Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rolling with my homies in Barossa Valley

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed my #brigsdoesadelaide hashtag on many of my posts.  Often when people overseas ask me where I live in Australia, they immediately ask if I am from Sydney or Melbourne, and very few will know a thing about Adelaide; so one of my goals in life is to show what an amazing amazing, beautiful and cool city Adelaide is, haha.  While the Barossa Valley is not actually IN Adelaide, it is a winery region only 1 hours drive from the CBD, and a place I used to come to almost weekly at one stage (we still visit it, just not as often with the little ones).  I love its beautiful landscape, the amazing food and produce, and tasting the internationally renowned wines (in moderation, I promise).  Even though I have come to the Barossa often, I must admit that I had never stayed here overnight, or for the weekend, until now, and it really is a lovely way to properly explore the area.  I recently had the pleasure of exploring this beautiful region with some lovely girls - reuniting with Chloe Ting (@chloe_t) and Shellie Froidevaux (@ironchefshellie), as well as new 'breakfast club members' Lichi Pan (@lichipan) and Melanie Liu (@thetiafox). We had an absolute ball with yet another food-filled adventure.

The girls and I had the pleasure of staying at the newly refurbished Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, which boasts beautiful views across the Barossa Ranges and Jacob’s Creek Vineyards.  A short 10 minute drive from Tanunda, the hotel is a 5-minute walk away from the Tanunda Pines Golf Club and 3.6 km from Jacob's Creek Vineyards, its central location making it the perfect place to stay and explore the region.  It also boasts an Endota Spa, and an array of outdoor facilities are available, including tennis courts, basketball court, volleyball court, giant outdoor chess set, walking trail, outdoor heated swimming pool and gym – plenty of fun to be had.

 Foggy view from my hotel balcony, you can see the hotel's outdoor heated pool, as well as their oversized chess set in the distance.


The Cellar Door Kitchen:

The Novotel Barossa recently refurbished their Harry's restaurant, which not only received a completely and beautiful interior re-design, but was also renamed Cellar Kitchen Restaurant and Bar.  Along with its new 'look', the new restaurant supports a ‘paddock to plate’ food philosophy, following Novotel’s collaboration with artisan food producer, cook and food educator, Saskia Beer (and yes, for those of you who don't know Saskia and find her name familiar, she is indeed Maggie Beer's daughter).  Saskia Beer's company, Saskia Beer Farm Produce, has successfully engaged local provedores, growers and farmers as produce partners with a menu developed by Saskia to give guests and diners a taste of the Barossa Valley.

The new menu features local cheeses from Victoria McGlurg, smallgoods selected and aged by Saskia, fresh vegetables and herbs by Aldna Farms and Barossa Famers Market along with other small producers through the local farmers market. Saskia’s free range chicken, mushroom and bacon pie and suckling free range Berkshire pork scaloppine are must try mains, along with Suffolk Lamb from produce partner Hutton Vale Lamb and Ducks. The desserts were (of course) a highlight to our meal, and we also enjoyed a beautiful cheese plate with Maggie Beer Quince paste and Barossa Bark.

Breakfast in bed never looked so good:

In-room breakfast or breakfast buffet...the choices are plentiful! 

The newly refurbished The Cellar Kitchen, and their amazing spread for buffet breakfast

You can also order some eggs/dishes from the kitchen, I love me an oozy poached egg...

View from the balcony outside The Cellar Kitchen (where you can eat or drink, or both!)

 The new menu at The Cellar Kitchen features local cheeses from Victoria McGlurg, smallgoods selected and aged by Saskia, fresh vegetables and herbs by Aldna Farms and Barossa Famers Market along with other small producers through the local farmers market. Saskia’s free range chicken, mushroom and bacon pie and suckling free range Berkshire pork scaloppine are must try mains, along with Suffolk Lamb from produce partner Hutton Vale Lamb and Ducks.  My favourite dish was the Spencer Gulf prawns with herb and lemon butter on handmade pasta, it was all kinds of amazing, and I can still smell that incredible butter sauce as I think about it.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert (in my books, at least), and it was hard to pick a favourite to mention, so I will pick two: the lemon meringue tart and the pavlova, absolutely delightful! As was The Cellar Kitchen's cheese plate with Maggie Beer Quince paste and Barossa Bark.  If you are like me and like reading through restaurant's menu, you can find it here.

I say, there is always room for dessert, or a cheese platter, especially one as delicious as this one:

Barossa Farmers Markets

To see where The Cellar Kitchen sources many of their local seasonal produce, we hopped on a Barossa Explorer Hop On Hop Off 'mini-bus' and headed to Barossa Farmers Markets.  This relatively new mode of transport is such a brilliant idea, I wish it was around when I used to come on the weekends for wine tasting!  You can join the tour at any of their 9 Barossa Explorer stops along their route (inc. Novotel Barossa, Maggie Beer's Farm Shop, Whistler wines), and the ticket lasts 24 hours.  Great way to explore the Barossa Valley without having to resort to drawing straws to see who is the designated driver of the group!

