The next morning I woke up early, opened the curtain slightly, gazed at a clear blue sky and twenty floors down towards the riverbank, I saw a few people jogging, cycling and brisk walking. I moved from the window and switched on a desk light to read my book, “Plum Spooky” by Janet Evanovich.
The book is totally outrageous with a black sense of humour. The fictional novel is about a bail bond enforcement agent Stephanie Plum who is caught hunting down some killers. I especially adore her fictional character partner in crime, Lula, who is outrageously funny. Lula is a big girl, who has reminded me of Barbara Stone played by Bette Midler in the movie “Ruthless People”. The only difference between the fictional character Lula and Barbara Stone is that Lula is ten times worse and more outrageous in her dressing and look, and she is overly tanned.
Hyatt Regency is located on North Terrace, between the Convention Centre and Casino. Our weekend package included a free upgrade to a river view at AUD$190 per night. Our Riverview room, facing North towards North Adelaide, provides plenty of sunlight into the room in a cool winter sky.
We discussed what to do with the only full day we got in Adelaide. It would be a combination of culture, shopping and food along the eastern part of North Terrace and Rundell Mall, and a Tram ride to Glenelg for lunch.
We started our foot trail (following our foot steps) along the riverbank taking in the view, landscape and surrounding structures. We walked towards the Botanical Garden, fell short of reaching there and decided to detour towards Victoria Drive. The place is not busy except for some joggers. It seems peaceful and serene until we reached King William Street.
We headed south on King Williams Street, walked next to a beautiful row of symmetrical tree and floral landscape that partly camouflage the Government House’s high fenced security stonewalls. When we reached the traffic light junction, we turned left towards east on North Terrace. We finally reached our first destination, the Art Gallery of South Australia, housed in a beautiful historic building next to the Museum. The gallery has a fine collection of Australian and Asian arts, and was the first gallery to buy work by an Aboriginal artist, Albert Namatjira and also the first to recognise an extremely important new development in Aboriginal art from Central Australia – Aboriginal Western Desert dot paintings. Visit the Art Gallery official website, http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/.
After our brief cultural tour of the Art Gallery, we continued our foot trail of the Adelaide CBD. Right in front of our very eyes across from the Art Gallery is DAVID JONES! We gasped and stared at DAVID JONES building like two crazy ex-Sydneysiders, probably living in Tasmania for too long. After shopping at DJ’s FOOD HALL, we walked along Rundell Mall, a long stretch of pedestrian mall. Nothing really excites us that much, so we walked to Rundell Street Tram Stop for our tram to Glenelg, Adelaide most popular seaside destination. The tram ride to Glenelg took 35 minutes, a pleasant hassle free ride to the seaside town. The fare costs AUD$4.20.
Pioneers Memorial – Glenelg
Stamford Grand Adelaide
We got off at the last Tram stop, Moseley Square at the end of Jetty Road, dotted with shops, café and restaurants. The first structure that caught my eyes is a horrendous cream building that is so oversize for the landscape, Stamford Grand Adelaide. It dominates the area and dwarfed the Pioneers Memorial and Town Hall like a three dimensional miniature model.
We took a quick stroll along the beach and made our way back to Jetty Road in search of a place to eat. We selected the Europa Ristorante, located on 12 Jetty Road. We got a table in their outdoor alfresco dining area, directly underneath a ceiling electric heater. It was a cold and windy day even in the winter sun.
Europa Ristorante was casual and friendly to almost all walks of life. That was true! I saw a couple of tables of single elderly lady having a cup of coffee (in her own time and not fussed by the waiter), a table of father and son having lunch, 3 young teenage girls having coffee (one of the girl is really stunning, tall and model like), 2 teenage boys waiting for their girlfriends to arrive, a table of totally glammed up mother and daughter having late breakfast, an elderly couple with a husband in a wheelchair, 3 other tables with their four-legged friend, ie. dog, a few bigger tables inside and the only gay tourist couple in the seaside town. Who else? The crowd was mostly local. A positive sign that this was the right place to eat.
The food was good, fresh and tasty. We ordered an entrée to share, “Salsiccie Arroste” – a chargrilled Italian sausages with slow roasted capsicums in warm chilli olive oil, sundried tomatoes and grilled pita bread.
The sausage was very tasty, not too fatty or greasy. The roasted capsicums in warm chilli olive oil was a nice combination with a bit of spice in the soft texture of a slightly sweet capsicums.
For the main, we ordered the “Frutti Di Mare Soffocato” – fresh local seafood of prawns, scallops, black mussels, fish pieces and calamari steamed in white wine with fresh tomato, chilli, garlic, rocket lettuce, new potatoes accompanied with wood fired crusty bread. The other main was a “Pesce del Giorno” – a wild Alaskan cod fillet marinated in Leabrook honey sautéed radicchio.
