With exclusive access to the best produce and most spectacular locations in the state, Tasting Australia’s program is full of genuine once in a lifetime events. But a place at the table when the Henschke’s new Hill Of Grace is launched and all-day feasts in Coffin Bay or Kangaroo Island come with a hefty price tag. Fortunately, this year festival director Simon Bryant has helped pull together a program that is “more inclusive, accessible and affordable than ever before” with a range of more budget-friendly offerings. Here are some of the best events that clock in at under $100.
The Festival of Sausage In Bread
Free to attend and promising “student-friendly prices”, this tongue-in-cheek event at Adelaide University will feature different versions of the humble sausage in bread from around the world. Former Tasting Australia event manager Ross Ganf is sourcing 10 styles of sausage from McLaren Vale's Ellis butchery (“for my money, probably the best butcher in the state”, he says) each with its own bread, condiments and cooking style. Think chorizo-like choripan cooked over coals and served in Italian-style bread, German sausages lathered in sauerkraut, and spicy South African boerewors. Then wash your choice down with a beer from the Unibar or a splash of Notwasted's juicy Sausage In Bread red blend.
Free Entry, cheap snags
May 7, 11am–2pm & 5pm–8pm
The Penfolds Grange Sandwich
As the home of Australia’s most famous wine, Penfolds Magill Estate offers plenty of experiences for the “money is no object” crowd. But this cheeky little number means it’s still possible to visit Grange ground zero without completely breaking the bank. The hero of the pairing – available at lunchtimes at Magill Estate Kitchen for the duration of the festival – is a glass of Penfolds Grange, which is accompanied by a baguette layered with rich cheese sauce, mustard, pickles and smoked wagyu from the Limestone coast with a pot of beef bone jus to dip it in.
April 30 to May 8, 12pm–1.30pm
Ragini’s “I Hate Curry”
With more than a billion people, India is home to a broad range of culinary traditions that reflect its rich cultural diversity. And yet many Australians have barely ventured beyond the tomato-based curries of the country’s north. That’s why Ragini Dey (Ragi's Spicery, Naancho Naancho Man) is determined to show off as many styles of Indian food as she can in this five-course lunch where the uniting factor is the complex interplay of spice and flavour. Expect street food from the tandoor, crispy dhosas (south Indian crepes made from fermented rice and lentil) and rice-based dishes cooked with coarse spices, among plenty of other offerings.
May 9, 12pm–3.30pm
Vegan Night Out
Affordability is far from the only reason to choose veganism, but cutting animal products out of your diet can be great for your budget. Unless you’re eating out, that is, when plant-based mains often cost almost as much as animal-based proteins. Not so at this event at the Mawson Lakes Hotel, which keeps things very affordable with three courses for $45, including a glass of local wine (vegan, of course) poured by the winemaker.
April 30 to May 1, 7pm–9.30pm
Monday Steak Out
If, on the other hand, you think no meal is complete without a thick slab of meat, this is the event for you. Protein will be the undeniable star when acclaimed interstate chefs including Morgan McGlone (Belle’s Hot Chicken) and Alanna Sapwell take over North Adelaide’s Oxford Hotel with the goal of elevating the traditional pub counter meal. That means perfectly cooked steaks using rare cuts and heritage breeds, with a drink on arrival (and a vegetarian option).
May 3, 5pm–6:30pm, 7pm–8.30pm & 9pm–10.30pm
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh
Anyone who’s visited Vietnam will attest to the country’s geographical diversity, from the humid Mekong delta to the mist-wrapped mountains of the north. Unsurprisingly the cuisine is just as varied, from sweet and spicy southern dishes bearing the influence of Chinese, Cambodian and Thai traditions to comfort food from the colder north, where classics like pho and bun cha originate. Add in the influence of French cuisine over the last few centuries and you have a rich fusion that provides ample ground for exploration at this shared feast at Madame Hanoi, which will traverse the length and breadth of Vietnamese cuisine.
May 6, 6pm–9pm
Pinchos at Stem
Visitors to west-end bar Udaberri have long been familiar with the concept of pinchos (or pintxos). But one tradition we can’t replicate here is the custom of wandering from bar to bar in San Sebastian and trying different versions of the Basque share plates. This event brings us one step closer to that goal, with bite-sized snacks and wines from across northern Spain at Stem, just a few minutes’ walk down Hindley Street.
April 30, 3pm–8pm