South Australia diary, day 6

Tuesday, 12 May, 2015. 17:36

We are in Hahndorf after a day on the road from Nuriootpa.

We got up and went out for breakfast, driving the 2 km from our motel into Angaston. We went to the Soul with Zest cafe and both got the muesli, which was untoasted and unsweetened, and came with a small bowl of chopped fresh fruit on the side and milk. M. swapped her banana slices for my apple slices. I noticed the cafe had an interesting looking vanilla slice, with a cream layer and brown icing, and tried that, but was disappointed with the coffee flavour and overwhelming sweetness.

7 Grange Hermitages
Bottles of Grange Hermitage at Penfolds Winery.

After breakfast we checked out of our motel and drove into Nuriootpa. Just out the other side we stopped at the Penfolds winery to taste some wines, getting there right after they opened at 10:00. It was a bit early in the morning for M. but I tasted some starting with a Pinot Gris, which was very nice. The red wines started quite heavy with a Shiraz Cabernet blend, and only got richer and weightier from there. They had several bottles of the famous Penfolds Grange there, for sale from around $800 a bottle and upwards. They did offer tastings of Grange, but unlike the complimentary tastings of other wines, they charged $50 for a tasting amount of Grange, not even a full glass. They had a range of other Shiraz and Shiraz blends to try, and I tried several of them, before settling on a selection for a case of six bottles to be shipped home for us.

Around the back of Penfolds, there is Barossa Coffee Roasters, which offers tastings of coffees and teas. It was raining a bit, but we braved it to head over there and check it out. The guy was very chatty and made M. a complimentary cup of coffee, which she selected from several different blends that he made. There were also various teas there as well as herbal blends. He made up a fresh pot of a rooibos based aniseed tea for me to try. It was much milder than the licorice tea I normally have at home. I bought a 100 gram bag of this tea and M. bought a 250 gram bag of ground beans as a gift for her parents, since they use coffee beans.

Chateau Dorrien vats
Painted fermentation vats at Chateau Dorrien.

Next we stopped at the nearby Chateau Dorrien, where they make wines but also mead. We’d seen this place and the sign advertising mead on the way to Seppeltsfield, so it was good to pop in and have a taste of some of their products. But first we perused a large collection of historical displays which spilled throughout the large warehouse-like building. There were also seven large vats which looked made of concrete on the exterior, and each of these was painted with a rather well done mural of a different scene in the process of making wine: planting, harvesting, grape crushing, fermenting, bottling, and so on.

At the tasting counter a friendly and chatty women served us. They had an unwooded Chardonnay which I liked, but I didn’t think much of their Shiraz. The plain honey mead was a bit bland, but the mead spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves was very nice. They also had several liqueur meads: chocolate and cinnamon; chocolate and orange; and quandong. Besides the meads, they also had a white port, which was nice, and some liqueurs including blackcurrant liqueur and rum and raisin liqueur, which was also very nice. We ordered a half dozen bottles of various things shipped home for us. We’ll be getting an awful lot of happy deliveries in the week or so after we get home!

Mengler Hill view
View of Barossa Valley from Mengler Hill, over Barossa Sculpture Park.

This was the last Barossa winery we visited before heading out towards Hahndorf. We drove out along Mengler Hill Road, climbing the eponymous Mengler Hill to an altitude of 498 metres. Near the top was a lookout with picnic tables and the Barossa Sculpture Park containing several large white stone sculptures. We stopped to admire the view over the Barossa Valley, though briefly because it was windy and very cold. Done the other side of the hill we entered Eden Valley, where we drove south, passing through the small towns of Eden Valley (population 300), Springton (600), and Mount Pleasant (900). We stopped in Springton looking for some lunch, but the only place that promised food was the pub, and when we approached the front door one of the two men having a yarn outside came over and said sorry, he was just having a break, what would we like? We explained we were after some lunch and he said, “Oh, sorry, we’re not doing food today. I don’t think any place in town is. You’ll have to try Mount Pleasant, there’s a bakery there that should be open.” So we thanked him and drove on.

Roos ahead
Kangaroos ahead.

There was indeed a bakery at Mount Pleasant, the Mount Pleasant Bakery and Cafe, and it suited our need nicely. They did a line in pies and pasties, including a gourmet duck and orange pie, which I tried, and a vegetable and cheese pastie, which M. had. They had to heat them up for us, as they had a limited number hot in the warmer, obviously because it was a tiny town and they couldn’t predict how many might sell in a day. The guy delivered them to a coffee table by the window where we were sitting in comfy armchairs a few minutes after, and they were piping hot for eating. M. said her pastie was excellent, and my duck pie was also very good. Besides orange chunks to provide fruity sweetness with the duck pieces there were also cranberries in it.

Fuelled up again, we continued driving south. We stopped at the town of Woodside for the double treat of the Woodside Cheese Wrights factory store, and immediately next door Melba’s Chocolate Factory.

Mmm, chocolate
Melba’s Chocolate Factory.

