The breeze is brisk, the kitchen calls. It’s time to do a little retail therapy, foodie style. Happily, this is something South Australia does especially well. Even better, some of our gourmet retailers are to be found nestled in the prettiest parts of the state.
Making a proper apple and pear comparison
Adelaide Hills Farmers’ Market
The fleeting agony of rising early on a Saturday morning will be well rewarded at the Adelaide Hills Farmers’ Market. Regional, fresh and seasonal are the watchwords here, and city folk may well be surprised to be reminded just how much of our state’s fruit and veggies are grown in the nearby hills and valleys.
This is our chance to get smug about our food mile tally and enjoy Adelaide Hills’ autumn harvest. Think crisp, sweet apples and luscious pears, get adventurous with teeny snappingly fresh Brussels sprouts (roasted, sautéd with bacon… now you’re getting me…). Perhaps a Greenhill Occasional Bakers’ sausage roll or pasty will help inspire that line of thought.
A great breakfast certainly will, and the cooked breakfast from the team at Wakefield Grange, featuring their own ethically raised beef and their own eggs (these guys are the only on-farm butchers in South Australia by the way) is the right stuff to fuel a teensy little retail frenzy. Well, someone has to. Bring a big bag and fill it with delicious new season oranges from DJ Citrus, bio-dynamically grown garlic from Igor, and heirloom pumpkins – the like of which you’ve probably never seen before – from Yerelina Organics. Now we’re ready for anything.
Shhh, my cheese is trying to say something
Barossa Valley Cheese Company
A little further north from town, among all the goodness that is the Barossa Valley (and made with milk produced locally in the valley too), the Barossa Valley Cheese Company is now producing 25 different styles of cheese from goat’s and cow’s milk. Tastings are a must at the Cheese Cellar in Angaston.
Now settle down, folks. This should not be done speedily. Like wine, cheese has a lot to say, if only we take the time to listen. Not to mention listening to the people who make it. You can do both right here.
Something to match to that Sunday morning bruschetta with some delicious smoked salmon and your bucket of latte? How about Barossa Cheese’s Vache Curd, soft and rich, with a lemony lime character that perfectly suits salmon. A few delicate herbs and a smattering of capers wouldn’t go astray either. If a platter with friends extends to a selection of salamis and mettwursts, then the Barossa Washrind can stand up to the competition. It’s a soft smear-ripened cheese with a touch of bite.
Some of Barossa Cheese’s famed halloumi is a must for the pantry. This soft and squeaky (really good halloumi simply has to squeak!) is not nearly as salty as some others, and grills up perfectly for a handsome light lunch with a fresh salad. The Barossa Cheese cellar also sells a range of condiments selected precisely to be best mates with your cheese selection. The delicious array of Zimmy’s Barossa Valley Produce pickled relishes, served alongside the lavosh-style handmade crispbread known as Barossa Bark are perfect for a uniquely Barossean experience.
Home Grain Bakery
It’s all good if you are headed south from town too. We work on the theory that you should never stray too far from the next caffeine fix, so the locally roasted Villere coffee at Home Grain Bakery in Aldinga, possibly partnered with a house-made pie for lunch, sounds pretty good to us.
How does Strathalbyn-grown chicken pie, made memorable with the inclusion of mushrooms, spinach and piquant pepato cheese from the good folks at Alexandrina Cheese, and topped with cauliflower mash sound? There’s a special pie of the month every month here, and they are not to be missed. The May special is ‘Hocks and Hops’, featuring pork slow roasted in Goodieson’s Pale Ale from the boutique brewery just around the corner in McLaren Flat, and topped with a strip of crispy crackling.
Some fresh baked authentic sourdough, or maybe traditional ciabatta bread to take home would be nice too, in case we get hungry later. Home Grain Bakery uses Laucke Flour across all their range of breads and baked treats and their pantry staples also include other great locals including dairy from Fleurieu Milk Co and spices from Thistle Be Good.
Top of the game
In the same neck of the woods is Ellis Butchers of McLaren Vale, who have been supplying folks with prime locally produced meat since the 1950s. We’re talking dry aged special breed beef here, including Angus, Poll Hereford and Murray Grey. Any butcher worth the stripes on their apron will tell you dry aging improves the texture and tenderness of the meat, enhancing the key flavours of each breed.
Ellis Butchers also sell local lamb, produced on the Fleurieu peninsula and processed at Normanville. Their theory is, if they know the farmer, they know the quality, and they’ve proven it works, time and time again.
A sample of Ellis Butchers’ own bacon and ham, smoked over a combination of beech wood and South Aussie red gum for great flavour and colour will bring a smile to your face, and the range of game – from rabbits to pheasant – will inspire you to drag out the Larousse Gastronomique or a recipe from our own Maggie Beer. Even better, as mid-year approaches and we start to consider Christmas pudding production (yes, we are serious about that, actually), Ellis Butchers are among the very few butchers around still selling real suet and lard. Suet freezes beautifully so now you have no excuses.
Lots of fish to fry (and poach, and steam and…)
Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods
If something fishy is on the menu at your place, it should be illegal to go past Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods. It’s that good, plus it makes a handy dandy excuse for a quick weekend trip to the island to stock up, or at least to travel as far as the Willunga Farmers’ Market, because you will find Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods at home in Kingscote, at the Willunga market and, from June, at Wayville Farmers’ Market too.
Who better to assist in planning your meal and providing a few cheffy tips than the winners of Best Regional Fish and Chips award, may we ask? Local and international chefs snap up the harvest from these cold, clear waters, so how can we go wrong with snapper, garfish, flake or snook from these experts? Not to mention that great South Aussie favourite, whiting, or the chef’s secret favourite, tommy ruff (AKA Australian herring, except it’s not herring. Oh, just try it, it’s terrific grilled on the barbecue!)