As a part of my honours thesis and for the love of all things worth eating, drinking, and experiencing, this is Savour SA - a friendly place where appreciation for quality South Australian food and drink abounds. Feedback is welcomed - heck, it's even encouraged! Some of it will be bundled up as part of my research. So, let us eat, drink, and be heaps merry.

Monday, April 9, 2012

RockBare Cellar Door

There are certain things you might think you need when making a day trip to Hahndorf. These can include (but are not limited to): a mini bus full of grandmas/tourists/walkway-hogging families, a blue jean and white sneaker outfit combo, emergency lederhosen, and an insulated pack to put some bratwurst in as a take-home snack. But I’ll have you know, there is more to this delightful town than all of that. So much more.

I have the pleasure of spending my working days in Hahndorf. There are days where I plod up the street and simply can’t believe how tantalisingly cute the surrounds are – trees that have been there much longer than I have, itty bitty historic houses, and so many yummy places to eat and drink. And I’m happy to dodge the tourists when I wander up to get the mail, or to fetch a coffee, or to meet a pal for lunch, because no matter how many buses and camera-wielding bandits line the streets, Hahndorf can’t help but be so darn beautiful. Summer nights see patrons and jazzy tunes spill from cafes onto the street side, autumn turns the tree-lined main street into a palette of earth and amber, winter is a beautifully chill, and spring brings with it, ironically, new life: new visitors and often new menus.

My penny-paying job is at Best Recipes. And at the moment I work from a sweet little Hahndorf office, set back from the main road, which means we miss a lot of the meandering public. The office building is part of the same complex as RockBare Cellar Door. We are two doors down. In my almost 18 months in this office I’ve been into RockBare four times – two of which were in the past week. And this lack of patronage on my part is for no other reason than that I just don’t think of it. I walk past it almost every day – sometimes a number of times – it’s right in front of me and for the longest time, I just didn’t see it for the experience it is. But lately, it’s intrigued me.

RockBare have made their home in the short and stout Thiele Cottage. It’s a poster-boy building for Hahndorf – stone walled, and timber beamed, with low ceilings, and a tall amount of historic charm. Its front verandah stoops low, and through the front door you get a sliver of a peek into the cellar door, like glancing at a flirting eye through a host of coy, low-lying eyelashes. From the side walk, it’s an appealing establishment.

My pal and I have met up for a midweek vino, and magically, we have RockBare to ourselves. RockBare Cellar Door is a collection of many rooms, and today, we’ve chosen to sit in the cellar. Apparently haunted by a ghost called Mary (Poppins, Princess, Proud – I’m not sure which one) the cellar certainly has a eerie feel about it. But not spooky. Just moody.

It smells like men with luscious, glossy, black moustaches and bow ties have been smoking cigars in here. It is, of course, just the scenty remnants from fires past. Even though the wood fire isn’t lit today, it smells as if it could be - that rich, musty, antique, thick winter smell you just want to keep on inhaling. In the cellar we smoosh our work-attired bottoms into pre-loved maroon upholstered armchairs and snuggle in for a tasting.  

On this weekday afternoon, Angus and Julia Stone’s A Book Like This is on repeat, and while I sit there with my pal, the tunes are as lingering as the ghost, and seem to suit the silence. Greedy for privacy and girlish chat, we relish the fact we’re the only two customers in the cellar door. And in this quaint burrow the faint clinking of wine glasses being collected are, together with the Stones, a symphony to the ears just as the wine is a delight to the palate.

The RockBare Experience is worth the money. $5 buys you four tastings, and some cheese, crackers, and olives on the side – and the fiver is redeemable on purchase. The beauty of tastings, as I’ve said before, is that it takes you time to savour each one; for your tastebuds and in-mouth sensory stations to register the flavours of what you’re drinking, whether you’re jumping from fizz, to Sav Blanc, to Pinot Grigio, or making your way through a host of burgundy drops. It’s about quality, about realising why it is or isn’t good. It’s engaging. As with any cellar door, whole glasses, whole bottles, and whole dozens are available as well. You can easily while away an afternoon, sipping on some of the wines on offer.

Truth be told, on that weekday afternoon, we would have happily drunk anything that was presented to us in a glass. And we sat, and laughed, and sighed some pre-Easter weekend sighs, and stared intently at the wood in the fireplace, silently willing it to ignite.  The grout between the bricks on the floor is eroded, and cobwebs lace some of the hard-to-reach doorframes. And the whole vibe makes you ache for the winter.

RockBare is a combination of high ceilings, a modern multicoloured layered bar, as well as antique pokey dining rooms. Like so many wineries, it’s a blend of old and new, but unlike some of the others, the old is just that – it’s old. Historic old. And how I eagerly await a blistering, frosty Hahndorf weekend, when glove-covered-fingers-crossed, the RockBare kitchen offers a curry or a stew, and then with a bowl of comfort, and a glass of red, and perhaps some company, I can enjoy the simple moody pleasure that both Hahndorf and RockBare offer. It’s heaps true that often the best things are right in front of you – or in this case, just two doors down. 

1 comment:

  1. I've been searching for new homes in Maryland with rock doors like this. It's very modern and very appealing too.