My Barossa – Part 2 – all about the food (and coffee)

It’s a couple of weeks since part one of my newcomer’s guide to the Barossa (me being the newcomer). Work, school holidays and the realisation I’d deleted part two has delayed this post. But school is back and thanks to the computer back-up, I have been able to resurrect the post and share some of my other favourite things to do.

One upside is that I have been able to sample a few more places, so I have a few more tips to add.

Fresh Produce and Food

Our first visit to the Farmer's Market was as good as we expected, and has been a weekly trip since
Our first visit to the Farmer’s Market was as good as we expected, and has been a weekly trip since

It’s probably no surprise that the wine culture and German heritage in the Barossa means that food is an important part of the Barossa lifestyle. If you visit on a Saturday morning, be sure to head to the Barossa Valley Fanmer’s Market to pick up great produce, coffee, treats and even breakfast. I also love that our local supermarket support so many local producers by stocking their products, which means that even if you can’t get to the Farmer’s Market, you can still try products like Jersey Fresh milk, Barossa Roasters coffee, Careme Pastry, Steiny’s mettwurst, Wiech’s noodles, Barossa Valley Ice Cream, and many more. I love the fact our local supermarkets get behind local products and make sure they are available if you can’t make it to the Famer’s Market.

Chicken and Leek Pie made by me with Careme Pastry
Chicken and Leek Pie made by me with Careme Pastry

In an era where many cities have lost their butchers, we’re lucky to have butcher’s in most towns in the Barossa including Thornby’s in Tanunda, Schultz in Angaston (home to the famous Schultz bacon) and Linke’s in Nuriootpa.

Right next to Thornby’s in Tanunda, is the Apex bakery which has been baking bread since 1924.

Maggie Beer’s Farmshop is definitely worth a visit – you can enjoy a light lunch overlooking the dam, an ice cream or stock up on amazing condiments, jams, sauces and other cooking items. I am slightly obsessed by the Salted Brandy Caramel and Dark Chocolate Vincotto. Great spot for kids with nature walks, birds (including a couple of beautiful peacocks), turtles, ducks and sheep.

We watched for ages as this peacock (name King Fu peacock by the kids) put on a show for us at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop
We watched for ages as this peacock (name King Fu peacock by the kids) put on a show for us at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop

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Coffee

The options for coffee are expanding weekly it seems and it is hard to believe that a decade ago there was hardly a coffee shop in town. Being in Tanunda, I tend to get my daily fix at Keils, Nosh or the recently opened Mac Shac (which all serve a good range of sandwiches and meals). I have yet to try out the new Beans and Cream which is using my favourite Barossa Coffee Roasters– as does Harvest Kitchen and the kiosk at Seppeltsfield. Another popular newcomer on the Main Street of Tanunda is Darling’s Food with Passion cafe right next to Ironstone Cottage (which along with Elemental, Seasons and Alabaster are some of my favourite places to shop, especially for gifts).

Soul With Zest and Casa Carboni make great coffee in Angaston, I’ve heard good things about Barista Sista Beanery in Nuriootpa. Bar41 in Wiliamstown makes a great coffee as does That Little Café in Stockwell, which is open Thursday-Saturday with an ever changing menu

Dining out

Once you have enjoyed all the wineries and cooked up a storm with local produce, there are also some great restaurants to try. Here’s the list I share

  • Fino at Seppeltsfield – award winning and just as good as the original Fino in Willunga (McLaren Vale) and set in the recently renovated Seppeltsfield building

    A selection of the dishes from Fino at Seppeltsfield, May 2015
    A selection of the dishes from Fino at Seppeltsfield, May 2015
  • Appellation at the Louise – amazing food and also does a “locals night” (although you don’t have to be local) on a Tuesday night) which is a 3 course menu $59 – bookings essential. We went for our anniversary last year and it was great not having to order and just enjoying the dishes the chef had designed to showcase great local, seasonal produce
    Entree at Appellation
    Entree at Appellation

    View over the Stonewell Vineyard from Appellation
    View over the Stonewell Vineyard from Appellation
  • Ferment Asia in Tanunda is rated really highly with Chef and Owner Tuoi Do preparing Vietnamese style dishes using local South Australian produce. It also has a great wine list and has been recently extended
  • Harvest Kitchen at Artisans of Barossa – run by Tracey Collins and Pete Little, I have eaten here several times since they opened in February and can’t say a bad word – except for the fact I am slightly addicted to the salted caramel popcorn sundae! I also recently tried the Feed Me Like a Barossan lunch, which for $49 provides a fantastic selection of all the small plates, mains and desserts on offer. If you have the time, settle in and enjoy. Open 7 days for lunch, they are also open on a Friday night for dinner – but make sure you book.

    The Salted Caramel Popcorn sundae at Harvest Kitchen is amazing
    The Salted Caramel Popcorn sundae at Harvest Kitchen is amazing
  • Casa Carboni – coffee is fantastic and Fiona and Matteo offer great meals and cooking classes. On Friday evenings they offer wines by the glass with a menu of seasonal, local small plates.
  • Greenock Creek Tavern – great old pub with beautiful courtyards and grassed areas. We were spoilt with a huge sample platter of homemade icecreams from the chef the day we went. The lemon meringue pie ice cream had actual pieces of pie in it and was delicious.
  • Hentley Farm – this is definitely something to put on your Barossa bucket list! We were very lucky to be taken there by friends recently and enjoyed the Discovery menu with paired wines. The service was impeccable and the food was amazing – incredible flavours and very innovative without being over the top. It’s decsrived as “about” 7 courses and while there were 7 mains, there were also 5 small “snacks” to start, a dessert and 3 different petit fours. Save your pocket money and book in advance!

    A selection of the dishes we enjoyed recently at Hentley Farm
    A selection of the dishes we enjoyed recently at Hentley Farm
  • First Drop/Home of the Brave – great tapas, daily specials and a funky setting. Service is fun and the wine is pretty good too.
  • Barossa Valley Brewing – apart from local brewed beer and a beer garden perfect for the summer months, there is a great menu

1918 Bistro and Grill and Vintners Bar and Grill (which recently won the SA Best regional and Contemporary Restaurant) are two restaurants on my must visit list which are popular with locals and visitors alike.

There are also pubs in most of the towns serving up good local pub food.

For families (especially with younger kids), the options for dinner are more limited, but given the number of new restaurants that have opened since we arrived, I don’t think it will be long before there are more options. I often suggest to friends travelling with kids that they make the most of lunches out, and then stock up at the market, butchers and supermarket (and cellar doors) for dinner – and of course, get a babysitter and book one fancy child-free dinner out.

One gap that I hope is filled in coming years is a really good, upscale Chinese restaurant that showcases Australian produce and most importantly wine from the Barossa with dishes cooked from a variety of Chinese regional cuisines. I think this would be a valuable addition from both a tourism and wine point of view.

And it could hardly be a post about Barossa food without mentioning all the brilliant home made and home grown produce. We have be spoiled by friend’s bringing us cherries, lemons, eggs, almonds, apricots, preserves and chutneys. I’m also learning that the country roads are filled with wild fruits and nuts, and I’m looking forward to my first foraging trip. I’m also going to give jam making another go, although I think the winners from this year’s Tanunda Show are safe for a little while yet!

Tanunda Show Produce Display, March 2015
Tanunda Show Produce Display, March 2015

Transport

There are loads of options for tours so that you don’t need to worry about driving yourself. There is not much in the way of public transport and if you think you need a taxi, especially around school start and finish times, book in advance.

Tourism Barossa has some great resources and you should also visit the Visitors Centre in Tanunda when you arrive for more tips and local knowledge.

I’m sure there are many more places I could include, but these are just a few of the places we’ve enjoyed since we have been here or been told we should try. If there is anything I’ve missed, please let me know.

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My Barossa – a few of my favourite things – wineries and other things to do

View over the Steingarten Vineyard
View over the Steingarten Vineyard

In recent months, we’ve had visitors, done a house-swap and been asked to provide suggestions for friends of friends coming to visit. So I thought I should write a blog post with the various emails I had sent. However  I have been procrastinating over this post for weeks because every time I work on it, I think, “now I should just visit a few more places” and then post.

The Freedom Vineyard at Langmeil - some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world, 5 minutes from home
The Freedom Vineyard at Langmeil – some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world, 5 minutes from home

The reality is, when you decide to call a place home, it can sometimes be too easy to slip into a local’s, “I’ll do that later” attitude and forget to play tourist. On the positive side, writing a list like this is a good reminder about all the places I still want to visit and to make time to do so. So Mum’s visit last week was a good excuse to tick a few more of the “must-dos” off my list which means it’s become an even longer and I’ve split it into two parts.

