No one quite knows their way around the McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills epicurean regions like SA Style and Solitaire Volkswagen Ambassador Laura Sharrad.
Adelaide restaurateur and chef, Laura Sharrad, started her career in the famed wine region of McLaren Vale before cooking her way to runner-up on MasterChef season six (and also on season twelve). Not content with becoming a household name, Laura now owns and runs two popular Adelaide restaurants, Nido Bar and Pasta and lauded newcomer, Fugazzi.
On a beautiful summer day, SA Style had the honour of joining Laura on a luxury road trip through the regions.
“I love taking the Volkswagen Tiguan through the hills, there is plenty of space in the boot for all the fresh produce and wine purchases I make along the way,” says Laura. “The navigation system has cool features like voice and gesture control, and I also love to get the tunes going when I am driving through regional SA, so the Apple CarPlay® comes in handy!”
The Edible Garden
Laura’s first stop was McMillan & Drew’s edible garden at Penny’s Hill Winery in the McLaren Vale. It’s a memorable stop given that Laura’s first job was actually at Penny’s Hill.
“I started working at Penny’s back in the summer of 2012/2013 when I moved to South Australia from Melbourne,” Laura says. “We used to hold the most magical weddings on the weekends, and I think that’s where I fell in love with hospitality. I was there for the year before I applied for MasterChef.”
This road trip is the first time Laura has returned to Penny’s Hill in years. “To see the property as beautiful as ever is just so special, as well as all the familiar faces that are still around the place. It will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Penny’s Hill Winery is also home to McMillan & Drew, a specialist garden filled with edible flowers, rare herbs and natives that are supplied to some of the state’s most awarded restaurants.
“I feel like edible flowers are such a beautiful way to add colour and visuals to any dish – from canapés to salads to sweets,” she says. “They are perfect over a summer pavlova or a little lemon tart – and of course can spruce up a cheese platter, which are all the rage at the moment, and so they should be. I have picked up some supplies for a cheese platter from Burnside Village and I will be using these flowers on this platter this evening.”
Laura suggests featuring a mild flower on cheeseboards like Borage or Valerian to complement the star of the platter – cheese.
A Long Lunch
Cruising towards the Adelaide Hills region in a Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, Laura’s next stop was the award-winning Longview Vineyard.
It’s just a short half-hour between McLaren Vale and Macclesfield, which Laura says is one of the things she loves most about holidaying in South Australia. “Everything in SA is so close and super easy to get to. The best part is each region is so different and offers so much that there’s no need to leave our beautiful state.”
The cellar door at Longview Vineyard was constructed to highlight the stunning vistas surrounding it. Being featured in Gourmet Traveller WINE 2021 Australia’s Best Cellar Door Awards shows that its charm hasn’t been lost on Australia.
“The grounds and the views are just incredible and showcase the best of the [Adelaide] Hills,” remarks Laura.
Longview’s cellar door is celebrated for its food and wine experiences. Weekend guests can sit back with estate-grown wines passionately paired with a seasonal, globally-inspired, shared set menu.
The stellar menu at Longview kicks off with a tempting antipasto plate. “The food and wine are at such a high standard,” says Laura. “You just can’t go wrong with an antipasto plate – all house-made pickles, the quality of the cured meats and some fresh cheeses are always the best way to start any meal,” says Laura. “I’m very good at over-ordering!”
The Fettuccine Primavera is the star dish currently on the menu. With a green pea pesto, fresh vegetables and topped off with a fior di latte. “The freshness of the Fettuccine Primavera screams summer.”
Not to be outshone, the Pasta del Giorno (pasta of the day) was gnocchi. “The gnocchi with brown butter and pumpkin was to die for,” says Laura.
Finishing with the Tagliata Di Manzo was an excellent choice. The pan-seared beef pairs perfectly with the vincotto and the freshness of the rocket and parmesan.
Unfortunately, after trying all the mains, dessert was too much. “But that is what next time is for!” Laura laughs.
Longview is the perfect place to indulge in food, wine and scenery. Lunch is only available on Saturday and Sunday, however, weekday visitors can still get a taste of what Longview has to offer with seated wine tastings, cheese boards and antipasto.
A Relaxing Retreat
Everyone knows that after a big day and a big lunch it’s time for a relaxing evening retreat.
“Boutique and luxury accommodation is the way to go – I’m not a camper, so anything with a bathtub and exceptional views, I am there,” Laura says.
She’s giving the Tiguan a break and settling in for the night at The Vineyard Retreat McLaren Vale. After a quick change – she’s swapped her two-piece broderie skirt and top from Seed at Burnside Village with a retro-inspired floral mini dress from Oroton (also from Burnside) – it’s onto the cheese platter.
She’s come prepared with gourmet fare from the extensive selection at Burnside Village, ready to share some tips for the perfect board.
The cheeses are the absolute highlight of a good cheese board, Laura tells us. “You have to nail them. It’s always important to get a mix of cheeses, all really good quality.”
Tonight’s gourmet board features some MasterChef-worthy South Australian cheeses; Derry-O Organic Blue, Adelaide Select Matured Cheddar and Divine Dairy Organic Camembert.
Laura’s biggest tip for the most decadent cheese board is a gooey soft brie – “Always a brie! It’s the showstopper of any party!” she says.
A cheese board for supper, and maybe a sip or two of some stellar local wines among vines, and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect South Australian road trip.
Laura drove a Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line in Dolphin Grey from Solitaire Volkswagen during her SA escape and was dressed by Burnside Village. Food produce was also supplied by Burnside Village.
Dressed by Burnside Village
Words Grace Marryat
Photography Gretl Watson-Blazewicz
Styling Cimon Vozzo
Stylist Assistant Jess Rogers
HMUA Crystal Terreu
Clothing and produce Burnside Village
Transport Volkswagen Tiguan R-line in Dolphin Grey from Solitaire Volkswagen
Shot on location at McMillan & Drew, Longview Vineyard and The Vineyard Retreat