The Barossa started life with its name misspelt on the birth certificate. That second ‘s’ was never meant to be there, you know. Instead, there should have been a second ‘r’ as in ‘Barrosa’.
Not to worry, mere clerical concerns could never overshadow what South Australians now hold dear as a food-lover’s haven. Which means it’s time to strap yourself in for a mix of the best of British and German skills and traditions, topped off with a few culinary surprises.
If you’ve always associated the Barossa with red wine, you are spot on – but you’ve only heard part of the story. Easy, relaxed and something for everyone – that’s the bigger Barossa story. All of these local sensations and more are available in the Barossa through Eat Local SA, so go ahead, relax yourself into the local scene and enjoy.
The Louise and Appellation
A spot of utter luxury never hurt anyone so starting today’s itinerary with The Louise and Appellation seems like a good plan. The Louise offers accommodation fit for indulgence, with options to play ranging from doing precisely nothing to getting your hands dirty with a cooking class. Appellation is the restaurant alongside, an enterprise that has earned an international name for itself with a menu stoutly loyal to Barossa producers, including the likes of Kolophon Capers, fresh and dried fruits from Trevallie Orchards, Smallfry Verjus and Carcoola Jersey cream and milk to name but a few.
The Tomato Tartare with Dominic Torzi Kalamata Olives sounds refreshing and looks delicate and pretty on the plate. At the other end of the menu, the Trevallie Orchards Pear Tart Tatin is crafted with Careme Pastry’s glorious all butter puff. The small goods are likely to be home-cured and the meat home-grown and home-butchered. This is real respect for the food chain in action. Slightly less respectful may be the nickname given to Appellation’s starter culture for their scrumptious sour dough bread. It’s called Arnie and is an acknowledged member of the founding restaurant team. I’m hoping to be formally introduced while I’m there.
Barossa Valley Brewing
You will have heard the words character and complexity applied to the wines from around the Barossa but have you heard them applied to the beer? In Tanunda, Barossa Valley Brewing have turned the local obsession on its head with a purpose-built brewery alongside a century-old building housing their restaurant (with a beer garden, naturally).
Here you will find a selection of dishes designed to be shared along with pizzas and weekly specials created to complement their award-winning brews. (They’ve just picked up another slew of awards at the Royal Adelaide Beer Awards for 2014 by the way.) Wine lovers are welcome too. In fact, Barossa Valley Brewing’s five course degustation menu offers both wine and beer matches and you will find both the brewer and the winemaker on hand in the dining room to help you make a choice.
My pick of the menu could very well be the Turkish spice-infused Hutton Vale Lamb pizza on a base made with local Laucke Mills’ flour and the brewery’s very own award-winning Bee Sting beer. Or maybe the Barossa Plains Black Angus steak from nearby Lyndoch, teamed with cheese from the Barossa Valley Cheese Company and some succulent mushrooms. Either of these dishes will sustain you through a potentially lengthy beer vs. wine debate (keep it nice, please).
Want to know another Barossa secret? What about Italian food and wine? Yes, really. Deep in this traditionally German/British/Australian territory is Casa Carboni in Angaston, an enoteca and cooking school rolled into one gorgeous collection of Italian-inspired flavours.
What’s an enoteca, I hear you ask? If we’re being strictly literal, it’s a ‘wine vault’ where you can taste and purchase wine. Nowadays (and definitely at Casa Carboni) it means pasta, antipasto and some really good coffee are also on offer.
On weekends, their lunch menu is created from whatever treats the proprietors have hunted and gathered from the famous Barossa Farmers Market and assorted local farm gates. Amongst their suppliers are their next door neighbours at Barossa Valley Cheese Company, makers of the La Dame aged goat’s cheese you will find adding bite to the rich complexity of Casa Carboni’s house made Potato Gnocchi with Italian Sausage Ragu. This dish also features Barossa Heritage Pork sausages and potatoes from local grower Syd Lewis. Comfort food doesn’t get any more comforting than this!
This theme is carried through in the cooking school by the way. Along with the delicious family recipes cooked in each small hands-on class, comes a serve of expertise in living and cooking seasonally, sustainability, and how to enjoy the very best local producers have to offer. Full marks (and maybe even a gold star) to Casa Carboni for that.
Wanera Wine Bar and Restaurant
A little further along the road in Angaston is the Wanera Wine Bar and Restaurant. Here we are back in the heartland of the Barossa’s rich palette of autumnal colours to go with those feisty wines. Happily, this is also where you will find platters of local Barossa produce available all day in the wine bar, including chorizo made by Saskia Beer and bread from the Apex Bakery. Even the kids’ menu does the right thing by South Australian produce, with fresh local garfish starring in the fish and chips on offer.
I’m torn between the Roast Pumpkin Stuffed Barossa Farm Chicken Breast with Barossa Valley Cheese Company Vache Curd Cake and Pancetta Crisp and the Barossa Plains Black Angus Scotch Fillet on Truffle Mash with Mixed Mushrooms and Red Wine Jus. But wait, there’s also Broccolini, Tomato and Almond Weich Spelt Spaghetti topped with Barossa Valley Cheese Company Feta. Can I just have a few more minutes to make up my mind please?
Barossa Farmers Market
Notice how these chefs are buying up at the Barossa Farmers Market? So can we, every Saturday at the Vintners Sheds in Angaston. The good news is the market is undercover. The not so good news for slugabeds is you really need to get there early to have the widest choice. But it’s alright, alongside with spanking fresh produce from around 55 stallholders there’s a coffee station and breakfast on hand. A Market Burger, created with a locally baked Eleni bread roll and filled with goodies including local free range eggs, bacon and stallholder-made preserves will make it worth your while.