When I first moved to Tassie, the Apple Shed was a big barn, with a questionable apple industry exhibition and a two-dollar entry fee.
I remember being guided to the back wall. It was meant to display every apple variety known to humankind. But the CSIRO hadn’t delivered that year. Instead, a couple of hundred individual aluminum pie dishes labeled with the names of the varieties meant to impress us lay bare except for a half dozen of the fruit you could buy at the supermarket.
Playing tourist guide with a cider-loving niece in tow, we took a trip to the Huon Valley and I decided to see if much had changed.
The apple shed has undergone a massive transformation.
Its design is still true to its 1942 origins but now you will find a beautiful rustic space to enjoy a cider and some local produce.
We chose the cider tasting paddle with tasting notes and a pony of bone dry, wild ferment, organic and perry for $12. Nonplussed on cider, I discovered I favour organic and perry. The others were way too dry for this cider novice. I took a four pack of organic home.
Since it was morning tea we also decided to try the apple and blueberry crostata (AKA rustic Italian fruit pie), $6, and the blueberry scone (around the same price from memory). The crostata was satisfactory but the scone was still dough in its centre so it was replaced with a robust apple and carrot cake. A damn shame because the scone looked awesome. They also do apple and almond cake and an apple pie and iceceam. There’s a small selection of lunch options too. The food is local, seasonal and sustainable.
The cafe space is designed for groups and this is a perfect space for a couple of rounds and something to line the stomach. It’s also a great place to eat some local produce including the Huon Valley’s fruit. The combination of indoor tables, tables on the back deck and an outside area is a winner. I can imagine the locals flocking out back to relax on a Friday night while the tourists mingle indoors.
They have invested in museum-style visual displays depicting cider production and the Huon Valley apple history. It’s smart and informative. There’s a small providore supply and Tasmanian cookbooks; nice souvenir ideas for tourists and possibly locals too.
There’s still a ‘museum’ with examples of early equipment and tit bits about the Huon Valley when optimism for growing apples was greatest and the market conditions were most sympathetic.
The display of apple varieties is still there too. The look is modern and the display acts as a wall between the museum and the cafe. Each labeled shelf is full now and they all have ‘made in Australia’ stickers on them.
They’re doing live music and dinner on Friday nights and special Sunday sessions. Sounds like this is the place to be for people from the Valley and beyond.