Come walk with me in the leafy Adelaide Hills. I’m having a little break from the weather down on the plains, 20 minutes’ drive (and a world) away.
The great and good of Adelaide used to flee to the hills to escape the ravages of the summer heat but, over the years, this region has added multiple seasonal specialities to its resume: the stunning colours of the trees in autumn, hearty winter fare at one of the many local eateries to beat the winter cold and a (slightly) more English sort of spring featuring hedgerows and herbaceous borders, courtesy of the chillier winter temperatures that precede their blooming. In short, and especially where the local produce is concerned, the Adelaide Hills region is a year-round treat.
All of these great producers are participants in Eat Local SA, a campaign to showcase the very best of local food on local menus. Wherever you see the Eat Local SA sign you can be sure to find a dish featuring the finest local produce on the menu or local produce you can purchase to keep on enjoying your regional food experience at home. Download the Eat Local SA app (Apple and Android) plan your Eat Local experience.
Haus Café + Bar + Kitchen
My sampling started with lunch at Hahndorf’s Haus Café + Bar + Kitchen. The name seems to cover most potential needs for both travellers and locals and the ever-changing menu is well and truly loaded with local names. Udder Delights Heysen blue cheese may be paired with creamy cauliflower in the soup, there’s Balhannah ham, Harris Smokehouse smoked fish and Adelaide Hills chicken to choose from at lunch or dinner. The eggs are local free range, the gateaux selection hails from Balhannah and the jams and chutneys are all from the good folk just up the road at Beerenberg. And all the veggies are locally grown too.
If you like, you can base yourself here for a few days of exploration. Haus Café + Bar + Kitchen has a range of Wine, Dine, Stay and Play packages on offer and the ever-changing menu stands up to repeated ‘research’. Enjoy a taste of an exclusive Haus recipe for Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast featuring Skara Smallgoods.
What’s especially nice about these treats is that most of them are available retail just a few minutes stroll away from your table. Love the cheese? Then wander over the road to Udder Delights after lunch and buy some to take home – while you are there stop in for a high tea or basket for two.
The White House
Sustainability is the dish of the day at the The White House, also located in Hahndorf. Here, French country cooking made truly local through the use of ingredients such as Woodside Cheese Wright’s goat’s curd, Mylor honey and sourdough, Hahndorf venison and Kanmantoo bacon pepper the menu from breakfast to dinner.
They’re an arty crew, both on the plate and with their program of live music and summer/autumn films, complete with organic popcorn and a gourmet sausage sizzle.
Walk the Talk Kitchen
A seat in the sunshine or takeaway (phone early to place an order) are the choices on the menu at Walk the Talk Kitchen in Verdun. This little café has landed on my favourites list for their big flavours and ever-changing menus, rounded out with local wines by the glass.
Never off the menu is a version of Chinese wonton and vegetable soup, for which all the veggies are locally sourced. Whatever is in season is shared across the menu. Right now that means figs. Some are stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon, others can be found nestled up to a yoghurt and brown sugar cake. Trust me, the food here will turn you into a seasonal eating guerilla in a single meal.
The Hills are alive (sorry about that!) with produce to practise your own culinary brilliance at home. Harrisville Orchards in Lenswood offer their multi-award winning apples and cherries fresh at the farm gate when in season – an explosion of flavour no supermarket fruit can match.
If you’ve tasted any of the wonderful artisan cheese from Woodside Cheese Wright as you’ve eaten in the area, then it will be essential to drop in and collect some more to take home. I can’t go past the pretty-as-a-picture Monet, scattered with delicate tiny flower petals. It’s almost an edible posy – and aren’t they the best sort?