It’s true that most local produce-loving foodies have a favourite place (or three), where all the pieces come together to create much more than a meal.
These places become an experience, where the food, plus the service, plus the unique characteristics of that venue deliver a treat for all the senses.
This month Eat Like a Local brings you some of our favourite local food experiences to share. A properly good food experience leaves you with a full tummy, happy memories, stories to share, and maybe even a little expert secret or two to try in your own kitchen. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Bella Lavender Estate
Let’s start with flavour plus fragrance, shall we? Never mind the airfare to Provence, it’s much simpler to head for Bella Lavender Estate in Glossop. It’s a couple of hours drive to the Riverland and there’s no jetlag. The Estate is nestled among vineyards and olive groves, and even harbours a 10 hole putt putt golf course for more energetic visitors. As for the rest of us, it’s straight to the café for a restorative cappuccino and perusal of the house wood-fired pizza menu to enjoy while gazing at the ageless vista of silvery grey and purple lavender bushes. Can’t you feel yourself relaxing at the very thought?
On that pizza menu are winners such Pumpkin, Walnut and Pesto Pizza, made with sweet roasted pumpkin, grown on the Bella farm, and fragrant organic basil pesto from nearby Mallyon’s on the Murray Bush Café. Angelakis catch the seafood for the Garlic Seafood Pizza, where it’s partnered with fire-roasted capsicum and topped with lemon and a garlic aioli swirl. And if you stray into the dessert pizza menu, don’t blame us!
If pizza isn’t the plan, then the café menu can satisfy anything from a hunger twinge to a full-blown appetite. Mario’s Campagna Platter for Two features salami from Mullers in Monash, fresh baked bread from Barmera Bakery and Backyard Bread’s crisp and moreish Oven Bites to go with an array of roasted vegetables, olives and the chef’s daily cheese selection, while a simple but perfectly baked lavender-infused scone with Bella Lavender homemade jam and cream is the perfect sweet treat to enjoy alongside that fragrant floral view.
Pheasant Farm Fabulous
Maggie’s Farm Shop
Not to put too fine a point on it, any food-loving South Aussie who hasn’t made the trip to Maggie’s Farm Shop in the Barossa Valley isn’t really trying. Interstate and international tourists are in the know, so we should be too. This is our Maggie Beer we’re talking about after all, and her Farm Shop is a glimmering trove of produce, prettily arrayed around the tables and chairs, and overlooking a serene dam supplied with the essential complement of wildlife (watch for the turtles).
All you really need to know is that there are dozens of short run Maggie Beer products at the Farm Shop that never make the shelves of your local supermarket. It’s a whole new world of deliciousness from one of Australia’s most loved cooks. And the Barossa Coffee Roasters coffee is a work of art (if you are a milky coffee fan, the milk is un-homogenised Jersey milk from Kernich’s of Greenock), while the tea range is by Scullery Made.
The menu is simple yet satisfying, indulgent and fresh as a dose of country air. Synonymous with Maggie, of course, is her Pheasant Farm Pate, partnered on the menu with darkly rich caramelised onion. Or there’s the Mushroom and Verjuice Pate option, which teams Mushroom and Verjuice Pate with the delicate hints of lemon and lime in Barossa Valley Cheese Co.’s Vache Curd. Both dishes are served as picnic baskets, with a freekeh salad and wood oven bread.
There’s also a summery pork pastry parcel served with ginger chilli sauce and salad greens, and a range of daily specials inspired by what’s perfectly ready and perfectly ripe on the day. It’s summer. Go. Now.
Like bees to honey
Ligurian Latte anyone? Here’s another experience you can only have in South Australia, where Kangaroo Island’s precious Ligurian bees is the last pure colony in the world and, if you time it right, you can spend a while yarning with people who know all about them while you imbibe a brew chock full of natural vitamins and protein from Island Beehive Bee Pollen and Sugar Gum Honey. Or perhaps try a Honeycomb Latte, with a scattering of sweet crunchy honeycomb on top.
Latte or not, The Island Beehive café is also where you will find scones as light as air, baked fresh daily and served with a choice of honeys from sweetly subtle to rich and robust, depending on what the bees have been busily collecting and where. There are also fresh ANZAC biscuits daily, made with local honey and Kangaroo Island flour made from grain grown on the island and milled by the good people at Laucke Flour Mills. You can also tour the production facility to learn about what happens to honey between the hive and the jar, and have a tasting of individual honeys – a revelation for any palate.
It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere
McLaren Vale Winemakers
Any winemaker can tell you the sun is over the yardarm somewhere in the world at any minute of the day, and who are we to argue?
The guys and gals at McLaren Vale Winemakers are a chilled out crew at any time of the day too, and who wouldn’t be, with Kangarilla Creamery onsite and the popular seasonal Harvest Bar hopping?
The Harvest Bar every Friday offers tasty morsels such as olives and oil from Coriole along with fresh and crusty Home Grain Bakery bread to accompany your tipple. And right now the crew is hard at work for harvest so they’ve got lots to talk about if you want to know what being a winemaker is really like.
And the cheesery is recruiting a new cheesemaker so watch this space for some beautiful new additions to the larder and the food offering soon.
Full on flavour on the city fringe
Flavours of Campbelltown Food Trail
There’s one way to guarantee you will be the envy of everyone, and that’s to be the one in the know about all the little places tucked away in the suburbs where you can collect the makings of a gourmet meal, and while it’s packed for you, tuck into a superb coffee and maybe, just maybe, a rich sweet morsel or two. Do we have your attention now? Well, welcome to the Flavours of Campbelltown Food Trail.
The rich soils north east of Adelaide city centre have traditionally been home to many productive market gardens. Clustered amongst them are small, quality food businesses such as boutique cheesemakers La Vera (think award-winning ricotta and the addictive Adelaide Blue), Artisan Providore (previously known as Salta in Bocca and now growing fast from handmade and hand cut savoury and sweet almond breads to include all sorts of goodies created by the team at Topiary Café). Try Elbio’s, the home of the lightest cakes ever, and also a café paying homage to owner Elbio Luis Perez’ Latin American heritage. Learn the secrets behind award-winning sausages from the boys in the know at Slape and Sons, and don’t miss the cornucopia that is Mercato, where you can collect everything from charcuterie to a new paella pan, or sign up for Passata Day for an open sesame to the secrets of real Italian tomato sunshine captured in a bottle.
There are over 20 businesses on the Flavours of Campbelltown Food Trail. The best way to get your bearings to chase down the biscuits, gelato and more on offer is to book a tour with one of the preferred tour operators listed on the Trail’s website, and for this we say kudos to the eminently sensible folk at Campbelltown City Council, who figured out some time back that they had a jewel of a tourism opportunity right on their doorstep, out of which they’ve worked with local businesses to create a multi-award winning tourism experience. It’s about more than the food here, because on these tours you can go right into the production areas, taste the products and enjoy a truly righteous retail frenzy to round it all off.