Tasmania, Day Two.
I think it is pretty evident from my recap of day one of our Tasmania trip that I fell hard for this gorgeous, green state. And there is so much more to tell you. Let's get lost in Tasmania once more...
Day two was a particularly delicious day involving chocolate, cider, wine and wallaby wellington. In the morning, after our homemade croissants and blood orange jam, mum and I waved goodbye to Glencoe Rural Retreat and headed to Cradle Mountain...
As I mentioned in my first post on Tasmania, I love to hike, to get lost in nature, treading on twigs and pebbles and feeling completely swallowed by trees and mountains. Cradle Mountain was a spectacular space to do just that. Have you visited before? Definitely put it on your 'to do' list, if you haven't.
Mum and I chose the Dove Lake Loop, which was an easy introduction to Cradle Mountain. I would have keenly continued our lakeside limber and hiked some more, however we had to scoot to meet important chocolate folk. Though not before a takeaway coffee from Cradle Mountain Lodge and a bit of wombat spotting.
House of Anvers
It's not every day you have a date at a chocolate factory. House of Anvers is incredibly endearing, both aesthetically and in terms of their company history. And their blatant love for chocolate, for good chocolate, Belgian chocolate no less. I quite fancied setting up house right here in cocoa heaven...
We were greeted by Todd, the very knowledgeable and friendly marketing manager, and went on a tour of the factory. Visitors are able to tour the factory also, and grab a chocolate bite in the cafe and gift shop if they please.
The tour was wonderful. Despite being mesmerised by the liquid chocolate in front of me, I managed to learn a great deal about the history of Anvers and their company beliefs and aspirations. Igor, the owner and founder of Anvers, is from Belgium and has a well renowned infectious love for all things chocolate. He has created a company that really respects their customers and strives to create a continually exceptional product. I could see that the staff are completely hands on when crafting their popular goods, which are made with natural, quality ingredients. The staff are trained intently to foster true cocoa craftsman skills. We also viewed a range of gorgeous vintage chocolate moulds and developed a serious chocolate craving (which was surely satisfied later on).
Anvers chocolates are very well loved by it's consumers, wherever we went people raved about this company. And I now count myself a cocoa-loving friend of Anvers too. I'm a bit chocolate mad, this is most certainly not news. So why am I singing and dancing about Anvers? Was it their famed fudge or truffles that got me? Or perhaps their Belgian waffles with chocolate sauce satisfying hungry visitors fresh off the Spirit of Tasmania?
Not quite (though these are all surely scrumptious). I am particularly taken with Anvers' new product, an organic chocolate called Fortunato No. 4. Let's talk.
This incredibly rare product is from the Marañón Canyon in Peru, where special wild cacao trees containing white cacao beans grow. I encourage you to watch this fascinating Anthony Bourdain video for insight into the cocoa beans and the land where the pods are grown and harvested.
Anvers' Fortunato No. 4 chocolate is a pleasure. Let's be real, most chocolate I find pleasurable (particularly if it's dark chocolate) but this product is truly, phenomenally pleasurable. No bitter assault on your taste buds, rather an extremely friendly yet intoxicating flavour that affectionately greets you and lingers a long while after you've finished. As Igor said in this comprehensive article, it's "a very complex, powerful chocolate". This product is made with a high percentage of cocoa butter and no cocoa powder, which may help you to understand why it's so darn good. It contains organic pure Nacional cacao (68% dark chocolate - 60% bean mass and 8% cacao butter), organic cocoa butter and organic sugar. That's it. As the New York Times stated, "the chocolate is intense, with floral aroma and persistent mellow richness. It's lack of bitterness is remarkable".
Yes, this chocoholic is a bit smitten.
Anvers has the exclusive Australian rights to this chocolate, while Anthony Bourdain has joined forces with others to bring it to the USA. You should be able to find this product in David Jones by the end of the year (hurry up, DJs!), but it's probably a good idea to visit Anvers' website and order some. Today. Soon. Like, now. It's not your $4 block of chocolate but it is completely worth the extra cost. It's a case of quality over quantity, most certainly.
