Discovery Parks Lake Bonney – Barmera, South Australia

shady outdoor setting
A perfect shady spot for a drink at the end of the day

As term 1 hurtles towards its end parents may be thinking about booking a short holiday during the break. At least, that’s what we do.

Invariably we spend time umming and aahing and not going anywhere, but, miraculously, last October saw us head up to the Riverland for a few days away before school went back. Not having done really anything in the way of road trips, we were anxious to choose somewhere that was not too far away and I had a Discovery Parks membership that I had won that I was keen to use. 

Because Andy and I prefer not to go to bed at 7pm, it was essential also to choose accommodation where we had two separate bedrooms. Our really positive experience at the Port Elliot Big4 in 2015 pretty much sealed the deal, in terms of heading to a caravan park and splashing the cash for a two bedroom cabin.

I’ll wrap up some other useful hints and tips for Barmera in another post. This one – all about the park itself.

The name gives it away, that the park sits on the shores of Lake Bonney. This means that there are plenty of water-based activities available – there are water trampolines and various water sports equipment to hire and if boating, fishing, waterskiing etc etc are your thing then you’re well catered for. The park also has a swimming pool – and despite the weather not being ideal for swimming, Master 5 made sure we checked it out. 

For children there is a playground, a jumping pillow (this appears to be a KEY piece of equipment in terms of how good a holiday you have) and there is also a games room, with a pool table, air hockey and a couple of video games. Despite the fact we were there in October when you might expect some sunny weather, we had one very damp morning and playing a couple of games of pool as some down time was just perfect!

shady garden
Go for a walk and check out some of the amazing gardens in the park

The park itself is home to quite a few static caravans and (I’m guessing) permanent residents. Some of these residences have really beautiful, well maintained gardens. Nearby Renmark is home to an annual rose festival and many of the static caravans had absolutely stunning roses. Clearly, there is something very special in the soil in the area! Besides looking good, this helps the park look really well maintained.

We stayed in a ‘standard holiday unit’ – and while I took photos of the interior, you’re better off looking at the Discovery Parks website because they’re better quality photos (there’s a surprise!) and they are totally true to what you get. Yes – the interior is a little beige and feels a little 1970s, but our unit was very clean and (critically) the shower was hot with good power. Seriously – all I need for a holiday to be good is a hot, high pressure shower and a clean space!

The park is reasonably close to quite a busy road and our cabin was on the road side of the park. We’re pretty heavy sleepers so the odd noise of a truck going past didn’t bother us but if you are a light sleeper, I suggest you look at a park map and choose accommodation closer to the lake (I think if you’re camping you’ll be OK on that count anyway).

apricot rose
October was perfect for rose spotting

Each of the cabins has an outdoor setting and it was really lovely at the end of the day to sit outside, have a drink and chew the fat.  There are onsite bbqs which is great if you want to have a night off dining out without resorting to cooking a serious meal inside the cabin. I recommend reading the welcome manual as we thought we had to feed the BBQ 20c pieces and only discovered after the fact that they’re actually free!

Crucially, the staff at the park were really friendly and offered good advice when it came to both coffees and evening meals. 

We really enjoyed our break at Lake Bonney and while I probably wouldn’t want to be there in the height of summer (or, indeed, in the depths of winter), I think it makes a perfect destination for the break between terms 1 and 2 and that between terms 3 and 4.

If you’ve been on other great short breaks in SA (that can fulfil our two bedroom requirement!) let me know in the comments as we’re determined to take the time to explore a bit more of our state!

Lake Bonney Caravan Park
Lakeside Drive
Barmera SA 5345

Famiglia – La Casa del Formaggio

20160605_204958

Disclaimer – I was sent a review copy of the book Famiglia: Recipes made with Love and Tradition

When we first returned to South Australia I saw lots of La Casa del Formaggio cheeses in the supermarkets but it took me a very long time to figure out that it was actually a South Australian company. I may be the last person in South Australia to realise this but it is – and there is even a factory shop that you can visit in Glynde. I haven’t yet done this but it’s definitely on my to-do list. Because – cheese.

So when I received an invitation to the book launch of the Casa del Formaggio cookbook I was disappointed not to be able to go, but happily I was sent a review copy! Review copies are an excellent way of getting around the supposed household ban on purchasing cookbooks and while we both love cheese, Andy can be a little bit hoo-hum when it comes to Italian food, so Italian cookbooks are especially good because they’re an excuse to cook Italian.

The book is divided into primi, secondi and dolce and while I haven’t cooked any of the dessert recipes yet – they look amazing. Obviously there are recipes for tiramisu and cannoli but how good does rhubarb semifreddo amaretti sandwiches sound? Or four layer chocolate mascarpone cake?

