Why Tasting Australia is so important for Adelaide in 2020

Tasting Australia

This April, the annual Tasting Australia will once again spread across Adelaide and its bucolic surrounds to celebrate the best in food, wine and culinary talent. Most importantly, the premier event’s program has been curated by the best talent in the business, put together to help guests fall in (or rekindle their) love for the eternally bountiful regions of South Australia.

It’s one of the first major events South Australia will hold after the devastating bushfires, which especially had a huge impact on the Adelaide Hills, one of the most productive regions in the country. While the region slowly recovers, Tasting Australia is perfectly timed to bring in discerning gourmands from across the country (and from around the world), as it does each year.

Furthermore, this has positioned Tasting Australia as a crucial moment for Adelaide and South Australia, as top culinary talent will no doubt demonstrate that, despite the destruction, the region is still and will continue to be a veritable playground for those seeking the country’s best food and wine experiences.

We’ve trawled through the stacked program to give you a few essentials to book in before finalising your Tasting Australia schedule, whether that’s a one-off sojourn on a chartered flight or a weekend lapping up the best winery lunches created by collaborating chefs both Australian and international.

Note that the 14th annual Tasting Australia starts on 27th March and wraps up on 5th April. The full list of events and more information can be found HERE.

Tasting Australia Airlines

Two key events this year will be amongst the most ambitious things Tasting Australia has ever done. A special Tasting Australia Airlines has been created and chartered to fly people from either Brisbane or Melbourne down for a short-stay eating and drinking the best on offer.

First you’ve got the Melbourne to McLaren Vale event, taking place on 3rd April where a return chartered jet will take people from Australia’s trendiest city to the heart of McLaren Vale.

The full-day experience will start with a decadent breakfast in the air, and then transfer you around the Fleuriu Peninsula to places like biodynamic vineyard Yangarra Estate – where they’ll taste 2020 wine of the year (James Halliday) “2016 High Sands Grenache” – Star of Greece for lunch (with Darren Robertson and Bali-based street food specialist Will Meyrick), and to a nearby beach for a seaside soiree with a DJ and local fare.

While Melbourne to McLaren Vale will be a full-day event, the even more ambitious Brisbane to McLaren Vale will span two days and give you a comprehensive experience with food, wine and art. Not to mention, an Italian long lunch cooked by none other than international culinary superstar Marco Pierre White, Africola’s Duncan Welgemoed and Gather at Coriole’s Tom Tilbury.

You’ll also be taking a tour of the iconic d’Arengerg Cube and the Salvador Dali exhibition, but that’s after the day starts with a Champagne breakfast in the air and lunch at award-winning winery and cellar door Coriole. Do note that the event takes place across two days and accommodation must be sorted independently – there’s a special Hilton deal for the event which you can find more information about at Tasting Australia website.

World Famous Chinese Dining Experience

With tickets only from $60, the World Famous Chinese Dining Experience is easily one of the most valuable Tasting Australia events that’ll run throughout the festival. Held on various dates, at Adelaide’s new Xiao Long Kan Chinese Hotpot, the menu will be a 12-course share-style feast based on the recipes of world-famous hot pot chef Master Wu.

Whether you’re sitting down for a lunch or dinner session, expect premium meats such as wagyu, fresh prawns and pork ribs with local produce and mouth-watering flavours. You’ll receive a glass of Tomich wine before it all starts, and additional premium wines and beers will also be available for purchase throughout.

The Luxury Brands of South Australia

Famous Adelaide Hills estate Mount Lofty House will, in September, finally open its super-luxe extension: a luxury lodge titled Sequoia. But those forking out for what is the most expensive event on the program ($3,000) this year will have a very special preview of the six-star opening, with an overnight staycation dressed in absolute luxury.

The day will start with a chauffeur luxury transfer to the Mount Lofty property, a quick check-in to your own luxury suite, and then a full day of locally inspired experienced. First, the choice of a 30-minute spa treatment, or a guided gin tasting highlight the nuances of Adelaide Hills. Upon evening, an orchestral performance will be complemented by canapes and sparking Sequoia wine beneath one of the giant California red woods which give the new lodge – and the wine – its name.

A stroll afterwards will lead you to representatives from luxury South Australian brands like RM Williams and Jurlique before dinner unfolds, with a menu specially created by either Jin Choi (Hardy’s Verandah) and Jared Ingersoll (Barrel and Beast) – on the 31st March – or Duncan Welgemoed (Africola) and Paul Bentley (Magno Brasserie) – on the 1st April. Expect produce like Paroo Premium Kangaroo and Penfold’s wine wines.

After dinner, a good old fashioned bonfire with marshmallows, stories and stargazing before turning in the night.

Peel Street Gin Trail

Peel Street is often a visitor’s favourite night-out in Adelaide, with densely-packed street lined with the most awarded bars – big and small, mostly small – in the state. What better than a curated gin trail across this exciting part of the city?

