Smoky business

Graeme Phillips
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Tasmanian oysters and smoked salmon - Photographer Garry Moore

Tasmanian oysters and smoked salmon - Photographer Garry Moore [©Tourism Tasmania]

From a small start in the 1980s, Tasmanian producers now annually supply thousands of tonnes of fresh Atlantic salmon, ocean trout and their smoked and other value-added products to restaurants and food markets around Australia and overseas.

The fish are farmed in the cold salt-water coves and estuaries around Bruny Island and the D’Entrecastreaux Channel south of Hobart, down the Tasman Peninsula towards Port Arthur, in the Tamar River and in magnificent Macquarie Harbour fronting Strahan on the West coast.

One of the benefits flowing from the flood of baby-boomer sea-changers moving to Tasmania in recent years has been the new businesses many have established perforce of providing themselves an interest and/or an income.

One such is Roger Scales, formerly of Portsea on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Enticed by a friend’s photographs of the beautiful D’Entrecastreaux Channel and surrounding Channel area, he came, saw, was conquered and so bought and moved to Woodbridge before realising he wasn’t one to take up late-life wood turning or basket weaving and asking himself what he was going to do.

He says he found the answer after tasting smoked salmon from Herman Myer’s small and blackened old hobby smokehouse at nearby Kettering. A retired and slightly eccentric German, Myer had for many years been turning local fishermen’s salmon catch into by far the best smoked salmon on the island. A bottle of Scotch by way of exchange was as commercial as Myer ever wanted to get, so, very much in the way of master and apprentice, Myer designed and helped Scales’ convert an old apple shed on his new property into a series of three wood-fired smokehouses and taught him the jobs of hot and cold smoking.

Smoking over apple wood gathered from the old orchard on his property, Scale’s early results were deliciously flavoured, moist and silkily textured products that rapidly won a place on some of the best top-end menus in Australia. Last year, his Woodbridge Smokehouse smoked salmon was runner-up in the national Vogue Entertainment and Travel Produce Awards. This year his Pepperberry Cold Smoked Ocean Trout went one better to take out the top gong in 'From the Sea' category.

As one judge said, "Wonderful wood-smoke aroma. One can't stop at one slice. Sublime."

Which is all well and good, but even better if you have something appropriate to drink with the third, sixth or tenth slice.

And that’s where an exciting little taste experiment lies. What goes best with smoked salmon or smoked Ocean trout?

The Scots would say a wee dram. For others it might be a sweet dark or slightly drier wheat beer. For the Russian Czars and super stars since, it’s been smoked salmon, Champagne and nothing but Champagne. Add thinly sliced cucumber to delicate sandwiches, crusts of course removed, and you have a sure-fire winner for the Royal Darby. Substitute a top Tassie sparkler and you’ve got a winner for the Hobart Cup too.

But the best accompanying wine, be you at Epsom or Elwick, at the beach or on a bearskin rug, is a Tasmanian botrytis riesling or gewurztraminer such as those from Craigow, Hood Wines or Tamar Ridge. Sweet with smoky and salty? It may sound counterintuitive, but it works. Try it.

Regions

  • Huon and Channel (TAS)
  • Southern Tasmania (TAS)

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