AUSTRALIA, SA: Dishing It Out In South AustraliaWhen we walked into the restaurant the maître’d was describing the menu to one of the midday diners ahead of us, “Well” he said, “food still remains food . . . from nose to tail," it was something we were soon to sample.
AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: ©Shane Boocock 2014
When we walked into the restaurant the maître’d was describing the menu to one of the midday diners ahead of us, “Well” he said, “food still remains food . . . from nose to tail," it was something we were soon to sample.
At 12.30 pm we had quickly decided on where to have lunch. It didn't take us long to walk to our recommended restaurant as the newly opened Argentinian, La Boca Bar & Grill was next door to our Adelaide hotel, The Stamford Plaza.
New Zealander, Stewart Harris from Macintosh Harris Design Ltd. in Auckland, has recently designed the restaurant and what a great job he’d done. La Boca Bar and Grill serves authentic Argentinian cuisine, created with South American passion and flair by Argentinian Chef, Nicholas Arriola. It's the only Argentinian restaurant in Adelaide to slow cook on the ‘Asador’ (a large open fire pit). The chef’s food philosophy is branded ‘Nose to Tail’ dining, by skillfully slow cooking beef, pork and lamb over the hot coals.
Sangria was poured as we snacked on pita style bread kept warm in cloth bags, accompanied by three different dips. Then came an assortment of Argentinian ' Empanadas' (stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried) followed by 'Mejillones Vino Blanco' black mussels in a white wine and cream sauce. The main course was Bife de Chorizo cooked over flaming embers made from red gum-tree logs under the grill that brings out the distinctive smoky ‘gaucho’ flavours in the thick steaks.
We had arrived in South Australia from Auckland for a short break with the tour company AAT Kings. It started with an 8.20 am departure meaning a trip to Adelaide is less than half a day away as you arrive in the city before noon, literally from, ‘an airline gate to an Argentine lunch plate.’
After a comprehensive city tour with we were dropped off at Adelaide's famous indoor Food Market. Guided by Callum a local chef we were escorted to a select number of stalls with a diverse range of produce from organic breads, charcuterie, vegetables, health foods, to smelly cheese outlets, free range produce, chocolate and candy stalls, fruit, yogurt, seafood, poultry and even a dedicated stall selling all kinds of mushrooms – a smorgasbord of produce stalls.
Located above the market is Sprout Cooking School where Callum Hann and Themis Chryssidis initiated us in the kitchen that the school operates. This is a great opportunity to not only sample the fresh market food that had been bought meters away but to deepen our food knowledge and healthy cooking skills - the result is a three course meal we prepared, cooked and ate all accompanying by local Adelaide Hills wines.
Everyone knows that the Barossa Valley is the premier wine destination in South Australia, and this little region was our first stop on our South Australian food harvest itinerary.
Maggie Beer's Farm Shop is a must see for most coach tour companies and families visiting the Barossa Valley. Maggie Beer bought the property with her husband in the 1970s and over the years they have expanded it to include a vineyard, quince orchards, pheasant run and aviary. It’s a popular stopping off point for a range of bottled produce, cookbooks and even Maggie’s own wine.
Our lunch stop was an unexpected place to have a kangaroo and Shiraz pie. The Company Kitchen was just on the outskirts of Angaston, a place first settled in the 1840s with some well-known surrounding vineyards such as Penfolds and Wolf Blass. But first back to the Company Kitchen where I was expecting a light lunch – such was my ignorance. The kangaroo pie, the size of a small brick was filled with native ‘quandongs’ (red ripe Aboriginal bush tucker berries) and winter vegetables cooked in Shiraz wine and wrapped in a light pastry served on creamy mashed potato, accompanied by squash, roasted carrot, potato and pumpkin! All of this accompanied by a sublime bottle of Schmidt Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008.