 The Barossa Farmers Market is based in Angaston and opens every Saturday from 7.30am to 11.30am.  At the markets you can find an incredible range of amazing local food from the homes and farms of the Barossa, from jersey milk to lemon curd, local cured meats to the most amazing chai tea I have ever tasted, Swedish cardamon buns to Indian curries.  It is such a feast for your senses!

The most delicious and heart warming Chai tea! Note that the stalls do not have credit card facilities, so do bring your cash along with you, although there is an ATM outside for those who have forgotten to bring some.

Please humour me for a second (apologies in advance*):

"Knock knock.
Who's there?
Donut who?
Donut forsake me my darling.

*Sorry, I read this in my mom's Reader's Digest when I was 6 and it's always the first thing I think of when I see doughnuts.

After perusing through each stall the girls and I were in for a treat: our very own cooking demonstration with Saskia Beer.  Not only did we see her transform simple ingredients to incredibly delectable dishes, we got to eat them for lunch!

 Mushroom and Pancetta on melted cheese bruschetta, a prime example of how just a few (yet amazing) ingredients, can produce such a beautifully delicious dish!

Hutton Vale Farm has been part of a mixed farming business since 1843, their philosophy of a sustainable farming program is present for all their produce including wine, lamb, vegetables and artisan chutney.



The last time I rode a bicycle in a winery region was in France's Champagne region, so I was very excited to be hopping on two wheels again in a winery region, by hiring a bicycle from the Novotel Barossa and pedal my way to Jacob's Creek Centre (although the hills, not so much, as I am terribly unfit!), which is set on a 42 hectare site with a picturesque bike track that weaves between the vineyards.

  Photo by Shellie Froidevaux

Cheese + Wine = match made in heaven, wine tasting at Jacob's Creek.

 A lot of the produce used by Jacob's Creek amazing restaurant is grown on site, and we got to visit the picturesque Kitchen Garden before our meal.

After our leisurely stroll we enjoyed a beautiful lunch outdoors at Jacob's Creek's restaurant 'Our Table', featuring seasonal food grown locally or picked fresh from their kitchen garden, breathtaking vineyards and views of the Barossa ranges, and a drop (or more) of their beautiful wines, including a beautifully dry and crisp Rosé that had only been released two days earlier!

 Lunch with a view, a beautiful one at that.

I like my Rosés light and dry with a hint of fruitiness, and this 'Let Petit Rosé' ticked all the boxes for me.

One of the highlights of our trip was an incredible hot air balloon ride with Barossa Valley Ballooning (my first ever hot air balloon ride!). Waking up at the crack of dawn, we were rewarded with an incredible experience and breathtaking views as we floated high above the ground, seeing this region from a perspective I had never seen before! Following the balloon ride,  we (and fellow hot-air balloon passengers) were treated to a 'Champagne breakfast' at The Cellar Kitchen, celebrating and toasting the flight with local sparkling wine, upholding the tradition started by the first balloonists in 18th Century France, who were served champagne on landing.  We were absolutely ravenous and attacked the breakfast buffet!

 #caughtinstagramming: from L to R: Lichi Pan, Chloe Ting and Melaniu Liu
 Breathtaking view from the balloon of the beautiful Murray River
Up, up and beautiful, my beautiful balloon...
Why, hello there Lichi!

With Lichi (left) and Shellie (right) - photo by Melanie Liu

I'm wearing: Chakshyn coat, I Love Mr Mittens beanie, Stella McCartney cardigan (the collar is peaking over the coat).


Last time I visited Maggie Beer's farm was when my daughter was just 8 or so months old, so I was excited to visit this place again.  With beautiful peacocks and Maggie's famous pheasants, this is a fun (and yummy) place to explore with (and without) children.

All of Maggie's amazing products are available for purchase (some for tasting), and you can enjoy some dishes at the cafe as well.  Last time I recall lunching on some pie followed by some tart for dessert, although alas, in this visit I was bursting at the seams and couldn't fit another mouthful in.  I do often have Maggie's pastes in my pantry, along with her Burnt Fig Jam, and her incredibly creamy and indulgent ice creams. Oh, and her famous Verjuice too!

The incredible beautiful blue lake at Maggie Beer's Farm:

 photo by Lichi Pan.

Foodies may recognize this kitchen as the set for Maggie's ABC show 'The Cook and the Chef'.  I remember watching a few episodes where my uncle would cook alongside Maggie, and must admit I had no idea it was actually filmed on this 'set' that recreated Maggie's actual kitchen!

all photos by me except where stated otherwise.

 Thanks again to Accor Hotels for hosting us and feeding us!  For more information on the Barossa please visit their website.

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