Our trip to Adelaide this last week couldn’t have come at a better time. Christina and I really love travelling through Australia. After all, there’s nothing quite like playing tourist in your own backyard.
But the terrifying bushfires that have been happening here recently have made put so much of what we love in terrible danger.
And in the midst of all this burning horror, towns and businesses are still open and in need of our patronage. It’s more important than ever to go out to the places that are still safe but are living under the threat of the fires. The people here need this kind of support more than ever.
While the reason for our visit to South Australia was for Christina to go to our friend Emma’s hen’s party, we jumped at the chance to be able to get into some of the communities that have suffered at the will of the fires.
We also had the chance of catching up with our excellent friends Sonia and Chris.
Here’s what happened in ‘Radelaide’, what we saw and the things we learned about the fires here too.
Hope you enjoy this one.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
As we fly in to Adelaide, we’re once again struck by how pretty this part of the country is. From the pristine beaches and their crystal waters to the hills and wineries, Adelaide and the surrounding regions are very much underrated.
We’re looking forward to exploring more of this great city with our mates Sonia and Chris. Sonia is in fact one of our oldest ‘digital friends’.
She runs Scribe + Social – an impressive social media, communications and strategy consultancy, and coaching and mentoring service.
It’s not long before the four of us are planning our time based on what we can eat and drink and where. We kick things off with lunch at this very cool spot in the city – Bai Long Store.
It’s a beautiful bright, airy space with a pan-Asian menu that Sonia and Chris assure us is faultless.
We get things started with the Bai Long’s sashimi. It’s a generous dish – especially when this is for three people. One of the owners comes over and realises the deficit. He brings out another portion for us. And a good thing too – the food is too tasty to share!
Among the other dishes we choose – all of which are excellent, just as our friends promised – these two were definitely standout.
The prawn dumplings are tardis-like in how much prawn is them. The crispy XO shallots add a delicious crunch while the the sweet umami of the ginger vinegar sauce works into the dish perfectly.
As for the yakitori, these skewers of richly sauced and grilled chicken pieces are tasty on their own, but with the chewy yet somehow crunchy rice cake sticks, this is a winner of a dish.
After lunch and a bit of a walk, we find our way to Bar Torino – a very cosy European style bar – for a little post-lunch wine.
There’s a magic range of drinks here, with a nod to the international market but most definitely Australian-centric. It’s great to see so many businesses supporting domestic products here.
The wine is good, but Chris is here on an ulterior motive: he loves the potatas bravas they do here.
It’s certainly to the credit of Bar Torino and not a criticism of Bai Long Store that we tuck right into these delicious crispy pieces of potato in their rich sugo sauce… not to mention our own sheer gluttony!
Finally full, we make our way to the markets in search of something for dinner.
Being so full is probably a wise condition to be in when you’re shopping for food – especially when the markets are as good as they are at Adelaide Central Market.
Reminding us of the incredible perma-market of Markthal in Rotterdam, the Adelaide Central Market is just packed full of all the food you want to buy and take home.
Focus here is very much on local produce, and you get the feeling that all the money you spend here goes back to the people who produce the food you’re buying.
This stall in particular reminds us that things in South Australia are hard at the moment. Kangaroo Island of the coast of Adelaide has been so badly damaged by the fires it breaks your heart.
The food from this island – not to mention the abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery – will take a while to get back to normal.
So many tempting places to shop at here. And each one of them with its own personality.
After dropping the food we’ve bought off at home and saying hello to Amalfi the Sheltie and Sebi the Cat, we pop into a local haunt of Sonia and Chris’.
The Local Wine Company on the King William Road in Hyde Park is a lovely little wine bar packed with some amazing tipples.
Once again, the focus here is on local produce, though there are plenty of options if you’re after something from other parts of the country or the world.
You can buy from the bar if you like, but the self-service system they have here is brilliant. The three cases of wine – each with eight options – operate like vending machines.
Grab a card from the bar and put it in the machine. You can either have a $2 tasting, a regular size pour or a monster glass if you really love the wine.
The three cases represent either South Australian wines, other domestic wines and international wines.
This afternoon, our foursome is dividing to conquer. Christina and Sonia have journeyed the 40 minutes south* of the city to the beautiful wine region of the McLaren Vale.
