Tasting Australia is back and bigger than ever. This year it spans 10 days, 12 regions and more than 160 events.
The hottest-ticket events are the Glasshouse Kitchen dinners, but they can be pricey. A bit light-on after festival season? We’ve scoped out some wallet-friendly ways to get among the revelry. There’s an unscripted pizza party, a fancy ode to the schnitty, and a wine-tasting arvo at a lesser-known region – all for less than $50. Or you can stop into Town Square to snack on small plates from 14 open-air vendors. Entry is free.
In the middle ground, Pizzateca is a hosting a pizza-less feast, and there’s a long lunch in the Salopian Kitchen Garden (where you can put your green thumb to good use). Feeling bougie? Let your imagination run wild at a Surrealist Ball or jet set to regional SA on Tasting Australia Airlines.
Whatever your budget, get booking. There’s still time.
There’s something about Kuitpo (pronounced ky-poh). The Adelaide Hills sub-region – studded with vineyards and a towering forest – doesn’t get as much press as the state’s more established wine regions. But here’s your chance to get to know it without breaking the bank. More than a dozen of the area’s winemakers will band together for this wine market, serving more than 50 drops by the glass and bottle. Taste classic chardonnay and cool-climate syrah alongside emerging varietals such as fiano, fume blanc and gruner veltliner. There’ll be food by Sunny’s Pizza, Osteria Oggi and Udaberri; music by local talent DJ Surahn “Sid Who” Sidhu; and masterclasses with wine writer Katie Spain.
Fox Gordon, Kuitpo
April 7, 12pm
$20 ($35 with return bus transfers from city)
Here, chefs who have made their names on dishes far more intricate take on the humble schnitty. And, suitably, it’s at The Stag Public House. There’ll be a traditional, cranberry-sauce-adjacent veal version by Austrian chef Philip Rachinger (Restaurant Muhltalhof) and Panko-crumbed pork loin with hot mango sauce by Paul Carmichael (Momofuku Seiobo). Plus zhooshed-up interpretations by local chefs Jessie Spiby (My Grandma Ben), Poh Ling Yeow (Jamface), Matt Eustis (Charlick’s) and artisan producer Saskia Beer. Here’s the full menu. Chase them down with a flight of locally brewed beer.
The Stag Public House
April 8, from 5.30pm
Watch some of the world’s best chefs let their hair down – and toss a few pizzas – at this unscripted pizza party. International guests Garima Arora (Gaa, Bangkok) and Antonia Klugmann (L'Argine a Venco, Italy) will join Karena Armstrong (The Salopian Inn) and Adam Liston (Shobosho) in the Sunny’s Pizza kitchen for a completely off-the-cuff, one-night-only event. Things are bound to get rowdy. Tickets includes entry and one drink.
April 9, from 5pm
Nick Stock is Tasting Australia’s first-ever beverage director, and he says the festival’s drinks component has evolved further than ever this year. “We no longer just think about wine as something that ‘goes with food’. Drinks have their own stories and own identities too.” At the East End Cellars masterclasses you’ll meet some of our most talented young winemakers (Vanguardist, Koerner and Charlotte Dalton at Freshest of the Bunch), learn how to wine-taste like a pro at One-Hour Wine School, and sample eight of Japan’s rarest sakes at Sake Samurai guided by award-winning somm Tim Watkins (Automata, Sydney).
Town Square, Victoria Square
Ever wondered what would be left in Pizzateca’s arsenal if the pizza was taken away? It’s time to find out. The Mitolo family is hosting a five-course long lunch that leans on its Abruzzese heritage – with no “Oztalian” pies in sight. As usual, wines from V. Mitolo & Son will be flowing.
April 12, 12pm
Fancy yourself as a bit of a green thumb? At this shared lunch in the Salopian Kitchen Garden you’re encouraged to help the gardener harvest what you’ll be eating. Or you can sit back – drink in hand. Either way, chef Karena Armstrong will serve a year of the kitchen garden on a plate. It’s something of a seasonal walkthrough: there’ll be tomatoes preserved from summer, and fermented root vegetables from winter. Your meal will be matched with wine and gin hand-picked by sommelier Alex Marchetti.
Salopian Kitchen Garden, McLaren Vale
April 7, 12pm
My Kingdom for a Horse chef and coffee roaster Emily Raven has recruited “queen of spice” Jackie Singh, from Rubyspice World Spice Emporium, for a fragrant four-course feast for the senses. Beer and wine by new neighbour Sparkke will be paired with each course. My Kingdom for a Horse will supply the coffee.
My Kingdom for a Horse
April 11, 6.30pm
A glass-walled pop-up restaurant in Victoria Square is striking, yes. But what goes on inside is world class: Michelin-starred international chefs working beside our country’s best to create unforgettable dining experiences worth the hefty ticket price. Wild, on Saturday April 13, will feature four boundary-pushing courses that don’t fit neatly into any one cuisine or category. It’s headlined by industry legend Alex Atala (DOM, Brazil) with O Tama Carey (Lankan Filling Station, Sydney), Karena Armstrong and Oliver Edwards (The Summertown Aristologist). The next night there’s a Sunday roast, but not as you know it, lead by Manoella Buffara (Manu, Brazil).
Glasshouse Kitchen, Victoria Square
When dressing for the 1972 Rothschild Surrealist Ball distinguished guests such as Salvador Dali and Audrey Hepburn let their imaginations run wild. Now you can, too, at this truly bougie homage hosted by the mind-bending d’Arenberg Cube. It’s black tie, but that’s no limitation. Guests are encouraged to add something weird and wonderful. There’ll be premium wine, cocktails and expectedly out-of-the-box canapés from the Cube restaurant. Digital projections will illuminate the structure’s glass exterior.
d’Arenberg Cube, McLaren Vale
April 6, 7pm
$290 ($325 with return bus transfers from city)
A festival with its own airline. Crazy stuff. Tasting Australia Airlines takes flight again this year with a series of daytrips to regional South Australia. If you’ve got some cash to splash there’ll be lunch (with a killer view) on Kangaroo Island at Sunset Food & Wine and a gin stop at KI Spirits. At Mayura Station you’ll taste buttery, award-winning Wagyu beef with Cheong Liew, and in the Barossa Valley you’ll drop in on Hutton Vale Farm. Or go all-out with a two-day Flinders Ranges trip – stay in an eco villa and dine at the Woolshed Restaurant, on a sheep station, where you’ll sample lamb reared on the property.
Barossa Valley, Kangaroo Island, Mayura Station, Flinders Ranges
April 6, 7, 9 & 13
Tasting Australia runs from April 5 to 14. Tickets are available online.