We went into the chocolate factory first, and it was like becoming an eight year old again. Entrance was through a large antique wrought iron turnstile, kept in good condition and brightly painted. Once inside, there was a huge room full of all sorts of chocolates and sweet treats imaginable. At one end of this room was a glass wall, through which could be seen a worker busy sorting chunks of rocky road on to a wrapping machine, which was spitting out wrapped blocks. Also in the room with him was a table on which a large slab of thinly spread chocolate was resting. Other smaller rooms accessed through doors off the side of the main room had various machines and other workers in them. One had a set of tumblers like cement mixers, which were tumbling small balls of chocolate to give them a polished finish; they looked like chocolate coated nuts. A man was scooping out huge bowls full of the these and pouring them into crates for transport elsewhere in the factory.

In another room, a woman was pouring molten chocolate from a machine into moulds to make hollow chocolate animals. She explained what she was doing as we watched. Another room had some machinery that wasn’t currently being used, and yet another room was a boxing room, full of pretty boxes and dozens upon dozens of spools of ribbon in a huge rainbow of different shades and colours. The overall impression was as close to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory as anything I have ever seen, and I have taken tours of several chocolate factories before. This one clearly did everything with a sense of fun and was decorated to make it look wonderful and delicious.

M. bought a single strand of chocolate coated licorice to munch on, and we promised to return to buy more after looking at the cheese factory next door. In a small annex on the side of the cheese place was a shop with trinkets for “men of all ages”. We went in here first, and they had stuff ranging from chess sets to antique model cars, fancy shaving kits to pocket knives.

Monkey has found heaven!
Monkey found the chocolate coated bananas.

Next door at the cheese place we got to taste sampled of various cheeses made from goat, buffalo, and cow milk. They were all fairly fresh or soft cheeses, starting from simple curd, to soft Brie-like cheese, ending with a soft goat cheese with a hint of blue flavour even though it had no obvious blue mould in it. Being on holiday we coudn’t buy any cheese, but I grabbed a postcard which listed their website and asked the woman if they had stockists in Sydney, which she answered in the affirmative and said they were listed on their website. So we’ll definitely look that up when we get home. And we didn’t leave empty-handed, as M. bought a pack of dried fruit to snack on.

We went back to the chocolate factory, because it was so amazingly cool, and to buy a few things for car snacks. I bought a small block of dark rocky road, a half dozen chocolate frogs of various flavours: dark chocolate, hundreds and thousands, caramel, mint, strawberry, and banana, and a bag of sweet chilli cashews.

Hahndorf late afternoon
Hahndorf street.

Back on the road we made our way to Hahndorf. By the time we arrived it was a bit before 16:00, so we parked the car and walked up and down the main street, checking out the shops before closing time. We popped into several places where M. looked at things, and she found a cool owl necklace which I bought for her. Then in a shop selling alpaca wool goods she found a really nice woollen coat for me. It wasn’t cheap, but she bought it for me, as it really looked great, and will last a lifetime.

We wanted to find a place to eat dinner, where I could get some traditional German food, this being the town known for its German heritage and playing it up for all it’s worth. But we also needed somewhere that M. could get a vegetarian meal, and looking at the incredible meat-heavy menus of a couple of places it seemed that the options were very limited. There were three possible places that served a selection of German specialties, and each one had only one vegetarian main dish. There was a pumpkin ravioli, a vegetable frittata, or a pumpkin and eggplant pizza. M. preferred one of the last two, but let me pick out of those. I chose the German Arms Hotel, which meant M. had the pizza. I selected the trio of German sausages: bockwurst, weisswurst, and kransky, which came with sauerkraut and potato salad. We also had some pretzels as an entree, which came hot and were served with mustard and butter. M. tried a pear cider, while I had an Erdinger Weissbrau to drink.

Sausage trio
Sausage trio at the German Arms Hotel.

The food was good, but incredibly filling. The sauerkraut was hot and very vinegary, and there was a lot of it, so I left a bunch. The sausages were spicy, and I was glad for the beer to wash them down. The potato salad was very good, with big chunks of gherkin and bacon in a creamy mustard dressing. After this, we sat for several minutes to digest before thinking about dessert. But I couldn’t go past the Black Forest baked cheesecake, which came in a pool of blueberry compote. It was also really good.

During the dinner, a man came to our table and put on a bit of a magic show. He said he was the hired entertainment for Tuesday nights, mostly for kids, but seeing as the place was a bit empty tonight he was going to all the tables. He extracted several glowing green balls from Monkey’s hand, then did a card trick in which we named the ace of clubs, and then he produced it as the only turned over card in a deck. Then when he said, “Is this your card?” M. tried to be cheeky and said, “No, it was the six of clubs.” Without skipping a beat, the guy swished the card in his hand and suddenly it was no longer the ace, but was the six! Clearly it was some sleight of hand, but he did it amazingly well and so smoothly that we couldn’t help but be impressed. Very clever work.

Black forest cheesecake
Black Forest cheesecake at the German Arms Hotel.

Following dinner we walked back to our motel, the Hahndorf Motor Inn. This is quite a nice motel, more along the lines of the Clare Valley Motel than the two cheaper places we’ve stayed in Nuriootpa and Angaston.

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