A new-look Town Square, a tour of the South East and a 10-hour foodfest aboard The Overland train to Melbourne are among the goodies in Tasting Australia's 2024 program.
Foodie treats on Tasting Australia’s 2024 menu
The celebration of South Australian food and wine will feature more than 150 events across the state, with a mix of regional and city-based happenings and a conscious effort to represent regional South Australia.
“There’s a real variety in offering and I think people can always find something that appeals to them in the food, wine, tourism space, so I think that’s pretty special,” festival director and local chef Karena Armstrong says.
“Everything from luxury weekends away to great lunches that are held in vineyards — it’s beautiful.”
CityMag was given a taste of one of the regional inclusions: the Tasting Australia airlines event from Adelaide to the Limestone Coast.
We explored the Naracorte Caves, got a taste of Bellwether Wines, and had lunch at Ottelia.
While we flew home that afternoon, the Tasting Australia experience is a two-day event that also includes a visit to Mount Gambier’s Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul, a tour of seafood purveyor Ferguson Australia at Port MacDonnell, and lunch prepared by chef Tony Carroll.
However, Karena is most excited about the Barossa Heroes event on the first Friday evening of the festival.
“We’re highlighting The Dairyman Barossa, an amazing business that is truly a sustainable farm setup where he’s got dairy cows, and he makes beautiful butter and buttermilk and cream, but he also then breeds Berkshire pigs, he grows mushrooms and he sells the retired dairy cows as aged meat,” Karena says.
“We have put that produce into the hands of Simon Bryant, Claudette Zepeda and Brigitte Hafner who are three super produce-driven chefs.
“I can’t wait to see these things unfold and that’s kind of the beauty of it — I just put people together and put this amazing produce in their hands but then what unfolds from there, that’s where the beauty is.
“They’re given such free rein and they’re given such creative license that you kind of let it go, and then you have these amazing people with this great produce. That’s where the magic happens.”
Karena has injected a few new features into the 17-year-old festival, including the 10-hour Tasting Australia by Train: Melbourne-Adelaide trip.
Guests can expect a full-day experience with breakfast, lunch and dinner while “taking a moment to stop and look at your landscape but [with] a Tasting Australia curation along the journey”.
Bougie Brasserie, a black-tie event, is another newcomer to the line-up.
“I love getting dressed up, I love seeing people get dressed up and it’s a once-off — we’ve never done it before,” Karena says.
“We have James Henry, his restaurant has a green Michelin star. He’s cooking with Scott Huggins [and] Darren Purchese, and Valerie Henbest from The [Smelly] Cheese Shop will curate our cheese offering that night.
“It’s all around a French brasserie, which is one of my favourite things [and] styles of food to cook because it’s just so beautifully dignified, it’s so lovely.”
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Old favourites will still shine but in a different way. Karena says they’ve “really changed the look and feel of [Town] Square” for 2024 by introducing Dining Galleries.
“I love art, and I think art has a real interaction with food, and how people view beauty or the world can be reflected both in food and wine experiences, but also in art,” she says.
“We have four amazing artists that will dress up each of the glass cubes, and each dining moment in there will look slightly different to the other.”
The events taking place in Dining Galleries range from a big city steakhouse night titled High Steaks, to celebrating Mexican cuisine in Fiesta.
“I love that the Square is free, but you can come in, you can have a glass of wine and a simple snack and you could walk away for $30,” Karena says.
“Accessibility to the festival is paramount — that’s really important, but also that the quality of the food vendors is extremely high.”
Karena wants Tasting Australia 2024 to highlight “just how good South Australia is” and bring people together through food and good hospitality.
“We remind them that we have multiple levels of hospitality excellence, and excellence doesn’t mean expensive either,” she says.
“Of course we’ve got high-end offerings, we have people that travel from around the world to enjoy them… that segment of the market is very important to tourism, we cannot undervalue it.
“We’ve also got this thriving food culture here in South Australia and I think Tasting Australia is the most beautiful canvas to show it.”
Tasting Australia will run from May 3 until May 12 and the first release of the program is on sale now at the Tasting Australia website.
Connect with Tasting Australia on Instagram for more.