Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 5 - Barossa Valley

Ah.. I sleep in.  How pleasant. I’m irrevocably awake by 6.30ish so get busy with doing a few reviews on Tripadvisor quietly as Hubby snores. I have a strict policy for this trip that I will not wake him up. If he’s sleeping that’s first order of business.  By after 8 oclock I’m making a lot less effort to be quiet.  We’re supposed to be heading out to the Barossa Valley with Step-mum today.  Awake at last Hubby gave her a call to check she’s feeling well enough. We clean up and pack up and hit the road. Just cereal for brekky and a slice of toast. The bacon and sausages, eggs and tomatoes remain in the fridge untouched.  It’s just how it worked out.
It is lovely weather today. Cool and clear and a slight breeze. I’m beginning to feel a bit smug about the choice of late March for this trip.  Fingers crossed the cool weather continues.  Not having been in a hurry it’s about 9.40 before we’re away.  As we near the Heysen Tunnel I realize I should have had the camera out ready.. we’ll see if I’m quick enough on the draw to get a picture of Adelaide’s only tunnels.
Not long after we’re coming down a hill and find a large and attractive water feature at a major intersection. It appears to have been constructed to beautify an otherwise unsightly sound protection wall around a housing (?) development.  Nice one.
There’s so much to enjoy along the hour long drive out to Paralowie. Fullarton Road presents us with long avenues of beautiful mature native trees.  These beautiful trees are the first glory of Adelaide. Everywhere we go there are flowering eucalypts of various sorts, and the birds appreciate it. Flowering mallee, mugga ironbark with their beautiful pink blossoms.  Pretty soon we are remarking our appreciation of the wonderful heritage grand stand at Victoria Park.  We missed the entrance to the ample parking on the eastern side of the ground and on the western side there’s absolutely nowhere to park, so I have to settle for memories rather than illustrations, but what a treasure.  Oh well I guess we’re in a bit of a hurry now anyway. 
The Heritage beauties continue along East Terrace.  The abundance of heritage buildings is the other glory of Adelaide.  I guess it’s a mixed blessing but in one sense Adelaide is lucky not to have grown in the way that Sydney and Melbourne have done. Once upon a time these cities too would have had buildings of this sort, but they've been removed in favour of high rise development, creating cities of quite a different character.
With our wits about us we identify the impressive building we photographed the other day – it is the National Wine Centre. The russet ribs and modern design look perfect with the native trees around. It’s a building that looks comfortable in its landscape.  Why is it that buildings related to the wine industry are so well done 99% of the time. Is it the money in the industry as a whole? I guess so, but there’s a spirit about them. Perhaps a connectedness to the land and the landscape.  At any rate we pass by full of admiration for a beautiful modern structure.
Closer on to our interim destination we pull up at the lights and Hubby points out the playground in Jarvis Ford. That’s a thoughtful touch. A good idea on a big road like this. You wouldn't want to get distracted and have the kids run out onto the road.  Hey… look at that.  There’s a tiny little car in the most prominent position on the lot. It’s a very ordinary looking car.. and I mean that in the Aussie sense, meaning not real great. Perhaps it’s even 2nd hand by the style of it. Across the windscreen it has a huge banner. $29,888. That’s a lot of money for a tiny, and dare I say dull looking, car. We can’t quite see the maker’s badge on the bonnet.  What on earth can it be? We toy with digging out the binoculars but the lights change and we’re off.. I tell you what that car would need to go like the clappers to be worth that sort of money.
The Main North Road has a treat in store. A special pressie for me.  Oh how I love those mallees with the shiny brown bark. Every time I venture into areas where these trees grow I never stop marvelling at their glossy beauty.  I don’t really get why you don’t see more of them in people’s gardens. They are just gorgeous. They can never replace the Sydney Red Gum in my heart, but by golly they come close.
We pull up at Step-mum’s and she’s all ready to go. Coming out to get in the car before we’re even out of the car.  We’ve been looking forward to this day.  First stop Nuriootpa, just a quick spin and we head across to Angaston to see where Step-mum grew up. Her childhood home is currently for sale, and has been operating as the accommodation cottage, Precious Memories.  
