Farmer-turned-cooking-pro Maggie Beer writes books, makes wine and owns a food shop, all to prove why Barossa's cuisine is so exceptional.
It was a natural evolution: Maggie Beer and her husband, Colin, arrived in the Barossa Valley 30 years ago and started raising pheasants on their property near Nuriootpa. Their project turned into the Pheasant Farm Restaurant, where the menu took advantage not only of their poultry but also of produce like quinces, figs and pomegranates, ingredients that thrive in the Mediterranean-like climate. Customersand awardssoon poured in. By the time Pheasant Farm closed, in 1993, Beer had become one of Australia's foremost food authorities.
Today, Maggie Beer's Farm Shop, on the site of the original restaurant, offers simple lunches and an entire line of Maggie Beer products, from verjus (an acidic liquid often used in place of vinegar or lemon juice; Beer's is made with grapes from her vineyard) to Pheasant Farm wines to all five of her cookbooks, including the recent Maggie's Table.
Beer's recipes here, such as her green olive gnocchi and chicken-and-mushroom pie, are variations on the French provincial and country Italian recipes that inspire much of her cooking. They also reveal what Beer loves best about life in the Barossa: "It was here that I learned about the rhythm of the seasons."