The Barossa has been so well defined as Australia's premier wine-producing region it's tempting to think that's all it has to offer but, with an ever-expanding list of artisan food producers, cafes and restaurants, wine isn't all that tastes great in the Barossa.
This 30-kilometre-long valley, a little over an hour's drive north of Adelaide, has a rich farming tradition that began long before its famous vineyards with the arrival of Silesian refugees 175 years ago.
The stone fruit and citrus orchards they introduced still thrive, while mixed farms produce a range of meats, poultry, vegetables and fruit - much of it ending up on the tables of local restaurants. The butchers and bakers follow recipes and formula handed down over generations.
Here is a food culture unlike any other in Australia, filled with tradition yet full of surprises, with a new breed of artisan producers and chefs drawing on century-old traditions to guide them.
blond coffee will kickstart your day from 7.30am, a bit later at weekends, with an all-day breakfast that starts with Casa Rio's Crema blend of fair-trade Arabica beans - chosen for their medium body and full flavour.
Food options include bircher muesli topped with goji berries and for the truly famished the blond big breakfast with Rosie's free-range eggs, Mount Pleasant bacon and a whole lot more - all of it to be enjoyed while slumped in a red leather couch.
MORE INFORMATION blond coffee, 60 Murray Street, Angaston.
If it's a long and luxurious lunch you're after, then Hentley Farm is the perfect place. Rarely has a new restaurant so rapidly won both awards and customers from near and far, attracted by gifted chef Lachlan Colwill's "taste the Barossa" menus.
Housed in a beautifully restored 1840s stone building, the restaurant is becoming a gastronomic landmark. There are two set-menu options - the four-course menu du jour (A$90/NZ$98 food only, A$125 with wine) and an eight-plus course Discovery menu (A$155/A$210) for which diners are advised to allow up to three-and-a-half hours.
A faster option is a casual lunch at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop. In Maggie's words, "picnic fare" is the order of the day here, served in wicker baskets with enamel plates.
Pick your own collection of goodies from Maggie's famous pates, cheeses, olives, woodfired bread and a glass of wine. As this is primarily a shop for her products it can get crowded, so opt for an outside table on the large patio area overlooking the dam.
In similar style, many winery cellar doors offer seasonal platters of local produce. At Charles Melton Wines you'll almost feel like a grape-picker as you tuck into a local vineyard lunch on their verandah, dining on a rich duck terrine wrapped in Schulz's streaky bacon served with homemade focaccia and fig and tomato savoury jam, with Zimmy's dill cucumbers and a salad of local greens dressed with Maggie Beer's Vino Cotto.
It gets no more Barossa than this, except perhaps at Artisans of Barossa, a cellar door on the outskirts of Tanunda where up to 15 wines from seven "artisan" winemakers are available for tasting, and hugely experienced local chef Mark McNamara prepares wine-friendly food.
Bigger wineries such as Jacob's Creek can also surprise. For a start, there really is a Jacob's Creek and beside it is Jacob's Creek Visitor Centre which includes a restaurant where acclaimed chef Genevieve Harris draws on one of the best kitchen gardens in the state.
MORE INFORMATION Hentley Farm, corner of Gerald Roberts Road and Jenke Road, Seppeltsfield.
Maggie Beer's Farm Shop, 50 Pheasant Farm Road, Nuriootpa (lunch bookings not required).
Charles Melton Wines, Krondorf Road, Tanunda.
Artisans of Barossa, Light Pass Road, Vine Vale. Jacob's Creek Visitor Centre, Barossa Valley Way, Rowland Flat.
SHOPPING FOR LOCAL TREATS
The butchers and bakers in the Barossa Valley come from the same tradition as the grape growers, such as Schultz's in Angaston, renowned for its garlic mettwurst, fritz, smoked bacon and hams, and Linke's in Nuriootpa, whose jaegerbraten (stuffed pork belly) and lachschinken (smoked port fillet) are legend.
The Apex Bakery in Tanunda provides a good reason to eat a freshly baked pasty before lunchtime. It still uses the 1924 wood-fired "Scotch" oven that's fired up at 5am, two hours before the bread goes in. The bread recipes here are the same as they were in 1924. So it is, too, with the German cake and bienenstich ("bee sting") yeast cake.
There are succulent soft cheeses made by Victoria McClurg at her Barossa Valley Cheese Company in Tanunda, with around 20 styles of cow and goat's milk cheese on offer, traditional German-style egg noodles from Weich's, perfect dill cucumbers and sauerkraut from Steve Zimmerman (Zimmy's), a master of centuries-old pickling and preserving secrets.
Casa Carboni Enoteca sells wines from small, natural winemaking producers in Italy and France, along with artisan-made Italian pantry items, with a cooking school run by master chef Matteo Carboni and his wife Fiona providing intimate, hands-on classes using the best of the Barossa Farmers Market's seasonal produce.
No one should miss this Saturday morning market in Angaston, a unique "regional food only" affair. And for a glimpse into the home kitchens of the Barossa you need look no further than Angaston Cottage Industries, which stocks a range of homemade jam, pickles, sauces, biscuits and cakes from more than 300 contributors.
MORE INFORMATION Schulz Butchers, 42 Murray Street, Angaston.
Linke's Central Meat Store, 27 Murray Street, Nuriootpa.
Apex Bakery, 1 Elizabeth Street, Tanunda.
Barossa Valley Cheese Company, 67B Murray St, Angaston.
Weich's Egg Noodles and Zimmy's Barossa Valley Produce available at local shops and supermarkets.
Casa Carboni Enoteca, 67 Murray Street, Angaston.
Barossa Farmers Market, Vintners Sheds, behind Vintners Restaurant, Angaston Road, Angaston.
Angaston Cottage Industries, 38 Murray Street, Angaston.
Almost all the kitchen brigade at multi-award-winning Appellation hails from the Barossa and nearly all the produce used has travelled less than 30 kilometres to the table, making this the most Barossan of restaurants.
Executive chef Ryan Edwards focuses on local suppliers' produce rather than fancy kitchen technique, with dishes such as butter-poached corn-fed chicken breast with Linke's lachsschinken.
In a region steeped in old-fashioned German tradition, the opening of fermentAsian took the locals by surprise, but self-taught chef Tuoi Do cooks some of the best Vietnamese food in SA. Located in a handsome Tanunda bluestone villa the style, like the food, is elegant and unpretentious.
At Angaston's Vintners Bar & Grill, surrounded by vineyards and lavender bushes, chef Peter Clarke's broad-ranging regional menu has become a mainstay of Barossa dining.
MORE INFROMATION Appellation, The Louise, Seppeltsfield Road, Marananga.
fermentAsian, 90 Murray Street, Tanunda.
Vintners Bar & Grill, Angaston Road, Angaston.
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