In South Australia, what’s on your plate is as diverse as the region’s people and scenery. Here’s an epicurean’s guide to the mecca of “fusion food”
If it’s that one place where you can dig into haute cuisine minus the chichi, it’s none other than the refreshingly cosmopolitan South Australia (SA). Characterised by openness, energy and freedom, the food culture here doesn’t demand placing a starched white napkin on your lap before you begin a meal. Today, dining and drinking in South Australia is all about sampling delicacies that are a royal concoction of Mediterranean, Italian and Asian cooking styles and flavours that in turn gave rise to “fusion movement” in the state. Whether you’re at a five-star restaurant, country cafe or a vibrant pub, expect the place to be brimming with character and serve dishes that are generously sized, gorgeously presented and tastefully impressive.
Whether its gourmet delicacies put together using indigenous Australian ingredients, colourful markets loaded with fresh produce, laid-back cafes, unconventional beer breweries, wine appreciation sessions or food festivals dotted with an array of food trucks, SA has it covered. What’s more? You certainly can’t return without exploring its seafood playground. Enjoy fresh and locally-reared shrimp, oysters, crayfish, snapper and tuna at striking locales with a magnificent climate. To put it simply, the culinary revolution in SA is stretching its tentacles far and wide. So, get your tummy growling!
SAMPLE THE CAPITAL’S CULINARY CREATIONS
Reputed to be South Australia‘s most livable city, Adelaide’s gastronomy is truly fusion and innovative in nature. Welcome to the coastal city that has European fine diners gracefully sitting beside quick-service Asian joints, burger bars and pavement cafes. Venture out in the city to discover its plentiful ‘eat streets’ where you can start the day… as well as end it; with just a few distractions in between. For contrasting culinary experiences, sample some hawker food in Chinatown or explore small yet fashionable bars around Leigh Street and neighbouring Peel Street, smack in the heart of the city.
Tip: Eat like a local
Look for the Eat Local SA sign at venues across every region of SA. Here you’ll find South Australian food producers or regional origins highlighted on the menu.
WINE A LITTLE
What do you do when you know you’re at one of the finest wine regions in the world? You wash down your meals with glasses of local wines! South Australia embraces the essence of wineries that help you enjoy wine and winemaking from the ground up. With around 200 cellar doors only a short drive from the city of Adeliade and 18 world-renowned wine regions nearby, it’s hard to pick one. The Adelaide Hills wineries and cellar doors are just 20 minutes drive from Adelaide while an hour north of the city is the Barossa wine region that offers everything from gutsy Shiraz to delicate Riesling. Enter Penfolds cellar door and learn to prepare your very own blend of wines or halt at Jacob’s Creek in Rowland Flat for a picnic amid the vineyards. Or even better, drive down the palm-tree lined Seppeltsfield Road to reach the historic Seppeltsfield Winery that houses the world’s oldest continuous collection of fortified wines dating back to 1878. Here, you have the rare opportunity to try your own birth year vintage Tawny directly from the barrel!
MEANDER THE MARKETS
Ask a local in Adelaide about fresh produce and they’d point towards Gouger Street. Head to The Adelaide Central market, the largest undercover market, for a tasty introduction to SA’s food artisans. The market operates Tuesday to Saturday and is a great spot to enjoy a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza while crowd watching.
Meet and interact with chefs, farmers, sommeliers, butchers and bakers and delve deeper into the journey from farm to plate and vine to glass. Everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to farmhouse cheeses, traditional smoked meat, honey, wines, sustainable seafood and ice-creams is peddled here.
To learn more about the history of South Australian food, join a behind-the-scenes guided tour which includes guided walks, fun tasting sessions, cooking classes and live demonstrations. In Adelaide on a weekend? The best place to spend your Sunday morning would be Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market. If food and fresh produce markets are your thing, you’re to be well-served here!
BARBUECUE LIKE THE AUSSIES
The barbecue, often called ‘barbie’, is a way of life in SA because of a large number of public parks and the fantastic weather all year. Their love affair with outdoor grills symbolises their connection with nature and culture.
At fundraisers and community events, Aussies strip barbecue down to its bare essentials, which is nothing more than a sausage, grilled onions and mustard on a bread roll. On certain days, they add to it fresh salads, juices, wine and a dessert made of red wine poached pears served with freshly-prepared sheep milk yoghurt.
DID YOU KNOW?
1 in 4 Australians are born overseas, and this multicultural diversity is reflected in its rich variety of food.
DELECTABLE MUST DOS
1. TRY KANGAROO MEAT
While you may photograph kangaroos hopping around, don’t miss trying grilled kangaroo steak. Kangaroo meat is lean, healthy red meat which is a great source of protein and heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, and low in fat. Relish its braised tail or fried tendon (often known as kangaroo crackers) with a spicy-sweet dip. Ground kangaroo meat is used to make burgers, stews or sauces.
Tip: An obvious first choice for a locally foraged meal would be Blackwood Restaurant at 285 Rundle Street, Adelaide. It is an Australian bistro that offers a wide selection of dishes using native and wild ingredients that are primarily handpicked.
2. SIP ON NO.1 BEER IN THE WORLD
There is a rich tradition of beer drinking in South Australia and the locales absolutely love their boutique brewries. Sip on award-winning craft beer or watch the brewers at work at Prancing Pony Brewery in Totness, between Hahndorf and Mount Barker. Owned by a dashing German couple, the place has a youthful and casual yet rustic vibe. Order one of its good-value tasting paddles and enjoy it with hearty grub.
3. BRING BACK PUREST LIGURIAN HONEY
In 1880s, Italy sent a shipment of pure Ligurian bees to Kangaroo Island in South Australia and, today, the island boasts of the last remaining pure stock of this bee found anywhere in the world. Buy some local honey from Clifford’s Honey Farm or pick artisan body care products with organic honey.
4. PICK STRAWBERRIES
Nestled in the Adelaide Hills in the historic town of Hahndorf, Beerenberg Family Farm is run by the sixth generation of the Paech family. Pick your own strawberries in season late October to May.
Visit the farm shop and enjoy free tastings of home-style jams, condiments, sauces and dressings; all made in their open kitchen. Mostly importantly, don’t forget to bring them home.
Other fruity experiences: Pick figs at Willabrand Orchard at Glen Ewin Estate in Houghton from February to April. Try cherry-picking in December and January at a number of orchards or pluck those juicy apples during Pick a Pink Lady Weekend in Lenswood in early May.
THE FESTIVAL CITY ADELAIDE
Adelaide is renowned for its festivals. When here, you can literally have your calendar jam-packed with gourmet events. Try and make it to one of these:
> The Crush Festival is held in January in the Adelaide Hills. It brings together wine, food, fashion, music and art at over 30 local cellar doors.
> Adelaide Food and Wine Festival is held in April and showcases SA’s best chefs, producers, winemakers, brewers and traders in iconic locations.
> Monthly Fork on the Road festival is dedicated to trendy street food.