Upon trying to do some research on the SA Capital it quickly became apparent that there were nowhere near the amount of up to date information at hand to plan a well researched trip to Adelaide and beyond. There certainly isn’t the amount of bloggers that Melbourne has to reach out to for recommendations. So we will attempt to point you in the right direction.
This trip came at the perfect time, as I was in sore need of a getaway and I all I had been told from WordMonkey was to take the day off – much easier to get than was to be expecting… But we arrived at the airport and was ushered onto a flight to Adelaide – somewhere I had never visited or was high on my list of places to see.
I had not packed anything and just reached out to Michael Fox – ex-Head Chef of Henry & The Fox – but was way to late to expect any sort of reply. Many of you may have seen my alert but not alarmed tweets that I sent out for assistance once I arrived at my destination. My first impressions of the city were that it seemed like they had the same city planers as Melbourne Docklands. Lots of things/places congregated together and then large stretched of nothing. If anyone started a bike hire scheme there for tourists it would be immediately popular.
A good location to set up camp is the Adabco Boutique Hotel – close enough to everything to be in walking distance but not in the heart of the hustle and bustle that could keep you awake at night.
Our first stop as any decent person with an interest in food was the Adelaide central market. Paul Mullen from @farfromfamished put it perfectly – “Way better than Victoria Market”. He was so right. If you don’t believe me – what percentage of Victoria Market do you visit regularly? If you just say the food section and not the huge amount of tat that is sold then you are on my wavelength.
But what if you could just grab the very best parts of the Vic Market and put that under one roof and you will get Adelaide Market. And it’s open in the evenings on Friday nights. How perfect would it be if Vic market did the same – a cheap fresh feed with a drink before heading on – and being able to do your fruit and veg shopping as well?
Highlights of the market was the fresh coffee being roasted and just across the way was a haphazard bread stall with the baker selling his wares. The Mettwurst shop was a hit and we took a few of their sticks home with us. Funny enough they have just popped up and the new regional farmers markets that had their first fair last week. So now we can stock up monthly.
The little café hidden in the bustle reminded me of Barcelona’s famous markets where Ferran Adria and his team would visit when visiting their laboratory. Fresh food made on the spot with fresh ingredients. The place was always heaving.
WordMonkey lost her shit when she saw this place. – The Smelly Cheese Shop. Name me a place in Melbourne that has this range at these prices? Such a fantastic range and doing a roaring trade. But to me – a non-cheese eater as much as I can be – it was exactly as the sign promised.
Moving on we had a few options for lunch but as we were meeting up with an Aussie teacher than taught WordMonkey in primary school back in London many a year ago we let her choose. Luckily it was a name that kept coming up in the Tweets we received:
24 Waymouth St
Adelaide, SA 5000
It lined up with the Tour de France theme that the city was sporting. The place looked just like any other café you would find in France, which won me over immediately. What was an issue was the decision to only have one staff member running the floor during Friday lunchtime. But aside from that – let see what food they had in stall for us.
I went for the local Amazon Ale while the ladies lunched on the duck foie gras terrine. It disappeared pretty quickly so make of that what you will. A half dozen oysters was WordMonkey’s choice – I felt like there was too much seawater involved and gave too much of a salty sting.
The main of mushroom risotto was a decent size but needed much more seasoning to make it a more interesting dish. The snapper with scallops and fig was note perfect – both the seafood was cooked perfectly and the dressing really made it shine.
I was holding myself back for a meal I hoped wouldn’t disappoint. The grass fed, dry aged beef served with a clove of roasted garlic, bone marrow and fries was a sight to behold. Unfortunately the meat was very undercooked for my request of medium rare – as much as my chef mates tell me there is no such thing. And having had the roasted bone marrow at St John in London – I had to wonder how they expected patrons to get the marrow out – as trying to dip the fries into it just wasn’t happening. Would I go back? Maybe if I was a local – but the amount of other places on that strip would need to be tried first before listing it as a chosen destination.
Like Melbourne, Adelaide is a city to be explored on food. Set up in a grid system and nice little laneways to wonder down you will miss half the exciting stuff if you limit your self to a vehicle. And the tram is completely free if you use it within the CBD – very much like Melbourne but just more legal.
The Botanical Gardens are well worth a visit as they are found at the top corner of the city where pretty much everything is happening.
