FROM WATER TO WINE – TASMANIA HAS IT ALL

When the cleanest air and water on the planet is just a stone’s throw away, restaurateurs in Tasmania say they are spoilt for choice, when it comes to sourcing the freshest, cleanest and most vibrant produce in the world.

Recognised as “one of the cleanest air sources in the world” by the CSIRO, Cape Grim, based on the northwest tip of Tasmania, is home to one of just three premier Baseline Air Pollution Stations worldwide. This means its pure environment is the world’s “control population” for clean air.

With the cleanest air leading to the purest water, owner of five star Launceston restaurant Stillwater, Bianca Welsh, said that Cape Grim water and produce is not only in high demand across Tasmania, it’s also starting to get some serious attention worldwide.

“While you wouldn’t want to live at Cape Grim – it rains for over half the year – the water harvested from the rain is the purest water in the world,” Bianca said.

“It’s so pure that I’ve even heard of Japanese doctors prescribing it to their patients – bottled water from Cape Grim is distributed across the world and, of course, we serve it in our restaurant.”

Unsurprisingly, this high quality environment impacts considerably on the quality of produce from Cape Grim and its surrounds.

“At Stillwater we use Cape Grim Beef,” she said. “We know the cows have been raised on the greenest pastures and have had the cleanest air to breathe.

“This pristine environment is evident in the rich and full flavour of the meat.

“I’ve done many regional tours in NSW, SA and Victoria, and while they all have incredible food and wine; there’s something special about Tasmanian produce.”

Bianca said Tasmania’s clean, green image has helped to raise the island’s profile globally, with more tourists now recognising it as a food and wine destination. “In the six years we have owned Stillwater the food and wine scene has grown dramatically,” she said. “Guests are certainly very aware of the high quality produce that originates from Tasmania.” Bianca highlights that during the cooler winter months the majority of diners at Stillwater are local, however, across summer almost 80% of guests are tourists, with a recent increase in visitors from Asian nations, all looking to try Tasmania’s pure, healthy produce.

“The quality of the food, wine, gin and whisky being produced in Tasmania is of world-class standard,” Bianca said.

“Tourists are blown away by what they can access here, as well as the standard of our hospitality. “We are also seeing an influx of mainland-Australians moving to Tasmania with their own dreams to become hobby farmers, or restaurateurs, it’s become quite infectious.”

At Stillwater, one of Launceston’s top restaurants, there is a focus on using seasonal local produce.

“As many Tasmanian producers are very small, they put a lot of love, care and thought into their products, which only enhances the flavour and quality,” Bianca said.

“On the current winter menu there is pork from Mount Gnomon Farm, which is a 75 minute drive from Stillwater; Rannoch Farm quail; Cape Grim Beef, Moulting Bay Lease 65 Oysters; and Flinders Island salt-grass lamb rump.

“Truffles are now in season, which we source in the Tamar Valley about a 10 minute drive from the restaurant.

“For winter dinners, root vegetables such as parsnips and pumpkins are just so great at the moment; in summer our berries, cherries, and stone fruits are fantastic.”

And while Cape Grim’s water is the most pure in the world, the quality of wine produced in Tasmania isn’t far behind.

“My go-to-wine is Tasmanian Pinot Noir and I’m not just saying that for Pinosity,” Bianca said. “I prefer less tannic wines, so I enjoy the weight of Pinot Noir.”

“Even if the grapes are from the same region, it’s incredible to see how different winemakers interpret Pinot Noir.

“We are so lucky to have such a variety of wines that we can match our dishes with.

“In my opinion, Pinot Noir is best matched with a steak, even though many people think you need a Shiraz or Cabernet – I think there is competition on the palette when paired with those varieties, because essentially beef is also slightly tannic in its flavour profile.

“Pinot Noir doesn’t fight for top spot unlike a Shiraz or Cabernet.”

Bianca also recommends Pinot Noir be matched with wallaby or lamb.

“Even pork belly is great with an acidic Pinot Noir to cut through the fat,” she said.

“I love recommending local Pinots to guests in the restaurant – most people are blown away by the wine we produce here.

“All people need is one good recommendation, served with the perfect dish and they’re a Pinot-convert for life.”