So for the moment, it’s hasta la vista from me and over to Christina:
*They didn’t ride this bike there – it’s just a cool photo!
Mitolo Wines is the setting for a very cool ladies lunch in honour of the wonderful Em of Emma Kate Co.
Not your average hen’s day, this elegant lunch is at the private patio of Little Wolf Osteria.
Somehow the group has managed to dress in the Emma Kate Co palette too even though we didn’t plan it.
Sonia and I also step inside the industrial cellar door to do a quick extra tasting. The building is constructed from shipping containers and features some cool graffiti panels inside too.
Mitolo is an Italian family winery and their GSS (Grenache Shiraz Sagrantino) is now a personal fave as is their Of The Wind Chardonnay.
Now, let’s pop back to Jim to see what he and Chris have been up to while Sonia and I have been behaving ourselves!
Back in Adelaide, we’ve had a much slower start. A good cooked breakfast and a bit of a chat about our plans and we’re now on the road.
Chris and I are joined by Sonia’s sister’s boyfriend Blake, which is cool.
We weren’t sure what to do, so we’ve kind of followed the girls out to McLaren Vale. The difference is we’re not interested in wine. This is a beer run!
First stop: the Beresford Estate at their tasting pavilion. But like I said, we’re not here to taste wine.
The Beresford also plays host to icons like Vale Ale Brewery, Fox Hat Brewery, 23rd Street Distillery and Bickfords mixers and tonics.
We hit the ground not just running but at a full sprint with a Fox Hat Brewery tasting paddle. You really get the full range of flavours with this one – from a spicy, fruity XPA all the way to the 10% Russian Imperial Stout monster they call the Full Mongrel.
It’s a cracking line-up and we’re well on our way by the end of this one. My favourite’s the Metric IPA, a resin-heavy, sharp number with plenty of hoppiness and the kind of beer I tend to go for.
Not quite ready to move on though, we decide to have another tasting. This time from 23rd Street Distillery.
We start off with the house signature gin, which is packed with juniper and a happy hint of citrus. Next, the 23rd Street Navy Strength spices things up with its impressive 57.7%ABV. Finally the Barrel-Aged Gin gives us beautiful smooth vanilla notes coming through its juniper-lead foretaste.
They’re a merry trio, but Chris, who knows everyone round here, asks about 23rd Street’s vodkas.
Next thing we know, our three glasses have grown to five as we’re treated to the Riverlands Rose Vodka, which blushes gently in the glass and then grabs you by the tongue. Hints of vanilla and rich rose petals work together with the naturally silky texture.
In the next glass is the great confuser – the Hybrid Whisk(e)y. 23rd Street’s head distiller Graham Buller has taken prime barrels of Scotch and Bourbon and blended them together to make the best of both worlds. It’s certainly easy to drink.
But that’s enough from me for the moment. Let’s head back to the ladies…
After a long feasting table, our group headed back to the city and the stayers headed for more cocktails at Proof.
Adelaide’s first small bar, Proof has seen so many changes in the bar scene over recent years. They’ve certainly set the trend everyone’s enjoying now though.
Tucked away as it is down one of Adelaide’s many side streets, this tiny bar somehow manages to fit in an open rooftop between the buildings and a chic upstairs area too as well as a comfortable, well-positioned bar downstairs.
Cleverly mixed cocktails, a slick yet approachable ambience and a well-tempered hipster aesthetic make Proof a very tough venue to leave, yet thoughts of dinner begin to surface in our minds.
We’re on our way home but down an alley just across the road from Proof, I’ve forced Sonia to pose under this awesome Radelaide mural.
While we’ve been reclining with our martinis, I wonder what the boys have been up to. Let’s take a look.
The sun’s really out now as we get to our next location. Chris has brought us to Swell Brewery’s taphouse, a very popular spot in Mc:Laren Vale. In fact, it’s so busy, the kitchen’s stopped taking food orders for the minute.
In the meantime, we miraculously find a seat to enjoy our tasting paddle. As well as their own beers, Swell offer some excellent options from breweries around the region.
There’s a great vibe here today at Swell. Kids playing cricket, a bit of live music, people relaxing on the lawn (though we’ve just been told we’re not allowed bar stools on the grass because of the holes they make).
Best of all, the kitchen’s open again and our order’s ready!