The Peel Street Gin Trail will feature 10 bars and 10 South Australian gins during the entire course of Tasting Australia. Simply head along, pay as you go, and following the Gin Trail where Adelaide Hills and city gin producers will be represented proudly. That means everything from Malt & Juniper representing Ambleside Distillers, to La Rumba celebrating the Green Ant Gin that was born from a collaboration between Adelaide Hills Distillery and Something Wild. Ten gins, one street.

Cow Know How

For one-night-only (29th March), you can join master butcher Paul Suleyman (Goodwood Quality Meats) and BBQ smoking champions from Rub & Grub and Big Shed Brewery, who will all be collaborating the ultimate BBQ feast and smoking master class at Scoffed Cooking School.

You’ll walk away more than ready to tackle any kind of meat sweat once you spend the day feasting on hot salt beef bagels for breakfast, before lighting up the BBQs and prepping your meat to learn all sorts of things: how to cut up a whole side of beef, hot to make own beer and BBQ sauce, how to create a unique rub, and more. Then, sit down and have it all for lunch over some beers. You’ll walk home with some mini meat packs too.

Glass House Kitchen

The Glasshouse Kitchen, a Tasting Australia tradition, are back and will surely give diners plenty to talk about. This year, it’ll be spread into six one-nightly only experiences with one of six top chefs, with each sharing (and cooking) dishes that have played central roles in their respective career.

Festival’s beverage director Nick Stock has come on board with local institution East End Cellars to design a drink menu for each evening, which includes a glass of Pol Roger on arrival and wines matched with each menu.

Now, the only question is what Glasshouse Kitchen events you’re going to attend. Surely one of the highlights will be the “2nd April love-in with fried chicken god Morgan McGlone sharing the kitchen with Shohei Yasuda, most famous for his Japanese-Nordic cooking and stints in France, Copenhagen and Tokyo, as well as Lee Ho Fook’s Victor Liong and Leigh Street Wine Room’s Nathan Sasi. As for what to expect – get ready for four delicious courses and matched wines.

Other Glasshouse Kitchen events include names like Matt Moran, Tin Pak Poy, Mark Best, Dan Hong, Adam Liston, O Tama Carey, Sat Bains, and Darren Robertson.

Forage to Feast

Alana Brabin from “If You’re Game” and Sparkke at the Whitemore will be leading a full-day Forage to Feast expedition where you’ll head up to the hills for a tour of carefully selected local producers. You’ll start at Scoffed Cooking School and wind your way up from there, coming back only after you’ve collected all your key ingredients to create the perfect evening meal.

While on the road for the tour (which kicks off at 11:15am), expect to watch a whole deer being cut up, wines at Unico Zelo, and more. You’ve got until it all wraps up at 9pm after all.

Henschke

Wine and theatre come together at “On Stage”, where Australia’s famous Henschke wines will team with the Australian Dance Theatre for a special five-course experience. You’ll also be one of the first in the world to taste Australia’s most revered single-vineyard shiraz – Henschke Hill of Grace 2015 – ahead of its May 2020 release. It’ll also be available for purchase on the night.

A five-course set with paired wines will be served right on stage at The Odeon Theatre while Helpmann Award-winning dancer Kimball Wong performed a bespoke choreographic work directed by Garry Stewart.

Flinders Experience

Tasting Australian Airlines experiences won’t be the only festival highlights making use of a chartered flight. The Flinders Experience, one of the more pricey events on the program this year, will involve an overnight trip to the wild and undisturbed Flinders Ranges where delicious local fare will fill in the gaps between time exploring the ancient landscape, staying at luxe accommodation, and touring Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges.

It’ll all start on the morning of Saturday 4th April, leaving Adelaide on Platinum Air and travelling to the acclaimed and highly-prized Rawnsley Park Station. You’ll check into your eco villa here, before having lunch at the 12,000 hectare working sheep station’s Woolshed Restaurant and touring Ikara/Wilpena pond. For more information on the full itinerary head to the Tasting Australia website.

Tips

A few tips on how to maximise your Tasting Australia experience.

  •  If you’re staying for a few days, make sure you book into some accommodation right next to the Town Square. As the hub of Tasting Australia, this is where things like the Glasshouse Kitchen and daily activities will be. It’s also right next to the iconic Adelaide Central Market. The very comfortable Hilton Adelaide is one such hotel, and a reasonably priced one at that.
  •  Book into at least one East End Cellars masterclass while you’re there. The local insitution is easily one of the most famous fine wine merchants in Australia, and is regularly seen as a hotspot for local winemakers and chefs. They’ll be putting on a variety of masterclasses and tastings throughout the festival so make sure you’re checking it all out <A href=”https://tastingaustralia.com.au/program/masterclasses” target=”blank”>HERE</a>
  •  Reserve a day or two to explore Adelaide outside of the festival. The city is always changing, plus Adelaide Hills is not even a 30 minute drive from the CBD. Head up there and hop between distilleries and venues like Lot.100, check out the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia (Hahndorf), and if you’re so obliged, indulge in a night at the iconic <a href=”https://www.mtloftyhouse.com.au/” target=”blank”>Mount Lofty House</a>.

The writer attended the Tasting Australia program launch as a guest of the South Australia Tourism Commission.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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