There’s more to South Australia’s fabulous food and wine culture than just world-class restaurants, regional wineries and the produce of the bountiful Barossa. Here, it’s about the experience – dining in a room created by the boughs of a 120-year-old fig tree on Kangaroo Island, for example, or eating a just-shucked Coffin Bay oyster while knee-deep in the water you plucked it from.
Create a picnic haul from Adelaide Central Market
SA’s finest produce is available from the Adelaide Central Market, where regional flavours are represented at stalls including Barossa Fine Foods, Kangaroo Island Stall 17 and the Fleurieu Milk Company. Gather a basket’s worth of goodies – think crusty bread, squishy cheese, ripe figs and charcuterie – then find a sunny spot nearby to devour it.
Eat dinner inside a Rubik’s cube
McLaren Vale’s d’Arenberg Cube is a whimsical five-storey glass structure that’s part museum, part restaurant and part sensory experience. Appoint yourself head winemaker at The Blending Bench, mixing your own drop to take home; soak up the enchanting views of the mourvedre vines and rolling hills of Willunga; and have lunch in the art-filled diner Eat@Polly’s.
Dine beneath an enchanted fairy bower
It sounds a little fanciful but wait until you see the natural “rooms” created by the boughs of The Enchanted Fig Tree on Kangaroo Island. A table is set on a carpet of grass, with the sunlight filtering through the 120-year-old branches to create a beguiling dining room. It feels magical – and the ambience is only amplified when the food begins to arrive. For the next four months, The Enchanted Fig Tree is hosting Gastromo and features guest chefs Simon Bryant, Duncan Welgemoed and Emma McCaskill.
Enjoy freshly shucked oysters on the Eyre Peninsula
Clad in waders and departing from Oyster HQ – a magnificent tourist centre on the water’s edge – guests on Experience Coffin Bay’s three-hour Oyster Farm and Bay Tour head 16 kilometres offshore from Coffin Bay to pluck oysters from the pristine sandbanks. The Eyre Peninsula is known as Australia’s “seafood frontier” and in-boat tastings are de rigueur, if you can wait that long.
Taste the wine of your birth year
Established by Benno Seppeltsfield in 1878 as a tribute to his father, Joseph, the bluestone Centennial Cellar is a creation of both whimsy and foresight. That year, Benno ordered a puncheon of his best wine to be stored, unbottled, for 100 years. Each vintage since has been given the same treatment so no matter what year you were born, you can sample the correlating drop directly from the barrel on the Taste Your Birth Year Tour.
Sample goods at Barossa Farmers Market
A weekly rotating roster of the Barossa’s best producers gather each Saturday to share their wares on Saturday mornings in Angaston. Handmade pastries, organic free-range local meat, jams and preserves, dairy, honey and fruit and veg are just some of the offerings.
Jump aboard the Wine Train for your best-ever commute
Cycling and driving among the wineries are excellent options but we’ve found a more novel mode of transport. The South Coast Wine Train tour travels along the SteamRanger Heritage Railway from Mount Barker to Strathalbyn and then on to the Murray River port of Goolwa on the Fleurieu Peninsula, stopping at wineries and for a two-course lunch at either the Bridge Hotel or the Oasis Gardens Function Centre in Langhorne Creek.
Cook like Maggie Beer
Recently reopened, the restaurant on Maggie Beer’s Barossa property, Pheasant Farm, is run by her youngest daughter, Elli. Its cooking school, at The Farm Eatery & Experience Centre, allows you to make like a Barossa maven under the tutelage of head chef Tim Bourke. And while Maggie has retired from the business, she’s still often found working her magic in the kitchen.
Explore the Peel-Leigh street precinct
They’re fairly inconspicuous but Leigh and Peel streets are making a play for the title of Adelaide CBD’s premier food precinct. With a Melbourne-esque laneway vibe, the area’s growing buzz has been made possible by a relaxation of licensing laws and the conversion of Leigh Street to a pedestrian-only zone. Check out Shōbōsho for mod Japanese, Clever Little Tailor for chic liquors and the Leigh Street Wine Room for pét-nat, charcuterie and cheese.
Eat local at the Prairie Hotel
It sounds gimmicky – Feral Antipasto and a Feral Mixed Grill – but the Prairie Hotel’s menu is serving up some clever hyperlocal food. Located in Parachilna, at the confluence of the Flinders Ranges and the outback, the pub offers delicacies with classic desert quirkiness, such as smoked kangaroo, emu paté and quandong pie.
Image credit: South Australia Tourism Commission