I went to Adelaide for the first time over the ANZAC day long weekend and stayed for 4 nights with my friend Christina, aka The Hungry Australian. I had a really great time.
My previous post, Long weekend in Adelaide, Part 1 featured dinner at Africola restaurant, The Market Shed on Holland and our day in Hahndorf. This is Part 2.
On the Monday public holiday, we took a drive to the famous McLaren Vale region and visited a few wineries, my favourites being Coriole and Alpha Box & Dice. The Coriole cellar door is set against simply stunning countryside – the kids enjoyed a good run with the butterflies in the gardens. Coriole had the added attraction of their own cured olives, much to the delight of Christina’s daughter, who would happily eat them by the truckload. Alpha Box & Dice was an oddball, the cellar door more like Nanna’s shed filled with old photographs and postcards, scattered with antiques and curios. In the corner, maybe not Nanna’s vintage pinball machines (sadly, out of action at the time), and a short stack of classic board games that kept the kids entertained. A few tastings later, I emerged with slightly flushed cheeks and a couple of wines for Jac – Coriole 2014 Fiano and Alpha Box & Dice 2014 Siren.
Chaffey’s Road, McLaren Vale
Alpha Box & Dice
Lot 50 Oliver’s Road, McLaren Vale
This was a relatively brief visit to the McLaren Vale region; I will be back.
The Salopian Inn, McLaren Vale
We had a booking for lunch at The Salopian Inn. Service had a sluggish start – another party had been mistakenly seated at the table meant for us, so swift re-organisation was needed; and after waiting until we felt foolish for waiting too long, we had to ask for food menus. I probably sound cranky; I was a little frustrated at the time – but after the initial hiccups, we did enjoy our food. The kids devoured their fish and chips (from the children’s menu), which the kitchen wisely sent out as soon as possible. The complimentary sourdough bread served with local dairy producer Paris Creek’s biodynamic butter disappeared quickly – the adults were ravenous too.
Christina ordered the Goan-style whole blue swimmer crab curry. Our waiter made sure she she knew what she was in for: messy, hands-on eating. She was, as you have to be when you decide to eat a whole crab, tenaciously committed to the pursuit of meat extraction, steely determination driving that cracker in her hand. The pan-roasted snapper was upstaged (in a good way) by the sheer vibrancy of the fresh herbs on the plate. Our steamed vegetables were vividly green and crisp. If only all steamed vegetable side dishes were as good as this. Christina’s boyfriend’s venison minute steak (not pictured) was accompanied by house-pickled beetroot and its own leafy forest. A large proportion of the vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant are grown in the chef’s organic kitchen garden and we were certainly happy beneficiaries.
If you’re a gin fan, it’s worth noting that The Salopian Inn gin bar boasts an extensive range of over 230 different gins from around Australia and the rest of the world.
The Salopian Inn
Main Rd & McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale SA 5171
Adelaide Central Market
The next day, we dropped the kids off with Christina’s folks and then made our way to Adelaide Central Market, a must-do for food lovers visiting the city. There are around 80 traders at this impressive undercover market, established back in 1869. It wasn’t very busy on Tuesday morning, making it ideal for this tourist to wander around gawking and taking pictures. There’s so much goodness everywhere you look, be it fruit and vegetables, bakery goods, meat, cheese, spices, grains, nuts, and lots of places to eat and drink and meet up with mates.
I was keen to grab breakfast at Jamface by Poh – owned by Masterchef Australia season 1 runner-up Poh Ling Yeow. Poh wasn’t there that morning, but we were served by her burly hubby Jono, whom I recognised from Poh’s most recent TV series Poh and Co (season 2 starting very soon) – he is even more hunky in real life. Although the display of pastries and cakes was tempting, I wanted a savoury, more substantial breakfast and ordered the scrambled eggs with parmesan, bacon and toast. Christina ordered the mushroom omelette. My eggs were just how I like them, soft and curdy. Our coffee was excellent too.
