hobart’s Taste Festival for countless reasons.

I hadn’t consciously thought about a comparison before, but the Huon event was so much more well-thought out and polished an affair this year, that it begged the comparison.

I wouldn’t have ever remarked on the Hobart Taste being held on the firm concrete surface of the wharf till I walked onto the grassed surface of the Ranelagh oval and circulated round all the food stalls. It was simply delightful to be walking on grass! In the open air (on a nice day). With facilities and stalls able to be seen from wherever you were. With covered-in seating placed strategically in the middle of the oval. I absolutely loved it, and that’s from me – a dedicated hater of this type of event, generally!

I have been to Taste of Huon about five times in the past, and not found it as enjoyable as Sunday’s experience. Following one of my first forays into TOH, which happened to be one where temperatures soared to a lofty late 20’s and there was absolutely nowhere to shelter from the unrelenting HOT sun (ie no covered eating/seating areas), I vowed never again to patronize this event. I’m so glad I am open-minded enough to re-visit these decisions!

My first decision, made with the benefit of experience, old age and a thorough knowledge of all things Tasmanian (ie habits of locals!) prompted me to decide to leave Hobart at 10.00 am, arriving at 10.30 ish and in time to take a leisurely stroll round the entire venue, perusing all stalls and slowly making my decisions as to what I felt I would like to eat that day. That was a master stroke, as on the return journey back to Hobart, we passed a constant and seemingly never-ending stream of traffic, heading to the Huon, queued up and backed up right up the Huon Highway for way longer than the 5 kms as reported by The Mercury next day. It was bumper to bumper till Longley! These were the people who got up slowly from bed, on a leisurely middle-of-the-long-weekend Sunday, looked at the day, thought they might pop down to TOH for some lunchy nibbles plus to take the family out for a bit of an airing to the country, then all left home (in Hobart) at around 12.00!

It was with the most embarrassing feeling of superiority that I drove the deserted road back to Hobart whilst passing this constant stream of cars heading Huonville-wards!

Hence, as you would expect at that time of the day, there was plenty of space to wander round, plenty of beautiful-looking and smelling food to be admired, friends to catch up with and a general feeling of bonhomie, which possibly wouldn’t have been what I would have experienced had I got there two hours later than I did! There were no queues for any of the food stalls, and only a handful queued for coffees at coffee stalls like Baristasista.

The food stalls were no different to Taste of Tasmania, and we are all accustomed to the perennial favourites returning time after time to these festivals to provide us punters with our wants and needs, gastronomically speaking. Your Tempura mushrooms, your rostis, your Hartzview vineyards etc etc. As I said, the usual suspects.

But, as you may well predict, my loyalties lay with cobber Steve from RVL, with his first foray into TOH stall-holding. Steve was offering his own pork pies, and a pork san choy bow, served not in the usual lettuce leaf but on a wasabi leaf. As my entrée, the san choy bow cost $7 and was worth every cent. My next course was a chilli salmon sausage from Silver Fisch ($3 or $4). These people are the reason I go to the Sunday Farmers Market every week – I believe their salmon sausages are faultless. My companion, a vegetarian who eats some fish products, was strong-armed into submission and forced to also order and eat a trout sausage from the same stall – and she loved it so much she returned for another one!

A beautiful chocolate éclair ($3) completed what was a perfect meal in perfect circumstances on a perfect day (it was still a bit overcast and grey, but not cold). We left at 11.45, satiated and serene in the knowledge we had the rest of the day to spend as we pleased, instead of getting road rage en route to TOH then having to queue for everything we ate and drank! I hate that aspect of festivals!

I checked out the Theatre and watched Jack Lark producing a salmon dish. I would have loved to hang round just to watch the rest of the cast who were scheduled to speak and demonstrate at the Theatre, but for the reasons as stated above, didn’t.

Weather-dependent, I’ll return at the same time next year. Well done to the committee.
Posted on by Rita


steve said...

Hi Rita-nice to see you. The san choi bau was $6 and the pie n mustard was $7

auslox1 said...

