A trip to the Adelaide Hills is not complete without a spot of fruit picking, a nice lunch with local wines and a stroll around the local shops.
When I was a little girl my parents would take me fruit picking in the Adelaide Hills. For a greedy kid there's nothing more fun than being told you can pick and eat as much fruit as you can manage. Strawberries were my favourite – I stuffed my face with warm-from-the-sun strawberries until the juices ran freely down my chin and my hands and clothes were stained crimson.
So for me, a trip to the Adelaide Hills is not complete without some kind of fruit picking; whether it’s crisp apples from Lenswood, cherries from Verdun or strawberries from Hahndorf. Follow this up with a nice lunch accompanied by some local wine and then a stroll around some of the shops at Hahndorf and I am a very contented woman.
This is what you should do in the Adelaide Hills.
The Lane Vineyard
For elegant food and estate wine; pleasant service and stunning vineyard views, The Lane Vineyard is hard to beat. Executive Chef James Brinklow makes simple, elegant and beautifully presented food and courses can be matched to The Lane’s estate wines made from grapes that can be spotted from your table. Whatever you order, do make sure you leave room for dessert: the stunning Asian-inspired coconut tapioca pudding with sweetcorn ice-cream, toffee crumbs, toasted coconut pieces and caramel lime zest was the best tapioca dessert I’ve eaten in a long time.
Where to find it: Ravenswood Lane, Hahndorf. Tel: (08) 8388 1250. Open: 10am-4pm, daily.
If you’re a fan of the local and seasonal movement, you’ll enjoy visiting The Locavore in Stirling, which operates by the principles of the 100 Mile Diet. That is, wherever possible, all produce used at the restaurant is sourced from within a 160km radius. Otherwise, the chefs seek out produce that is family farmed, organic or fair-trade.
My so-tender-it’s-falling-apart slow braised lamb rump with roasted quinces and snow pea tendril salad was quickly hijacked by my five-year-old, who proceeded to eat most of it, leaving me to make do with his popcorn chicken, chips and salad from the kid’s menu. Luckily, his excellent homemade, free-range chicken nuggets, roasted potato wedges and salad bore no resemblance to the KFC version. I love restaurants that cater so well for kids without being dreary “family restaurants” or compromising the quality of their food or their ethics: teaching kids how to eat from a young age is to nurture a lifelong love affair with food.
Where to find it: 49 Mount Barker Road, Stirling. Tel: (08) 8339 4416. Open: lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, and lunch on Sundays.
German Cake Shop
Lovers of old-fashioned German cakes and traditional afternoon tea should not miss the German Cake Shop in Hahndorf. I first visited this place over 30 years ago with my mother and little has changed since then in terms of the menu and the decor. The Bienenstich (bee sting cake) and the apricot and poppy seed strudels are still baked each day using traditional recipes and they taste just as good as I remember.
Where to find it: 2 Pine Avenue, Hahndorf. Tel: (08) 8388 7086. Open: 8:30am-5pm every day.
I was wandering down Hahndorf Main Street when I walked past Kitchen 2C and did a double take. Was that mismatched vintage furniture, hip industrial lighting and chalkboard paint on the walls I saw? A menu with fresh and interesting, modern food, green juices and home-blend coffee? Indeed it was. Kitchen 2C is the home of two chefs, Cheryl Wood and Chany Park, who met while working at Mt Lofty House and decided to set up their own establishment, cooking the type of the food they eat at home.
The menu changes on a weekly basis and produce from the local area is used as much as possible. My Thai-style grilled chicken on rice noodles and peanut and lime dressing was full of nicely-balanced flavor and stuffed with fresh herbs. Kitchen 2C is a welcome breath of fresh air in Hahndorf.
Where to find it: 43 Main St, Hahndorf SA 5245. Tel: (08) 8388 1967. Open: Wednesday - Monday for breakfast and lunch.
Beerenberg is one of the oldest food producers in SA and they make some of my favourite sauces, preserves, mustards and chutneys: I counted no less than 14 Beerenberg products in my fringe and pantry the other day. So a visit to their farm shop will always see me laden down with a box full of jars when I leave. While you’re visiting you can also pick your own strawberries in the neighbouring strawberry patch – a must for kids and big kids at heart. Or sample a Beerenberg/Golden North soft-serve ice-cream made with frozen Beerenberg strawberries.
Where to find it: Mount Barker Road, Hahndorf. Tel: (08) 8388 7272. Open: 9am-5pm every day. The strawberry patch closes at 4:15pm.
Cleland Wildlife Park
If you want to feed a kangaroo or cuddle a koala, Cleland Wildlife Park is the place to do it - I take all my overseas visitors here and they always have a wonderful time. A mere 20-minute drive from Adelaide city, Cleland is home to a whole range of native Australian animals including wallabies, wombats, bettongs, potoroos, dingoes, Tasmanian devils, birds, lizards and snakes. The animals at Cleland mostly live in natural habitat so they are free to roam around the park. They’re used to people, too, so you can pat and hand feed many of them.
Where to find it: Mount Lofty Summit Rd, Cleland. Open: 9:30am-5pm every day except Christmas Day.
Seafood lover? Harris Smokehouse is for you. The Harris family are fourth generation smoked salmon producers, having been fisherman and oyster farmers in the UK. At the Harris Smokehouse you can buy not only Australian smoked salmon, but also smoked haddock, ocean trout, prawns, kippers, and octopus. There's also gravalax (cured salmon) and an excellent smoked salmon paté. Get yourself some freshly baked bread, olives and local wine and make a seafood picnic of it.
Where to find it: 37 Main Road, Hahndorf. Tel (08) 8388 7000. Open: 10am-5pm every day.
Poets Ode & Salon de Thé
Poets Ode is a general store stocked with a carefully curated collection of objects for the home and family by the creative folk behind White Wall Photography. If you like unique, handcrafted, ethically made/sourced, natural and artisan made goods, you’ll find a lot to admire here. In early 2015, Poets Ode opened the Salon de Thé, serving coffees, teas and light meals as well as artisan baked goods by Abbots and Kinney’s Jonny Pisanelli (ex Scratch Patisserie).
Where to find it: 100B Mount Barker Road, Hahndorf. Tel: 0400 420 418. Open: 10am-3pm Mondays, 10am-4pm Thursday-Friday and 11am-4pm Saturday-Sunday.
Coco Marie of Hahndorf
Coco Marie has the distinction of being the best smelling shop in Hahndorf – walking into the shop is to be enveloped in an intoxicating cloud of fragrance from lovely sea salts, cold-pressed soaps, candles and face and body products. Most unusually, all of the products are made by hand in small batches by Marie and Leigh Morgan, the wife and husband team behind Coco Marie, who favour plant derived oils, extracts, vitamins and minerals. I bought the best-selling Emu oil and goat’s milk skin repair to treat my son’s eczema but use it myself as an intensive moisturiser too.
Where to find it: 3/80 Mt Barker Road, Hahndorf. Tel: (08) 8388 7595. 10:30am-5pm ever day or shop online at cocomarie.com.au.
The simple things are indeed the best.