English-born Sean Connolly has eaten his way around the world, but believes South Australia is incomparable in terms of what it can plate-up with local produce.
“South Australia would have to be the epitome of God’s country,” says Connolly.
“You’re surrounded by amazing seafood, and amazing pastures for cattle and sheep as well.”
The consultant chef has award-winning restaurants in Dubai, New Zealand and numerous Australian outposts including in Adelaide, which specialise in offering Connolly’s favoured approach: simple cooking paired with a high-quality dining experience.
His Adelaide restaurant, the New York-inspired brasserie Sean’s Kitchen, operates as part of the Adelaide Casino and is Connolly’s interpretation of modern Australian cuisine.
Inside the historic railway station and under grand vaulted ceilings, patrons can order from a range of menus and prices.
Choices range from a relatively humble bowl of popcorn oyster mushrooms from the “Mushroom Madness” menu for lunch or the decadent Port Lincoln blue fin tuna from the Chef’s Table for dinner.
However, all the meals at Sean’s Kitchen are bound by Connolly’s passion for South Australian produce.
“There’s nowhere else like South Australia in the world,” says Connolly.
“You have the harshest climate but the most wonderful produce coming out of there.”
After five years of working with local produce at Sean’s Kitchen, Connolly is confident he’s discovered the secret to the city’s culinary success – he puts it down to the “inspirational creative people” and the “incredible produce”.
Here are his five favourite South Australian products and the best ways to prepare them.
“It’s hard to pick only five,” Connolly says, “but let’s see how we go.”
Angel Oysters served simple
For Connolly, Angel Seafood’s oysters from Smoky Bay rank among the world’s finest.
“I’ve eaten oysters from France, from Scotland, from Ireland – but Zac’s (Halman) Pacific oysters are some of the best I’ve ever had,” he says.
But rather than serving them dressed in lemon or vinegar, Connolly believes the oysters are best enjoyed completely unadorned.
The “dream” is to eat them just how they are.
“Just shuck ‘em and eat ‘em.”
Limestone Coast beef cooked on coals
For the next ingredient, Connolly touts a T-bone steak from the Limestone Coast.
He recommends cooking it Bistecca alla Fiorentina style – seared over coals.
“I love the grass-fed beef from the Limestone Coast,” he says, “and I’m also a sucker for a T-bone, like an 800 gram to one kilo T-bone.”
“Cook the T-Bone for six to eight minutes on all four corners of the beef, and then another eight minutes on the flat surface.”
For this hunk of meat, Connolly recommends splitting the meal between friends.
“It makes a good share dish.”
Goolwa clams (cockles) cooked in oil
The next piece of produce is simple to prepare but reliant on its “star” quality.
“Goolwa clams are excellent,” says Connolly, “and I love using Goolwa clams when they’re in season.”
Connolly recommends getting the cockles between June 1 to October 31.
“When you get them, the rest is simple.
“Cook them in a little bit of garlic, olive oil, chilli and salt, and don’t forget a splash of cream, white wine and steam them open.”
“Camp” Golden North Ice Cream
For something sweet, grab an ice-cream scoop and serve up a bowl of Golden North Ice Cream.
“Golden North (Ice Cream) is a great iconic local company,” says Connolly.
He pins the company’s success down to the “local milk” they use, which makes it “just delicious.”
After the ice cream is scooped, dollop some “camp” garnishes on top plus lots of flavours to “pink it up.”
“Might be white chocolate and gold leaf, might be raspberry and milk chocolate,” he says.
Pair (or sizzle) it with a natural wine
Connolly says his final piece of produce comes from a higher altitude.
“The hills, the Adelaide Hills, are of particular interest to me,” reveals Connolly.
“I really enjoy the wines coming out of there.”
He particularly enjoys pairing Ochota Barrels’ wine with his meals and touts their cold climate shiraz as his favourite.
“It’s really exciting that one,” he says.
While he said cooking with natural wines can sometimes be a “shame”, he’s happy to splash some into the pot.
“I do cook with natural wines with my clam dishes.”
InDaily, CityMag and SALIFE are celebrating South Australian food for the month of July. Click here to find out more.
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