South Australia has a burgeoning reputation as the ultimate culinary destination. Here, chefs blaze a trail in restaurants and vineyards dot the countryside.
Explore the Barossa Valley on winery tours that run from stone cottages to state-of-the-art contemporary buildings. Guests can taste vintage Tawny at Seppeltsfield and dine at Star of Greece, set in a heritage cottage.
1. Barossa Valley Cheese Company
In South Australia, cheese may not be as iconic as kangaroos or boomerangs but it’s fast becoming one of the country’s most popular culinary exports. With a reputation for excellence, many local producers offer tastings and tours so that you can learn more about their unique processes.
Founded in 2003 by Victoria Glaetzer, the Barossa Valley Cheese Company offers 14 different styles of soft and hard artisan cheese made with cow and goat milk. The award-winning range of white mould, washed rind and fresh cheeses has garnered much acclaim in recent years. It is a must visit for anyone visiting the region.
Their cellar door and cheese shop is what dreams are made of. Not only does it feature the finest artisan cheese but also chutneys, jams and pickles created with local produce.
It is the perfect spot to enjoy a cheese board and pair it with wine from their impressive list. Choose from their range of red, white and sparkling wines to perfectly complement your plate.
The best part is that the cheese cellar is open daily, so you can make a day of it and enjoy a long lunch. The menu changes daily in line with what local produce is available but expect dishes such as butter-poached Southern rock lobster served on dill and mascarpone risotto or beetroot terrine with lashings of goat’s curd and toasted walnuts.
You can sample all the different cheeses from their range and even take some home with you for a picnic. The deli also has crackers, biscuits and breads to complete your gourmet feast.
Aside from the cheesy goodness, Maggie Beer has done much to promote the region as a foodie destination. The famed cook and author of “Maggie’s Table” moved to the area with her husband, Colin, in the early 1970s to farm pheasants. The couple later opened their famous Farm Shop, which has contributed greatly to the region’s growing reputation for gourmet cuisine.
Spend a day at the farm or head over to their luxury boutique homestead The Louise for a truly memorable getaway. Featuring seven well-appointed rooms, the property is ideal for those looking for a luxurious retreat. Enjoy king-sized beds, soft robes and slippers, rain showers and a private terrace. Guests can also soak up the Barossa way of life by enjoying a drink in their Outdoor Bush Bath, a luxury bathtub surrounded by lush greenery in the secluded forest.
2. Melba’s Chocolates
The fertile plains, bountiful orchards and prolific soils that create South Australia’s great wines are also responsible for a myriad of fine foods, with chocolate and cheese two of the highlights. A recent world first study from the University of South Australia (UniSA) reveals that tourists who consider local food as a key element of their holiday experience are ten times more likely to spend money on food.
Chocolate lovers can find plenty to savour in the Adelaide Hills. Red Cacao, a chocolate cafe and store in Stirling is led by owner Marcus Booth-Remmers who brings skills learned during years of training in Europe to craft a seasonal menu. He has teamed up with the Woodside Cheese Wrights to produce a ChocoVino Experience, pairing chocolate and wine in the style of the original melba toast.
There is something for everyone at the historic Melba’s Chocolate Factory, a ‘working’ tourist factory located 40 minutes from Adelaide in the picturesque town of Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. Visitors are encouraged to tour the large emporium-style factory shop to see how old fashioned favourites like Traffic Lights, Inch Licorice Block and Rocky Road are made using heritage equipment.
The Chocolate Room features a series of screens that illustrate the various steps involved in making chocolate and confectionery, while the Chocolate Room itself houses a conveyor belt where you can watch as chocolates travel from mould to tray to be sliced, weighed, packaged and cooled before being sent off for distribution. There are often demonstrations of the machinery in action too, as well as opportunities to buy your favourites at the end of the tour.
Alternatively, if you’re not quite in the mood for chocolate you can grab some licorice to take home. Licorice is an ancient sweet that has been consumed for centuries for its health benefits, including the ability to clear mucus from the lungs when you’re coughing. It’s also said to ease bronchitis and bronchiectas, so it could be just what you need if you’re struggling with chest infections.