Dinner that night was a return to the Central Market at Lucia’s Italian. Fresh pastas and pizza with a Friday night special of their home made lasagna. The space is small and fills up easily so you need to know how to maneuver to get an order. Get inside to the till and place your order for everything – food, drinks and dessert. You can’t hang around for a table inside the shop so then ask for a number and head further into the market to get a generic table anywhere. It is much quicker than fighting off the masses and the serving staff will hunt you down when your food is ready.
But the main reason for coming to Adelaide was to steer clear of Rod Laver Arena – and see Flight of the Conchords in a more intimate venue. Suffice to say they were brilliant.
A word to the wise – Adelaide is very much like a supermodel – I don’t get up for anything less than a 10am open time. A hindrance if you are leaving town and want to grab any sort of bite or coffee. Sad face.
But to my surprise we hired a car and made our way to the Clare Valley. Such a great surprise. By bypassing the popular Barossa Valley we were able to have a more intimate visits to wineries and other destinations, as it is just that much further out from Adelaide that not all are willing to make the trek. But saying that it is literally only 1.5 hours from the city centre.
Little did I realise that this was a Riesling hub and that our first stop was literally going to be my favourite winery and brewery – Knappstein. This was the one wine that I bought for special occasions when in London for extended family of friends as they only had German Rieslings that were always far too sweet.
Our second stop was Kirrihill Cellar Door – with a tasting from a guy who helped us restart the car after I left the lights on during an extensive tasting session. The restaurant upstairs serves a great selection of hearty food and a good stop to fill up until your next destination. The salt and pepper squid and local tasting plate really did the job. Again service was a bit backwards but this far off the beaten track it is to be expected.
Our biggest disappointment was the Sevenhill Clare Winery – the oldest winery in the Clare Valley and still housing people of the cloth. While the grounds are amazing it does seem like they are still just producing sacramental wine. When there are so many top producers in the area you can really tell when your palette doesn’t like a range of wines.
Moving on we arrived at our destination – and a place I wouldn’t think twice about staying again – Amy’s House in Auburn. Centrally located and 100m from what used to be the town’s train station now cellar door – The Old Railway Station.
Dinner that night was at The Rising Sun Pub, two mins walk from the front door. Now owned and operated by a local winemaker the wine is close to home, the beers are limited edition and the food is generous.
We started with the braised duck leg and spring onion filo tart. One of the highlights of the entire trip. My main was the beef cheek porter pie – perfect for a freezing night. It was big and defeated me due to the continual grazing I had done during the day. What left us a little deflated was the classic Mediterranean seafood stew. There was no doubt about the freshness and huge amount of seafood but the stew was way too sweet and felt like too much sugar had been added.
Having visited a fair share of wineries the previous day and with many in cycling outfits we decided to try our hand at riding the Riesling Trail. Providing ever-changing views of vineyards, farms and bush land, the trail follows the contours and curves of the former railway line from Auburn to Clare. WARNING. There is a very slow incline that you wouldn’t notice and if you ride easily from Clare towards Auburn you will have a very tough ride back. We started at Auburn and were wondering why we were so unfit when the path looked completely flat. It’s not and there was much talk of people who rode down hill, got laggered and then had the worst of times trying to cycle back home with a head and belly-full of wine.
If you are lucky enough to stay at Ann’s they have very good bikes they will lend you to make the trek otherwise there are a few places dotted around that will hire them to you for a fee.
The first stop on the path – and boy did we need it – was O’Leary Walker Wines. Their Rieslings, Shiraz and cabernet are bargain benchmarks for the area and their Clare Reserve Shiraz rank among the regions best. It also has some of the best views of any cellar door.
Never trust a man with 2 first names I hear you say? I agree in all cases except for this. Even though the owner’s wife makes barely a peep the wines are worthy of a visit.
On our way home we had hear the sentence “What? You aren’t going to Skillogalee to eat?” We soon changed our tune. It was the best meal of the trip as expected from one of the region’s finest restaurants. Meals are situated in and around the original stone cottage in the vineyard. You should set aside time to give this place your utmost attention.
Starting with the special of mackerel pate and crostini splashed with Shiraz. Genius.
You can enjoy the full range of wines by the glass, which we gladly did on the way back to Adelaide. The braised pork belly wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of risoni. But don’t waste my time with sprouts young man.
WordMonkey went with the daily special of pasta with chicken and prawns with a creamy Riesling sauce. Dubious of having two types of ‘meat’ she was more than happy to polish it off.
And who’s to stop me from a well made sticky toffee pudding to last me the journey back to the city?
So if you need a guide to Adelaide and the Clare Valley’s hits and misses I hope we have provided. I haven’t been able to include everything so if you want further information please do hit us up.