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Maggie Beer, Haigh’s Chocolate, Coopers, Kitchener buns and Frog Cake, just to name a few, are all proudly South Australian. Okay, okay… Maggie Beer was originally from NSW, but her cooking career flourished after moving to Barossa Valley with her husband in 1970s and has been living there since. So, don’t argue please…

You may not aware of this but South Australians are extremely proud of their food culture – the South Australia local produce, the South Australian wine, anything South Australian really. To the point – they even hashtag their food – #SAFOOD (No joke, there are over 34,000 photos with that hashtag on Instagram). 

Work has brought me to Adelaide a few times this year and I actually found myself quite fond of this city, especially the food scene here. There are always new restaurants to check out, funky bars with cool cocktails is the new trend here, they also have the best permanent farmer’s market in this country, and not to mention delicious South Australian wines! On top of that, one of the nation’s best attended and most influential culinary festival, Tasting Australia, is coming back in 2016

I really don’t think I need to convince you why you should really make a trip to South Australia soon, but I will anyway! And here I’ve compiled the 10 reasons why Adelaide is the next must-visit food destination in 2016:

1. Tasting Australia festival 2016

Tasting Australia, to be held 1-8 May 2016, has garnered a reputation of being one of the nation’s best attended and most influential culinary festival since 1997. This festival is a journey of South Australia’s produce from paddock to plate and a celebration of SA real food heroes. 

Local chef Simon Bryant and wine expert Paul Henry are back again as the festival’s creative directors. You’ve probably seen him on the TV show, ‘The Cook and The Chef’, Simon Bryant is a well-known chef throughout Australia, he is passionate about showcasing South Australian produce and ethical food choices. He believes the key to a great meal is letting the quality produce shine and we definitely get to experience that during Tasting Australia festival. If you want to know anything about South Australian wine, Paul Henry is your man. Paul is one of the leading figures in the global promotion of Australian wine and a regular contributor to many wine related publications. Another exciting news is that one of South Australia’s real food heroes, Cheong Liew, will be the ambassador of the festival. He will be sharing with us a few of his favourite SA food spots and what this city has to offer. 

I am rather excited about Tasting Australia 2016, the week-long festival will see South Australia celebrates everything food and wine. The Time Square will transform into a foodie playground where all food lovers will come together and be treated to unforgettable dining experiences. 

Worth trying:
visit all food stalls at Town Square
the Origins Dinner and party with all the chefs
“a few of my favourite things” food tour with celebrity chefs

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Time Square in CBD will be the festival food hub.

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Tasting Australia’s creative director Simon Bryant and ambassador Cheong Liew

 

2. Abbots & Kinney

The best pastries in Adelaide? Look no further than Abbots & Kinney. Started with just a stall (under different name) at Adelaide Showground Farmer’s Market, recently they finally opened a permanent store on Pirie Street to satiate all your pastry cravings. The pastries here changes regularly. Grab a ‘danwich‘ for breakfast, the savoury danish and sandwich hybrid is filled with fresh local SA produce to kick start your morning. All the pastries come with funny name too – ‘Jean Claude Van Hamme‘ is a tasty ham and cheese croissant. Their almond croissant is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, pillowy of buttery goodness that leaves crumbs all over your dress. But all must bow down to their Sfogliatelle (aka lobster tail), countless leaves of crispy pastry fanned out like an accordion and formed into the classic shell, filled with orange infused vanilla ricotta. Every crunch is a bliss. 

Worth trying:
Almond croissant
Sfogliatelle

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Jean Claude Van Hamme

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L to R: Danwich and Sfogliatelle

 

3. Africola

The Adelaide’s food scene has evolved tremendously within the last five years, it is now as exciting as Sydney and Melbourne. A few new-ish restaurants in Adelaide are doing great things and definitely worth checking out – one of them is Africola. This South African-themed restaurant was opened a year ago by renowned SA chef Duncan Welgemoed, former exec chef at Bistro Dom. If you love grilled meat over fire pit, or Braai in South African, then Africola will definitely have you covered in meat sweat by the end of the meal. Ask them about the “monkey gland sauce“, you’ll love it.

Worth trying:
smoked mussels
Charcoal short rib
Sosatie of ox heart, tongue and monkey gland sauce

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L to R: Delicious cocktails from the bar, housemade peri-peri sauce

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charcoal, short rib with house pickles

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raw kingfish with mandarin and goat’s curd

 

4. Red, red (and white), wine. 

Drinking wine is a no brainer in South Australia. No matter which direction you heading to, you will eventually hit a wine region within an hour or so. Barossa on the north east, Clare Valley on the north, Adelaide Hills on south east and McLaren Vale on the south, and all wine regions are doing something different and unique to the region. Tasting Australia‘s creative director and wine expert Paul Henry will once again tantalise our tastebud with delicious local wines through different events during the festival next year. There will be wine pairing long lunches at the wineries, wine tasting masterclasses in the CBD and Paul Henry himself might even take you on a tour to showcase a few of his favourite wines.

Worth trying:
Joseph’s Nebbiolo – Primo Estate, McLaren Vale
Lucy Margaux’s Pinot Noir – Lucy Margaux Vineyards, Basket Range

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Wine tasting with wine expert Paul Henry at Primo Estate in McLaren Vale.

