The Flying Foodie: Adelaide
South Australia is ready to explode with flavours and food in the month of May and Alana Lowes packed her fork (and a big appetite) for a sneak peek of the Tasting Australia food festival.Tasting Australia is a food lover’s festival running from May 1 – 8, but South Australia throws open it’s pantry doors 365 days of the year to celebrate the distinctive cultures of eating and drinking in Adelaide and beyond. I was lucky enough to fly to Adelaide to catch up with some of the rock star chef’s, food producers and taste my way through a sneak peek look at what will be on offer.
The Adelaide Central Markets is the essential starting spot to acquaint your taste buds with all flavours South Australian according to Cheong Liew, culinary star and Ambassador for Tasting Australia. “This is where I do my food shopping, the best tomatoes are from here,” he beams with pride. His smile is infectious as he walks the aisles of the market. Shop owners run out to say hello and shake his hand, I know I am in the company of South Australian food royalty. The markets is just one of the many stops on Cheong’s ‘A Few of My Favourite Things’ walking tour, an event held during the festival which will reveal secret haunts around the city. Other food heroes such as Maggie Beer and Masterchef’s Callum Hann will also be giving their insider’s guide to some of their favourite food and drink hang outs in the region.
Cheong reveals to me we are popping into his favourite seafood shop on the way to our next stop to pick up some local fish. Snook is on today’s menu at Cappo Seafood, a fish species found in the cooler waters of Southern Australia. He reveals we are cooking up a Malaysian specialty at Chef Lai’s.
A hidden secret with its location down a little laneway out the back of the markets, Chef Lai’s is a favourite place for Cheong, “I eat here every week, the best Malaysian fish balls anywhere, the most authentic,” he claims. My palate wholeheartedly agrees as I gulp down the fragrant, delicately flavoured fish broth filled with bouncy, fluffy textured fish balls with a smacking of fish flavor. Make sure you pop this little gem on your must eat list when visiting Adelaide.
If exotic dishes are on your hit list when travelling, save room for a lunch time feast of rustic Afghan style street food in the heart of Adelaide’s East End. The Ayubi family, who fled Afghanistan in the mid 80’s due to the Soviet-Afghan War, have imprinted their restaurants on every list of “must try” when visiting Adelaide. Their casual eatery, Kutchi Deli Parwana, with a philosophy that food should be plentiful, beautiful and shared, serves generous plates laden with a sense of Afghanistan in the middle of the city. My heaped plate of slippery mantu (steamed) dumplings drenched in rich meat sauce and yoghurt is the perfect prelude to the morgh degee (chicken marinated in afghan spices) served with soft fluffy naan and a crisp salad. The highlight of the meal is the beautifully fragrant rose sharbat, “a blend of homemade rose cordial, dried roses, basil seeds and ice,” the dessert queen in the family, Fatema Ayubi, tells me. Sitting, surrounded by vibrant tiles and splashes of colour on every wall, the setting is as authentic as the family’s food and generosity.
It’s all well and good to park yourself in downtown Adelaide during the festival, but I would advocate jumping in the car and heading out of town to one (or two, three or four) of the many food and wine landscapes within a hour’s drive away. My pick this trip is to the Adelaide Hills for a food lover’s feast of cheese and figs.
Woodside Cheese Wright is my first stop and I am lucky enough to find “Accidental Cheesemaker” Kris Lloyd in the cellar door. “I never intended to make the cheese when I purchased the business as it came with existing cheesemakers,” Kris tells me, explaining, “One day they all called in sick and I was given the recipes and told I had to make the cheese, I fell in love with it right there and then”. And make the cheese she does, overseeing the Woodside Cheese products and her namesake range, Kris Lloyd – Artisan. The aims for both brands - to hand make goat and cow milk cheeses with a point of difference. The glamorous ‘Monet’ uses the best and freshest Chevre sprinkled with in-season herbs and edible organic flowers resembling Claude Monet’s French garden – a striking and unique creation I haven’t seen before with a creamy, slightly chalky cheese.
Kris’ energetic, down to earth nature is evident in her approach to appreciating cheese, “think outside the square, you don’t always have to cut cheese the same way,” as she artistically slices through the velvety ‘Edith’ ash rolled goats cheese, right through the middle, topping it with sweet Adelaide Hills honeycomb. Absolutely superb.
My last stop in the Hills is Glen Ewin Estate where the Willabrand Fig orchards are in full ripe bloom. Glen Ewin is a dream spot for weddings with its lush English cottage style gardens and stone walls, but I am here for one thing, to pick my own figs. I head straight down the cobbled driveways and into the orchards where grower, Willa Wauchope, is waiting for me. There are 700 varieties of figs in the world, 40 in Australia and here at Willabrand they grow 4 deliciously sweet varieties – Spanish Desert, Brown Turkey, Archipel and the Deanna. “I had never touched a fig before,” Willa reminisces, “then this little crack opened up”. As I slip yet another sweet-smelling honeyed Spanish Desert fig into my mouth, I agree with Willa, “I am now totally hooked on figs too,” I beam.
Willabrand and Woodside Cheese Wright are both hosting incredible events during Tasting Australia, real paddock to plate, real food heroes.
Tasting Australia presented by Thomas Foods – tastingaustralia.com.au
Alana was a guest of South Australian Tourism Commission and Virgin Australia and stayed at The Ibis Hotel.
Virgin Australia flies direct to Adelaide from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Gold Coast, Canberra and Alice Springs; with connections available from other destinations. Search and book flights here and start planning your South Australian getaway!
More about Alana
Alana Lowes is a celebrity cook of MasterChef pedigree, and has travelled the world as The Flying Foodie for Virgin Australia. Read more of her articles on The Flying Foodie homepage.
She also launched the Alana’s Pantry range of products and is the Editor for lifestyle magazine, Life Begins At.
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