Australia is a prime example of the destination being worth the journey and, never shy of a long-distance layover, it’s one we keep making. From North to South and East to West, there’s a whole lot of cuisine to enjoy; but when it came to narrowing it down to just one for our Tasting Notes series, we picked Southern Australia in a heartbeat. To show you why, we’ve teamed up with the matriarch of Australian home cooking and champion of local produce, Maggie Beer, to co-curate an exclusive two-week trip down under. A name on any Australian foodie’s lips and boasting a career that spans over five decades, no-one knows South Australian cuisine quite like Maggie. Follow in Maggie’s footsteps as you harvest fresh produce and learn regional cooking techniques in the Barossa Valley, shuck oysters down in Tasmania and forage through the forests of Adelaide to create a degustation dinner worthy of any hatted restaurant. For exclusive insight, Maggie will even join you at her famous Farm Shop in the heart of the Barossa, sharing with you a lifetime of passion and wisdom. Washed down with wines from some of the world’s finest vineyards, it’s a taste of Australia like never before.
A Weekend in Sydney
A lot has changed since the post-war Sydney that Maggie grew up in – but one thing remains unchanged, that this is a city best seen through the eyes (and stomach) of a local. From hip hangouts on Bondi beach to private lunches accessible only by seaplane and progressive dinners through hidden favourites and the hottest precincts, it’s easy to see how Sydney fires up culinary inspiration. Sydney wouldn’t be Sydney without the Opera House though, so see it in style with a Red Carpet experience, joining top chef Peter Gilmore for dinner at Bennelong before going on to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour and VIP tickets to the evening performance.
At the Heart of the Market
Across the border from New South Wales and into Southern Australia, Maggie’s top tip is to spend some time in Adelaide before heading down to her home in the Barossa Valley. At the heart of this cosmopolitan city, the Central Market acts as a culinary melting point with flavours from across the state, its farms and its vineyards, uncovered on a private tour. But for a truly authentic taste, we’ve arranged for you to join horticulturalist Kate Grigg on a wild foraging experience just outside the city where you will learn about etiquette and edibility before sampling your bounty in a foraged degustation dinner. Whilst in Adelaide, you’ll also visit some of Maggie’s top-rated wineries with degustation dinners at Magill Estate, private tours of the National Wine Centre and guided tasting in McLaren Vale.
A Taste of Barossa
Leaving Adelaide behind, you’ll wind your way northwards to Maggie’s home in the Barossa Valley. Famous for its vineyards, you’ll start off at one of the area’s most distinctive wineries, Seppeltsfield. Enjoy a private wine tasting experience, focusing on wines produced in your year of birth, before indulging in a gourmet lunch accompanied by one of their signature Para Tawny wines. For a different perspective of the vines, tomorrow, you’ll board a scenic flight to soar over the vineyards of Coonawarra onto Wynns Estate for a private behind the scenes tour and a visit to the working cattle farm of Mayura Station for a truly authentic ‘paddock to plate’ gourmet lunch accompanied by the best of Coonawarra’s wines. It’s not all about gourmet lunches though as we’ll also arrange for you to enjoy an early morning bushwalk before a picnic breakfast of local produce in the company of free bounding kangaroos.
From Pheasants to Farm Shops
Throughout her career, Maggie has placed huge emphasis on the importance of fresh, local produce and on a visit to her Farm Shop, you’ll taste the difference. Join Maggie’s daughter Elli for an exclusive cooking class, with Maggie hopefully dropping in to share her passion for home cooking and Barossa produce. You’ll also spend a day at a local family farm, exploring the kitchen garden and grounds and learning a number of cooking techniques championed by Maggie during her time running the Pheasant Restaurant. Depending on the season, learn how to break down game birds, how to make handmade lamb sausages or how to make seed crispbreads from a handful of grains.
Oysters and Sparkling Wine: A Perfect Match
As much as Maggie and we love Southern Australia, it’s hard to deny that Tasmania isn’t having a bit of a gourmet moment. Famous for its freshly shucked oysters and crisp sparkling wines, fly down to Hobart before enjoying a day trip out to Bruny Island where you can sample oysters alongside local cheeses and foraged berries before walking through the national park in search of white wallabies. From Hobart, you’ll then take in the stunning natural beauty of Freycinet with an exclusive wine tasting at Moorilla Winery and lunch at Source before donning a pair of waders and heading out to a working oyster farm. If you weren’t an oyster fan before this trip, you’ll soon find yourself converted – especially when washed down with a cocktail hand-muddled in Saffire Freycinet’s master mixologist masterclass.