November 11, 2010
Where the hell is Bruny Island?
In 1999, P and I went to Australia on part of another longer trip. We hoped to make it to Tasmania but travel there was difficult and very expensive back then. We ended up only visiting Sydney; I can’t complain because our time there remains one of my best travel memories.
This trip I was determined to visit Tasmania. Tasmania has a magnetic pull for me - my yearning seems to stem from a romantic notion of this remote isle nestled near the Antarctic waters. I am always drawn to islands: Zanzibar, Folegandros, Tikehau and Bali - all islands - are some of my favorite places on this planet. The connection to the sea is a great lure for me.
Tasmania lived up to my mythic expectations. The port of Hobart was full of old pirate charm - the sea was alive and the waves rough. Cobblestone streets, ship captains’ houses and copious wrought iron details typified the intact architecture. Plus the island was exploding with the glory of Spring - a cacophany of lavender, roses, wisteria, apple and cherry blossoms.
Even more romantically obscure than its already remote mainland, Tasmania’s Bruny Island called us to visit. We’d heard the island was gorgeous and had world class oysters and artisinal cheese. Enough said.
After an hours drive South of Hobart and a quick ferry ride to Bruny Island, we headed straight to Bruny Island Oyster. We bought a couple dozen beauties from Joe, the proprietor and P got to shucking. With just a quirt of lemon juice we devoured the deliciously salty bivalves that came fresh from what might be the purest sea water I have ever seen. Bruny Island Oysters were perfect - firm, briny and tasting of sea - worthy of a trip half way across the globe.
Our next food stop was at Bruny Island Cheese. We sampled every cheese they made and found the firm cow’s cheese infused with saffron to be our favorite. And even though it was only 11 am and we were already sated with oysters, we couldn’t resist trying some of their homemade ice cream. When I saw rhubarb and bay on the menu I was smitten. The ice cream was infused with earthy flavor yet creamy with milk of happy island cows.
Our food pilgrimage was well worth the journey - Tasmania was a pastoral island paradise. Cows with shiny black coats and wooly sheep grazed on wide open emerald green fields. Sandy beaches were filled with happy (and tasty looking!) clams. Copious blossoming berry bushes held promise for a summer of preserves and pies. If only we could have stayed longer!