We circle in a rather shark like fashion prowling for photo opportunities. We’d always meant to stay there one day, but it looks like the opportunity has passed.  Like Warrawong Sanctuary. We mucked around too long on that one too and missed it by just a few weeks. Oh well. You can’t do everything. It’s our plan to eat in Angaston but it’s early still so we just wander about fairly aimlessly, noting the schools and hearing stories about family and friends. Or the time that Step-mum ran into a bull on the way to school. Gawler Park Road was dirt in those days. Back in Angaston the interesting blue heritage plaques on the buildings provide helpful memory joggers for Step-mum as she tells us about her youth and first places of employment. 
So where shall we eat? A large venue across the road is making some extravagant claims. Best Pizza in Australia no less.  Step-mum backs them up… that’s true, they won competitions and everything.  Really?  This seems like something we should look at more closely.  It looks busy too. That’s a good sign. We decide to head on over.  It’s quite exxy by the looks. Ah, what the heck. We’ll make this the main meal today.  A young woman who just oozes efficiency and wears a label informing us that she is a “responsible person”, shows us to our table and explains the ordering system. We go and order at the counter when we've made our choice.  Hubby, who has been craving schnitzel of some sort for days now, goes for the Chicken Breast Schnitzel served with chips and topped with 40’s Deluxe grilled topping: tomato concasse, bacon, avocado, sun dried tomato, grilled cheese, herbs and cracked pepper $25.  This is to be washed down by a chocolate thick shake $5.50. 
I’ve been drawn in by the award winning pizza so I decide to go for the most awarded one on the menu. The Smokey. 9” for $24 It consists of thin based pizza with tomato sauce, cheese, mettwurst, Lachsschinken (don’t ask me what that is!), shallots, smoked feta, Schultz Butcher (a local icon) Mallee Gum Smoked Pork Belly and smoked chicken. This pizza won best gourmet smallgoods pizza in South Australia in 2008 & 2009 also Winner of best pizza in Australia in 2008 & 2009. I decide to reward them for including Spiders on the menu by ordering a raspberry one -$6.50.  
Step-mum goes for the Salt and Pepper Squid served on a light rocket and parmesan salad drizzled with garlic aioli.
Our drinks and meals arrive in a reasonable time and they look sensational. Smell sensational too. Both delicious. The pizza, as you can imagine given the description, is quite rich and strongly flavoured. It needs a nice salad or something to refresh the palette so I am glad we decided to share things.  The Chicken schnitzel is lovely and the chips are great.  You’d think that chips should be something that’s easy to get right, but they really aren't.  These ones at the Roaring 40s Café are really rather superior. All in all it’s a very satisfying meal, though not cheap. I can’t see us needing too much for dinner tonight.  I am slightly puzzled by the blue lights under the floor as we leave. What are they for?  Just decor?  Hmm. That's different.
We do a little more moseying up the street and walk back down past the Sunrise Bakery. 
We wander in to see what’s on offer, though I don’t recall being overly impressed with this lot last time I was here.  Hubby opts for another Kitchener bun along with a vanilla slice.  Pink icing on the vanilla slice. Hmmm. Why is it I feel that this is not a good sign?  We are off and head a little further along the road. Oh, that’s right D & M’s Café Bakery claims that they have the BEST vanilla slice in the Barossa Valley.  That’s too good a challenge for Hubby to pass on by. In we go. He claims a sample while I head outside to take care of provenance. 
We wander back to the car and stow our treasures in the chilled compartment of the car. These new Camry’s have the centre console chilled by the air conditioning, a feature I can only imagine will become highly sought after… though the automatic locking us into the car all the time is giving us the shits in a fairly major way…. But I digress.
Where to now? We do some more fairly aimless wandering. Over to Greenock, through Seppeltsfield, down dirt roads, round in circles, this way and that admiring the scenery and not really doing it justice on the photograph front, but then we’re not really trying very hard today.
Eventually as the driver starts to show symptons of needing a stop revive survive, we pass the sign for the turn off to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop and I suddenly think with my best Homer Simpson subconscious voice…. Mmmm Rosemary and verjuice biscuits… mmmm  I snap out of this trancelike meditation quickly in order to instruct my driver to turn around. To Maggie Beer’s it is.
