Beyond the vines in Australia’s Barossa Valley
Just a few steps away is fermentAsian, which was named as one of the country’s top 50 restaurants in 2012 by The Australian newspaper. Vietnamese-born chef Tuoi Do does a fabulous job of creating classic Southeast Asian dishes with modern Australian twist. Barossa Berkshire pork belly is cooked in a fragrant ginger and orange sauce, while local Black Angus beef is grilled and served with a fresh herb salad. Do’s parents, Bang and Pinh, grow a lot of the restaurant’s vegetables (such as bok choy and snowpeas) and herbs (such as Vietnamese mint and coriander), while Tuoi’s partner, Grant Dickson of Rockford Wines, selects the wines to match. Because Vietnamese food is generally light, with most dressings and sauces based on palm sugar and lime, Dickson often recommends a dry Riesling to accompany the delicate flavours.
However, the gastronomic awakening is not all about eating. Casa Carboni, an Italian cooking school and enoteca that opened in December 2012 in Angaston, offers a more hands-on experience. Owners Matteo and Fiona Carboni teach visitors how to prepare traditional Italian food using seasonal produce from their vegetable patch next door – some classes even include a trip to the Barossa Farmers Market to handpick ingredients. As a child growing up in Italy, Matteo learned to make fresh pasta using eggs straight from the hen, and still applies this passion to his own cooking methods. Whether Matteo is conducting a pasta demonstration or a gnocchi master class, he always features classic regional recipes from the areas in which he grew up – Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany or Piedmont – and incorporates as much fresh produce from the local area as possible.
One of the major personalities involved in Barossa’s gastronomic scene is cook, food writer and television personality Maggie Beer, and no visit to the valley is complete without a stop at Maggie’s Farm Shop in the town of Nuriootpa. If you arrive by 2 pm you have the option of participating in an interactive cooking demonstration, sometimes run by Beer herself.
Afterwards take a seat inside the bustling cafe or on the balcony overlooking the pond, and snack on Beer’s foodie-friendly picnic fare, such as homemade pheasant terrine, pork rillettes and chicken and rosemary pate, along with creamy cheeses, wood-fired bread and tangy olives. You can purchase Beer’s products to take home – perfect for those who just cannot get enough of Barossa’s fresh and tasty produce.