I wasn’t actually meant to be here. You see, this was the weekend of the annual Eat Drink Blog that was held in Adelaide. I initially couldn’t make it as I was going to be in New Zealand, but when the flights for that shifted, it was too late to apply for EDB as the quota was full. Damn.
“Why don’t you just come down anyway?” Was a question from someone that was already attending, a someone that caught me at the right stage of inebriation one particular night, resulting in me booking flights on my phone as I sat on the couch at home, wine glass in hand. So, as EDB3 forged ahead in the city of churches I wafted about town during the day and caught up with a few of the attendees after hours.
I’d only been to Adelaide once previously, for a quick work trip that gave me next to no time to get out and explore this cool little town. Breakfast was an ordinary hotel buffet so there was no way I was going to repeat that, knowing Adelaide had some gems to be discovered. I just had to find them.
A friend said I should check out North Adelaide while I was in town; a cute village-style inner-city area with a main street lined with colonial buildings, shops, galleries and eateries. UR Cafe looked good enough for me on that particular morning, all light and airy with friendly service and decent brekkie menu. Very decent and meticulously made coffee and poached eggs with grilled salmon and hollandaise ($13.9). Perfect eggs but the salmon spent a little too much time on the grill, resulting in very firm and arid flesh. Good thing there was hollandaise to give it some moisture.
Further exploration along Melbourne Street led me to this coffee shop that, judging by all the equipment up for sale, they mean serious business with anything coffee. A big mumma espresso machine takes pride of place in the centre of the counter, around which are various grinders, cold drip and syphon equipment.
I was already buzzing from the two macchiati I could still taste in my mouth from UR Cafe. Why not a third, here, at First Pour? Could my heart take another dose of caffeine? You bet. A macchiato of perfection. Just enough milk and a bean with as much strength as a back-hand across the face.
A few kilometres away in Adelaide’s inner eastern suburbs is Norwood, a seemingly well-to-do area with a slight European feel. Italian restaurants and boutiques, more colonial buildings and a plane tree-lined main drag. Tables and chairs spill out on the footpaths, milling with locals lapping up the warm weather and sunshine.
My stomach was sending subtle messages that meant just one thing. Time for more food. I considered the pub for an easy lunch but when I stopped to read the menu at Grace the Establishment, the thought of a conventional pub meal taking up valuable stomach real estate over something a bit more creative seemed a little silly. Not that I mind a conventional pub meal every-so-often.
The Grace set-up is easy on the eye. Slight industrial feel, white walls, pre-loved wood, Bentwood chairs and Tolix stools and a relaxed rear courtyard. The clientele is even easy on the eye; ahem, ok, where’s the menu. My eyes honed right in to the Reuben sandwich but the smaller plates on offer sounded much more interesting.
A salmon tartare ($9)is presented in a tin; soft, buttery flavours with contrasting crunch from puffed wild rice and a deliciously-tangy mustard cream. I didn’t want it to end. Next was the stuffed Coorong mullet ($10), a flavour-packed dish that caused a few audible groans. Two fillets of mullet sandwiched with spinach, pine nuts, preserved lemon and raisins. It’s very lightly encrusted in crumbs with a good dose of sea parsley, a native herb that grows in the dunes along our coastline. As a whole, it’s nothing short of sensational.
Finally, as I sip my big glass of sauvignon blanc (as you do) I tucked into a pile of popcorn shrimp ($15); all golden and crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside. Dunked into the creamy kim chi mayo made things oh-so much better.
All that good food, wine and a longer-than-I-expected walk back to the hotel in the blistering sun resulted in me collapsing on the bed to take a nanna nap. I did intend flagging a taxi but somehow there were never any around when I needed one.
I thought I’d keep dinner light and somehow ended up having dessert before anything else. Two desserts, in fact. I blame it on the heat. But who the hell cares, right? And so much for keeping things light.
Not that far from the hotel is this little side street that has a few cheap & cheerfuls lining it; Mamak Corner being one of them. There’s roti-tossing in the window, a small selection of curries, rice and noodles but my body craved something sweet and cold so cendol ($3.5)and roti tisu ($8.5)it was. Talk about insatiable, but really, all it is is a bowl of crushed ice with mung beans and pandan noodles as well as a little ice cream and crunchy pastry doused in sugar. Nothing, right?
A few doors down is this small Korean dumpling house, appropriately named Mandoo. I would have been silly to order anything but dumplings, but something tells me that’s all there is on the menu. Ok, I tell a lie; there are a couple of soups and a bibimbap on offer as well.
The signature kimchi dumplings would have been the obvious choice but reeking of garlic prior to meeting up with food bloggers ain’t so pretty. The fried pork mandoo ($13) I had contained sufficient garlic anyway; also filled with cabbage, spring onion and glass noodles. Nothing spectacular but far from shabby at the same time.
Was that all I got up to? Not quite. More coming sometime soon.