The dining highlight of our three-day visit to the Barossa Valley was lunch at fermentAsian, a restaurant that specialises in the flavours of South East Asia, applied to local ingredients.
The chef, Tuoi Do is Vietnamese and the sommelier and maitre d’ is her husband, Grant Dickson. They met in Singapore, when Grant was there for a music gig. Ah, ain’t love grand?
They opened the restaurant about four years ago, partly to provide Grant’s colleagues in the wine industry – he worked at Rockford – with a local option for enjoying good quality South East Asian food. Tuoi Do had never cooked commercially before but, within 18 months, she had been crowned Best Chef in South Australia!
The quality of the cooking is matched by the extensive list – more than 70 pages at last count – of food-friendly wine, saki, spirits, beers and more. Some of them are well-established favourites, many others are rarely seen on Australian tables. The list is not strait-jacketed by local loyalty; rather, it has the breadth, quality and in-the-know curios that remind you that the Barossa is still one of the world’s major wine regions.
Everything about the food was profoundly satisfying – appearance, quality of ingredients, flavours, textures, balance of salt sour and sweet and anything else you could wish for. fermentAsian does not serve so-called typical Barossa Valley food, but what it does provide, is exactly the quality of dining experience you would hope for in such a region.
Here is a quick account of what we ate:
Nen Ha Noi (Hanoi spring rolls), followed by Diep nuong hanh va ra thom (spiced scallops with shallots & herbs)
Chim vut vol goji (grilled quail with gojiberries and herbs), followed by duck breast with a spicy plum sauce, Asian vegetables and jasmine rice
Lime brulee for Maggie and, for me, tapioca with orange & Szechuan pepper ice cream
Nice to meet you both yesterday.
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