There is snow on Mt Roland (at least there was during a visit in July). It has also been drizzled over the peaks beside it and the breadth of snow gives the range a fluky hint of the French Alps. The charm of this spreads to nearby Sheffield, surely one of Tasmania’s finest ‘alpine’ villages.
The cold isn’t at all threatening. Not when there are perfect shelters from it. The wood fires are burning at the Glencoe Rural Retreat, a farmhouse near Barrington and Sheffield that has its own Gallic countenance.
French-born Remi and Ginette Bancal own Glencoe and have refashioned it with themes from Provence. In the room I stay in is an antique armoire but early one evening as darkness runs speedily over the snowy peaks, thoughts are on food rather than furniture.
Dinner is an optional part of a stay at this B&B. The Bancals’ serve up their table d’ hôte, a three-course set menu, that is designed on what local produce is available from their potager and nearby suppliers.
Ginette advises dinner is ready soon after my arrival: first course, a pumpkin soup with caramalised onions and almonds, bacon and a little chilli is served magnificently and perfectly hot – smoking hot soup must be one of the pleasures of winter. I relish every drop, then scrap up the remains with a warm, crusty bread roll. Lamb Provencal with potatoes is the main. The meat comes from a butcher in Spreyton, is served up bistro-style, and could be eaten by birds and butterflies, or anyone without teeth. Dessert is a choux with caramel sauce and pistachios. The snow and cold has somehow garnished and complemented all the flavours of dinner. It is a perfect winter treat.
Phil and Amanda Smithers are from New South Wales. They are a staying at Glencoe for a week. “We like the cold,” says Phil. “It’s a guilty secret for people from New South Wales. The couple has come to explore the north-west, and to eat and drink and sit by the fire. Afterwards they’re travelling to Hobart to collect produce and cook it up in a self-contained apartment. The couple also let on they are fond of Tassie’s country pubs. “[When we] pop into a country pub the food is almost always gobsmackingly beautiful,” adds Phil.
“I don’t understand why Tassie is not a winter destination,” adds Ginette. “I look forward to winter every year. The garden looks beautiful. It becomes another garden all together and I like its magic. Winter has its own charm. It’s a pity people think of going somewhere else,” says Ginette before adding, “We are happy here because we look at the French Alps”.
It costs $175 per night to stay at Glencoe in August and the price includes a continental breakfast with home-made brioche, jams and preserved fruits. Coffee is served in Villeroy and Boch crockery; in French-style dejuner cups. The table d’ hôte costs $60 per person.
Striking murals at Sheffield
Stunning Gardens and Homestead - Glencoe
Spectacular Mt Roland