Chris mentioned that Swell does an excellent burger and he’s not wrong, so the wait has been worth it. The Swell Burger is packed with IPA onion jam, bacon, pickle, cheese and kewpie mayo, and the burger itself is meaty and beautifully charred.
After lunch, we take a drive past the d’Arenburg Estate’s impressive tasting room. Surrounded by surrealist art, including this and two other original Dalis, The Cube is a multi-layer multi-dimensional wine experience.
We don’t have time this trip (plus this is a beer jolly-up for goodness sake), but we’ll be back for sure.
Our next and final stop is at Goodieson Brewery. The beauty of this tasting room is that it’s right inside the brewery. You can see it all happening.
As for the beer list they offer, it’s clear the brewers have had a lot of fun with the flavours.
Here’s my selection – a Pale Ale that really hits the spot, a Mango NEIPA which somehow has that smooth mouthfeel you get when you eat a mango, a Golden IPA and a Cherry Stout.
The Cherry Stout has hints of cherry, but it’s the sourness of the fruit that comes through, balancing the rich cereal notes of the stout. It’s a clever beer.
There’s also a Christmas Ale, which is quite interesting. All the spices and cinnamon of Christmas blended with a Chestnut Brown Ale.
We’re all finally reunited back in Adelaide and just in time for dinner. This is Agapi – a Greek restaurant that likes to take traditional Greek dishes and twist them slightly into modern interpretations of themselves.
Service here is excellent, the drinks come fast and the food is superb.
As usual, we over-order, but I think this is the standout among the six of us: Kefalograviera Saganaki – a wonderful slab of grilled cheese dressed with a peppered fig compote, walnuts and attiki honey.
I found this one very hard to share.
I don’t know how or why we’re still eating but here we are at breakfast. We’ve all found our way to Morchella Cafe on King William Road.
The spread is great and everyone’s in good spirits, though a little slow this morning. I for one know I had too much lamb last night!
But we’re lining our stomachs and girding our loins for today’s outing. We want to support more places in the region and have decided to head to one of the worst hit spots in the recent bushfire disaster: Adelaide Hills.
We’re stunned by the damage the fires have caused, seeing buildings and even a small plane completely burnt to the ground on the way here. You can see in this photo the line of charred trees where the fires went by.
But even through the ash and blackness, there are areas that have been saved. These vines are at Bird in Hand Winery, who have somehow escaped much of the fire, though we saw lots of vines damaged and burnt on the way in.
Bird in Hand has a beautiful cellar door, and it’s great to see so many people here today. Everyone wants to help support these local businesses and an industry under such threat.
We enjoy a quick tasting and a glass on the lawn then we’re back on the road.
Up the hill behind Bird in Hand is a much smaller winery, though one we feel much more connected with. Artwine Estate and its stately yet subdued cellar door looks out over its vines with perfect serenity.
Glen and Judy Kelly, who own Artwine Estate, told us the harrowing story of how the fires came over the hill straight toward the winery. It utterly destroyed their back garden and took over half their grape yield for the season.
Hopefully the rest will be ok and the remaining vines won’t be damaged too. Even more, we really hope the rest of the fire season is less aggressive.
The wine tasting we have at the bar is fun and shows the resilience of people here.
We then move on into the garden for a platter and a glass of our choice.
There’s something about drinking wine that came from grapes grown just a couple of metres away. And when you’ve got some delicious cheese and bread to nibble on, so much the better.
Definitely something everyone should experience.
Christina’s about as happy as you can get. Not only is she enjoying one of the best rosés you’ll find while snacking on a sumptuous platter overlooking vines in the one of the most famous regions in the world, she’s being kept company by Coco, one of Artwine’s two beautiful Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.
Coco really knows how to hit those angles, doesn’t he?
We’ve really enjoyed our time in Adelaide Hills. We really hope for the best over the next couple of months and our hearts go out to everyone affected by the fires.
It’s so important that, if you have plans to visit places like Adelaide, that you stick to your plan – providing it’s safe of course. The people in these regions need your custom and support.
As we fly out of Adelaide, we look down on the scorched earth below us. It’s a start reminder of the extent of the damage – even down here in South Australia.
Thanks for reading our Weekly Edition and for visiting our site. We hope you get as much from it as we do.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx