Wine, food, heart and soul: Discovering the Adelaide Hills
A short drive from Adelaide, a long way from anywhere, home to some of Australia’s best cool climate wines and with pride and passion at every turn … discover a world where local matters in the Adelaide Hills.
Listening to our host Christine explain the marriage of creative flair and tried-and-tested principles that underpin the boutique winery’s creations, I ask whether the delicious Gruner Veltliner in my hand is equal parts science and art.
“Good, but you forgot the most important ingredient,” she smiles. “Heart”
Visiting the postcard towns of Hahndorf and Stirling over the course of a warm, sunny October weekend, heart emerges time and time again as the secret ingredient that makes the Adelaide Hills one of Australia’s most charming wine regions.
Less than half an hour from the relative bustle of South Australia’s capital, the Hills rise steeply to a cooler climate where vineyards, cellar doors, market gardens and a stunning botanic garden – as well as the friendly towns around which they’re set – provide a welcome contrast to the Barossa Valley and McClaren Vale, which bookend the Hills to the north and south, and far handier for a city-based daytripper.
In contrast to many of Australia’s other major wine-growing regions, the Adelaide Hills has the strong community atmosphere of a place where people live a life unrelated to tourists. Perhaps that’s the legacy of the Prussian migrants who settled here in the 1830s and named their new village after the captain of the ship that brought them to Australia – Dirk Hahn.
Learning some of the history and culture behind the region adds further fun (and education) to tasting the wines it produces, which is a wonderful result of sharing a day touring the cellar doors with wine expert and host Jason Miller – a sober pair of hands behind the wheel is the least of the thorough service he offers through his bespoke touring company Rich & Lingering.
Jason’s tour doesn’t just ensure we taste the best of the region’s wines, including the aforementioned chocovino and the Shaw & Smith wine and cheese flight, he’s a bonafide local attuned to the latest developments, even taking us with him on his reconnaissance visit of Red Cacao in Stirling, a brand new heaven for the passionate chocolate lover hidden behind the Stirling’s understated shopfronts.
And while those newest arrivals proudly carry the torch for all the Adelaide Hills stands for, the region’s marquee institutions – the likes of Mount Lofty House and Bridgewater Mill – retain the same passion for doing the little things that make a customer’s visit special.
Bridgewater Mill’s restaurant deck provides a the perfect setting for visitors requiring respite from the wine tasting, the historic mill wheel trundling tirelessly and the occasional mist blowing from it to take the heat out of the day. The food is the equal of the setting, and for those determined to continue at pace with sampling the regions reds and whites, the wine list is all you’d imagine.
Mount Lofty House, set between a botanic garden and scenic lookout (and with an impressive garden and view of its own) is a landmark of the region and has the sort of story to tell you’d expect of its 150-plus-year history.
Built in the 1850s by businessman and politician Arthur Hardy as a family retreat, it served as a private residence until 1983, when it was gutted by the Ash Wednesday bushfires.
Like a phoenix from the ashes, it was reborn, after a tireless restoration, as a boutique hotel. In the 30 years that have passed it has grown and developed, today offering the same historic boutique service and atmosphere despite having become a major wedding, function and dining hotspot.
That tireless hard work and commitment to providing something memorable is echoed down the road at Sticky Rice, a cooking school popular with ambitious amateurs and dedicated professionals alike looking to add an exotic new cuisine to their repertoire.
Our class is a four-hour tour de force in preparing, cooking and ultimately devouring a fragrant Thai feast. Knife skills and combining flavours, the art of getting that curry just spicy enough and the secrets of achieving restaurant flavour are all shared by a very patient expert chef.
Our handiwork is impressive, and as always in this neck of the woods, a glass of wine is never far away.
The question of where to lay your head after the intensive class is easily solved by Sticky Rice’s latest development – three architect-designed villas offering Balinese, Japanese and zen themes, and each appointed in décor sourced from the country being replicated.
A night in the understated class of the Japanese villa with an open fire in the private courtyard and yet more of the Adelaide Hills’ cool climate shiraz is a fine way to end our stay in the region.
Must-visit in the Adelaide Hills:
Mount Lofty House
Stunning heritage hotel in a stunning location – the perfect retreat after a long day’s wine tasting.
74 Mt Lofty Summit Road, Crafers, South Australia
Phone: 08 8339 6777
Sticky Rice Cooking School and Villas
Learn how to make restaurant-quality Asian food, eat it, and then wander over to your private and exquisitely furnished villa for a luxury stay you won’t forget in a hurry.
96 Old Mt Barker Road, Stirling, South Australia
Phone: 08 8339 1314
Lunch doesn’t get much better than a meal on the balcony of this divine restaurant, housed in an historic 1860s flour mill alongside Petaluma’s Cellar Door.
Mt Barker Road, Bridgewater, South Australia
Phone: 08 8339 9200
Hahndorf Hill Winery
The chocovino chocolate and wine tasting is a must!
38 Pains Road, Hahndorf, South Australia
Phone: 08 8388 7512
Rich & Lingering
Choose from a selection of popular itineraries or create your own personalised tour of the region with wine expert Jason Miller.
Phone: 1300 707 000
Shaw and Smith
Another excellent winery with tastings paired with local cheeses.
136 Jones Road, Balhannah, South Australia
Phone: 08 8398 0500
Hand-crafted artisan chocolates with hot drinks to-die-for in the picturesque town of Stirling.
Shop 3, 41 Mt Barker Road, Stirling, South Australia
Phone: 0434 938 107
Sticky Rice Villas: The ultimate foodie retreat
January 28, 2014, 2:05 pm Yahoo!7
If there is a food lover in your life, this is your ticket to winning their most ‘Popular Person of the Year’ year award. I tend to stay clear of establishments with the words ’sticky’ in it, but this is one place that breaks the norm. Off the radar, it’s a new kind of escape that raises the bar of luxury and private dining.
If you’ve been to Bali, you’ll ‘get’ the private villa concept, Australia hasn’t really cottoned on to this kind of stay. Sure, there are lots of hotels, B&B’s and rental accommodation options, but in the unlikely tropical spot of Adelaide, Sticky Rice Villas provides the ultimate foodie retreat (pow – take that you surfers, yogis and mediation gurus – we now have a place to stay too!).
Picking up my rental car, Adelaide hills is a short 20 min journey. Situated in Stirling, Mr G and I pull up at the famous, award-winning Sticky Rice Cooking School where the whole concept started. If running one of the top six cooking schools in the country wasn’t enough stress, Claire Fuller decided she wanted to use the land (not for a farm, shock horror) to create three luxury hideaways.
What sets this stay apart is the uncompromising detail in the architecture, design and finish. It’s not hiring a room but a home, each villa escaping you into a different world, be it Yoko (Japan), Zen (Modern) or Bali (er yep! it’s Balinese). Our home for the night was Yoko. I can’t help getting nostalgic that Tetsuya actually stayed here, if I rub up and down against the Electrolux induction stove will some of his culinary magic will rub off?
The moment the Yoko door is opened, it takes a while for us to take it all in.
The landscaped garden is dominated by an impressive white stone Japanese sculpture, red maples, white pebble stones and stepping stones lead to our sliding front door. Perhaps I should have practiced my ‘wax on, wax off’ Karate Kid moves?
The villa is floor to ceiling glass, creating a timeless illusion of villa and garden merging two worlds. Doors open up into the lounge, like a lovesick puppy I am all over the kitchen like Kim Kardashian and Kanye! Oooh it’s a black sleek island, glimmering from down lights. I am simultaneously pulling out soft-close doors and marvelling at all the gadgets, including the impressive space shuttle-like range hood.
