Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Barossa Valley

Well there’s been a lot going on recently and my blog backlog has reached unprecedented heights and seems a bit overwhelming at the moment. But, you have to start somewhere….

And I think an excellent place to start is with my trip to the Barossa. We in Adelaide are lucky to have such a region basically in our backyard. The area is packed full of some of the best (and most picturesque) vineyards in Australia along with unique local foods that draw on the area’s strong European heritage.

The trip began with a visit to Tanunda Apex Bakery. Their wood-fired oven apparently holds the record as Australia’s longest continuously fired oven. We learned all about the mechanics of the thing but I must admit that my attention was somewhat diverted by the aroma of the meat and veggie pies and pasties slowly browning in its depths.

Next stop was to Wiech’s Noodles, also in Tanunda. They use traditional methods to make egg noodles just like those made in Ohio’s Amish country. Boy, I felt right at home!

They get creative by adding chilies and cracked black pepper and other fashion-forward goodies to their noodles, and have recently introduced an organic line. Not sure if the Amish have expanded their noodle tradition as much? This was right before lunch and Meagan and I were fully prepared to pilfer the drying racks to quiet our growling tummies (too bad raw egg noodles taste like cardboard, only crunchier).

My growling tummy may have something to do with the fact that I purchased enough egg noodles to feed a large, hungry Amish community that just finished a long and arduous day of barn-raising. Considering I cook for one every night, yep, these will last me at least until I complete my dissertation next May.

Grumpy hungry Cari was on the verge of emerging. We arrived in the nick of time to the cellar door of Peter Lehmann Wines, our lunch spot, where a lunch of traditional Barossa foods awaited us.

A local smorgasbord of smoked meats, pickles, olives, almonds, chutneys, cheeses, breads and crackers.

Our bellies sufficiently full, we headed to Linke’s Central Meat Store in Nuriootpa to get the scoop on how exactly the smoked meats on our lunch platter achieved their smoky perfection.

We headed to the on-premise smokehouse just as a batch of sausages was about to be entombed for a few hours.

Although my belly was full from lunch, I just couldn’t resist the brawn, lachschinken, jaegerbraten, sauerkraut and bratwurst. But, more on that later!

Next it was off to Angaston to visit Gully Gardens fruit farm and learn about their production of dried fruits.

The farm has been in the family for awhile and it was such a treat meeting the next generation of Gully girls.

Rick Steicke, owner of the Gardens, spotted some sultanas on the vine….

… and we enjoyed our dessert fresh from the vine among the fruit trees on a perfect day.

Such a beautiful setting. MooooooooooOOOOOOOOO.

Meagan and I walked away with some dried pears and peaches, and it was back to Adelaide for the crew.

You might think the day ended here, but that’s really when the fun began! I had a bag full of smoked meat and sauerkraut and noodles and dried fruit – how could I sleep with all that excitement at my fingertips?! Dinner that night was a true Germanic feast.

I whipped up a mini choucroute with sauerkraut and bratwurst and nestled in the jaegerbraten at the end for a quick steam so it remained moist and tender. Served it up with a potato and onion fry, pickles, and a Coopers sparkling ale.

Lunch the following day was brawn and lachschinken, with a homemade fig and almond jam, mustard, and one of Jackie’s decadent fried eggs.

Maybe Phil and I can plan a move to Germany once we finish our programs. I wouldn’t mind eating like this every day.

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