Before leaving Anvers, we enjoyed a few hand-made bites and hot chocolates with chilli powder, which provided a delightful, lingering chilli hit and fuelled us until out next stop.
Anvers is a big supporter of the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail (see this link for more info). Essentially it's the map of deliciousness for the region, so there's really not much to disagree with. It'd be a nice tool for people who aren't keen on doing a whole bunch of research but want to taste the local flavours. Be sure to stop by Anvers, it really is a gem.
After all that chocolate we felt it was high time we have a little fruit, so we headed to Spreyton Cider Co. for some apple cider.
This cider is made by the folks behind the popular and longstanding juice company, Spreyton Fresh, using their local apples (and sometimes pears). I'm not usually a fan of fruit juice as I find it too sweet, but upon tasting Spreyton's apple juice at the cidery and I appreciated how much this product tasted so true, like BAM!, pure apple goodness. I prefer my cider to really taste like apples so I was happy with Spreyton's full flavour. I left with a classic cider after paying $10 and tasting all of their blends. Not a bad deal, hey?
Ghost Rock Vineyard
Onwards we travelled to Ghost Rock Vineyard for more tastes (note: I was the designated driver and passed mum the majority of my tastes. I take driving very seriously and have absolutely ZERO tolerance for drink drivers).
Ghost Rock is delightful spot. It would be wonderful to park right here and wile away the afternoon with a glass bottle of wine and some cheese, enjoying this lovely view.
At the cellar door we spoke with Cass about Ghost Rock's award winning wines. We sampled a few tipples (sparkling wine love) and purchased a bottle of their Two Blocks 2012 Pinot Noir to savour another night, as well as some Cradle Coast Olives award winning olive oil. This fragrant and rich oil, generously drizzled over fresh sourdough with a little sea salt, tastes like heaven.
Yes, we left Ghost Rock very happy indeed.
Heading along the coast, we were never short of spots to stretch our legs. As we drove I imagined one day loading up a campervan and moseying from place to place, from lush rainforest to sparkling coast, stopping whenever inclined...what a splendid holiday that would be. We'd surely need to pause at the sweet seaside town of Penguin.
Penguin holds a famous market every Sunday, which we unfortunately did not visit. But perhaps this isn't such a bad thing...it would no doubt have resulted in mum and I leaving with a coin collection and an arm chair or two, which are just so not on the list of necessities right now. We did, however enjoy a splendid dinner and a stay at a gorgeous hotel in Penguin.
You know what? A large part of what made this trip so special was spending it with my mum. Being the only girls in our family, mum would often make time for just the two of us, with dates to the city or the ballet. We even went to Europe together after I finished school. Though we remain very very close, it's been a while since mum and I have done a trip together. This Tasmania vacation was so nice.
That night, we went on a date to Wild Cafe upon sincere encouragement from locals. They're proud of this spot by the water and I can see why, we had a lovely meal at Wild. The wallaby wellington (yes!) particularly stood out. I hear that Wild is relocating to Devonport later this year and rebranding as Mrs Jones, so do be aware of that.
The Madsen Boutique Hotel
Back at our hotel...
Mum and I stayed at The Madsen Boutique Hotel, which is a four and a half star gem. Wow, this hotel is really really lovely, very classy. After acting quite composed upon check-in, I promptly danced around our beachfront spa suite room feeling oh so spoilt and a little bit like royalty. I would recommend booking a back room if street noise bothers you, but as it was a quite night in Penguin we had no trouble.
Day Three of our Tasmania jaunt sees us visiting a farmers market and stumbling across the most divine scones. It's a good one. And funnily enough, revolves entirely around food. Again.
* Disclaimer: although I traveled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania, my opinions and recommendations are most sincerely my own.