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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Italian Pantry is on the move

Nothing says Italy like a Vespa, like sex, but on wheels

When I first walked into The Italian Pantry (Federal Street, North Hobart) I expected to find a miniature oasis of Italian shopping. Shelves full to bursting with pasta, sugo, oils, canned fish and pickled vegetables.

In reality, it was a half empty shell of a shop and quite a bit dusty. But that's just because The Italian Pantry are on the move, currently in the process of relocating their wholesale warehouse and retail shopfront to the other side of the street. Literally.

While it might only be a short move in distance, it's a big move in size, with the retail and warehouse spaces set to increase by about 70 per cent in terms of floor space...and with the boys working hard to get the best Italian produce around, surely in product availability also. Rumour has it that a cafe is also planned for the new shop space...but it's still in the pipeline so don't quote me on it (just cross your fingers and hope).

Business is booming, the handsome young man manning the store tells me. In his estimation, at least 30 per cent of the customers he serves each week are new, and the majority of these return in the following weeks to their first visit. At least I think he said 30 per cent, he is so handsome I was kind of swooning and not really paying attention. Now that's quality journalism for you.

Anchovy heaven

The Italian Pantry delivers what it promises, even though the shelves are a little bare due to the impending move. This place is set up for people who love food. You could spend $10 on a bottle of olive oil, or $150 on a bottle of olive oil, but you wouldn't come here for anything you could buy at Coles.

Italian items are mixed with French, German, Swiss and other European products, with a good representation of Tasmanian wares including Bruny Island Cheese, Grandvewe Cheese, Waji and the Tasmanian Sauce Company.

You could easily spend $50 on French goose foie gras, $88 on safron threads and they have more kinds of dried mushrooms than I bothered to count. God only knows how much you could spend on meats and cheeses: Muntser, D'Argental, buffallo mozarella and parmesan, salami by region, Bresola...or snails, if they took your fancy (see left). After the move next week, the product selection is only going to grow.
 Oh, I almost forgot to mention, there's booze.


Lots of it. Prosecco, Fernet-Branca, Grappa, Chianti, Bira Moretti. Good quality Italian booze, just don't expect to pay Italian prices. I suspect some serious mark-ups going on here.

I managed to leave the Italian Pantry without spending any money (I don't have any money...I'm a writer.) But if you do... I'll be surprised.

I will pop into the new shop when it's ready to open, and write up an update. And in the mean time, I will try and find my piggy bank.

The Italian Pantry
34 Federal Street, North Hobart.

Soon to be 27 Federal Street North Hobart, potentially from Early February 2010. I'll edit this post when it changes.

Open Mon-Fri 8am until 5.30pm
Open Saturday 8.30 until 1.30 (with the potential for extended hours once the new store is up and running.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Smolt is smoking hot

I'm all grown up now - and so is this blog (the blog is one year old, and I am now 28, which collectively is a bit close to thirty). As a reflection of how grown up I am now, last Friday night we went out for dinner (instead of skipping dinner completely and drinking too many pints).

Location of choice, Smolt.

Often misconceived as being uber-expensive (it does look very Sweedish) but not so... it is a great spot to drink a nice drop, eat a nice, and mostly reasonably priced, meal while people watching through the wall to ceiling glass windows. If you are immature like us, try guessing what kind of underwear the local women are (or aren't) wearing. It's a hilarious yet childish way to pass the time for the young at heart.

There we three of us, myself, Matt and Tom and we are all hospo peeps. I can't give an objective review, as we know the waiters (it's a very small town), so they were really nice to us. Although as we think the staff are really nice people in general, I am sure they would be nice to you too.

Smolt has been on the scene for a few years now, but it hasn't aged a day. It is connected to the Tassal salmon shop next door, but not a salmon-themed restaurant (thank goodness for that), and owned by the Tassal brand.

The menu ranges from small dishes to share to larger mains, with a strong Spanish and Italian influence. Think pizza and pasta, but in a good way. We went for the sharing option, and here is a selection of what we ate:

Gorgonzola arancini with salsa rosa $3.8 each

Port terrine with apple and celery relish and ciabatta $16.40


Tasmanian Salmon (farmed) gravalax with horseradish cream $9.6


Honestly I don't remember exactly what was on this pizza, the boys ordered it when I was too busy laughing at some half dressed floozy stumbling past the window in shoes she couldn't walk in. Goats cheese and rosemary spring to mind, and it was probably $19.9

The food was lovely, but I would say that because I'd had three pints before we got there and a glass of wine while we were waiting for our table and at that point I would have eaten anything.

It was a busy night, and we were a walk-in, only waiting about 15-20 minutes for a table, which was great. The floor plan is well laid out, more formal dining in the back of the restaurant, and more relaxed seating in the front. Those stools on the left... I want one. Actually, I want three. They're lovely, I never through I would be in love with a seat..but there you go. I really am getting old.
Aesop hand soap in the bathrooms could be considered a plus or a minus depending on your love of geranium and the facilities are pretty flash. Although if seated up front you have to parade yourself past all other diners to get there - but it's a good opportunity to peep into the open kitchen and see what the chefs are plating up on the way past.

The crew at Smolt do what they do with finesse, but without pretention. It's easy going, and you get what you pay for, and then some, with the quality fittings, cutlery, crockery and glassware. Although, whatever beverage you order..same glass. And I like that. So eat here. Just don't put your elbow in the terrine like I did. That means it is time to go home.

2 Salamance Square Hobart (next to the TasSal shop)
(03) 6224 2554
Open 7 days a week, 8.30 am with the kitchen open until 10pm. Breakfast is on offer on the weekend until 11.45.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kreme of the crop?

An article in The Mercury newspaper this morning has brought my attention to the plight of 2700 Tasmanians (and counting) lobbying to bring a Krispy Kreme doughnut outlet to Tasmania.

Now, I am not one to preach about what should and shouldn’t be available, freedom of choice and all that. But when fast food is the easiest, most convenient choice, how many of us will actually try harder to find a healthier snack?

As I fly back and forwards from Melbourne a fair bit, I’ve observed many passengers with bags and bags of Krispy Kreme sugar fluff doughnuts. I assume they are for sale in the airport somewhere, although I’ve no idea where. Obviously there is a demand for the product here, as the now 2879 Facebook group members demonstrate.

Just in case you were wondering, the average Krispy Kreme doughnut is a whopping 600-900 kilojoules, which would take about 1 hour of intense of exercise to burn off. That’s just for one 100g doughnut.

And what is in your average Krispy Kreme doughnut? This:

COCOA (5%),
(410,407, 412),

A little bit of what you fancy does you good. To lobby against it would be indicative of a nanny State, in which we are all overweight lard-arses with no self control. The addition of a Krispy Kreme is probably no different than any other unhealthy snack option we have here already. But does Hobart REALLY want a Krispy Kreme outlet? Do we need more unhealthy global franchises?

I personally won’t be buying or eating any. But when I think about it, I don’t really give a toss if anyone else does. Let the masses make up their own minds? And if you are having trouble deciding, take a look at this.

Feel free to comment below.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Picture this

January 1: shopping list.


January 2: North on Rathdowne, not hungry.

January 2: North on Rathdowne, hungry now.

January 2: cool street name

January 2: no kidding around at Camy Shanghai Dumpling

January 3: Sunday tradition

 January 3: airport food and a little light reading.