By Marc Llewellyn
When it comes to food and wine festivals, you won’t find one with more zest than Tasting Australia, says its creative director, Simon Bryant.
“I love all the food festivals in Australia but we’re pre-eminent,” he says. “Our one big difference is that all our food and wine regions are a hop, skip and a jump away from the heart of the city (Adelaide).
“We pride ourselves on having places like the Barossa, the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale all within an hour’s drive of Adelaide, and you can easily reach places like Kangaroo Island too.”
Bryant, who starred alongside author and South Australian produce guru Maggie Beer (also patron of the festival) in the long running ABC cooking program The Cook and the Chef says the best local food and wine is what drives the annual culinary festival.
“We do have famous chefs taking part, but at its heart it’s all about our great regional produce,” he says. “We bring that produce to the centre of Adelaide and we invite people to go to the regions to experience it too.”
Tasting Australia has been celebrating South Australian premium food and wine since 1997. The 2017 Tasting Australia festival will be held in Adelaide from 30 April to 7 May, with events also taking place across the state.
Appearing on the menu this year
A new addition in 2017 will be the Glasshouse Kitchen, the striking centrepiece to the free festival hub in Victoria Square, in the centre of Adelaide.
The restaurant will be constructed from glasshouses, allowing diners to look out, and passers-by to see into the kitchen.
International chefs, including Britain’s Marco Pierre White and Slovenia’s Ana Ros – who was named the world’s best female chef for 2017 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards – will be cooking alongside national and local chefs. They plan to create unique menus featuring local produce.
Among local identities taking part is Jock Zonfrillo, creative curator of Tasting Australia and the chef/owner behind the acclaimed Adelaide eatery Restaurant Orana, known for its skilfully crafted food and innovative use of indigenous ingredients.
Zonfrillo has curated the collaborations for the Glasshouse Kitchen that will also feature Paul Carmichael (Momofuku Seiōbo, Sydney), Clayton Wells (Automata, Sydney), Mitch Orr (ACME, Sydney), Analiese Gregory (Bar Brose, Sydney), Victor Liong (Lee Ho Fook, Melbourne) and more.
“There will be a focus on a new region every night,” Bryant says. “It’s going to be a four-course stellar line-up of food.”
More tasty new events
Last year Adelaide joined an exclusive group of food and wine destinations called the Great Wine Capitals of the World. This prestigious network is made up of just 10 cities, including Cape Town, Bordeaux, Porto and San Francisco (representing the Napa Valley wine area).
To celebrate Adelaide being ranked among the world’s best wine cities, Tasting Australia has introduced the Great Wine Voyage, which involves a blind tasting of a glass of South Australian wine, and a wine from another of the Great Wine Capitals of the World. The tour takes place across Adelaide’s hottest small bars and new restaurants.
Also popping up for the first time are masterclasses hosted by Adelaide’s East End Cellars. The events intend to raise a glass (or two) to the many famous wine regions around the city, the winemakers behind the bottles and the varieties that are synonymous with excellent Australian wine. Masterclasses include the Grange Experience – in which you can taste six different vintages of Penfolds Grange – and a celebration of Australian pinot noir.
Many more Tasting Australia events will take place across Adelaide.
A moveable feast
Other places in South Australia are joining the Tasting Australia banquet too.
Also on offer is a five-course degustation meal among the giraffes at Monarto Zoo near the mighty Murray River. Or you could cook your own abalone and saltbush-crusted lamb under the stars in the rugged red dirt country of the Flinders Ranges.
See the Tasting Australia website for more events to whet your appetite.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are located at Adelaide Airport.