Our first full day was spent on a tour with Danny at “Bums on Seats.” We headed off at 9:30am with a drive around the city to orient ourselves to where all the big sites are. We then headed up to the Adelaide Hills with our first target of Mount Lofty in sight. From the lookout you can see right across to the other peninsula, and the perfectly formed square of the city of Adelaide, marked out clearly by the green parklands of its perimeter. We were surrounded by exultant, if tired, bike riders in all shapes, sizes, ages and colours of lycra.
Hahndorf was calling, so off we set. Hahndorf is the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia, and a popular tourist destination. Very glad that we visited on a Thursday – the cute main street was busy enough without the 5 kilometre traffic jam described by the café owner that happens on weekends and public holidays! We strolled to Café Assiette where Danny said we’d find the best coffee. Not being a coffee drinker, my focus was instead on the hot chocolate – and it was mighty fine! (The server told me it was ‘Mahalia Lush Drinking Chocolate’ – he has given me another mission!). I think that the staff of this place must get some stroppy and impatient customers – our server kept apologising for the delay with our order, but we really only waited about 15 minutes (and with one person on kitchen duty and one person taking orders AND making the coffees, I thought that wasn’t doing too badly).
We wandered the picturesque street admiring the golden sandstone cottages, but weren’t drawn into the many craft shops. We didn’t, however, even try to resist the lure of ‘Farmgate Providore’, with its tantalising macaroons and hand made chocolates calling with their sweet siren tones. A box of 12 colourful pretties was selected (with another one to snack on immediately) and we headed off again. I was very glad at this point that I hadn’t succumbed to the enticement of the homemade apple strudel at the café – one exquisite peanut and chocolate macaroon to savour was definitely the better choice, with much more ‘bang for our buck’ (and those in our party who indulged in the Devonshire scones are just amateurs!). (Farmgate Providores)
Crossing the street we rode on the momentum of our first food purchase and walked directly into ‘Udder Delights’ – cheese lovers heaven (AND they specialised in goat’s cheese)! We enjoyed the cheeses on offer for tasting and made a selection of 3 to buy for our planned ‘snacks only’ dinner – to be accompanied by something red and fabulous bought at a winery we were yet to visit! (Udder Delights)
We boarded our minibus (that only had to carry 4 adults and 1 guide dog!) and drove through some gorgeous and lush country side to McLaren Vale, where our driver had called ahead to ‘Vasarelli’s Restaurant’ to reserve us a table. We partook of a delicious dish that was a sublime combo of chargrilled and steamed vegetables in garlic, a traditional caprese salad with a twist (baby capers thrown into the mix), and some fabulous saffron and vegetable arancini balls in a fresh tomato sauce. The others had veal medallions, pan-fried and topped with prosciutto, sage and provolone cheese, with cannellini beans, wild spinach and potatoes. Even though we often say ‘no’ to desserts in our ‘real’ lives, we gave in to temptation and wallowed in a self-saucing chocolate pudding – too, too delish! (Vasarelli Cellar Door & Restaurant)
We waddled our way back to the bus and popped in to two very well chosen wineries (we did have a third selected, but we so tardy in our tastings, that it was too late to get to the final one before closing). The first was Hugh Hamilton Wines (the Black Sheep label) – a very nice and highly respected boutique family winery with a very cute tasting room. It was a glass walled round room set high on a small mound with vines and a spiral ramp surrounding it. We enjoyed a number of reds, basked in the view and made a purchase to be shipped before climbing aboard our little bus and heading ‘next door’ to Primo Estate. Our driver, Danny, rang ahead to say we were going to be a little late, and they said they would stay open for us. We are very glad they did – the tasting rooms have been exquisitely designed by one of the family members (an architect, obviously), and it looks so very gorgeous and modern Australian/Mediterranean cross. Very stylish indeed. Mark took excellent care of us and showed us some more very good reds and some outstanding olive oil. Needless to say, more purchases were made (with free olive oil thrown in), and as we were the last of the day, the 2 bottles that were barely missing a splash from each of them, were put in our hands as we were leaving. (Primo Estate) They were the perfect accompaniment to the cheese bought in Hahndorf – the combo of which was just what we needed instead of another large dinner! A good day! We would highly recommend ‘Bums on Seats’ for any tour for any area in Adelaide and surrounds. (Bums on Seats)