Torbreck Vineyard - never heard of it you may say - however when did you last drink from a 27 litre bottle of wine, yes 27 litres (36 standard bottles) a wine bottle worth A$ 25,000? Well we didn't drink from it either as they only produce five bottles of ‘Laird’ per vintage in this size – it’s known as a Primat or Goliath. This wine is not produced every year with vintages in 2008 and 2010 being the latest.
As Craig the chief winemaker observed, "It's a balance between evil and good." Meaning things can go wrong with the grapes but they try and make sure it doesn't happen. At A$ 900 a standard bottle you suddenly understand that evil is banished and good is a heavenly bottle that will never be offered as you pass through the gates of St. Peters.
This is a vineyard on the rise. We dropped in here for a tasting and to say what passed our lips was beyond our imagination was an understatement. We were served six wines, a 2012 Steading Blanc, a 2010 The Steading, a 2009 The Pict, a 2012 Woodcutter Shiraz, a 2012 The Gask and a 2010 Run Rig Shiraz with an added 2.5 percent viognier. They export approximately 50 percent of their stock to about 35 countries.
Craig Isbel is the master winemaker at Torbreak Vineyard and from whoa to Goa does he know his wine! After a trip with his mates from Adelaide to Western Australia in his teens he ended up penniless in the Margaret River wine region and with a need to make money began his early vineyard apprenticeship. His settlement at Torbreak came at a time when the vineyard’s accolades started arriving year on year. Now in it's 24th year, the vineyard is a superb example of what is sensational about Barossa wines.
As our host Sasha poured wine into tasting glasses he surprisingly said, "It's better to be armless than legless." We had now ventured into the world-renowned vineyard of Jacobs Creek - the largest producer of wine in the Barossa Valley. Jacobs Creek sits on 42 hectares and not surprisingly welcomes 170,000 visitors a year through its visitor centre – for a taste sensation try either the limited edition organic Montepulciano 2011 or the organic Shiraz 2012.
That evening dinner was served at Novotel Barossa Valley Resort’s signature restaurant Harry’s. With fabulous views across vineyards it makes for a great end of day location to taste the artful use of seasonal local produce matched with South Australia wines before dropping into bed, slightly more legless than armless.
It was a crisp, cold morning across the Barossa Valley vineyards with mist lingering above the vines but with a beautiful sunrise it wasn't noticed. Our first drive of the day wound its way through the Adelaide Hills to the quaint but touristy town of Hahndorf.
The town was first settled in 1839 by Germans persecuted for their religious beliefs from what was then the Prussian region of Europe. Only 45 minutes drive from downtown Adelaide this township attracts many day trip visitors so expect a busy village with a touch of chic and a dollop of kitsch but if old world architecture with a sense of history is what you might appreciate then it's worth a couple of hours.
AAT Kings gives you a two-hour opportunity to either wander through the main street to shop and dine or take a 90-minute wander with Hahndorf Walking Tours. They offer a comprehensive introduction to the influential iconography of the remaining buildings along with a history of the families that once occupied the main street.
Our tour group then headed out of the hills towards the ocean as we needed to catch a 3.00 pm ferry. In our next issue we’ll be experiencing the cuisine and wines on a short break, hop and a jump excursion to Kangaroo Island. Part Two will be in the Aug/Sep issue.
Stamford Plaza Adelaide – La Boca Bar & Grill
Sprout Cooking School
Maggie Beer's Farm Shop
Jacobs Creek Vineyard
Novotel Barossa Valley Resort
South Australia Tourism
AAT Kings hosted Shane Boocock on his trip to South Australia. AAT Kings Short Break Holidays were recently introduced in NZ and Australia in 2014. The 52 variations (a break for every day of the year) range in length from two to seven days from Nature & Wildlife Holidays, Cultural Enriching Experiences, Family Holidays, Active Adventures, Winter Escapes and Food & Wine Experiences. Individual travellers are encouraged to join theses short break tours as much as couples are.
If you want to see more just add on a couple of extra days either before or after your tour to take an even bigger bite out of South Australia.
If you would like to read this article in full or licence it for your own publication, please click here to contact Shane.