Andre’s Cucina and Polenta Bar, Adelaide
I am not a Masterchef tragic, I swear! But interestingly, my favourite contestants from Masterchef Australia over the years have been mostly South Australian: Poh, Adam Liaw from season 2 (I love his Destination Flavour food/travel series and watch the DVDs repeatedly), and Andre Ursini, from the same season as Poh, now chef and owner of a restaurant in Adelaide city called Andre’s Cucina and Polenta Bar. My other favourite contestant who isn’t South Australian is Alice Zaslavsky from Melbourne, season 4.
I had mentioned to Christina my interest in checking out Andre’s restaurant, and so after walking around Adelaide Central Market and the city, we made our way there for a late lunch.
The menu is designed for sharing. The ‘Menu Fisso’ option will get you five courses chosen by the chef including dessert (taking your dietary requirements into account) for $62 per person, but we decided to select three dishes between the two of us, which was just the right amount of fuel for our post-lunch walk back to the car parked at the Central Market. We ordered the salmon carpaccio, and the misti (‘mixture’) grazing board, with a selection of salumi, gleaming baked olives, burrata cheese and perfectly seasoned grilled and roasted vegetables. And of course we tried Andre’s signature polenta, which was creamy yet light, a pillowy pleasure to eat. We chose the polenta served with spicy Calabrese-style sausage ragu and parmigiano. I’d definitely eat at Andre’s again.
Andre’s Cucina and Polenta Bar
94 Frome Street, Adelaide SA 5000
Hermanos Cubanos, Henley Beach
Christina’s kids had a sleepover at their grandparents’ place, and so for my final morning in Adelaide, we woke up late, skipped breakfast and went for a walk (leisurely pace, talking non-stop) along Henley Beach followed by an early lunch – plenty of time before my 2.55pm flight to Perth. Christina mentioned a place that did really good fish and chips – I didn’t need much convincing. Turns out it’s not a fish and chippie but a Cuban street food takeaway joint called Hermanos Cubanos. Next time (and there will be a ‘next time’!) I’ll try one of their Cuban sandwiches.
We ordered the calamares fritters (fried Australian squid with Cuban seasoning and lemon); the special fish of the day (flathead) which came either grilled, beer battered or coconut battered (we chose beer battered) and sprinkled with salt flakes and served with lemon; hand-cut chips; and (totally Christina) the salad of the day (fennel, kale, rocket and almonds with balsamic dressing – which even carnivore me had to admit was rather good).
There isn’t much seating in the shop itself, and there are a couple of tables outside around the back, too close to the rubbish bins for our liking. They gave us a buzzer and told us to grab a seat anywhere in Henley Square, including any of the tables in front of the very popular Malobo Cafe – they’d buzz us when our food was ready to be picked up. But because it wasn’t too busy when our order was ready, they delivered it to our table, which was awesome.
I love to eat fish and chips at the beach; the only thing that makes it even better is ice cream. Before we left Henley Square, we popped back into Hermanos Cubanos for soft serve ($4 plus $1 for chocolate topping). They had run out of the usual cups they serve the soft serve in and piped it into takeaway coffee cups instead – we didn’t mind at all.
Henley Square, 257 Seaview Road, Henley Beach SA 5022
Apart from my first night in Adelaide, dinners were at home. Christina made her fish and eggplant curry(made with Ayam brand tinned sardines in tomato sauce, which I love), red lentil dahl and a delicious beef and green bean stir-fry. But my favourite meal of all was dinner after our day of gallivanting around the city – pork dumplings with crunchy Chinese greens cooked in a gingery chicken broth.
I was a bit self-conscious about my clumsily formed, let’s call them rustic dumplings, but with Christina’s encouragement I kept going, and by the time we stopped making dumplings, I could see how much I had improved. I had secretly been dreading the moment of truth, when I expected every one of my dumplings to spectacularly unfurl in the broth, but not a single dumpling broke or burst open during cooking. Christina quickly made a dipping sauce for the dumplings, combining Chinese rice (Chiangkiang) vinegar, dried chilli flakes in oil, soy sauce and more fresh ginger.
We ate our bowls of steaming hot dumpling soup curled up on the couch while watching The Princess Bride movie – it had been years since either of us had watched it and in between chuckles we noticed little details we had forgotten after all this time.
Africola delivered a superb dining experience that I am still talking about, but this simple, home-cooked meal we made together was truly the most satisfying.
See Christina’s blog for recipes: