Carlos and I arrived in Hobart– our final destination– on Thursday afternoon. Before I jump into what our welcome wagon has been like, I should note that we spent the previous few days getting over jetlag at the beautiful home of Abby and Rob (Claire and Chloe’s parents) in Sydney. They kept us well fed with an assortment of memorable meals including a strictly Aussie spread of fresh bread, cheese, smoked fish, charcuterie (known as small wears here), olives and oooh the dessert. Best ricotta cheesecake I have ever had. I told Claire and Chloe that in addition to the 75 degree balmy weather, the food we were spoiled with should inspire them to quit jobs and head to Oz too. Quickly.
I am on the fence about commenting on Sydney because Carlos and I approached it knowing full well we’d be back. You kind of have to because traveling in and out of Tasmania is basically impossible without going through Sydney. And, it’s a summer town for sure so I imagine we’ll want to head back in February. Check out the view from Abby’s beach home in Freshwater– only fifteen minutes from downtown Sydney. Incredible.
We are so fortunate to have these surrogate parents in Australia. But truth be told we were itching to get to Hobart and see what our new home is like so I think we were both a little distracted when wandering around town.
So, back to Hobart. Friday morning was wet and with all of our honey-dos taken care 0f on Thursday (bank, phones, hairdryer– check), we didn’t have an agenda. I emailed a few of the folks in town that I had contacted before leaving the States thinking that if I was lucky, I might get a response next week and maybe arrange a coffee date. Within ten minutes, I had two invitations to get together. Like, now. Within an hour Carlos and I were drinking tea with Bill Lark of Lark Distilleries. My dad met Bill about a year ago when he was visiting Tasmania and said Bill was”The unofficial Mayor of Tasmania;” clearly someone we had to meet.
Close your eyes and imagine a whisky maker. That’s Bill. Jolly cheeks and a white beard. Jeans and a vest. God forbid he has to put on a suit or you’ll hear about it. Bill has been making whisky in Tasmania for about twenty years and that makes him the grandfather of Tasmanian whiskys. Now there are ten distilleries on the island and they are winning all sorts of awards. Truth be told, Bill is one of the reasons Carlos and I found our way to Hobart. It’s no secret that Carlos could talk for days about Scotch– those of you who have enjoyed a tasting at our apartment can attest– and I loved Bill’s story of turning his passion for whisky into a very successful business. We both were excited about the prospect of learning some of Bill’s tricks and perhaps even an opportunity to work alongside him in some capacity. Bill was even more gracious and genuine than we could have hoped for as a first contact on the island. Carlos kept whispering, “I want to give him a hug. Is that weird?”
After our initial chat, Bill invited us back to the distillery later in the evening. On Friday’s Lark has a bluegrass band play (yeah, Australian bluegrass singers, go figure) and he invites friends and locals over to drink and be merry. What luck. Our first full day in Tassie and already we were taken under the wing of a new friend AND tasting award-winning spirits. But before we had the opportunity to mingle with the whisky crowd later that evening, I had another Hobart welcome tour with Mary McNeil of Gourmania Food Tours. More to come on the delicious food that Mary introduced me to soon. But first a little taster to hold you over…