Nestled away just off Australia’s south coast, Kangaroo Island’s reputation as a food-lover’s paradise, untouched and hidden away from the tourist hustle and bustle, but has earned it some rave reviews.
Abundant with produce that’s famed for its pure, simple flavours, Kangaroo Island’s food and drink makes it a destination no gourmet globetrotter should miss. Join us as we take you on a tour of its finest wares, with local insights from some of our favourite bloggers along the way.
Ligurian Bee Honey
The gold standard of the island’s produce, Ligurian Bee Honey is an instant stand out. Imported from Italy in 1883, KI (as it is known by locals) has the world’s only pure-bred and disease-free population of this type of bee, helped in part by KI’s bounteous flora and relative isolation.
A trip to a honey farm or two not only affords you the chance to see how it’s produced, but to sample the wares in ways you might not have tried before. Clifford’s Honey Farms, for example, produce many varieties for you to sample. From caramel-tinged Cup Gum honey, eucalyptus and creamed assortments, to its speciality: honey ice cream. For a taste of KI’s provincial fare, this is a prime example of the island’s exports.
Meanwhile, the guys from On the Chopping Board recommend Island Beehive, a local apiary proud of its Ligurian Bee heritage, that produces stunning honey and a honey mead to rival the beloved drink of the Vikings.
A lot of KI’s dairy produce is unique in its use of 100% sheep’s milk. Thickeners and additives are eschewed, resulting in cheese that’s pure and untampered, with a high nutritional content to boot!
Famed across KI, Island Pure Sheep Dairy is located on the banks of the Cygnet River and Gum Creek, and makes some truly fantastic Mediterranean-style cheeses that really are worth highlighting here.
A classic Greek cheese, kefalotiri is known for its piquant, subtly powerful flavour that often accompanies spanakopita and moussaka. Here, it’s aged for six months to give it notes of vanilla and a smooth taste, which is superb on sourdough.
Even creamier than its Spanish counterpart, Island Pure’s manchego is buttery and rich, with a satisfying bite that livens up risotto, paella and pasta in an instant. Its halloumi houses an indulgently silky texture, with a mild, salty finish – one that easily competes with the Cypriot original. Spreadable labneh adds a creamy, lemony essence to soups and curries, and livens up sweet dishes too. Natural and pure, it’s certainly one to be savoured during your time here.
Ligurian bee honey is used in their yoghurt here, too. As On the Chopping Board say: “There’s something to satisfy all palates”. They paint a vivid picture of the ambience of both island and these wonderful dairy farms:
“Why not experience life on a KI dairy farm and take a self-guided tour to learn the ropes of cheese making, enjoy cheese and yoghurt tastings and watch the sheep being milked. Or just sit back and enjoy a light meal or tasting platter and watch the lambs go by!”
Introduced to KI over 40 years ago, marron – the island’s popular freshwater crayfish – is produced by the tonne every year. For a sampling of these seawater delights, Alex of Eating Adelaide recommends The Marron Café in Vivonne Bay, where the luxury crayfish doesn’t get any fresher.
Try the Poacher’s Platter, a dish for two consisting of a smoked barramundi starter, followed by an array of baked Andermel marron, scallops, Szechuan-spiced prawns, salt and pepper squid and more. Sealed with two of the café’s indulgent bush tucker sauces, it’s first-rate KI food that’s an experience in itself.
Alex notes: “You can dine in or buy fresh marron to prepare yourself”. Locals recommend cooking some of KI’s local produce yourself if possible, and are happy to point you in the direction of other local delicacies while you’re exploring.
Alongside its storied food selection, KI is also abundant in high spirits. So much so, that Kangaroo Island Spirits, Australia’s first gin distillery, was also named the nation’s finest gin producer in 2016. On the Chopping Board note:
“Their selection of award-winning boutique gins is particularly noteworthy. The Wild Gin is distilled with KI-native juniper to produce a unique blend of pepper, lime and slight sweet notes; perfect for a classic gin and tonic. We also love the Mulberry Gin for its exotic tart and berry flavours and dark plum colouring, ideal for mixing in fun and sweet cocktails”.
Likewise, Alex states that Kangaroo Island Spirits are “at the vanguard of the gin renaissance”, and a trip here is worth it for its “unique character, even if you’re not a gin lover”. The cellar door offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in gin tastings, with experienced staff on hand to impart their gin smarts while you’re there.
Stretching the length of the entire island, KI’s wine region is one of five that make up the Fleurieu Zone, a quintet of wine regions that have received appellation as an Australian Geographical Indication.
Slowly ripened in its balmy climate, the wines of KI are known for their distinct colours and strong fruit flavours, and with at least 10 wineries open for your delectation, there’s plenty to choose from.
Unsurprisingly, KI’s south coast location means its Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties are near perfection. Undoubtedly, two of its finest wineries, Dudley Wines and Bay of Shoals, are well worth your time. The former’s ‘Shearing Shed Red’, a Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend is arguably the island’s favourite drink, while the Bay of Shoals’ range of whites is perfect for a lighter, more refreshing tipple in the sun.
Suitably inspired by this enchanting island’s culinary wares? Why not visit our dedicated itinerary page, here, or for booking information, call our helpful sales team on 0808 274 1366?