February is a superb time to be in the Huon Valley in south-eastern Tasmania. Apart from hosting halcyon days above rolling green countryside and the sparkling waterways of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, the region boasts some of the finest Tasmanian cheese, wine and berries. So, it was decided that in order to better acquaint myself with the region, I would have to eat my way around the place.
The first port of call was the Grandvewe Farm Cheesery in Birchs Bay, just across from Bruny Island. This quaint little farm, owned by Diane Rae, offers a selection of organic sheep’s milk cheese and ice-cream. Cheese ranged from the Fleur – which had a slight lavender flavour; to the Black Bewety – a strong blue cheese that literally explodes in your mouth and as I discovered, is a startling savoury sensation.
Employee Cheryl offered me a sample of cheese wrapped in black ash, which was worth the journey alone. The Grandvewe also provides homemade pinot paste and whey liquor, which tips this place into the ‘must visit’ category. After a few samples, my companion and I set off.
Feeling a fraction fat but fantastic, we journeyed across to the Kettering coastline and hopped aboard a ferry to Bruny Island. Fifteen minutes later we alighted from the boat and found that one of our recommendations, the Bruny Island Cheese Company, was close by.
Set amidst coastal bushland, this alfresco cheese café dishes up a broad selection of home made cheeses and ice-cream, such as rhubarb and bay leaf. Purchasing the Bruny Island cheese platter, we savoured cherries soaked in pinot noir and cheese that ranged from the Saint – which was a soft, creamy cheese with a piquant finish; to the Bastard – which had a more solid texture, with sly cheddar and parmesan flavours.
Far out brussel sprout, this too was delicious. Devouring the novel rhubarb and bay leaf ice-cream for dessert felt as if I were having an exotic cup of frozen tea. Maybe I was. To top it off, the staff at the Bruny Island Cheese Company were both knowledgeable and helpful.
Where to next? Unfortunately, all our other Bruny Island food tip offs were, we soon found out, now closed. Perhaps it was fitting to end our Tasmanian cheese investigation on a high note anyway.
Off to the island’s hilly forest to walk it off…
Birchs Bay is a 40 minute drive from Hobart while the Kettering ferry for Bruny Island is roughly 30 minutes’ drive. The ferry ride takes 15 minutes. For departure times, see the Bruny Island Ferry website.