The Eatery on Pheasant Farm Road, Barossa Valley, Australia
An Australian icon, Maggie Beer and her Farm Shop and Eatery offer an oasis in what is currently a fairly parched Barossa Valley.
After a blast through some dry Australian landscape, the search for an oasis to sate the appetite and the thirst could easily be solved by a visit to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop and Eatery.
Australian food aficionados are likely familiar with the wares of Maggie Beer. Her produce is well known, of quality, and her status as an icon of food is not in any dispute. It is with some pride that the staff of the Maggie Beer Farm Shop and Eatery say that Beer is not a professional chef at all, but her food is borne from an exquisite love of the craft.
On the day of the visit, we were greeted by the Eatery's leader, Elli Beer; a confident host with vast knowledge of the food on offer. She describes the items on the menu with the ease of a well-practised veteran; today's particular special being lachsschinken served on fetta, with dill (and she jokes that there’s a sign in the kitchen to remind everyone that its pronunciation is “luck-schinken”).
I order the lamb’s neck in mint sauce. It was so delicious, I forget to take a photo of the plate before gorging myself.
The Eatery and Farm Shop are perched on the side of an enormous dam, which appears to be home to many ducks and tortoises. The creatures' leisurely paddle about the dam looks relaxing - equally as relaxed as the customers who arrive with great frequency, either seeking a meal to punctuate their visit to the shop next door, or stopping for lunch after a spirited drive from the city.
The chefs certainly prove their supreme talents at balancing the flavours of the lamb with the mint, with olives also offered within the dish, serving to culminate into a glorious flavour. The lamb falls apart with such ease, that to say that it “melts” would be a disservice. This lamb doesn’t melt. There has to be a better descriptor somewhere, but my online thesaurus is failing me.
Alongside the plate is a glass of their homemade Fennel Cola, which was a refreshing side to an incredible meal. Usually when I’m hungry, I will devour a plate of food - any food - with as few bites as possible, but to do so with this meal felt as though I was insulting the artist behind its creation.
This was something to be savoured.
Visitors are welcome to walk a trail around the property, which is decorated with signs to describe the various features, such as the olive grove, the quince trees, and the many different and exotic pheasants.
At 2pm each day, inside the neighbouring Farm Shop, there is a cooking session in where visitors are given a demonstration on the use of Beer’s produce in their own cooking. This all takes place while everyone sits alongside the studio set of the (Australian) ABC show “The Cook and the Chef”, which ran for four seasons from 2006 to 2009.
It is hinted that sometimes Maggie Beer herself makes a surprise appearance at these demonstrations, if she's in town.
When you’re in the Barossa, and near the town of Nuriootpa (which everyone simply abbreviates to “Nuri”), a visit to the Eatery and Maggie's Farm Shop is certainly a trip worth making, if not for the food, then for learning about the "Food Journey" that Beer, and her family, have made.
Book ahead, if you'd like a sit-down meal. It is a popular destination.