We wander down Pheasant Farm Lane and park. It’s not very busy and I excitedly wander in. The carpark gives no indication of the lovely setting out on the verandah overlooking what I must call the turtle lake.  I wander through the sample room tryng this and that resisting temptation for multiple purchases due to luggage weight.  Gosh it’s a pain in the bottom not having our own car here so we can just drive our trophies home. Everywhere we go its not “how much does it cost” but “how much does it weigh?” Never mind. Hubby is busily ordering a coffee and I opt for a freshly pressed pear and apple juice.  Hubby pranks me from my Raspberry and Pomegranite jam reverie when our beverages arrive. I have to tell you honestly that sitting in the cool shade overlooking the green lake as a gentle breeze caresses is far from unpleasant. 
Hubby pronounces his coffee is “lovely” and my juice is not bad. Not quite as delicious as the similar item I had at the Appleseed Café in Strath though.
The turtles in the lake are an inspiration. Hubby and Step-mum contemplate the superior aspects of a turtle’s existence here and find that it really seems to have some advantages over the human approach. Generally speaking they move through the water in a rather chilled out way. Never mind using two feet to paddle, surely the occasional swipe with one leg is ample to get you going, and really, where is there to go? All that’s necessary is to loiter here with your friends awaiting the inevitable generosity of the humans above. expectant noses protruding above the water.  Clearly, romance is an active part of a turtle’s life. Plenty of partners to choose from here and the numbers in this colony and range of sizes seem to confirm that the circle of life is not confined to Disney movies.
As the music swells, I leave my companions to their green eyed contemplation and head on in to acquire said Rosemary and Verjuice biscuits.  Hubby catches up and has an agenda of his own. Maggie Beer ice cream anyone?  I resist. We still have the indulgences in the car to get through yet.  Well… I resist for a few moments. Hubby has selected Vanilla Bean and Elderflower and the Strawberries and Cream.  The sight of the pack lets loose a demon I thought I had caged some time ago…. The voice takes control…. Mmmmm Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice cream…..mmmm..  Meanwhile, Step-mum has succumbed to some pate which the staff are helpfully wrapping in ice for the journey. .. Not to be distracted I call for directions. … “Hubby? Where did you get the ice cream?” Sure enough there is twice as much space allocated in the freezer to the burnt fig variety… oh how does that not surprise me. That stuff should come with a warning. Sigh. Thank god the portions are quite small.
After a brief session of turning this way and that Step-mum directs us home via lovely Tanunda, and as if today has not been gratifying enough we pass once more the beautiful mallee trees. It’s just as well we are leaving Adelaide in the morning. Much longer and I am in serious danger of becoming a mallee bark bore.
Home once more, and yes, past avenues of pink flowering Mugga Ironbark with their black fissured trunks and grey leaves, the trilling screeches of lorikeets abroad on the air, my unpacking of the luggage is delayed by my admiration of some musk lorikeets feeding on the blossoms above our heads. 
I decide to strike decisively and get the chores out of the way, repacking my gear to put the dessert set in my hand luggage. That done I join Hubby and Step-mum outside where it is clear that sampling of Kitchener bun has commenced. My portion is waiting unloved on the table. I can see from the dissection that this is not to the standard of Otto’s in Hahndorf, but it is OK.  Now, I extract a vanilla slice and cut it in three.  Stop. Not that one. Instructs hubby. Do the other one first.  You’ve cut the “BEST” one.  I repeat my surgical skills on the pink iced article. I bravely go first. … chew… chew… oooh yuck. This is NOT good. Where can I dispose of this monstrosity? I wander down to the ant colony down the pack. Pressie fellas! I return.  Never buy a vanilla slice with pink icing.  This I somehow knew.  So. How about this next one. To be honest I already have a pretty good idea that the claims of its creators are not ill-founded. On slicing, the pastry was tender and the custard light and fluffy.  Mmm. Yep. May I suggest to all that if you’re after a truly superior vanilla slice, you will go a long way before you get a better one than those they peddle at D & M Café in Angaston… or Otto’s in Hahndorf.  They are almost identical actually.
I round off my health conscious dinner with some left over grapes.  Which brings me to my grumpy old woman issue.  Why are sultana grapes so hard to find in Sydney but virtually every stall at the Adelaide Central Markets seems to know they are twice as good as any other grape??? Huh?? Huh?? What’s going on with that? I can only hope and pray that my local greengrocer never gets taken over by someone who does not understand this essential grape fact.
With that we settle down to a quiet evening of what must be my favourite TV show. Who Do You Think You Are? Journalling is also an essential task this evening as we have an early start tomorrow. 

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