This is by no means a definitive list, in fact, if I ever get to a point where I say I have seen everything there is to see, and done everything there is to do, well, I should just up and find a new place to live. But I doubt that will ever happen because there are always new restaurants to try, new vintages of wine to sample, new shops and new exhibitions. Not to mention the fact that the Barossa is one of those fabulous places that thanks to the vines and fruit and almond trees (think blossoms), actually has seasons that you can see.

Wineries

Of course this is one of the main reasons people come to the Barossa and there are so many options. I have promised myself that in the coming months, I am taking myself of to do more wine tasting so I can expand my list of recommendations. I am no wine expert – so I’m not providing tasting notes – but I’ve included a link for all of them

  • Artisans of Barossa – 7 small winemakers in one of the most picturesque spots looking out over the vines towards Tanunda. Usually great art and jewelry on display, space for kids to run around or play soccer/cricket and the fabulous Harvest Kitchen (which I’ll include in next week’s post on places to eat). You might even get to enjoy a tasting with my husbandIMG_3716
  • Langmeil – great wine, fantastic history and a lovely platter (see my post on a day of wine tasting for more of the history about Langmeil)IMG_0515
  • Peter Lehmann – great tasting room, loads of beautiful space outdoors to enjoy a platter while kids run around and toys inside if the weather isn’t so great
  • Rockford – great wines being made in a winery that looks like it is a museum. Great insight into how wine is made

    Rockford Wines
    Rockford Wines
  • St Hallett – another beautiful spot to enjoy a picnic or a platter – I think they still do a fantastic duck platter
  • Whistler – a great one for families with BBQs, swings etc for kids and you can build your own platter
  • Thorn-Clarke – beautiful property out at Angaston and some great wines
  • Grant Burge – beautiful views up on a hill overlooking the Krondorf area, platters and lovely bubbles

    View from Grant Burge Wines
    View from Grant Burge Wines
  • Jacob’s Creek – a huge tasting room, excellent museum with history about the Barossa and wine making, a restaurant and beautiful outdoor areas. Also the opportunity for tours and cooking classes in the Jacob’s Estate cottages

    Jacob's Creek
    Jacob’s Creek
  • Two Hands – beautiful tasting room and a big focus on Shiraz

    A few of the wines tasted at Two Hands
    A few of the wines tasted at Two Hands
  • Seppeltsfield – a huge tasting room with circular tasting benches, the opportunity to try a fortified wine from your birth year, s and beautiful architecture (plus the fantastic Fino restaurant and the Jam Factory – where you can see artists at work)

    Courtyard at Seppeltsfield
    Courtyard at Seppeltsfield
  • Chateau Tanunda – celebrating 125 years this year, it’s certainly one of the most iconic landmarks in the Barossa Valley
  • Pindarie – won one of the top tourism awards, giant hay bales to climb (which has made it my boys’  favourite winery to visit) and a recently renovated tasting room. Great wine (especially the 2015 Riesling) and one of the most fantastic views out over the Barossa. The food is also great – we had a saltbush lamb pie and one of the best platters I’ve had in the Barossa in the time we have been here when we visited with Mum recently.
    Lunch at Pindaric
    Lunch at Pindaric

    Climbing hay bales at Pindarie
    Climbing hay bales at Pindarie
  • Home of the Brave/First Drop wines – finally visited with Mum last week. Wines we had with our incredible tapas lunch were great so must get back for a tasting soon.

    First Drop Wines/Home of the Brave
    First Drop Wines/Home of the Brave
  • Yalumba – one of the oldest family owned wineries in Australia and a beautiful property with it’s iconic clock tower.

    My boys at Yalumba during Vintage Festival
    My boys at Yalumba during Vintage Festival

Places I’m off to visit soon

  • Yelland and Papps – run by Michael and Susan Papps who are lovely people (which makes it even worse that I haven’t visited). First generation winemakers making great wine and with a tasting room that always gets rave reviews
  • Tscharkes
  • Turkey Flat – visited years ago, drive past on a weekly basis – must make time to stop!
  • Elderton
  • Taste Eden Valley – a tasting room in Angaston showcasing around 12 Eden Valley producers

This is just a tiny selection of the 170 wine companies in the Barossa. More details and a history of wine making in the Barossa, check out the Barossa.com website

Don’t forget, tasting a few wines at a few different places can add up. So unless you can spit like a professional, you’ll need a designated driver or the services of one of the local transport companies. There are lots of options from taxis, to private cars (including beautiful vintage cars), buses and even a three-wheeled motorcycle tour.