I ended up trying out the pizza recipe. We almost tried the potato, bocconcini and prosciutto cake – until I saw it contained 2kg of potatoes. Our family of three would have been eating it for a week! In fact, a lot of the recipes are geared for massive families. This makes them perfect for entertaining (or if you do indeed have a massive family) but if you have a small family be prepared to do some sums!

In the interest of thoroughness, I even followed the pizza dough recipe. The main difference between this recipe and our usual one is that it includes olive oil along with the water. The resultant dough was very soft and a bit tricky to handle but made a great pizza base. Andy thought that the dough would be really well suited to making a thicker crust pizza – you can see from the photo how much crust we had. I liked it – and thought it looked fab – but the fact that the dough was harder to handle means I’ll probably revert to using my usual recipe next time (after all – I don’t need to look anything up!).

The topping was Italian sausage, bocconcini, thyme and rocket. Proper Italian pizzas are a GREAT reminder NOT to load up on toppings. Keep it simple. The real revelation here was using bocconcini in lieu of your standard big ball of mozzarella. It was soooooo creamy and delicious. OK – you don’t get those big long stretchy strings of cheese but the creamy flavour and texture was something else. From now on, our pizzas will be topped with torn bocconcini.

Rather than tomato paste, the recipe calls for passata (we just happened to have some open). Although it’s a lot looser than tomato paste, I thought that because of the relatively simple topping it worked well. Tomato paste would have dominated the flavours and made everything taste too sweet.

We both really enjoyed the pizza (and – more importantly for a cookbook review – it worked!) and it was lovely to make the bocconcini discovery.

The is available from the factory shop for $15. Throughout June you might find your local independent supermarket offering it as a gift with purchase in-store promotion.

Italian Sausage, Bocconcini, Thyme and Rocket Pizza

Serving Size: 1 30cm thin crust pizza

Ingredients

    Dough
  • scant 200mL warm water
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 250g strong plain flour
  • salt
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • Topping
  • Bocconcini - at least 3
  • 2 Italian sausages - cooked and then crumbled
  • 2 tbsp passata
  • fresh thyme
  • rocket

Instructions

  1. Please water, yeast and a sprinkle of flour in a bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Allow the yeast to activate and add the remainder of the flour, the salt and the olive oil and form a soft dough. Allow to prove until double in size.
  2. Preheat oven to 250C (fan) - or as hot as your oven will go.
  3. Knock back the dough, give it a light knead and then line a 30cm lightly oiled pizza tray.
  4. Spread the passata over the base and scatter over the crumbled sausage and the torn bocconcini.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Scatter hot pizza with thyme leaves and then top with rocket.
http://eatingadelaide.com/famiglia-la-casa-del-formaggio/

2014 Cellar Door Festival – Bigger and Better

Untitled

Late last year I was asked to be a social media ambassador for the 2014 Cellar Door Festival. There have been a few events for the ambassadors, including a session at OzHarvest and a cheese and wine matching class (I missed that one as I was ham and wine matching in Spain at the time).

As the festival itself is almost upon us (it kicks off next Friday, 14 February) the final ambassador event was held last week at the Adelaide Convention Centre. We were treated to an ‘amazing race’ style evening – charging around the centre, learning more about both the festival and local produce. After we’d built up a head of steam, several of the ‘new producers’ who are being showcased by PIRSA were on hand to chat to us about their foods and participation in the festival.

My partner, Rubina, and I didn’t quite manage to win the race part of the evening (though if there had been a prize for making the most noise, taking it seriously and getting into the spirit of things in an over the top manner, we would DEFINITELY have won that!) we did come in a creditable third (out of five).

For me, probably the most interesting part of the race was trying the alpaca carpaccio. Alpaca is probably not a meat you’ll have come across before. While it’s been eaten in South America for centuries its appearance on Australian menus is still very novel. I had a lovely chat to Perry from Fleurieu Prime Alpaca, and I recommend checking out the meat at the festival. It’s extremely lean, tender and very gently flavoured. You might also find some alpaca on the menu at Pranzo in the CBD.

While the festival is, of course, about wine (and a bit of beer, too!), this year it has a much greater focus on food. Of the producers I met last week, many have a strong emphasis on native ingredients so festival goers will have the opportunity to try plenty of new foods – both at the Farmers’ Market and from individual producers.

This year, the festival’s masterclasses also have a strong food theme. On the opening evening (Friday 14 February) Marion Grasby will be hosting a Valentine’s Day Extravaganza (you can win tickets to this over at McFuzzlebutt’s Manchen – NOTE, you will need to purchase your own Cellar Door Festival tickets separately). Over the course of the weekend she is also hosting two further classes (Summer Entertaining and Asian Favourites) and there are seafood, cheese and, of course, wine focussed classes.

Classes do need to be booked in advance: full details are on the Cellar Door Festival website.