In its second annual outing it’s fair to say Tasting Australia has evolved into the country’s most prodigious food and wine festival. I mean, what other event has its own airline?
The culinary jamboree is bigger than ever this year with 140 events across 10 days and 11 regions. Some hit the top end of the price spectrum, but if you can’t fork out for a chartered flight, or a Glasshouse Kitchen dinner, there’s free entry to Town Square, where you can get your hands on charred, wood-fired, flame-grilled and smoked dishes from a host of outdoor vendors; or have a pizza party at Sunny’s where some of the country’s top talent will sling seriously levelled-up pies. There’s also plenty in between – and it’s not too late to book. Here’s the cream of the (remaining) crop.
These hot-ticket dinners in Tasting Australia’s showpiece glass-walled pop-up restaurant are a rare chance to sample dishes from the best in the world: from World’s 50 Best Restaurant alumni and Michelin-starred chefs to locals lifting the game on home ground. Head along to Seed & Soil, where festival director Simon Bryant, Italy’s 2017 Pastry Chef of the Year Andrea Tortora, Paul West (River Cottage Australia) and Adelaide’s vegan queen Jyoti Bindu (Pollen 185) will champion vegies, pulses and grains. Or go Naturale with Brooklyn maverick Carlo Mirarchi (Roberta’s, Blanca’s), acclaimed Melbourne chef Dave Verheul (Embla) and more who’ll put produce front and centre.
Glasshouse Kitchen, Victoria Square
New Moon Orchard Party
Welcome in the new moon at Surahn and Jessica Sidhu’s picturesque almond orchard Papershell Farm, the setting for an Indian and Malay curry banquet featuring family recipes made with produce plucked straight from the property. “There’s chillis, artichokes, potatoes ... you name it,” Sidhu told Broadsheet last year. Expect an “intimate journey through wine and spices” set against a backdrop of rolling vineyards. But get in quick, there are only a handful of spots left.
Papershell Farm, Willunga South
April 15, 12pm
If a decent chunk of the program sits above your price range, here’s your entry point. Four of the country’s top chefs – Jock Zonfrillo (Restaurant Orana), Aaron Turner (Igni), Benjamin Cooper (Chin Chin) and Somer Sivrioglu (Efendy) – will take over the Sunny’s Pizza kitchen for an unscripted culinary blowout. “We’re all good mates, we’re all competent chefs and none of us know how to make a pizza,” Zonfrillo told Broadsheet last month. With a repertoire spanning modern Australian, Turkish and Thai cooking you can expect some seriously elevated cross-cultural pies. It’s walk-ins only, so get there early to secure a table.
Free entry, pizzas from $20
Spirit Awards Party
Tasting Australia’s inaugural Spirit Awards are a timely addition to the state’s distilling boom. An expert judging panel, led by festival ambassador Nick Stock and the godfather of Australian whisky Bill Lark, will recognise the best in the game on April 19. The $60 entry includes a cocktail, eight tastings of your choice from more than 160 spirits, and share platters. The awards will be followed by a series of simultaneous bar takeovers across the city, where guests can taste the top drops and meet the makers.
Town Square, Victoria Square
April 19, 6pm
Fresh Wine Disco
If the winning combo of wild wines and Mary’s burgers against a soundtrack of disco beats wasn’t enough for you last year, enter The Manor. The free-flowing tasting party has moved to the newly renovated Basket Range castle in the heartland of Australia’s natty wine movement. Expect fresh juice from this year’s vintage siphoned straight from the demijohn, just weeks after harvest, from 30 maverick makers. The Mary’s crew will be back, this time joined by local food truck, Tacocat.
The Manor Basket Range
April 21, 4pm
East End Cellars Masterclasses
If you’ve always wanted to date a winemaker then here’s your chance. East End Cellars will host a speed-dating event to help you find the drop for you. Meet the makers behind Koerner Wine, Worlds Apart, Murdoch Hill, Charlotte Dalton, Delinquente Wine Co, The Stoke and more, sample their wares and go home with a bottle that’s matched to your tastes. Or get into the nitty gritty of Japanese rice wine at a sake masterclass hosted by ex-Sydney somm’ Matt Young. If you feel ready to test your knowledge get to Tinnies, Trivia and Tasty Things, which does what it says on the box: a quiz night with pizza, jerky and canned beer to boot.
Town Square, Victoria Square
Forage, Feast and Ferment Adventure Tour
It’s all there in the name. Forage for wild edibles then sit down to a rustic three-course lunch in an Adelaide Hills farm shed at Forest, Feast and Ferment. You’ll be transported by bus to a secret location where you’ll forage for mushrooms, learn about the Indigenous and European history of the area and meet renowned natural winemakers Anton von Klopper and Tom Shobbrook (and enjoy a few of their drops) over an intimate shared meal.
Secret Location, Adelaide Hills
April 15, 10am–5pm
$159 (including bus transfers from city)
Tasting Australia Airlines
Escape the city with the inaugural Tasting Australia Airlines: an all-inclusive ticket to some of SA’s premium food regions. Slurp oysters plucked fresh from the drink in Coffin Bay, sample the best of Kangaroo Island produce and local gin, or visit the home of Wagyu beef at Mayura Station and sit down to lunch prepared by Adelaide food royalty Cheong Liew. These all-day affairs will be an unrivaled experience this festival. Tickets sold out quickly but more have been released. Don’t walk, run. Then fly.
Kangaroo Island, Coffin Bay, Mayura Station
April 13, 14, 20 & 22
Lamb Tasting Dinner
Hit the road and head north for a dinner at sunset overlooking the iconic Wilpena Pound. The Woolshed Restaurant sits on a 12,000-hectare merino/dohne sheep station; it’s signature Lamb Tasting Platter is a showcase of the lamb raised on the property. Chefs will serve three cuts of lamb prepared three ways, matched with wines from the neighbouring Clare Valley. Finish with South Australian cheeses and hand-made chocolates. Tip: splash out and book a night in one of the eco-villas on the property.
Woolshed Restaurant, Wilpena
April 16 and 18, 6.30pm
Tasting Australia runs from April 13 to 22. Tickets are available online