However there is much in the way of public transport and if you think you need a taxi, especially around school start and finish times, you’ll need to book in advance.

Other Things to do

Of course, it’s not all about wine tasting and there are a number of towns throughout the Barossa with great places to eat, beautiful shops, parts, galleries and other sites.

I tend to spend a lot of my time in Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston but there are lots of other great towns to visit including Lyndoch (where we have spied a number of restaurants, a bakery and most importantly a park for the kids), Eden Valley, Kapunda, Springton and Williamstown (close to the Whispering Wall)

The Whispering Wall
The Whispering Wall

And while we’re on parks, favourites in our family include the Sculpture Park at the Mengler’s Hill lookout, Tanunda Oval, Angaston and the train park at Nuriootpa.

Mongrel's Hill and the Sculpture Park - great views out over Tanunda
Mongrel’s Hill and the Sculpture Park – great views out over Tanunda

There are also loads of great antique and second-hand stores full of furniture, home wares and other curios that provide a fantastic insight into the history of the Barossa.

Finally, the Barossa is a fabulous place to just walk or drive around. This place is a photographer’s dream, especially if you love landscapes dotted with old stone churches, farmhouses and the ever-changing colours of vineyards and paddocks.

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As I said at the outset, this is just a sample of the things we have enjoyed or have on our wish list to explore in the coming months.

Tourism Barossa has some great resources here (and you should also visit the Visitors Centre in Tanunda when you arrive for more tips and local knowledge.

If you’ve been to the Barossa (or live here), I’d love to hear your tips for wineries I might have missed.

I’ll try share and my list of favourite places for lunches, dinners, food and coffee soon, so be sure to tweet or email if there are places I should include.

Barossa Vintage Festival 2015

Life has been pretty busy lately as I launch my consulting business, family visiting, school holidays and the Barossa Vintage Festival.

Launch of the Barossa Vintage Festival 2015 at the Festival Hub, Visitor Information Centre, April 14 2015
Launch of the Barossa Vintage Festival 2015 at the Festival Hub, Visitor Information Centre, April 14 2015

I heard about the festival soon after moving here and decided it would be a good way to learn more about the Barossa and to meet people. I also figured I should put my events experience and arts and entertainment management studies to good use. It is the largest and longest running wine tourism event in Australia and sees the Barossa community come together to celebrate the end of grape harvest and vintage. The festival was first held in 1947 with a parade and a ball, which 2000 people attended. It has been held every 2 years since, apart from in 1952 when it was canceled due to a period of national mourning following the death of King George VI.

The Orlando Barrel float was made for the very first parade in 1948
The Orlando Barrel float was made for the very first parade and was restored for the parade this year

In 2014, the concept for the festival was revitalised, with experienced events producer Andrew Dundon being brought in to oversee the 95 events organised over 5 days. Many of these events were free and most were organised by local businesses and groups, with the festival committee and sub-committees volunteers taking responsibility for the Ziegenmarkt, the Feast, the Parade and Barossa Comes Home. A key element of the festival is the Young Ambassadors program, which was established in 1999 and involves 12 young adults who host and promote the Barossa and the Vintage Festival. They sit on the event sub-committees as a means of developing a range of skills. The winners were announced during the Barossa Comes Home event and it was great to see one of the Young Ambassadors I worked with on the parade Dana Roocke, winning the Barossa Young Excellence award while Chloe Thomas was awarded Barossa Young Ambassador and Laura Romeo won for having the best personal project. It was great to be a part of the Parade sub-committee. Putting together Facebook posts for the event – first encouraging people to register their floats and then promoting the parade itself – was a great excuse to explore the archives and learn more about the history of the parade.

Festival Garden at Yalumba, April 15 2015
Festival Garden at Yalumba, April 15 2015

It was great to have my sister, my brother-in-law and their two girls join us from Sydney for the festival. We started on Wednesday – which was an amazing autumn day – visiting the Festival Garden at Yalumba. I hadn’t been back to Yalumba since moving to the Barossa but it was the first winery I visited in the Barossa when I escorted the Vice Mayor of Wuxi, China around Australia during my first year at Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1999. We spent a lovely day on the lawns enjoying great food from Saskia Beer, empanadas from our friend (and former Masterchef Contestant) Colin Shepherd and his wife Fiona, raspberry sundaes and wine from Yalumba. The kids enjoyed the first of many ice creams from Barossa Valley Ice Cream – which was definitely the highlight of each event (thanks Julie)!

