After just 24 hours in Hobart I need to loosen my belt by a notch. A persistent sense of constriction hints strongly that two notches are probably warranted but I refuse to accept it. We're here for a refreshing weekend dose of what Tassie's capital does with aplomb: food, wine, art and history – but the nosh and plonk components are dominating the agenda.
The culinary temptations start on Friday evening with Street Eats @ Franko, which is held weekly in Franklin Square in the CBD. It's devoted to live music and locally-produced wine, spirits and food, presented in a United Nations of styles, from wallaby tacos to Korean barbecue. As we stroll around the circuit of stalls, a cry of anguish goes up in the queue at Urban Bounty: they've sold out of churros with chocolate ganache. Note to future self: arrive early at Street Eats if craving chocolate churros.
An all-ages crowd lounges on the grass in front of the bandstand and a few energetic souls dance in either of two styles: like nobody's watching or like they hope everybody is watching. The vibe is relaxed and convivial, lively without being hectic. It's the sort of mellow community event that makes you understand why frazzled mainlanders are snapping up property here and moving on down.
I'd gladly stay longer and graze at length, but we have a dinner reservation. The Lounge at Frogmore Creek is an elegant bar and restaurant on Hobart's waterfront with a mod-Oz menu built around local produce including scallops, mushrooms, salmon and wallaby. It's linked to the Frogmore Creek cellar door about 20 minutes out of town, at Cambridge. We gladly hand over responsibility for our wine selection to Alex Chaplin, the Lounge's charming bar manager, and complete the evening's feasting with desserts too pretty to wreck with a spoon ... but we do it anyway. Mine, The Birds Nest, is a dainty ganache-filled egg involving peach, passionfruit, raspberries and dark chocolate.
When we finally haul ourselves out of our emerald green velvet chairs and stagger for the door, we don't have far to walk to lie down and bemoan our gluttony. We're staying in a serviced apartment at Somerset on the Pier, which is smack bang in the middle of Hobart's dock area, on Elizabeth Pier. The ferry to an essential Hobart experience, MONA, departs from the pier next door, and most of central Hobart's highlights, including the ever-thriving Salamanca markets and Arts Centre, plus most of the venues for Dark Mofo 2019, are an easy walk away.
We have a neat kitchenette in our room but give no thought to self-catering given we're surrounded by prime eating and drinking opportunities. These include: Brooke Street Larder, which is perfect for a waterfront breakfast; The Glass House, with its glorious views and menu that champions Tasmanian produce and wines; Evolve, an atmospheric new bar with a list of rare whiskeys, and Society Salamanca, a more Millennial-style establishment with a fine gin selection.
On Sunday, our last day, we decide to starve ourselves, at least until we get home, but then we take a stroll through the Farm Gate Market in Bathurst Street, with its luscious displays of fresh produce and boutique culinary creations. My walk slows to a distracted sort of zombie stagger as we pass the Lady Hester stall with its sourdough doughnuts filled with pomegranate and vanilla custard. Shortly thereafter – appetites piqued, willpower exhausted – we find ourselves perched on stools and scoffing fabulous, butter-slathered toasted bagels at Bury Me Standing Coffee Co.
When we get to the airport, I take off my belt altogether and stash it in my bag, next to the two Lady Hester doughnuts I ducked back and bought, just in case we get peckish later.
Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly direct from Sydney and Melbourne to Hobart.
One-bedroom executive apartments at Somerset on the Pier start from $230 a night. See somerset.com
Lissa Christopher was a guest of Somerset on the Pier.