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Eat | Drink | Explore

The Forager: Happy chooks; SA's best?

Eat | Drink | Explore

Today, a new way of raising flavoursome chook, Tourism Australia names Adelaide’s best restaurants, food events and plenty more.

Happy chooks, happy farm

If you crave a proper-tasting chook, there’s a new local product on the market using the ingenious methods promoted by Tasting Australia guest Joel Salatin (go here for an explanation of Joel’s philosophies).

Philip and Michele Lally have become known for their environmentally friendly and delicious Savannah Lamb, grown on pasture in the Clare Valley.

This week they processed just their second batch of pastured chicken, a process they say produces substantial, happy chooks while replenishing soils with nutrients.

It works like this: chicks are raised in small groups in covered pens until they grow their feathers. Then, the rest of their lives are spent in the open paddocks in “nomadic” 12sqm pens, which are moved to a new patch of pasture every 24 hours. Michele says this combo of fresh air, sunshine, grain, water and grass means they grow quickly and healthily, and are ready to be processed after seven or eight weeks.

The added bonus, she explains, is that the nitrogen-rich fertiliser replenishes the soils and keeps the grass growing healthily.

It’s not “free range”, but it may have some advantages, in that the chooks cover “fresh ground” every day, and are always out in the open air. Free-range chooks, while at liberty to move around, sometimes need encouragement to venture out from their shelter.

“It’s a cyclical thing,” Michele says. “We are mimicking nature to get the most out of the birds so they can heal the soil and we can use that later on. The whole concept of the pastured chicken is because they have that element of grass feeding, they are a healthier bird to eat, and the manure is regenerating the soils on our property.”

Michele says it’s a low-volume operation at the moment, and she’s making an opening offer of $11 a kilogram (with free delivery in the metro area if you buy in bulk). She says the flavour is proper, old-fashioned chook, with a denser flesh – something that has impressed several chefs around town.

Bistro Dom chef Duncan Welgemoed is a fan. “From a chef point of view, I found them to be the best tasting ‘commercial’ chicken I’ve had in Australia to date. Chicken that tastes of chicken; firm meat that cooks beautifully and isn’t swimming in water. Having seen the operation first hand, I can vouch that they are and will always be a feature on our menu.”

You can only buy pastured chicken direct from Savannah Lamb. More details can be found here. Or download the order form here.

Savannah pastured chickens inside their mobile pen.

Savannah pastured chickens inside their mobile pen.

Adelaide’s best restaurants?

Tourism Australia’s new push to promote the nation’s food and wine experiences is being launched today, with a call for restaurants and others to upload their own information to a globally-focused website.

The Restaurant Australia website highlights food and wine experiences, markets, produce and, of course, restaurants. The site will be accompanied by campaign work across the globe and, from today, individual businesses can upload their stories to the site.

It’s early days, but it is interesting to see how South Australia is pitched. The introductory statement says South Australia is “home to the Barossa Valley wineries, Southern Rock Lobster, Clare Valley Reisling and artesan cheeses and produce”.

The site also lists Adelaide’s best restaurants, in this order: Magill Estate; Orana; Press Food and Wine; Andre’s Cucina and Polenta Bar; Ruby Red Flamingo; Peel Street; Kenji; The Daniel O’Connell; Dhaba at the Spice Kitchen and Bistro Dom.

That’s not a bad list (and it’s very hard to argue with most of the inclusions). But is it in the right order?

Elsewhere on the site, it lists “the best food and wine experiences in South Australia”. Number one on the list is Orana, Jock Zonfrillo’s Rundle Street restaurant which has received almost universal rave reviews since it opened last year. Number two is the fortified tasting at Seppeltsfield (no argument there); number three is “enjoy a gourmet bush picnic on Kangaroo Island” (okay); number four is “indulge at the Louise, Barossa Valley” (who wouldn’t?); and finally, “experience inner city vineyard dining at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant“.

This is obviously pitched at the international fine-dining market, but did they get it right? Comments welcome below.

Watch the Restaurant Australia ad below:

Tasting Australia is over – events are not

The revamped Tasting Australia is over, and the verdict is that it was a pretty good effort at rejuvenating the festival of food and wine.

The festival “town square” in Victoria Square worked pretty well, although I hear some stall-holders felt the numbers flagged during the week and that eight days was perhaps too long a time to be open (there was also some pretty terrible weather and occasional confusion about the program).

The international guests were few, but all high quality (particularly Joel Salatin). The handful of events I attended were well patronised, tightly focused on the festival’s theme of “origins”, and some excellent food was served, highlighting great local produce and producers.

While Tasting Australia is over until 2016, there are plenty of food events coming up.

Fork on the Road will take its food truck posse down to Port Adelaide on Saturday (May 10), setting up near Hart’s Mill from 12 noon to 9pm. There will be burgers, cakes, grills, coffee, Asian food, Latin cuisine, gourmet hotdogs and plenty more. Drinks include beer from Swell Brewing, Adelaide Hills Cider, and wines and sangria from Three Dark Horses.

The Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend is celebrating its 30th anniversary on May 16-18. The main event on the Friday night – a Black Tie and Pearls Gala Dinner – will incorporate the inaugural Clare Valley Wine Hall of Fame Awards. There are plenty of events all weekend, including cooking demos, vertical tastings and master-classes. Full program here.

Poh Ling Yeow is doing the rounds to promote her new cookbook, Same Same but Different. You can hear Poh talk about her book at the Deviation Road Winery on Thursday, May 15, as well as taste food cooked from the book’s recipes, matched with Deviation Road wines. Tickets cost $55. Book here.





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