Last nights oyster must have been OK, after all, as we didn’t get sick. We figured they washed the oysters in fresh water after they were shucked and that took away all the briny goodness and most of the flavor.
Friday was our day for exploration of hot Adelaide. We started with a highly detailed, hour-long, personal tour of Ayre’s House by one of the docents. We would have been happy enough with a shorter tour, but it was “interesting” to learn ALL the details about the house and the family. I guess we didn’t need to know which particular variety of nail fungus the family had, though.
After the tour, we hoofed it over to the Central Market in the bright, hot sun. The Central Market is a large enclosed area filled with stalls displaying a variety brightly colored edibles, from the exotic to the mundane. With the outside temperatures well exceeding 90, the cool, musty, food-scented interior of the market was welcome. We contemplated purchasing some crocodile or kangaroo for dinner, but we figured it wouldn’t cook very well in the coffee pot in our room and croc and roo tartare were a bit too adventurous for us, so we passed on the purchase.
Our lunch was in the Asian food court/hawker stands adjacent to the market. I had one of my favorite Korean dishes, Be Bim Bab. While in graduate school, I used to eat Be Bim Bab all the time. Somehow, it has become comfort food for me.
From the market, we walked to the National Wine Center (NWC), which is part of the University of Adelaide, which has a strong oenology program. Our route took us along the river and through the University of Adelaide campus. The NWC offers wine tastings and a somewhat informative self-guided tour that covers Australian wine. Given that wine was a central theme to our trip, this seemed a good place to start. We particularly enjoyed the tasting in the main tasting room. $45 AUD bought us two flights of wine and a cheese, nut, cracker, and dried fruit platter that lasted us for three days (the portion sizes in Australia are generally large, even on the American standard). The wines we tasted, all in the $20 AUD/bottle range, showed very consistent winemaking from the various wineries. In general, the wines we saw had a tight alcohol range between 14.2 to 14.7%, uniform acidity, and moderate tannins making the wines flawless by modern winemaking standards (though, arguably, monotonous to some). Along with the consistent winemaking, the wines showed their distinct varietal characteristics with the unique flavors of the Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, Shiraz, Verdelho, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon all coming through intensely. The only bad thing is that only a few of the wines are available in the States.
It was Friday and we happened on the weekly-featured winery tasting. This week the featured winery was Chapel Hill. The tasting room was packed with locals as this event functioned as the Friday Happy Hour for some. We liked all the wines we tried and were particularly fond of the Cabernet Sauvignon from McLaren Vale, a wine region that is just to the south of Adelaide. At the NWC, we also became aware of Verdehlo as a varietal. Verdehlo is a white wine grape originating from Portugal that is rapidly gaining popularity in Australia. We sampled a number of tasty examples on the trip and it something we will look for in the future.
We returned to our room to discover that the computer power adapter did not arrive. With help from the hotel’s front desk, we discovered that the package had made it through Australian Customs but was taking a sight seeing tour of Australia on its own and had not been shipped to Adelaide. Hopefully it will find us in the Barossa Valley, nearly a week after being express shipped to us. If it doesn’t, the next opportunity for us to receive the package will be in Melbourne, at the end of trip! I certainly hope the power adapter is having a good time on its visit to Australia.
We were very happy with our room in The Majestic Rooftop Garden Hotel. The web price was quite reasonable for modern, relatively luxurious room in a great location in Adelaide.
Our last night’s meal at the Indian restaurant Jasmin was excellent. No wonder that this restaurant is purported to be a favorite of the South Australian Premier. Too bad they were booked up on Thursday night (we barely got in on Friday). It could have saved us from the Universal Wine Bar fiasco.