From Central Markets to Adelaide Hills: Spend a Saturday with amazing local businesses in South Australia

COLOURFUL: Adelaide Central Market is a hive of activity four days a week. Pictures: Alex Morris
COLOURFUL: Adelaide Central Market is a hive of activity four days a week. Pictures: Alex Morris

South Australia continues to beckon tourists from the East Coast, often because of its range of food and drink on offer. But it’s the hardworking people behind the scenes that bring out all the flavours.  

South Australia has a population of more than 1.7 million, and chef and cake provedore Mark Gleeson jokes that on Saturday mornings you will find them all at the Adelaide Central Market. Established in 1869, the humming venue is full of every type of delicacy and more than 70 stalls. Always open on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the well-known foodies’ paradise has open-style sandwiches from Latvia and spirits shipped over from the nearby Kangaroo Island. 

Apples aren’t just apples at this market; there are 10 types of apples and they come from 10 different regions.

Many of the vendors are family-owned businesses. Gleeson says with each new wave of migration to Adelaide comes a new choice of cuisine at the markets. 

ARTISAN QUALITY: Fresh is best when it comes to bread.

ARTISAN QUALITY: Fresh is best when it comes to bread.

Gleeson regularly hosts market tours via his company, Food Tours Australia, where he introduces and connects visitors with local producers, highlighting products and demonstrating the importance of local foods to the community and the economy.

He knows so many people. All the suppliers stop to say ‘”G’day”. He talks about premium cheese imports to Adelaide and the current cheese revival in the city. Apparently even millennials are now making their own cheese.

And if that’s not enough cheese for you, head for the Adelaide Hills, just a 30-minute drive from the city. Not only are the Adelaide Hills home to South Australia’s oldest wineries, they also house Udder Delights, a cheese Cellar Door in Hahndorf now run by the founder’s daughter, Sheree Sullivan.

A jazz musician turned cheese maker who started making cheese in 1999. Sullivan and her husband Saul opened the factory in 2006. When they first arrived to the area it wasn’t exactly a tourist destination, but times have changed.

Late last year a Japanese company bought 90 per cent of Udder Delights, but the cellar door is a separate endeavor. The Sullivans now employ 60 people and send Udder Delights across Australia. They are particularly famous for creating the first modern raw-milk blue cheese in Australia: King Saul Raw Blue Cheese. They also offer cheese-making classes and free cheese tastings every day from their cellar door.  

“It’s about making really good cheese accessible to the masses,” Sullivan says. “I want it to be good value and easily found.”

FAMILY AFFAIR: Ambleside Distillery in the Adelaide Hills.

FAMILY AFFAIR: Ambleside Distillery in the Adelaide Hills.

If you’ve had your fill of wine, head down the road to Ambleside Distillery where a family of three are all about gin. Trudy and Steve Dickson’s son Matt was living abroad in London in the middle of the gin revival. He returned home and got his parents on board.

Enter Ambleside and you will hear classic rock ‘n’ roll music playing loudly. 

The family’s tasting bar opened in November 2017, following years of research and development. The Dicksons get their grape spirits (ethanol) from a company called Tarac in the Barossa and spend much of their time in the distillery at the back of the building.

They distill three different types of gin and $16 paired tastings are available. The Big Dry Gin is a classic dry gin style with jalapeno. The No.8 Botanical Gin showcases South Australian citrus and classic botanicals and is paired with dehydrated oranges. The Small Acre Gin has 12 ingredients including produce from their distillery garden, and during the tasting it comes with a fresh basil leaf or thyme and Granny Smith apples.  

“We’re thrilled to have picked up some national awards, and we’re building on our current gin library. [We’re] experimenting with some new recipes at the moment and will be launching those later in the year,” Trudy says.  

Flights to Adelaide are now offered direct from Newcastle on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The time is ripe to go. 

The writer was a guest of the South Australian Tourism Commission