This was a huge seafood dish with plenty of fresh calamari, prawns and mussels. It was tasty with a nice combination of seafood flavour, a bit on the stronger side, sweet and spicy. It went well with the nicely crusted wood fired oven bread. The biggest winner in this dish was the fresh calamari, which was tender and soft.
This was Europa’s fish special of the day – wild Alaskan cod. The fish was absolutely divine and delicious with a light delicate Leabrook honey flavour. I wished there was more fish on the plate.
We left Glenelg in midday on the tram to Adelaide, and rested in our hotel room for a couple of hours before our next most anticipated food journey of this trip.
Reservation was made at 6:30pm at the Wine Underground, a modern fine dining establishment in Adelaide CBD. The Wine Underground is a formal dining area at the basement of their sister bar and bistro 1862, which is located on 121 Pirie Street. Their official website is http://www.wineunderground.com.au/.
Chef Adam Liston joined the Wine Underground in October last year and has since created a sensation in Adelaide fine dining industry. He is innovative in his menu design, daring and creative in trying out new ideas. The best way to sample his food and creation, if you are not local like us, is to order the 5-course Degustation Menu at $75 per person plus optional matching wine at $45 per person.
We walked to the restaurant from the hotel. The streets were very quiet, in particular, Pirie Street where the restaurant is located. We have counted 3 other people in the street along the way. It was eerily deserted and we were wondering to ourselves how anyone would know where to find the Wine Underground. There were no other shops, café or restaurants opened for dinner in the same street. We arrived at the front of 121 Pirie Street, paused for a moment, opened the door and walked down the stairs to the “underground” restaurant.
As we reached the bottom of the stairs, there is a long wine bar. One of the staff greeted us and ushered us to a corner table. The décor is contemporary, light with soothing soft lightings. It is simple, not overly elegant with one wall painted a grey floral design to look like wallpaper. There are lots of wines displayed on open dark wooden shelves to create the theme of the place as a good wine venue, and they do retail the bottle so you can take home.
A complimentary pre-warm up to the degustation was a black truffle dumplings in consommé served in a small white cup. The dumplings were soft, smooth and delicate with fine shavings of black truffle interwoven into the miniature dough. A wonderful warm up to the first course.
The first course was a “Hand shelled blue swimmer crab congee, yabby essence, garlic emulsion, young chives” with a glass of St. John’s Road Riesling, 2009, Barossa Valley, SA.
Wow, this congee was unlike any other congee definition you can find in Wikipedia. Adam has definitely re-written the meaning of “congee”. My first impression of the crab congee was the somewhat similar texture, style and flavour to a good quality Shark’s Fin Soup in a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore. But, Adam has given the Shark’s Fin Soup (comes with crab meat) and Congee a new meaning and modern twist.
The yabby essence with fresh young chives were simply exquisite. The garlic emulsion lends the congee an extra depth of flavour.
The second course was a “Boneless twice cooked chicken wing, choi sum, sweet corn dumpling, duck consommé” with a glass of Red Claw Chardonnay, 2007, Mornington Peninsula, VIC.
An artistic dish, well presented in colour and texture. The chicken wing was cooked perfectly. It was tender and soft to the palate, but too salty. The dumpling skin was soft, silky and smooth. As for the duck consommé, there was not much we could taste (as you can see in the picture). The consommé was hand poured by the waiter from a sauce cup. He poured a small drip on top of the dumpling. We were provided a good size soup spoon, which we could hardly scoop the consommé from the bowl.
The third course was a “Farmed rabbit and liver terrine, celeriac puree, chanterelle and morel sauce” with a glass of Wild Rock “Cupid Arrow” Pinot Noir, 2008, Central Otago, NZ.
Another artistic dish and well presented. The terrine was well matched in flavour between the rabbit and liver. We were told it was a duck liver.
The fourth course was a “Roast lamb short loin, lima bean puree, gruyere dauphinois, braised lamb shank parcel, soy beans, turtle beans, viola flowers” with a glass of Maypie Estate “Wit and Shanker” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006, Barossa Valley, SA.
A colourful dish. Each of the ingredients presented in this dish had their own unique taste, texture and flavour. The roast lamb was smoky, tender and juicy. The braised lamb parcel was more subtle in flavour. The gruyere dauphinois was smooth, rich and creamy.
The fifth and last course was the dessert, a “Broken ice cream sandwich, chocolate sable and soil, vanilla bean parfait, chocolate cream, golden nuts, salted caramel, polished chocolate pearls” with a glass of Alain Brumont, 2004, Pacherenc Doux.
A fine way to finish up the degustation meal. An absolute, wonderful, dessert of many different chocolate flavours and textures. We were absolutely blown away on each of the courses and matching wines, how they flow together harmoniously. We could not fault this degustation dinner experience. It was definitely worth the trip to Wine Underground and a memorable journey and a fantastic way to wound up our foodtrail in Adelaide.