24 hours in Hobart
What's Australia's hottest city right now? It's Hobart, without a doubt.
The Tasmanian capital is basking in a moment of mainland recognition. And the reason for this sudden sitting up and taking notice is, in a word, MONA. But what else beckons us down south? You've 24 hours or so; we'll tell you how to spend them.
9am Our tip: start on a Friday. That way you can head straight from baggage claim to chef/owner Jay Patey's Pigeon Hole café (93 Goulburn St, West Hobart, 03 6236 930), a tiny retro-styled space serving up winning breakfasts (their eggs en cocotte with Taleggio and lemon are worth the flight alone) as well as killer coffee and beautiful breads and pastries from the wood-fired oven.
11.30am Now you're fortified for a trip to MONA. Millionaire entrepreneur, and proud Hobart resident, David Walsh's Museum of Old and New Art is the masterstroke that finally brought the city the crowds and credibility it deserves.
MONA is carved into Derwent River bedrock in the grounds of the Moorilla Winery, which also houses a microbrewery, the well-regarded restaurant The Source, and the MONA Pavilions, a series of stand-alone villas named after leading Australian artists.
The magnificent museum, a $180 million confection housing Walsh's personal collection of contemporary art and antiquities, is breathtaking, bizarre and utterly brilliant; an irreverant mix that inspires, delights, challenges and confronts. Australia, you owe David Walsh a drink.
4pm Exhale, and head back into town. Perhaps an afternoon snack is in order - try Ethos Eat Drink for local ales and fried chickpeas and chilli salt. Or wander up the hill to Chado, The Way of Tea, a peaceful retreat serving teas such as Golden Spice: an energising infusion of turmeric and black pepper.
Where to stay? If you're after elegance, it's the Islington in South Hobart. For waterfront glamour, you can't beat the penthouse at historic Lenna on Battery Point, with its 270-degree views of Storm Bay. In town, the Grand Mercure Hadleys Hotel has just opened its new wing of suites with Mount Wellington views and the added advantage of being a short walk from your next stop.
6.30pm Set off in search of Sidecar. The new natural wine bar is a sister to the acclaimed Garagistes, but it's a destination in its own right. Have them call ahead to the restaurant so you can work your way through the natural wine list (and perhaps a wagyu hot dog) while waiting for your table.
7.30pm Garagistes is calling. Pull up a pew at a communal table for Luke Burgess and his team's truly contemporary fare. Ingredients are natural and local, and plates are designed to be shared. Go with a group so you can eat everything. It's modern, moody and quite magical.
8am Get up early and grab an Art Bike from one of the human-silhouette racks around the CBD. From here it's a short pedal up to North Hobart's Sweet Envy (341 Elizabeth Street), for a breakfast par excellence from former Gordon Ramsay pastry chef Alistair Wise.
The choice is never an easy one - the pecan sticky buns versus the lemon-essence-infused raisin snail - but the best bit is that they can travel home with you. The house-made ice-cream, sadly, cannot.
9am It's back on your bike for the short cycle down to Salamanca market. The outdoor market, which this year turned 40, enlivens the already buzzing waterfront precinct each Saturday with its rows of produce, providores, art and artisans. Make a beeline for Tricycle Cafe, in the foyer of the Peacock Theatre at Salamanca Arts Centre for excellent coffee. In the same bijou arcade you'll find The Maker, where they sell thoughtful pieces from Tasmanian designers, and also A Common Ground, a Tassie-only produce store.
11.30am It's 40 minutes' drive down to The Stackings at Peppermint Bay but a trip well worth making. The setting is remote and romantic - big Bruny Island vistas from the full-length glass windows and kids scrambling up from the sandy shores of the bay - as you explore chef David Moyle's innovative menu, with dishes such as clams, nettle custard and wild garlic or desserts of wild Bolivian chocolate, prune and lavender.
The experience is simultaneously nostalgic and modern. Not unlike Hobart itself.
WORDS FRANCES HIBBARD PHOTOGRAPHY MONA
This article was published on the Gourmet Traveller website in July 2012.