If you’d rather get some exercise, you can do a loop of the Amy Gillett Bikeway that runs through the Adelaide Hills from Oakbank to Mount Torrens. Dedicated to the late Australian Olympic cyclist, it traverses disused rail lines with an average five per cent incline and is separated from steep roads, creating a safe and family-friendly space for riders of all abilities. You’ll pass cellar doors, distilleries, a cherry farm and of course the chocolate factory along the way.
3. Woodside Cheese Wrights
When it comes to cheese, Australia remains a country reared on industrial cheddar, with blocks, sliced and grated varieties dominating supermarket shelves. But an artisanal movement is growing, with farmers taking up the challenge to make their own. And one of the most exciting developments is the development of a network of trails where people can match a range of local cheeses with wines produced in the surrounding vineyards.
Head cheese maker Kris Lloyd has been at the forefront of this movement, turning Woodside Cheese Wrights from a struggling operation into an award-winning business. True to the word artisan, her approach is to work with the dairy she sources from across South Australia and create a variety of different styles. This includes the likes of Monet (a fresh chevre seasoned with a selection of special herbs and edible organic flowers) and Anthill, which incorporates native green ants and South Australian lemon myrtle.
Her commitment to the industry extends beyond her own products, setting up the specialist association Cheese SA and running workshops with international experts. It is also evident in her can-do attitude in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, as she has worked tirelessly to promote not only her own business but all those affected by it.
But despite the hardship, she is determined to continue making quality cheeses with a focus on provenance. This philosophy extends to the way she makes her cheese, too, using only natural starter cultures, rather than a commercial starter made in Europe and brought over frozen. When the milk is ‘denatured’ when it is pasteurised, it loses its natural esters and flavours, so this approach to cheese making allows her to retain these flavours.
The result is a range of distinctive cheeses including Tom, a French-style hard cheese; Figaro, a goat’s cheese rolled in ash; and the Monet – a fresh chevre seasoned with an array of special herbs and edible flowers. They also collaborate with chefs to make one offs for their menus and produce a variety of special occasion cheeses for Mother’s Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
4. Udder Delights
Udder Delights cheese makers Saul and Sheree Sullivan developed their artisanal goat and cow dairy business from a family farm established by Sheree’s parents in 1999. They opened their cheese cellar door in Hahndorf in 2006 to showcase their cheesy products and educate all things cheesy. They’re passionate about making great tasting cheese and source their goat and cow milk from local South Australian dairies – from the Adelaide Hills to Fleurieu Peninsula. Their supply chain model creates a ripple effect for all involved from the dairy farmers to the cheese cellar door and beyond.
Their cheese includes their eponymous Udder Delights Blue, plus brie and camembert. Other highlights include their La Luna Ring, a mixed milk blue cheese made with goat’s and cow’s milk, as well as their Humbler Fog, a black peppercorn and caramel-flavoured goat’s cheese that has a pungent aroma and is aged for two months. They also make a great variety of goat’s and cow’s milk yoghurts.
A visit to their cheese cellar door is a feast for the eyes, with large glass windows offering stunning views over the McLaren Vale countryside. You can also enjoy a range of tasty cheesy encounters, including a Cheese Tasting and a Cheese Fondue Experience. Their cellar also stocks their own barrel-aged wine to pair with your cheese platter.
They believe that good quality cheese starts at the dairy farm, where happy animals make great milk and cheese. Their dairy farmer suppliers are committed to ethical livestock treatment and sustainable pasture farming. They love their cows and goats, giving them ample room to roam free on the grass and feed naturally. This gives the cheese a rich and creamy flavour.
Their quaint cheese cellar doors have plenty of tables and chairs to accommodate groups and families. You can also bring a picnic basket to enjoy the stunning scenery and fresh air from the high hilltop location. There’s even a cosy outdoor fireplace to sit around with your friends and family and enjoy the views.
Whether you’re an avid cheese lover or just a casual visitor, there’s always something to enjoy at Adelaide’s cheese and chocolate trail. So grab your hire car from East Coast Car Rental and set off on this cheesy adventure!