On the Tasmanian Trail with Ben Milbourne »
For travellers, new migrants or long term residents
By Sara Schwarz
Being a recent immigrant to Tasmania from the mainland, I was excited to receive Tasmanian Trail to review. Any book that helps me to learn more about the fabulous food and food producers of my new home – and to plan some foodie excursions around the state – is a very welcome addition to my library.
There are quite a few books on the market of late celebrating Tasmania’s coming of age as a food tourism destination and home to many premium producers. Tasmanian Trail – from passion to plate by Ben Milbourne is one of the latest in this genre and his love for the food and people of his home state shine through this book from page one.
Ben first shot onto our TV screens on MasterChef in 2012. He's now cemented a place in the state's culinary landscape as a young food writer for a Tasmanian newspaper and a Beer Ambassador for Cascade Brewery. He's also set to star on the small screen with a new cooking show later in the year.
The recipes are interspersed with pages about some of the producers which I enjoyed reading and also learnt a few new things such as the existence of an organic quinoa farm in the north of the state. I'm dreaming of food-inspired trips: to Kate's Berry Farm on the East Coast, Anvers Chocolates on the North West, and sooo many more, from farmers and fishers to brewers and bakers.
Ben's recipes themselves are a mix of modern and classics. They are recipes for foodies, for those who love simple flavoursome ingredients, ideally purchased straight from the producer. You can imagine Ben and his family picking up cheese, cider or oysters direct from the source, before stopping off at a local Farmer’s Market to grab the rest of the ingredients for each recipe.
I felt that the book’s layout let it down somewhat. While the imagery used is often unique and atmospheric for a recipe book, I found there to be too much white space on each recipe page (perhaps to be used to add your own notes on each recipe).
The short articles about a producer and their produce are all interesting and written with passion but on occasion the very next recipe featured fails to use the produce described. That said, however, it's still inspiring for the would-be food explorer.
As the book is named Tasmanian Trail, I would also have liked a few simple maps to give me an idea of where each producer is located or where each ingredient grows best. For those that don’t know Tasmania well, and even those that have lived here their whole lives, it would be great to know where some of our Island’s fantastic produce is grown and available. I’m aware with the internet finding out such information is a mere click away but it still would have been a nice addition.
Overall this is book that will satisfy those with a love of Tasmania or looking for some inspiration for a food tour of the island and what to eat while you’re here, and help you discover some hidden gems on your travels.
Scroll down for some of the featured producers and a selection of recipes.
Tasmanian Trail – from Passion to Plate by Ben Milbourne is published by New Holland (Sydney 2014; hc, 240 pp) and retails in Australia for A$40.00. Available at all good book stores or direct from the publishers here »
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