Hey Rita,

I have also attended both the Taste of Tasmania and the Taste of the Huon, and while I enjoyed both events, I hardly drew the conclusion that the Taste of the Huon event ‘shits’ on the Taste of Tasmania.

I may have attended the Taste of the Huon on the same day of you and agree that the weather could not have been more perfect. My partner and I probably formed a small part of the 5 kilometre stream of traffic entering the area while you were leaving, but the wait wasn’t too onerous. While we were travelling down we were contacted by friends who decided to give the whole thing a miss, because of the length of the queue.

The first thing that I noticed was that unlike the Taste of Tassie, there was an $8 entry fee. Now if an event as big as the Taste of Tassie can keep entry to the event free, where do the organisers of the Taste of the Huon get off charging an entry fee. All of the same free events (buskers – cooking demonstrations etc) at the Taste of the Huon were at the Taste of Tassie – in fact I’m sure that there were more free entertainment events available at the Taste of Tassie.

My partner and I did the food circuit of the event and thankfully didn’t find a food van selling dagwood dogs and buckets of chips. With the exception of a couple of food stalls, it was a bit of ‘same old same old’ with these sorts of events. The different vans selling berries and cream, chocolate ecliars, bratwurst sausages, cajun calamari etc etc were at both events. Don’t get me wrong my partner an I both enjoyed the food we ate, and the event in general – but I don’t think it was cause to call that the Taste of the Huon Shit on the Taste of Tassie.

One noteworthy stall was an ice cream van that equated to a ‘Mr Frosty’ van selling soft serve ice cream. It was almost humorous to find that one there, but I thought that The Taste of the Huon could have moved past that one – or maybe the organisers have a sense of humour.

My favourite food was of course Steve’s (RVL) san chow bow in the wasabi lettuce leaf – the flavour was fantastic and I accordingly indulged in a couple of those. Another noteworthy mention was the woman offering tastings and selling the Bruny Island Goat Cheese. There were the 4 cheeses on offer that were hand made by her. She was very knowledgeable about her product from the goat through to the maturing of the cheeses itself.

My other favourite stall was the ‘Punch and Judy’ puppets. It was fantastic to see how one person (I assume that only one person could have fit it that small space) could entertain at least a hundred children, and probably just as many adults – even though they wouldn’t want to admit it.

If the Taste of the Huon were to be full of stalls like these three and not the commercially driven stalls, then I would agree that the it would ‘Shit’ on the Taste of Tassie – but it just didn’t. We had to wonder how much of the produce on sale at the event was actually from the Huon Valley, and not from the back of a PFD truck. We still enjoyed the event for what it was, but didn’t come away gob smacked, as you seemed to have done.

Anonymous said...

The taste of Tasmania has free entry as it is subsidised by the Hobart City Council ratepayers.

Michelle said...

Oh I must of just missed you! I went along a bit after 10, had lovely chats with friends, ate some delicious food and left by 11. It was wonderful!


roger said...

Say's that the Taste of the Huon is a not for profit Festival run by a volunteer committee and all funds after the many tents chairs power everthing is bought into the cricket ground go to the volunteers unlike the Taste of Tas supported by the HCC the HVC charges the organizers fees for everthing even tempory stucture permits so no sponsorship their just fees so well done to them.

Leroy Mason said...

Nice blog. My wife and I are coming to Hobart this weekend and are looking for good food. Your blog stands out from the other information sources on this topic

Anonymous said...

Late post on this. I'm a local and we will always support the TOH, for a multitude of reasons. Firstly - ease of access. Parking is a sinch. No worries about parking tickets, limitations of parking meters etc. Secondly, the open air event is just so Huon Valley! It's such a country affair - has far more atmosphere than the cattle crush in cement walls. Most importantly - it feels family friendly. No drunken yobbos - it just feels safer. But I'm biased. Will continue taking my family and interstate friends there every year, because it is just more welcoming than TOT.
As for the food - it's yummy, it's not what I can easily cook at home, and it's easy to find somewhere to eat it!