South Australians love their food and wine. This is not only apparent in the hills and valleys surrounding Adelaide but in South Australia’s capital itself.
This big little city is bursting with some of the best food and wine you’ll find anywhere in the world. And, with two airlines flying direct from Auckland, it’s perfect for a long-weekend escape.
The Adelaide Central covered market is a great starting point. With a rich heritage of Greek, Italian and German immigrants, the market is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. Breakfast at the market is a grand idea – not only do you get to see things spring to life, but a caffeine fix from Italian café Lucia’s and a freshly baked almond croissant from Wild Loaf are a perfect way to start the day.
While you’re free to wander the aisles, taking a market tour with the bubbly Mark Gleeson, from Providore, is a great option. Mark knows all the stall holders well and his tour is not only informative but tasty.
Lovers of fine cheese are well advised to purchase a few slivers from The Smelly Cheese Shop.
As you would expect from such a food-focused city, there is a plethora of excellent restaurants to choose from, whatever your budget and preferred cuisine.
An evening stroll along Gouger St will take you to many a fine eatery and there are plenty of bars and cafés in the Rundle St area. You may also be lucky enough to be in Adelaide during Fork On the Road event, when the many food trucks often scattered around the city come together once a month, offering a casual and interesting dining experience.
Adelaide, like its sister city Christchurch, is essentially a flat and easily navigable city with wide streets and a good sense of order. The gardens and river area are great for a stroll or cycle and there are plenty of galleries and shops (check out Rundle Mall).
Chocolate lovers cannot leave town without a visit to one of Haigh’s chocolate shops. While their frogs are a specialty, there are treats to suit everyone. Adelaide seems to have a love affair with chocolate. There are a number of chocolatiers now dotting the central city area, creating a warm, inviting aroma that’s impossible to ignore.
A rental car is the best way to take in the sights independently. A stroll along the picturesque beach at Glenelg is relaxing, and the pandas at the zoo unique, but it’s the hills and valleys most head for, sampling wine and fabulous local fare. The hard part is deciding which direction you’ll travel.
Houseboating on the Murray River, cage diving with sharks and a visit to Kangaroo Island are all tempting (well, maybe not the sharks), but it’s the mighty Barossa Valley that fits our weekend plan.
First stop out of town, though, is the Adelaide Hills, 30 minutes drive from the city centre. Here you’ll discover the quaint village of Hahndorf, wineries, fabulous cheese and German-style butcheries with mouth-watering sausages and salami.
Meandering through the hills, you’ll eventually find yourself in the renowned Barossa Valley. Cellar door signs along the roadside – Penfolds, Yalumba and Jacob’s Creek – will be instantly recognisable to anyone who enjoys the occasional glass of wine.
Penfolds’ “make your own blend” classes are loads of fun and there are about 80 wineries with cellar door facilities offering tastings and sometimes small plates of food as well.
While the wine and food are major drawcards, the rolling hills, sprinkled with charming villages, lined with pretty villas and gardens as colourful as a Renoir painting, are a major ingredient of the Barossa magic.
There is a range of accommodation to choose from and plenty of places to eat.
The Barossa Farmers’ Market in Angaston each Saturday morning is the best place to enjoy a breakfast of local fare (bacon butties, spectacular pastries) and to meet the champions of Barossa food, including Jan Angas of Hutton Vale. Jan opens her farm for group bookings and as we’re travelling during the Tasting Australia event, we’re lucky to enjoy a delicious lunch of her own lamb and salads, followed with the best local cheese, rich apricot tarts and extraordinarily thick, luscious cream from Jersey Fresh (try it at the Barossa market). Enjoyed with wine from Henschke, this makes for a very memorable day.
Angaston is also home to Angas Park dried goods, and the store, with every imaginable combination of fruit, nuts and chocolate, is well worth a visit.
Maggie Beer’s farm shop is a lovely place to enjoy a picnic-style lunch of pâté, terrine, fine cheese and other daily offerings – if you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet the effervescent Maggie herself.
From Barossa, it is less than an hour of easy driving into Adelaide, drop off your car and head back home. A few days can feel like a week!