From London to Los Angeles, hotels fuel foodies’ fervor by offering everything from hands-on cooking classes to the chance to harvest and press wine grapes. One lodge in Australia, however, has taken the trend in a distinctively delicious direction by immersing guests in a truly locavore experience: harvesting their own oysters fresh from the sea.
Saffire Freycinet, with a curvaceous main building shaped like a stingray mid-glide, perches on a waterfront slope within Tasmania’s untamed Freycinet National Park. Its suites feature views of the dramatic Hazards mountains across Coles Bay, and activities include scenic hikes and private cruises. But the lodge’s most singular excursion takes place at Freycinet Marine Oyster Farm.
After donning waders, head into the waters of the estuary, which also happens to be world-class for bird-watching. A brisk walk brings you to the cages incubating the marine farm’s prized Pacific oysters. Once you learn about the lifecycle of these briny bivalves, the farm’s cultivation methods, and the climatic conditions that make this spot particularly good for growing oysters, it’s time for a tasting. Saffire Freycinet’s executive food and beverage manager Hugh Whitehouse describes the mouthwatering mollusks as the perfect balance of salty and creamy flavors.
A table is set out in the middle of the water, complete with a white tablecloth and accoutrements like fresh lime wedges and ponzu sauce. But seasoning really isn’t needed for food this fresh. Oysters plucked straight out of the water are shucked to order and served with glasses of chilled Gala Estate 2013 Tasmanian sparkling wine—the hotel bought out the entire vintage. It’s just one more reminder that this is an experience you can only have in Tasmania.
Planning a visit to Tasmania? Don’t miss these other food-driven destinations:
Freycinet Vineyards: Located just down the road from the lodge. Many of this winery’s signature Pinot Noirs don’t make it out of Australia, so this might be your only chance to taste them.
Bruny Island Cheese Co.: Try their mild O.D.O. (one-day-old) cowmilk cheese, and the pungent 1792, which is brine-washed and aged on Tasmanian Huon pine boards.
The Agrarian Kitchen: Visitors can take cooking classes in this 19th-century former schoolhouse. It’s now an organic farm raising heritage animal breeds and heirloom varieties of produce as part of its “paddock-to-plate” philosophy.
Eric Rosen is a frequent contributor for National Geographic Traveler. Follow his travels on Twitter.