I’ve always got a long To Eat list for Sydney, and with each visit, I grapple with the compulsion to try new restaurants and the yearning to return to a growing list of old favourites. Sydney is four and a half hours from Perth, but Adelaide, South Australia is less than three hours away, home of outstanding produce and great places to eat. Why did it take me so long to visit? (I won’t attempt to answer that question, by the way)
I went to Adelaide for the first time over the ANZAC day long weekend and stayed with my friend Christina, aka The Hungry Australian. We met four years ago at an event in Sydney and have been friends ever since. The internet makes it easy to stay in touch, but conversation with a mate is always best in person, and there’s nothing better than eating together. It was lovely to meet her family too. Our itinerary for the weekend was pretty relaxed; we changed it a few times along the way. We were lucky with the weather too – sunny days with top temperatures around 28C, ideal for getting out and about.
At the top of my short To Eat list for Adelaide was Africola, a South African BBQ restaurant with an open kitchen and fire pit, and a menu where smoke, flame and ash are key ingredients.
I don’t usually like noisy restaurants, but I felt completely at ease in this lively, colourful dining room – perhaps holiday happiness had kicked in.
From our counter seats, we had a prime view of the kitchen. The heavy stools we tried to pull in closer to the action (we’re both shorties) were a source of hilarity. Our TV dinner began with raw kingfish with finger lime, preserved seaweed and crunchy puffed grains. Then from the grill, the salt-baked lamb, and no-knife-necessary tender beef short rib with pickles and monkey gland sauce (note: does not contain monkey glands). To balance the meat, a simple but perfect salad of cos lettuce with a tart lemon dressing, and wood-oven cauliflower, which delivered fantastic flavour – the cauliflowerness of cauliflower – enhanced by adornments of corn crumb, black garlic and buttermilk.
A gift from Chef Duncan (he knows Christina) came in the gnarly form of ashed peppers that looked inedible and were utterly un-photogenic, but wow – they were sensational, rolled in spicy black sauce shiny like a slick of tar – any thoughts about carcinogens were destroyed by incredible, irresistible deliciousness. This surprising and memorable plate of peppers, plus all the other dishes we ordered made such an impressive feast that the people sitting on either side of us doubted we could get through it all. Clearly, they had never seen us eat – we showed them.
Afterwards, we stumbled out into the cold night, friends reunited, with smoky hair and clothes. This will definitely be one of my favourite dining experiences of the year.
4 East Tce, Adelaide SA 5000
Dinner from 6pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
The Market Shed on Holland
It’s sensory overload at this vibrant, mostly undercover Sunday farmers’ market, a great place to detox on the morning after. The stalls are abundant with beautiful organic produce, wholefoods, cheeses, raw and baked goodies, cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices and of course, coffee. It’s a terrific brunch market too, with lots of freshly cooked hot foods to choose from and a decent amount of seating inside and outside. There’s even a shady spot designed for ‘poochie parking’. It’s the local market I’m sure everyone wishes was just up the street or around the corner from home (I definitely did).
The Market Shed on Holland
1 Holland St, Adelaide SA 5000 – next to IGA supermarket
Sundays 9am to 3pm
The Seasonal Cafe, Hahndorf
We spent Sunday afternoon in Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest German settlement, in the Adelaide Hills. It’s a touristy town but charming and pretty, with gorgeous leafy tree-lined streets. If you’re keen on the whole German brauhaus experience with pork knuckle and bratwurst, you can certainly get that in Hanhdorf, along with cuckoo clocks and other German knick-knacks. Sweet tooths will love the confectionery and ice cream shops on Main Street.
The German eateries were certainly popular, but there are loads of cafes/restaurants to choose from along the main drag – all the people eating and drinking at street-side tables got me hungry even after lunch. Christina had booked us a table at The Seasonal Garden Cafe. Their menu boasts seasonal, locally sourced and organic produce, with gluten-free and vegan options. It’s a feel-good, salubrious sort of place – the cafe garden supplies their veggies, their chooks are fed all the kitchen scraps, and the complimentary cold water is infused with cucumber.
They lost our booking but quickly found us a table outside. Breakfast is served all day, alongside the lunch menu – and so on our table, we had pancakes (much to the kids’ delight) as well as roast chicken salad and my slow-roasted lamb, the best kind of hearty food – requiring only a spoon.
The Seasonal Cafe
100 Main Street, Hahndorf SA 5242
PS. Beerenberg Farm is located on Mount Barker Road in Hahndorf. Jac and I have enjoyed their products over the years, including their sauces, jams and mustards at many a hotel buffet. We didn’t go to Beerenberg Farm on this occasion, but I did pick up a bottle of their wonderful Taka Tala sauce and marinade at the airport on my way home.
You know how I said we had really good weather during my stay in Adelaide? I was there from 23 to 27 April, and I can’t resist mentioning this – if you’ve seen the movie Miss Congeniality, you may remember the scene where Stan Fields (William Shatner) asks Miss Rhode Island her final question at the Miss United States Pageant…(if you haven’t seen the movie, my apologies)
Stan Fields: Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.
Miss Rhode Island: That’s a tough one. I’d have to say April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.