Australian Traveller tracked down the best food and wine destinations in the country, from traditional favourites to up-and-coming foodie meccas, farmers’ markets and regional cooking schools. Bon appetit!
Tried-and-tested gourmet destination
Canberra is very much a rural city so the centre of town provides ample opportunity to sample the abundant regional produce.
In Canberra Centre’s North Quarter, local-favourite Cream features internationally inspired dishes in a contemporary venue that transforms from daytime bistro to chic restaurant to after-hours cocktail bar. Kingsley’s Steak and Crabhouse serves up Riverine Premium Beef as its favoured meat. Contemporary Indian cuisine gets a regional spin at Blu Ginger, which uses quality locally sourced produce complimented by traditional spices imported from India.
Sadly, a fire on June 23 tragically destroyed one of Canberra’s best seasonal modern Australian restaurants, Flint Dining Room & Bar, which was in the New Acton Pavilion between Edinburgh Ave and Marcus Clarke St. We hope the restaurant and other business in the precinct are back on their feet soon.
Next door, the Diamant Hotel in Acton was also marginally damaged by the fire but reopened on July 11. Its lobby bistro, Bicicletta, offers simple, casual, homemade Italian such as duck ragu and porcini mushroom pizzas, made from locally sourced ingredients.
The details: visitcanberra.com.au; thisiscanberra.com.au
Up-and-coming gourmet destination
The Poacher’s Way
Starting north-west of Canberra in Bowning and Yass, this food-and-wine-themed self-drive route travels through Murrumbateman and Hall, into the Capital and out through Bungendore, Gundaroo and Collector.
Some of the region’s best cellar doors feature on this map, including Clonakilla, Lerida Estate and Mount Majura Vineyard. Award-winning regional restaurant Grazing, in the Royal Hotel at Gundaroo, features produce from its own kitchen garden and a brood of free-range chooks for eggs (and fertiliser!). Poachers Pantry Smokehouse at Hall produces smoked meat, poultry, game, Roma tomatoes and garlic. An on-site café allows you to sample the wares accompanied by local Wily Trout Wine.
This is a region to take your time exploring, so stay the night at a traditional country B&B.
The details: www.thepoachersway.com.au
Bindaree Bee Supplies
Budding apiarists can source protective clothing, hives and bees at this family-run honey farm in Murrumbateman. Drop in and talk to the beekeepers, who run a consulting service and are always keen to give advice and tips on keeping bees and making chemical-free honey. They also help run workshops and tutorials, such as the Backyard Beekeeping Course, through the School of Horticulture, CIT, Bruce Campus (a new course starts in October).
The details: 10 Vine Close, Murrumbateman; (02) 6226 8866
Country cooking school
A bit of a Canberra institution, Three Seeds features a cooking school, gourmet provedore and canteen. Day and evening classes are 3.5 hours long and include themes such as Thai, barbecue, Italian, basic techniques, canapés, how to cook game and three-course dinner parties. The best part: for evening classes you can invite a friend to join you later to help polish off the fruits of your labour.
The details: 7-15 Mustang Ave, Majura Park; (02) 6247 0555; www.3seeds.com.au
Farmers markets for city folk:
Capital Region Farmers’ Market
This farmers’ market is a national treasure, with apples from Batlow, eggs and speciality meats from Grenfell, vegetables from Leeton, berries from Borenore, salads and olives from Hall, bananas from the NSW/Qld border country, vegetables from Menangle, Richmond, Picton and Leeton, tomatoes from Murrumbateman, mushrooms from Yass Valley and much more.
The details: Saturday, 8am-11am.Exhibition Park, Canberra; capitalregionfarmersmarket.com.au