It’s no secret, the Beer Family of the Barossa has led a number of products and brands to success. We were delighted to take a trip to the Barossa to see first hand their exciting ventures, including The Eatery, The Barossa Gin School and The Orchard House.
I remember vividly the day I heard Maggie Beer, Australia’s most loved Celebrity Chef, speak at a conference I was attending. Her opening line was, “Hi, I’m Maggie Beer, and I’m an overnight success, only it’s taken me twenty years to get here!”
Maggie is still a hive of energy but it is her daughter Elli, and Elli’s husband Brett, who have created the new Eatery and Barossa Gin School, which is proving to be a must-visit destination.
When you arrive at the ‘Farm’, you can stop in to the Maggie Beer Farm shop for a quick coffee and enjoy tastings of the lovely products in store. The Barossa Roasters Coffee Mexican blend they have here is smooth, rich and accompanied with Jersey Fresh Barossa Milk. It’s certainly well worth a visit before you head to The Eatery for the Barossa Gin School, run by Durand Distillery.
Most of us don’t get too excited about attending school on a Saturday but the thought of making our own gin had me filled with anticipation. After a short description of the different gins of the world and some tasting instructions, our class went off to experience the world of aromatics and start coming up with our very own recipes. After muddling and mixing our little parcels of good smells and tastes, they was put in the distillers, and we sat down for a long table group lunch.
The Eatery, housed under the same roof as the Gin School, is a sophisticated, modern, relaxed dining option in the Barossa. The Chef, Sarah Williams, creates menus on the day with local, seasonal ingredients, often delivered by farmers directly to the kitchen door.
This type of pot luck procurement allows for a incredibly creative and differing daily menu, driven by what is available from the gardens of the Barossa.
We started with the expressive and interesting pairings of Stracchino (a soft cow’s milk cheese made in house using local Barossa milk) with fresh tomatoes and tapenade, local olives, charred corn cobs with saltbush and cayenne, and local speck with olive bread and kimchi.
Other dishes we enjoyed included a slow cooked lamb neck with a fresh rocket and green olive sauce, and roasted potatoes with a rustic pesto.
While we sat, Ellie brought a delectable gin cocktail using the Durand Matriarch Gin, a fresh strawberry syrup made with local strawberries that were dropped into the kitchen the day before, and topped up with Maggie Beer’s non alcoholic Ruby Cabernet. It’s a big call but this might just be my new Summer apero.
Desserts were shared and encompassed cheesecake and a deconstructed macadamia ice-cream sandwich.
Once lunch was complete, our gins had distilled, and it was time to make the finishing touches. We ended up with our very own personalised bottle of gin that we labelled, wrote our recipe on, and secured, ready for the short drive back to The Orchard House for the rest of the afternoon.
The Orchard House is situated amongst the Maggie Beer orchards, surrounded by peaches, figs and apricot trees, all bursting with buds ready for the harvest to begin.
As I opened the door, I could hear classical music in the background which set the scene for the next twenty-four hours. The peace and tranquillity of the gourmet-inspired accommodation has a personalised touch from Maggie and Colin, and features magnificent artworks from their personal collection.
The house is light and bright, both modern and classic, with the quirky touch of hand-knitted water bottles for cold nights during Winter. The gourmands will love the kitchen full of Miele appliances to enjoy and a pantry of delightful Maggie Beer and local food products to use. The fridge comes packed full of local ingredients for a hearty breakfast cook up as well as some wine to enjoy.
Vasse Virgin products feature in all the bathrooms, and reed diffusers complement the fresh country air with an invigorating but subtle aroma.
The Eatery, Barossa Gin School, and The Orchard House, offer the relaxed, modern and luxury experiences we seek, while respecting and honouring the beauty of the food and terroir of this special part of our State. This is an experience of authentic country lifestyle that the Beer Family has created to share, and for that reason, we can’t wait to return.