I was hooked on the wide streets. It was dark, the street lights were twinkling and I couldn’t see a lot.
But I saw the wide streets and thought of my Dad.
“It’s just like Sydney 50 years ago. The streets are so wide, there’s no traffic and such a slow and enjoyable way of living.”
Mum is usually not far behind him. They’d live here if they could. I try to tell them to forget about their children and grandkids and follow their hearts and just move to Adelaide before it gets swallowed up like Sydney.
They grew up in Surry Hills, back when it wasn’t cool to live there. But to them it was. The old Sydney.
Already I was falling in love and I hadn’t done anything yet.
And then we pulled up at the Crowne Plaza hotel. The friendliest door man in the world came to greet us. I no longer felt tired from the flight. I was bouncing with energy and as a result found myself in the bar for an evening wine, free WiFi and the best hand cut hot chips I had ever eaten.
Adelaide Central Market
South Australia is known to be a foodie’s paradise with plenty of fresh local produce and good wine. A visit to the 140 year old Adelaide Central Market in the centre of the business district was the perfect way for us to experience the culinary delights of the region.
The market is the largest fresh produce market in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 80 specialist stalls and the most visited tourist destination in South Australia with over 1.3 million visitors per month.
Wowee! The Adelaide Central Market are the best markets I have been to in Australia.
We were greeted by Mark Gleeson who runs the Adelaide Central Market food tours. He has been involved in the food industry for 30 years and saw an opening 10 years ago to merge that with tourism. He is passionate about sharing the journey of produce from farmer to plate and highlighting the effort of the businesses that are involved in that production.
We started at his own store Providore, a place guaranteed to skyrocket your taste buds and expand your waistline to ginormic proportions. The first sign we were in trouble came with the shops centrepiece: a towering chocolate fountain. There’s only one thing you can do with that, stick in a bucket of strawberries and munch em down. Creamy, delicious and not too sweet!
There were plenty of things to sweeten your taste buds: cakes and pastries, chocolates and biscuits and variations on old Australian favourites – lovingtons, berry and choc-chip Pavlova rolls, and wagon wheels – what the cool kids had packed in their lunch boxes when I was at school.
I was delighted to see a huge variety of gluten free cakes and slices, something that is rare to find in Australia.
We lingered a little too long at Providore and Mark had to drag us to the Lucina Italiana, the café opposite. It started with a post-war Italian immigrant family.
The café still serves aficionados 55 years later and has seen three generations of family manage it. This Adelaide institution has now branched out into a pizza restaurant and grocery store.
While I was buying some Lucina olive oil, the smell of cooking mushrooms pulled me over to the huge pot next to the serving counter.
“Those mushrooms smell divine. What are you making?” I asked the server stirring it.
“Mushroom soup. We cook it here and then package it and sell it over there.” He pointed to the line of pre-packaged soup in the fridge. “If someone walks past and wants some as I am pureeing it up, then sure I’ll sell them some right here to.”
I wanted some right there. But, we had farmers to visit.
Mario is one of the only growers left in the market. He brings his produce 30 minutes every day from his farm to the markets. You can tell by the size and quirkiness of the fruit that this is real home grown goodness.
The apples are tiny, the zucchini extra-large, the avocados robust, and the quince bumpy. He has been selling fruit and veg here for over 35 years. He cut up some persimmon and nectarine for us, it was deliciously sweet.
Time was running out so we were whisked over to Say Cheese, “The sexiest cheese store in Australia.” Mark was adamant that your search for the best cheese in Australia ended here.
We had to put this to the test. Lulu came on out from behind the counter and before us turned some curd into mozzarella. The Say Cheese does cheese making demonstrations from Thursday to Saturday.
It was fascinating watching it transform from blobs to dense stringy cheese and then balls. She sliced the finished balls for each of us to try. It was still warm and dripping with water. The combination of salt and milky creaminess melted into a taste orgasm.
It totally got the Say Cheese sexiness.
We visited the market on Wednesday, volunteer day. This is the one day of the week the vendors do not have to be open. Thankfully a large selection of vendors still do. It was probably the best day for us to visit as Mark said on every other day you can’t move in the markets. It is elbow pushing room only.
I highly recommend this tour. I loved the personal nature of meeting the vendors, trying their foods and learning more of their stories.
Lenzerheide Restaurant, Hawthorn
Because spending a morning sampling amazing local fare is not enough, we then moved to one of Adelaide’s most famous restaurants for lunch, Lenzerheide, in the historic neighbourhood of Hawthorn.
The building dates back to 1891 when it was originally a doctor’s residence and surgery. Mark Gaston and his partner brought the 5 acre property in 1989 and have been operating the fine dining restaurant since. Mark is now seeing generations of families return to his restaurant again and again.
It’s easy to see why. The food was delicious, the setting stunning, and the company great.
I was happy to hear much of the produce came from the markets we just visited. Mark even suggested for our challenge we could possibly go to the nearby fields and pick our own mushrooms for cooking.
Our lunch companions, local journalists shared stories with us as to how produce grows abundantly in the Adelaide neighbourhoods: hedges of rosemary, overladen lemon trees, and wild olive trees.
What I loved about the restaurant was their high tea. We sampled a few different teas, my favourite being the Jasmine Dragon Eyes, a slow unfurling white tea with subtle and fresh jasmine tones.
The selection of cakes and pastries were too die for.
Toot Toot – the train is leaving Adelaide
Our final visit before flying out of Adelaide was a stop at the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide.
I am not one for this sort of thing, but if you are a train or museum nut you will love it. It’s Australia’s largest railway museum and features over 100 exhibits of trains, many of which hold the title of being the biggest and best of their times.
The museum is run completely by volunteers whose passion for trains is evident in the way they share the stories and history of trains on display.
It was only a short day stay, but I loved Adelaide.
I am super keen to return and explore more of the historical neighbourhoods and beautiful architecture and sample the amazing food.