Ziegenmarkt, Goat Square Tanunda April 16, 2015
Ziegenmarkt, Goat Square Tanunda April 16, 2015

The weather turned on Thursday but that didn’t stop us from visiting the Ziegenmarkt. Ziegenmarkt (goat market) was a fresh produce and livestock market in Tanunda from the mid-1800s. Since 1981, it has been a part of the Vintage festival. The auction of local produce was a highlight (and raised money for charity), along with great potato pancakes from the Tanunda AFL Club, coffees from Barossa Coffee Roasters and pastries from Apex Bakery. The kids were kept entertained with games and meeting animals including goats, a horse, a pig, chickens, and guinea pigs.

Livestock and produce auction for charity at the Ziegenmarkt
Livestock and produce auction for charity at the Ziegenmarkt

Friday may have been wet, but that didn’t stop over 1000 people heading to Seppeltsfield for the Let’s Fly a Kite event, put on by one of the local schools. Unfortunately by the time we arrived they had sold out of over 400 kites, but we enjoyed a wander through some lovely markets, amused the kids with bubbles and stuffed ourselves with freshly made donuts, sausages on buns and pancakes (in that order) and of course coffee! On Friday night, we left the small ones at home with the babysitter and walked over to the Tanunda Show Hall to join 700 of our closest friends for the Feast. After drinks outside (in our BYO op-shop glasses as is tradition here), we made our way into the hall, which had been transformed with long tables and a huge feast of great Barossan food and wine. We were entertained by comedian Damien Callinan as MC, the Lucky 7 Swing band, dancers (and lots of dancing) and photo booth fun before walking back home in the early hours.

Glasses for the Feast
Glasses for the Feast
The Feast
The Feast

Waking up at 6am was a bit of a shock, but I had to be at Nuriootpa for parade set-up at 7am. Floats slowly arrived and started to set-up while I stood on the main street directing traffic around the road closures (thank goodness for the map our parade convenor Kat had prepared).

Traffic marshal selfie at the start of the Vintage festival parade, April 18, 2015
Traffic marshal selfie at the start of the Vintage festival parade, April 18, 2015

This meant I had a prime position to take photos of all 52 float entrants (some with multiple vehicles and usually with a group walking alongside) as they started the long walk/drive to Tanunda. At 7km, the parade is apparently the longest in the Southern Hemisphere, which involves quite a bit of logistical planning to manage road closures along the way and wouldn’t be possible with the many volunteer traffic marshals who turned up on the day. At least it was probably a lot easier to organise than the longest parade in the world which is the Hanover Schützenfest parade, which is 12 kilometres long and has more than 12,000 participants including more than 100 bands and around 70 floats and carriages.

Vintage SA Police car leading the parade
Vintage SA Police car leading the parade
The Young Ambassador's Float
The Young Ambassador’s Float
The Vintage
The Vintage “Queens” – winners of the People’s Choice Award
Best Musical Float - the Nine Popes from Charles Melton Wines
Best Musical Float – the Nine Popes from Charles Melton Wines
Vintage Steam Tractor - winner of the Best Vintage Vehicle
Vintage Steam Tractor – winner of the Best Vintage Vehicle

As soon as the last float left, I drove back home to collect the family so we could be in place as the floats arrived at the end of the parade in Tanunda. Standing on the street elicited the usual “I’m bored” complaints – until the parade started. The kids loved it and my almost 2 year-old niece was very cute laughing and clapping for them all. There were so many great floats as you’ll see below.

Impressed these guys rolled the barrels the whole 7km
Impressed these guys rolled the barrels the whole 7km

We all then headed off to the Oval for the Barossa Comes Home event, during which the winners of the Scarecrow exhibition, the Young Ambassadors and various parade categories were announced. The kids finally had the chance to go on a jumping castle, there was more ice cream for them and more wine and sausages for us. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as kind as it could have been but it was great to see so many families out enjoying the food, drinks and space to run around. Although we only attended a handful of the events on offer, we had a great time, and it was exciting to learn that most events were well attended and many were sold out. It’s very easy to see why the Vintage Festival holds such an important place in the tourism calendar for the Barossa and I am definitely looking forward to being involved again in 2017.

