Launceston has asserted its place among the world’s great epicurean destinations.
In late 2021, it was named as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, making it one of only 36 world cities bestowed with the title.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) announced the title as part of its Creative Cities Network, a program operating since 2004. It recognises northern Tasmania’s unique paddock-to-plate culture and Launceston’s role as the region’s gourmet hub.
“City of Gastronomy status will become what Launceston and northern Tasmania are recognised for nationally and globally,” says Andrew Pitt, chair of the Creative Cities Steering Group.
Food to the fore
Launceston’s food culture comes to its fore in the city’s restaurants, which offer diverse dining experiences. The provenance pioneer Stillwater brings fresh local produce to an 1830s flour mill at the mouth of Cataract Gorge, and Black Cow Bistro is true to its origins as a butchery, serving best-in-show Tasmanian beef.
Local produce also influences the international flavours at Neighbourhood, with its Italian-style wood-fired pizzas, and funky Pachinko, a tiny modern Asian restaurant in the city’s heart.
Cool Havilah pairs a sustainable-produce menu with hand-picked wines from Tasmania and beyond, and seasonal food and wine are natural companions at Timbre, sitting among the vines at Velo Wines in Legana, on Launceston’s northern outskirts.
A roll-call of northern Tasmania’s finest producers are lined up at Harvest market, held each Saturday morning in a city-centre car park. Among about 50 producers and makers are Felds Farm market garden, Hazelbrae hazelnuts, Sandy’s Sourdough, Tasmania Juice Press, Kabul Veggie Delight’s samosas, and Steve’s Vegies, plucked from northern Tasmania’s volcanic red soils. And that’s just to name a few of many.
Tracing northern Tasmanian produce to its origin is simple, with a range of experiences offering a peek behind the farm gate. Join the dogs on a truffle hunt at The Truffle Farm Tasmania, and follow the journey from vine to wine on an Art of Sparkling evening at Josef Chromy.
Local cooking schools extend the paddock experience to the plate, with ForknFarm combining luxury accommodation with classes that range from salami making to French Provincial cooking to pickles and preserves. Hinton Bay Kitchen also runs cooking classes in the Tamar Valley.
Sparkling lovers rejoice, for the Pipers River area of the Tamar Valley is considered second only to France’s Champagne region for the quality of its sparkling wine – a House of Arras sparkling was even named the world’s best in 2020.
Cellar doors with sparkle include Jansz Tasmania, Apogee Tasmania, Sinapius, Delamere, Clover Hill and Bay of Fires. The quirky cellar door at Swinging Gate, across the Tamar, showcases the vineyard’s experimental winemaking, which include an array of earthy pet nats.
And like all good food offerings, Launceston’s menu of experiences is constantly evolving. Helicopter tours between vineyards with Unique Charters are now operating. And a fermentation hub – Ferment Tasmania - is being built in Legana, which will offer serious fermenters and travellers alike the chance to learn such culinary arts as cheese and bread making, pickling and preserving.