The fridge. Now most of us have had that sinking feeling when you open up hotel room fridge and it looks like the dishevelled home of a 15 year old teenager; snickers, alcohol and nothing life sustaining. Not here! I am pulling out luxury item after another, Le Petit Prince Chevre, Harris smokehouse salmon, Skara smoked prosciutto, organic yoghurts, eggs, tomatoes and lemons. It’s all ours! There is a sourdough loaf, plus assorted pastries wrapped for the morning. Oh and some Whisk & Pin muesli if that’s not enough. Is it wrong to be looking forward to breakfast when you haven’t eaten dinner?
The bedroom looks like it could be cast out of a scene of the last Wolverine movie (in a good way). Beautifully carved tatami screens give way to a low bed with black pendant lights, a chaise lounge in the corner looking out onto the expanse of Japanese gardens. Who pulls blinds anymore? Not us! Technological advancements of electronic screens mean that I can lay on the bed and play with them going up and down. There’s a certain childish delight in the pure luxury of it all. High tech is a consistent theme throughout the villas, even our ginormous TV screen is 3D; it’s really quite amusing to look at Mr G with his glasses on. Mr Bean I presume?
The bathroom continues the soft wood lines with a deep bath, waterfall spout, double rainwater showers and Kudos spa toiletries.
At 7pm our doorbell goes and it’s our private chef for the night, Yukiko. One of the many unique elements about a stay here is the chance for you to be cooked for in your home. With a choice of menu which we collaborated on prior to our stay, it’s a stressful moment to know whether the seared scallops or sautéed king prawns are going to be the best choice. Within moments Yuki is whizzing up a storm, lining up all the ingredients – including the star feature, local wine! Our wine degustation includes a lovely citrusy pinot gris from Deviation Road, Dowie Doole Chenin Blanc from Mclaren Vale, and a superb Bendbrook Rose from the Adelaide Hills. We are sitting up at the island table like children watching their mum cook. It’s exciting, relaxing and incredibly intimate. Cooking class and dinner all in one!
After steaming chicken dumplings Yuki serves it with a delicious soy lime dipping sauce. Yuki explains that the kind of flour used in frying for Thai food is important, dropping sections of Barramundi into hot oil, whilst assembling a green mango salad balanced with fish sauce and lime for our entree. The main is the holy grail of every Thai curry lover – Green chicken curry. What’s the secret to a great curry? You have to boil the coconut milk till it splits (which is an agonizingly long time to wait) but it’s an excuse to crack open a stunner of a wine, a Dowie Doole G&T Garnacha Tempranillo. It has beautiful persistent fruit and is absolutely unstoppable drinking! The home-made paste made just hours ago in the cooking school delivers a new dimension of flavour balancing the bitterness of the apple eggplants creating a dish worthy of any hatted restaurant.
Yuki cleans everything up then discreetly leaves us to dine (and drink) in privacy. Like all good chefs, she has the final element of surprise… we retire to the sofa and tuck into silky coconut sticky rice topped with mango and toasted mung beans.
Normally we would be thinking of grabbing a cab, fighting through the crowds on the street but not here. Just five footsteps and we fall into our king-size bed for a deliriously great night’s sleep. You can keep your yoga retreats and surfing camps; this foodie boot camp is the ultimate gourmet weekender.
Find out more: http://www.stickyricevillas.com.au/ – We chose Yoko Villa
Need a hire car? Make sure you check out www.RentalCover.com – half the cost and double the cover!
Read more of Karen’s adventures on http://lawsonsview.com/News Reviews
City Messenger was impressed by the local produce used in our masterclass with Tetsutya in Oct 2013.
Master Chefs News Reviews
Sticky Rice Cooking School’s new luxury B&B Villas won the State award for Small Projects Category in the recently announced 2013 Australian Architecture Awards. The award allows then entry into the national awards which will be announced in November 2013.
The Sticky Rice B&B project by John Adam Architect skillfully complements an existing Asian cooking school in Stirling. The architect challenged the client’s initial project brief and as a result the B&B was located well away from the rear of the cooking school and sited amongst the established garden. The sense of arrival has been now been enhanced and maximum advantage has been taken of the mature pine trees and plantings of the adjoining rear property.
