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Monday 28 December 2015

A beginners' guide to the gourmet highlights of Adelaide

Adelaide is often criminally underrated as a gourmet holiday destination.

With the Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek and Kangaroo Island on its doorstep, Australia's fifth-largest city and the capital of South Australia has all manner of gourmet goodies nearby.

The regions surrounding Adelaide are full of artisan producers, winemakers, fishermen and market gardeners, many of whom sell their produce at either the famous Adelaide Central Markets (above) or at the Adelaide Farmers' Market, held every Sunday morning at the Showgrounds in the suburb of Wayville.

The Central Markets date back to 1870 and are a treasure trove of cheeses, smallgoods and fresh fruit and vegetables. Rebuilt after a fire in 1977, the Central Markets are billed as the largest undercover market in the southern hemisphere.

There are over 80 stalls and the market is South Australia’s most-visited tourist attraction. Here you will find everything from house-made patisserie goods to freshly-caught local seafood.

The Farmers' Market features regular cooking demonstrations and is divided into indoor and outdoor sections selling seasonal and local specialities.

Adelaide has a reputation as a staid, conservative city compared to Sydney or Melbourne, but its food scene is anything but sedate.

Henschke Hill of Grace restaurant at Adelaide Oval 
One of Australia's leading food magazines recently named it as “our new hottest city” when it comes to eating out.

Leading the way are innovative chefs Jock Zonfrillo from Orana, who uses indigenous ingredients in modern Australian dishes, and South African-born Duncan Welgemoed, who serves up cutting-edge cuisine with an African accent at Africola.

Throw in Press Food + Wine and its adjacent late-night wine bar, Proof, sophisticated Peel Street and several hole-in-the-wall wine bars like Cantina Sociale and Adelaide is buzzing. Unfussy and popular with winemakers late at night, Sean Connolly's remake of his Sydney success Sean's Kitchen (below) is a brasserie-style eatery noteworthy for its buzzy atmosphere and superb charcuterie.

Chef Jamie Oliver's Adelaide outpost Jamie's Kitchen is always busy, as is Italian-accented Andre's Cucina, while the most popular food precincts are rough-around-the-edges Rundle Street, old favourite Gouger Street, a lively Chinatown and new hotspot Leigh Street.

Visitors don't need to leave the city for authentic wine and food experiences, either, with Henschke Wines having opened their up-market Hill of Grace restaurant [named after their iconic shiraz] in the recently remodelled Adelaide Oval.

Penfolds, too, is in on the act, having spent 18 months building its Magill Estate Kitchen restaurant and cellar door, which actually overlooks grape vines, in suburban Magill. Here, as in the more formal Magill Estate restaurant (below), diners can enjoy Penfolds benchmark Grange by the glass.

Just down the road, arguably the closest vineyard region to any major city in Australia, the Adelaide Hills are home to winery restaurants including Bridgewater Mill and The Lane (check out the panoramic vineyard views), as well as dozens of cellar doors ranging from brash to rustic.

Unlike other urban areas, Adelaide was settled exclusively by free British colonists, not convicts, so when the city was planned in 1837, its founders didn’t bother to set aside space or resources for a jail, reasoning it wouldn’t be necessary.

More practically, Adelaide, which is known as “the city of churches” for its many spires, was designed on a grid system so it is almost impossible to get lost. There are five city squares and the downtown core is surrounded by parkland and bordered to the north by the River Torrens.

Today Adelaide is a city of infinite variety, hosting sporting events including the Clipsal 500 motor race, AFL matches most weekends and a Test cricket match every summer since 1884. Adelaide and surrounding areas also host the annual Tour Down Under cycling race.

The locals don't miss out when it comes to culture, either, with the city the venue for the annual Adelaide Festival of Arts and Fringe Festival as well as WOMADelaide, an annual celebration of music and dance from around the globe.

For those who fancy a stroll, the North Terrace precinct houses the Art Gallery of South Australia, the South Australian Museum, the Botanic Gardens, the National Wine Centre and the South Australian Parliament House, all of which are close together and just a brisk walk from the main shopping strip on Rundle Mall.

Just 12 kilometres from the city – a quick ride away on one of the city's signature trams – is Glenelg Beach, a weekend playground for city residents. It has an English seaside resort vibe and is perfect for a swim to work off any kilos you might have piled on.

# This is an edited version of a story that first appeared in Quest Kudos magazine. 

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