Clare Valley Day Trip

We decided to make the most of the beautiful weather on the last day of the last school holidays and head up to the Clare Valley for the day. My husband was also keen to use his day off from pouring wine to do some tasting.

One of the advantages of the Barossa is its proximity to several great day trips being only an hour away to Clare, Adelaide or the Adelaide Hills.

Clare Valley countryside
Clare Valley countryside

Our first stop was O’Leary Walker, which we’d visited on our last trip to Clare back in 2007. Back then they were still doing tastings in the large shed, so we were excited to see the beautiful new cellar door. It was a good start for all when pens and paper were offered to the boys who could sit at a low table close to the tasting bench. They soon decided that running outside under the sprinklers was more fun, but either way they were amused for long enough for us to taste some really great wine. The riesling was as good as I’d remembered as it was interesting to taste new release 2014, 2013 and 2008 wines.

Tasting wine at O'Leary Walker
Tasting wine at O’Leary Walker
View from the cellar door at O'Leary Walker
View from the cellar door at O’Leary Walker

Next stop was Crabtree Wines which is one of the prettiest cellar doors I’ve visited, and had a great set up with individual tasting “stations” atop barrels with the cellar door person moving between groups. A beautiful cellar door dog, a Whippet named Tiger kept the boys happy along with some chocolate from the lady running the tastings. As expected, the riesling was good and we also came home with some nice clean skins.

Cellar door at Crabtree Wines
Cellar door at Crabtree Wines

Lunch was our next stop and we all had great meals at the Seven Hill Hotel. Great service, tasty kids meals, a cellar to view (where you can select wines to open there or take away), wines by the glass and great service made it somewhere we’d happily return to.

After lunch we drove further on to visit Knappstein, a beautiful cellar door and brewery. Apart from the rieslings, the standout for me was the 2008 sparkling shiraz (which kicks off our collection for Christmas lunch). The beer was also really nice – but I think part of that was my excitement of having an ice cold beer fresh from the tap, rather than a bottle or the warm beer I was used to in Hanoi. We also brought some beer home with it and I am happy to report it was just as good from the bottle!

Knappstein cellar door and brewery
Knappstein cellar door and brewery

After a quick detour to a great shaded playground, we visited Mr Mick. I love the story behind this. Veteran Clare Valley winemaker Tim Adams took on the old Leasingham site on the edge of Clare, and renamed it Mr Mick in honour of his mentor Mick Knappstein.  I really enjoyed the Rose and the tapas menu looked great, so I think we’ll be going back there in the future.

Mr Mick Cellar Door and Kitchen
Mr Mick Cellar Door and Kitchen

Finally, on our way home we stopped in to the Clare Valley Brewing Company were we tasted a few beers and the Good Catholic Girl Riesling, which I’d actually had in Wollongong on my 40th. I’m not sure how I feel paying to taste, but the beer was nice, and we brought home a 6 pack of the Red Ale. I also liked the Miss Molly cider which I was surprised to find out was made with grapes. I was curious how it was then cider and not wine but the brewing technique and the alcohol content for the cider is much lower than for wine.

Clare Valley Brewing Company
Clare Valley Brewing Company

All in all it was a nice day out, and while the boys got a bit bored at the end, most places had somewhere they could either sit to draw or play on the ipad or they could run around outside. There is definitely a lot more we would like to explore in the area, including a few cellar doors that are only open at weekends, so I think it will be a regular day trip for us and probably something we’ll do with family and friends come to visit.

Have you been to the Clare Valley? Any tips for our next visit?

Retail therapy in Hanoi

Edited: 18 September 2017 to update some detail for some of my favourite places

Study deadlines of course bring on the urge to bake, clean and shop but rather than head into the dangerous territory of online shopping, I thought I’d take myself on a little virtual shop through my favourite places in Hanoi. I started this post last week, but a malfunction with my photo album and study took over and so it’s been over a week between posts.

When I drafted this post initially, I was going to make the point it is now over three months since we left Hanoi and that like many places in South East Asia, Hanoi is changing fast. As it turns out in the last few days, I have learned about a few new places but I’ll still be sharing this with friends and asking them to add to this – and of course, if you have been to Hanoi and want to add anything, please comment below.

There are also lots of tourist maps around, but I would recommend the Nancy Chandler hand drawn map of Hanoi which you can find at various places including Bookworm. Updates also appear on the Nancy Chandler web page.