Walled front courtyards heighten the sense of arrival to villas. Colourful enameled steel clad entry gates open onto light filled and seemingly transparent spaces. The sensitively resolved interior and exterior environments reinforce the Asian heritage of the cooking school, with a mix of Japanese, modern Asian and Balinese themed spaces.
New narrow ceiling level highlights and full height window walls provide diverse outlooks from the bedrooms and bathing areas into secluded courtyards framed by the existing pine trees and sensitively themed landscape treatments.
Realised under budget, this project has provided excellent value for money, and has resulted in an extremely satisfied client and unique accommodation experience for visitors to the cooking school.News Reviews Uncategorized
Set on the fringe of the pretty Adelaide Hills town of Stirling, the Sticky Rice Cooking School instantly tosses you into an exotic world of aromatic spices, hot woks and scented candles. The popular school, just 20 minutes from the centre of the city, was founded by passionate foodie Claire Fuller in 2008 and offers hands-on teaching in a variety of spicy cuisines from Thai and Indian to Vietnamese. Classes are taught by local chefs and masters of Asian cuisine (think David Thompson and Ty Bellingham) and conclude with a sumptuous banquet-style feast, accompanied by local wines.
Those who love culinary adventures now have even more reason to head up the hill to Sticky Rice. Three luxurious villas have just been completed on the property, enticing guests to extend their stay and escape into their own private paradise. Yesterday was the launch party. Beautiful finger food was whipped up by the chefs, guests mingled with drinks on the lawn and there were tours of the new accommodation. The lovely balmy evening, unseasonal for this time of year, added to the atmosphere and helped transport us all to Asia.
The gorgeous villas are architecturally designed with floor-to-ceiling glass and the environment in mind; all have solar power and under-floor hydronic heating. Stunning designer furniture adds a wow factor while the hanging lamps and remote-control block out blinds create drama and a romantic mood. Those who love to cook, however, will be won-over by the dreamy Jag kitchens.
Each of the three villas has a unique style and ambience. The Japanese inspired Yoko is all clean lines and calm, complete with shoji screen doors and two private gardens, one with a contemporary tea house and a Japanese maple.
Soothing music and serenity are only part of the attraction in the Zen villa. There’s a stand-alone bath in the open plan bedroom that boasts a sumptuous king size bed and an indoor shower under the branches of an ancient pine tree. It’s sleek black-and-white with contemporary black leather couches and a state-of-the-art kitchen designed for private cooking classes. The sweeping island bench can seat 10.
Bali is my favourite. There’s a warm feeling with rich colours, antique carved wooden doors and a stone bath. In the courtyard, a Balinese hut with a giant day bed is perfect for lazing on, and out the back in the tranquil bamboo garden is a Buddha water feature.
It’s the little touches that I love: the Japanese tea set in Yoko, the elephant-patterned throw in Bali, and the sheer black curtain that separates the bedroom in Zen, giving an intimate feel. Guests receive a welcoming fruit platter and bottle of wine, and provisions for a cooked breakfast. Gorgeous Asian cookbooks are strewn open to delicious recipes on benches and side tables, begging to be used, but I’d be tempted to spend the day mooching about in a fluffy robe after a deep, relaxing bubble bath, and flicking through the pages.
Claire offers various Cook & Stay packages that incorporate a class at the school, and there’s the option of an Asian pantry bag for those who want to cook up their own storm. Guests may prefer to order an Adelaide Hills produce platter, engage a personal chef to whip up dinner for two or perhaps deliver a private cooking class in their villa. Alternatively, they can join a gourmet tour of the nearby markets and farm gates with a local guide before returning to cook lunch with a chef in one of the villas.
