David Brookes shares his visit to South Australia’s Limestone Coast region, with its wealth of incredible produce and wining and dining options.
By Dave Brookes
I have a confession.
I’m sure I’m not alone in suffering this affliction but regardless, it is something that I have to get off my chest, they say after all, that the first step in any healing process is to first admit that you have a problem.
I plan my travels around my stomach.
When visiting anywhere new, I first research the eating options available before considering the regions essential sights and experiences.
For me, planning a journey that doesn’t include gastronomic sightseeing is as you can imagine, unimaginable.
A visit to South Australia’s Limestone Coast region, with its wealth of incredible produce and wining and dining options is enough to bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded of foodies and the locals are more than happy to pass on some local knowledge and make sure your car is packed full of the best the region has to offer.
Online research before any potential trip is essential and a good starting point is a visit to the Eat Local South Australia website, which helps you locate venues whose members serve and sell the very best South Australian food on their menus and shelves across the state.
Another great resource is Limestone Coast Food for a list of local producers, retailers and farmers markets that highlight all that is good in this diverse and beautiful slice of Australia.
As you can imagine, with a coastline stretching from the Coorong to Mount Gambier, seafood is a highlight and Coorong Wild Seafood is at the top of its game, consistently snagging state and national produce awards.
Enjoy fresh local lobster in the Limestone CoastSouth Australia is our countries driest state.
As you can imagine, sustainability of its waterways and fisheries is of the utmost importance. Situated in Meningie, near the head of the Coorong and on the western side of the wetlands on the shores of Lake Albert, Glen & Tracy Hill and their small team fish these water with suspended gill-nets; the prized yellow-eyed mullet the target species, much loved by some of South Australia’s best chefs and proudly featured on some of the state’s best menus.
Mulloway, flounder, golden perch, redfin and Goolwa cockles are also harvested and the company’s efforts have been recently been rewarded with the producer of the year at the ABC’s Delicious Food Awards.
If you email or call up before your visit, Tracy can give you a factory tour, explain the intricacies of the fishery and of course you can try their wonderful produce.
“It’s a very delicate ecosystem and we’ve seen it ebb and flow over the years, through drought to abundance and a healthy fishery,” says Tray.
“It certainly hasn’t been easy but we are very proud of our product.”
Of course the obvious question of Tracy’s favourite foodie haunts in the region needs to be asked.
“I really like Fitzgerald Fish Sales in Mount Gambier and Pinkerton’s butchers in Kingston SE. Just fantastic produce and great people.”
Coorong Wild Seafood’s produce is widely available in the region and one of the best places to try it is at the Meningie Hotel’s bistro… a perfect lunch after visiting the producer.
Of course crayfish is also on the menu on the Limestone Coast and if you’d like to sample these spiny, sought-after crustaceans, the best course of action is to head to the fish suppliers and restaurants around Kingston SE and Robe.
Lacepede Seafoods By the Jetty on Marine Parade in Kingston SE and Sky Seafoods in Robe are your best bets for retail sales and of course local fish and chip shops and restaurants such as the lovely Sails in Robe, will always feature this star of the sea.
Segueing from surf to turf; Mayura Station wagyu has won countless awards and features at the tables of some of the best restaurants in Australia and further afield. Located just south of Millicent, the rolling hills and fertile soils of the Limestone Coast provides the perfect farming country for this majestic breed of cattle whose meat is so highly prized.
“The station was first established in 1845 and Mayura Station is one of Australia’s oldest and most respected pastoral operations,” says Mayura Stations Mark Wright.
“We have three produce tiers; Gold Label is rich and earthy with a medium level of marbling graded from five to seven.
“Our Platinum Label is the next step up in quality with a marbling score of eight to nine and finally the pinnacle of our wagyu range is our Signature Series, specifically developed for greater complexity; extremely high marbling scores of nine plus and incredibly rich with buttery and nutty flavours a silky smooth texture and unrivalled juiciness.”
“The best way to sample our product is to visit our tasting room on the property. We were recently awarded the best formal steak restaurant at the Restaurant and Catering Awards 2014 and you can choose from a three or four course menu featuring a number of different Wagyu cuts from across our range of quality levels and try a range of wines from across the Limestone Coast region.”
Who better to quiz on their favourite butcher than a waygu producer?
“I’m a big fan of Tender Cuts Butchers in Naracoorte, for seafood Fitzgerald’s in Mount Gambier and if I only had to choose one restaurant, it would have to be Pipers of Penola.”
If there is one reoccurring theme, Pipers of Penola is the locals’ dining destination of choice.
Located in the heart of the world renown Coonawarra wine region, Erika and Simon Bowen plate up one of Australia’s best regional dining experiences combined with a stunning wine-list which features heavily the vinous offerings of the magic, red, terra-rossa Earth they call home and an excellent range of Bordeaux.
The food has a distinctly European, though the ingredients remain proudly regional, the dining space beautiful and shows an eye for detail and the service just right. It’s just a wonderful dining experience. South Australia seems to be very adept at conjuring up these surprises in small country towns; a testament to the quality of the states produce and an inspiration for many chefs.
Mount Gambier Farmers Market, held every Saturday outside the town’s library gets many a local’s recommendation, with cooking demonstrations and stallholders including Pine Ridge Honey , the beautiful apples and juices of Kalangadoo Organic Orchard, sourdough and croissants from Metro Bakery & Cafe, certified organic extra virgin olive oil from Nolan’s Road and for a slice of the delicious food of Kurdistan, Gala’s Middle Eastern Delights. Highly recommended for stocking up on supplies for a picnic on the shores of nearby Valley Lake.
While we have only just scratched the surface of the world class produce on offer in South Australia’s Limestone Coast, the best advice needs to be repeated, ask the locals.
They certainly love to have a yarn to people visiting their slice of the country and everyone has their favourite producer, cafe, farm gate stall, market, restaurant or winery.
You will be guaranteed not only insights into what is best in seasonal regional produce, but you will probably meet a kindred spirit and make a new friend in the process.