Chula

It’s no secret that the vast majority of my Hanoi wardrobe was from Chula. From the first time I set eyes on these amazing designs, rainbow colours and perfect fit I was hooked. Although many of us in Hanoi had similar designs, I don’t think I ever showed up wearing something the same as anyone. I also loved how Laura & Diego and their team would alter things to suit – my last dress which I wore for my 40th being adapted from a poncho.

Mum and I wearing Chula on my 40th birthday. My dress was from Chula's most recent Hanoi collection and was actually adapted from a poncho!
Mum and I wearing Chula on my 40th birthday. My dress was from Chula’s most recent Hanoi collection and was actually adapted from a poncho!
With my birthday twin Elodie wearing Chula - hers is the fabulous Pho (noodle soup) dress
With my birthday twin Elodie wearing Chula – hers is the fabulous Pho (noodle soup) dress

Laura & Diego are passionate about what they do and have really created something special. Once a small studio in their home, they have moved out allowing for the expansion of the shop space which also doubles as a venue for art and music (and includes the family alter of the landlords which is still used daily and is an incredible sight). It’s also on a pretty part of Ho Tay (West Lake) which is worth a visit (just near the pottery covered dragons) and if you can’t make it to Hanoi, best thing is they are now online. So you can shop the collection or even send your measurements in for something custom made and they’ll send it anywhere in the world (just make sure you tell them I sent you)!

Courtyard at Chula
Courtyard at Chula

Hang Gai

Vietnamese for “silk street” it’s probably no surprise that this was one of my favourite shopping streets in Hanoi. I often did a mad dash from the office in the last lunch hour before leaving for Australia to stock up on last minute gifts. I’ll talk about Tan My, Ginko and Hanoi Moment below, but other good shops include Ninh Khuong for embroidered clothes and gifts for babies and children and of course being silk street, lots of shops selling silk. Han Gai is also home to the Hidden Café (great Vietnamese Coffee especially egg coffee with a view over the lake – see my post on the things I miss about Hanoi).

Tan My

If Chula was my favourite place (and weakness) for dresses, then it was Tan My for everything else. It was my favourite place to take guests and the best place to buy good quality gifts including lacquer, linen, gorgeous Valerie Cordier handbags, art deco lamps from My Way deco, art prints and Vietnamese themed stationery and kids books.

Valerie Cordier bags and beautiful lacquer from Tan My
Valerie Cordier bags and beautiful lacquer from Tan My
My Way Deco lamp from Tan My
My Way Deco lamp from Tan My

Ginko T-shirts

Ginko sell funky t-shirts in kids and adults sizes. My favourite is probably their Vietnam telecom shirt which has sadly been picked up by all the t-shirt copiers and one with various activities on a motorbike (everything from moving house to sleeping). Ginko have a couple of shops in Hanoi, including on Hang Gai, and are also in Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City

Hanoi Moment

Another great shop on Hang Gai. I’ve bought silver jewelry and candleholders, great pottery and they also do some really interesting boxes inlaid with rolled paper.

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Future Traditions

Future Traditions beautiful clothes using indigenous textiles sourced from across Vietnam as well as beautiful jewelry. In 2017, Future Traditions opened a showroom at 17, 11/18 To Ngoc Van. Their designs are also available at Emporium and Tan My Design

Oriberry Coffee and Pottery

This social enterprise has two locations – on Xuan Dieu in the Tay Ho (West Lake area) and one in Au Trieu in the Old Quarter (called Indigenous) has great coffee (both western and Vietnamese versions), and juices as well selling fair trade coffee (ground or beans) from a variety of areas in Vietnam and beautiful pottery from Bat Trang (great if you don’t have time to visit this pottery village just outside Hanoi).

Beautiful pottery from Bat Trang at Oriberry
Beautiful pottery from Bat Trang at Oriberry

Things to consider buying:

  • Vietnamese conical hat – non la – great for gardening I’m told
  • Bird cages – although a little tricky to ship
  • Lacquer and bamboo – with the usual rule of “you get what you pay for”
  • Fabric – depends what you are looking for but a trip to a fabric market like Cho Hom or even the street selling all manner of ribbons, buttons, zips and trims in the old quarter is worth it if you like sewing

Even taking a few days from my first draft on this, I’m sure as soon as I hit publish I will remember some others but these are my favourites that spring to mind as I indulge in a little virtual retail therapy..

Please share your tips and any favourites you have found in Hanoi.