It’s the perfect break for keen cooks and food lovers who enjoy exotic cuisines, and a wonderful base to explore the cosy pubs, cellar doors and restaurants of the Adelaide Hills, which are currently exploding in a show of autumn colour.News Reviews
Adelaide Hills Sticky Rice Cooking School Unveils New Luxury
The Adelaide Hills is a popular tourist spot and we have much to offer up here in the way of scenery, food and some wonderful wineries. While there are tons of charming B & B’s, guest cottages and three star hotel/motels, we have been a little short of luxury beds, with fairly limited options for those who want to really spoil themselves – or someone else. My friend Clare, of the hugely popular Sticky Rice Cooking School, has put on her clever pants and done something about that!
Clare and her husband established Sticky Rice, in Stirling – just ten minutes up the freeway from the city, in 2008 and her school has become something of a mecca for food lovers, both local and visiting. She offers a range of cooking classes which encompass all the Asian cuisines and also classes on Spanish, Moroccan and Middle Eastern cooking. All the classes offer excellent tuition by highly experienced chefs, but she aims to teach more than just a recipe or technique. Clare wants her clients to come away from her school with new skills and culinary achievements, but also with a deeper understanding of their chosen cuisine and full of inspiration from the carefully designed and crafted surroundings she has created.
With this in mind, she has extended the experience by creating three stunning luxury villas on the premises. Each villa is architecturally designed, individually styled and seamlessly blends their distinctive interiors with the private walled gardens by the use of floor to ceiling glass. Guests can choose from the tropically inspired “Bali”, the stylish monochromatic “Zen” or the clean lines of the Japanese inspired “Yoko”. Each is fabulously appointed with correlating, comfortable furnishings, underfloor heating, seductive bathrooms and truly exceptional kitchens.
As is only fitting in accommodation attached to a cooking school, the kitchens in each of these villas is, as far as I was concerned at least, enviable. Fully fitted out with top-of-the-range appliances from Electrolux, Clare has been a little surprised to find that many of her guests arrive with large boxes of produce and announce that they are staying in for the evening to cook in the kitchen of their dreams!
Of course, for those who are a little more inclined to be indulged (like me) there are plenty of great dining options in the Adelaide Hills and in the immediate surrounds of Sticky Rice, or it is a very short drive down the hill to Adelaide’s many fabulous restaurants. Alternatively, take a gourmet tour or one of Clares fascinating classes, completely immerse yourself in the experience (along with a glass or three of fine South Australian wine) and amble casually back to your villa to relax and rest, possibly even waking up unsure of what country you are really in.
These absolutely gorgeous villas fill an accommodation gap in the Adelaide Hills and their design and attention to detail is a credit to Clare and her family. Her vision has created a truly landmark attraction which adds significantly to the appeal of the Adelaide Hills as a holiday destination – and, I suspect, not just for those from out of town.News Reviews
Adelaide Hills Accommodation News Reviews Uncategorized
Our Sticky Rice Cooking School classes are the
#1 Choice Nationally
as reported by National Journalist
- Christina Pfeiffer
- April 14, 2012
Read the full top 10 list here at News.com.au
Top Mother’s Day present trips
- Christina Pfeiffer
- April 14, 2012 7:00PM
FROM spas to cooking classes, food and wine tours to wildlife experiences, spend time with Mum and show her that she’s appreciated on Mother’s Day this year.
1 Cook An Exotic Meal in the Adelaide Hills
The Sticky Rice Cooking School in South Australia has two cooking classes on Mother’s Day Stars of Siam and Middle Eastern Mezze. Learning to prepare an exotic meal will get Mum’s creative juices flowing and eating what you’ve both created together is as much fun as cooking it. Gift Vouchers are also a most popular choice and are valid for a full 12 months from purchase. Details here …
The school’s Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Japanese and Moorish Moroccan cooking classes are taught by chefs including Kurma Dasa and Katrina Ryan.
Classes cost $145.
Ph (08) 8339 1314 or see stickyricecookingschool.com.au
Food Blogger Not Quite Nigella visited us some time ago but we forgot to put up the link sorry!News Reviews