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Tasting Joseph’s Nebbiolo at the vineyard where the grapes came from

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5. Adelaide Central Market

No trip to Adelaide is complete without visiting the Adelaide Central Market conveniently located in the heart of the city. Farmers and producers have been trading at the Central Market since 1869 and it is still the busiest farmers market in Adelaide. Here you will find good quality produce from regions all around South Australia as far as Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. There are cafes and food stalls in the market where you can grab a bite and take a break from the shopping. There is also a cooking school upstairs for those who like to get hands on in the kitchen. 

Worth trying: 
KIS O’gin and Ligurian Bee Honey – Kangaroo Island Stall 
All cheeses from Smelly Cheese stall
Small goods – The Mettwurst stall 

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6. Ride an EcoCaddy at The Market Shed

You will find the Adelaide Central Market shuts on Sundays, but thank god now there is The Market Shed on Holland to fill the gap. This market mainly focuses on organic, sustainable and local produce. It can get very busy in the morning and with limited parking space, it’s best to leave the cars at home and take public transport. Better still, hail one of the EcoCaddy bikes parked right outside of the market and let them take you home (within the CBD area) for only $5 per ride. I tested one around the city myself and it was serious fun! 

Worth trying:
Take a ride in an EcoCaddy back to your hotel. EcoCaddy will also be around the event venues during Tasting Australia festival next year. 

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7. Celebrity chefs spotting

Two words, Maggie Beer! Yes, how often that you get to meet Maggie Beer where she will happily pour you a glass of champagne? During Tasting Australia festival, that’s when all chefs come out to play. You will not only get to meet some of the local legends like Maggie Beer, Simon Bryant and Cheong Liew, but many international renowned chefs will also be here for the festival whom you will get to be up close and personal. Well, not too personal. Last year I squealed like a school girl when I met Fergus Henderson from UK. 

Worth trying:
Cooking classes with celebrity chefs (yet to be confirmed)
Party with all the chefs at the dinner party on the last night of the festival (yet to be confirmed)

Tasting Australia hasn’t revealed who will be at the festival next year, but here’s what I’ve found out:
– An experienced baker from San Francisco
– A food writer from New York
– An 80yo butcher from France will teach us how to make small goods. 

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Maggie Beer welcomed us with champagne

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L to R: Totally fangirling with Fergus Henderson; got to sit and chat with Rodney Dunn from The Agrarian Kitchen

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Skye Gyngell working hard at the gala dinner

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Poh Ling Yeow and her Jam Face stall at Showground Farmer’s Market

 

8. Mayflower Restaurant and Bar

Old school is the new cool here at Mayflower Restaurant and Bar, a French restaurant housed within the newly opened Mayfair boutique hotel. Here you can expect classic French cuisine done right with finesse and modern presentation. You will never look at prawn cocktail the same way ever again. But it is the dessert trolley that is what this restaurant is famous for. You can’t help but want to order one of each from the trolley! So make sure you save some stomach space for those delicious sweet treats. 

Worth trying:
Prawn cocktail, Beef tartare, Lobster bisque, duck and tangerine pie
The Chocolate mousse and La Religeuse (the nun) from the dessert trolley

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The sensational dessert trolley

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A very fancy prawn cocktail

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beautifully plated beef tartare

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9. Bars Hopping on Peel/Leigh Street

South Australia is not just about wine anymore these days. Since they introduced small bar licensing in Adelaide two years ago, countless of cool and funky cocktails bars had popped up around the city, particularly on Peel Street and Leigh Street. Clever Little Tailor is one of my favourite bars even though it can get very busy and crowded inside on weekends, but is totally worth it. Let the skilful mixologist to concoct up some delicious cocktails for you, even their Bloody Mary is pretty fancy with a twist. 

Worth trying:
Bloody Mary at Clever Little Tailor on Peel Street
2KW rooftop bar with spectacular view of Adelaide CBD

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10. Cheap Eats

I love cheap eats. From food courts, food trucks, tuck shops or takeaway joints, it is the best way to try all the different delicious food that this city has to offer. Authentic Malaysian food can be found around Chinatown town, Cheong Liew’s favourite Chef Lai’s Noodle Bar delivers Hainan Chicken rice and Ban Mee noodle (hand kneaded noodle) just like how it was done back home. Burger lovers simply can’t go past Burger Theory or Nordburger, both deliver lip-smacking juicy burgers. Then there crusty vietnamese Banh Mi from Soonta and also fried chicken Gua Bao from Mamachau, both walking distance from Rundle Mall. And what I’ve listed is only the tip of the iceberg! 

Worth trying:
Ban mee, yong tau foo and Hainan chicken at Chef Lai Noodle Bar in Chinatown
Juicy burgers from Burger Theory or Nordburger 
Crispy pork belly Banh mi from Soonta
Fried chicken gua bao from Mamachau
Curry Laksa and Char Kuey Teow at Asian Gourmet (inside Central Market)

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L to R: busy food court at Chinatown; Hainan chicken and Ban mee at Chef Lai’s Noodle Bar

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L to R: pork katsu banh mi at Soonta; Karaage chicken gua bao from Mamachau

 

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So there you have it, there are plenty of reasons why you should make Adelaide your next must-visit food destination in 2016. Make sure to plan your visit around Tasting Australia festival which will be held on 1-8 May 2016. I am looking forward to seeing you there! 

 

 

 

[A Table For Two visited South Australia for a preview of Tasting Australia 2016 as a guest of South Australia Tourism]