Lured to Tasmania by its abundant fresh produce and relaxed community, Gregory moved to the island four years ago and has settled on a small farm in the Huon Valley.
Here are her insider tips on where to eat and drink in Tasmania.
A defining Tasmanian food moment... was when I started working at Franklin in Hobart, and the sous chef, Jack, asked me if I’d ever been diving for sea urchins and abalone. I hadn’t. So, one freezing rainy day in winter, Jack handed me a wetsuit and we drove to a beach. He showed me where to find them and the technique used to collect abalone and sea urchins. Afterwards we sat on the beach in the rain eating fresh sea urchins. It was the best I have ever eaten.
My close-to-home favourites... are Summer Kitchen Bakery in Ranelagh, and Poolish and Co in Cygnet – I love good bread and buttery pastries. Port Cygnet Cannery has a great vibe and delicious pizzas.
The ultimate food-lover’s road trip of Tasmania... would be along the Great Eastern Drive. I love how pretty the drive is up the east coast. I pick up a loaf of bread and some snacks for the road from Pigeon Whole Bakers as I’m leaving Hobart and head to Bicheno. I stop at The Gulch for fish and chips and sit out on the large rocks by the water watching the cray boats come in. Then I buy a crayfish from The Lobster Shack and take that back to my Airbnb to make crayfish sandwiches for dinner. I usually plan a dive up around The Gardens in the Bay of Fires and collect what I can find – sea urchins, abalone or periwinkles – and have that for lunch. On my return drive I stop at Freycinet Marine Farm for their mussels and some freshly opened oysters.
For a seafood fix... I call into Melshell Oyster Shack in Dolphin Sands on the east coast. When I go to Bruny Island I pick up a bag of unshucked oysters from the drive-through window at Get Shucked. Then I find the nearest beach and eat them while overlooking the water.
When I want to treat interstate friends... we head to Margate Wharf to get some freshly caught crayfish, then drive the coastal road back to Cygnet and pick up some things along the way. Cygnet Garden Larder has seasonal fresh vegies and we also stop at little roadside farm-gate stalls to get local offerings. By the time we get back to my place we have enough to make a meal. Visitors love the experience – from buying directly from the boat to stopping for homemade pickles on the side of the road, it’s very impressive.
Tasmania has some of the best farm-to-plate experiences anywhere. I love Fork it Farm in Lebrina, about half an hour’s drive north of Launceston. They ethically raise their pigs and have a charcuterie room where you can buy their products direct from the farm.
I love finding hidden gems... like Pachinko, a tiny modern Asian diner in Launceston. The owners buy directly from local farmers and then put their own Asian spin on the seasonal produce. The menu is constantly changing. It’s an intimate and fun atmosphere.
Great local eateries say a lot about a place. In Hobart, Tom McHugo’s is my go-to. Hamlet is my spot for breakfast or lunch – it’s a social-enterprise cafe where they retrain refugees and people with disabilities. Lucinda is also a favourite wine bar – I cook a pop-up lunch there on Fridays.
Some of the most exciting spirits in Tasmania... at the moment include Taylor & Smith. I’m a big martini drinker. They use interesting ingredients in their gin, like abalone shell. For a whisky, I really like Spring Bay Distillery’s Tasmanian single malt.
The one thing I hope never changes here... oh, so many things. Like being able to find a car park out the front of where you want to go. I like being able to drive 30 minutes from home then jump in the water in my wetsuit to collect abalone and sea urchins. The other day on my way back from diving, I saw some chefs that I know and invited them back to my place so we shared the freshly caught seafood. It’s such a nice way to live.