PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
At the forefront of the campaign to bring Tasmanian produce to the rest of the world are three passionate foodies – Mathew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O'Meara, who have each made their unique mark on the state's culinary landscape. Together they have created A Common Ground – an online store and shopfront in Hobart's Salamanca Arts Centre, which showcases and sells the best local produce.
Following ten years of restaurant reviewing, Mathew Evans moved to Tasmania where he now leads a farmer's life growing much of his own food on a smallholding south of Hobart. This Gourmet Farmer is the author of seven books on food, including The Real Food Companion. He and Ross O'Meara sell artisan pork products (from rare breed pigs they raise) at markets under the Rare Food moniker each weekend.
Mathew met Nick Haddow at Melbourne's Richmond Hill Café & Larder, which Haddow helped set up after working with cheese makers in Europe. With a wealth of hospitality experience up his sleeve and a strange obsession for fermentation, Nick went on to create Bruny Island Cheese Co. in Southern Tasmania and has built a reputation as one of Australia's top artisan cheese makers.
A trip to the Common Ground is a must, if only to sample the Bruny Island Cheese varieties. All sporting quirky names such as "Tom" (a fast-maturing hard cheese made of cows milk) and "OEN" (a cow's milk cheese, washed in Pinot Noir before being wrapped in vine leaves to mature), the cheeses are very much the product of Nick's travels and training throughout France, Italy, Spain and the UK, but they do not seek to copy them. Instead, they voice a distinctly Tasmanian character.
After cheese tasting (and no doubt purchasing), pick up some preserves and Kentish Ale, the flagship beer from Willie Simpson's Seven Sheds Micro Brewery, a traditional ale designed to tango with aged cheese, and you're well on your way to the perfect lunch.