Our Luxury Foodie retreat by Yahoo travel

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Sticky Rice Villas: The ultimate foodie retreat

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January 28, 2014, 2:05 pm Karen Lawson Yahoo!7


If there is a food lover in your life, this is your ticket to winning their most ‘Popular Person of the Year’ year award. I tend to stay clear of establishments with the words ‘sticky’ in it, but this is one place that breaks the norm. Off the radar, it’s a new kind of escape that raises the bar of luxury and private dining.

If you’ve been to Bali, you’ll ‘get’ the private villa concept, Australia hasn’t really cottoned on to this kind of stay. Sure, there are lots of hotels, B&B’s and rental accommodation options, but in the unlikely tropical spot of Adelaide, Sticky Rice Villas provides the ultimate foodie retreat (pow – take that you surfers, yogis and mediation gurus – we now have a place to stay too!).

Photo: Sticky Rice Villas

Picking up my rental car, Adelaide hills is a short 20 min journey. Situated in Stirling, Mr G and I pull up at the famous, award-winning Sticky Rice Cooking School where the whole concept started. If running one of the top six cooking schools in the country wasn’t enough stress, Claire Fuller decided she wanted to use the land (not for a farm, shock horror) to create three luxury hideaways.

What sets this stay apart is the uncompromising detail in the architecture, design and finish. It’s not hiring a room but a home, each villa escaping you into a different world, be it Yoko (Japan), Zen (Modern) or Bali (er yep! it’s Balinese). Our home for the night was Yoko. I can’t help getting nostalgic that Tetsuya actually stayed here, if I rub up and down against the Electrolux induction stove will some of his culinary magic will rub off?

The moment the Yoko door is opened, it takes a while for us to take it all in.

Photo: Sticky Rice Villas

The landscaped garden is dominated by an impressive white stone Japanese sculpture, red maples, white pebble stones and stepping stones lead to our sliding front door. Perhaps I should have practiced my ‘wax on, wax off’ Karate Kid moves?

The villa is floor to ceiling glass, creating a timeless illusion of villa and garden merging two worlds. Doors open up into the lounge, like a lovesick puppy I am all over the kitchen like Kim Kardashian and Kanye! Oooh it’s a black sleek island, glimmering from down lights. I am simultaneously pulling out soft-close doors and marvelling at all the gadgets, including the impressive space shuttle-like range hood.

The fridge. Now most of us have had that sinking feeling when you open up hotel room fridge and it looks like the dishevelled home of a 15 year old teenager; snickers, alcohol and nothing life sustaining. Not here! I am pulling out luxury item after another, Le Petit Prince Chevre, Harris smokehouse salmon, Skara smoked prosciutto, organic yoghurts, eggs, tomatoes and lemons. It’s all ours! There is a sourdough loaf, plus assorted pastries wrapped for the morning. Oh and some Whisk & Pin muesli if that’s not enough. Is it wrong to be looking forward to breakfast when you haven’t eaten dinner?

Photo: Sticky Rice Villas

The bedroom looks like it could be cast out of a scene of the last Wolverine movie (in a good way). Beautifully carved tatami screens give way to a low bed with black pendant lights, a chaise lounge in the corner looking out onto the expanse of Japanese gardens. Who pulls blinds anymore? Not us! Technological advancements of electronic screens mean that I can lay on the bed and play with them going up and down. There’s a certain childish delight in the pure luxury of it all. High tech is a consistent theme throughout the villas, even our ginormous TV screen is 3D; it’s really quite amusing to look at Mr G with his glasses on. Mr Bean I presume?

Photo: Sticky Rice Villas

The bathroom continues the soft wood lines with a deep bath, waterfall spout, double rainwater showers and Kudos spa toiletries.

At 7pm our doorbell goes and it’s our private chef for the night, Yukiko. One of the many unique elements about a stay here is the chance for you to be cooked for in your home. With a choice of menu which we collaborated on prior to our stay, it’s a stressful moment to know whether the seared scallops or sautéed king prawns are going to be the best choice. Within moments Yuki is whizzing up a storm, lining up all the ingredients – including the star feature, local wine! Our wine degustation includes a lovely citrusy pinot gris from Deviation Road, Dowie Doole Chenin Blanc from Mclaren Vale, and a superb Bendbrook Rose from the Adelaide Hills. We are sitting up at the island table like children watching their mum cook. It’s exciting, relaxing and incredibly intimate. Cooking class and dinner all in one!

Photo: Sticky Rice Villas

After steaming chicken dumplings Yuki serves it with a delicious soy lime dipping sauce. Yuki explains that the kind of flour used in frying for Thai food is important, dropping sections of Barramundi into hot oil, whilst assembling a green mango salad balanced with fish sauce and lime for our entree. The main is the holy grail of every Thai curry lover – Green chicken curry. What’s the secret to a great curry? You have to boil the coconut milk till it splits (which is an agonizingly long time to wait) but it’s an excuse to crack open a stunner of a wine, a Dowie Doole G&T Garnacha Tempranillo. It has beautiful persistent fruit and is absolutely unstoppable drinking! The home-made paste made just hours ago in the cooking school delivers a new dimension of flavour balancing the bitterness of the apple eggplants creating a dish worthy of any hatted restaurant.

Yuki cleans everything up then discreetly leaves us to dine (and drink) in privacy. Like all good chefs, she has the final element of surprise… we retire to the sofa and tuck into silky coconut sticky rice topped with mango and toasted mung beans.

Normally we would be thinking of grabbing a cab, fighting through the crowds on the street but not here. Just five footsteps and we fall into our king-size bed for a deliriously great night’s sleep. You can keep your yoga retreats and surfing camps; this foodie boot camp is the ultimate gourmet weekender.

Find out more: http://www.stickyricevillas.com.au/ – We chose Yoko Villa

Need a hire car? Make sure you check out www.RentalCover.com – half the cost and double the cover!

Read more of Karen’s adventures on http://lawsonsview.com/

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