Sticky Rice Cooking School, Stirling accommodation review: Weekend away
Mark Chipperfield Nov 12 2014 at 8:56 AM
Sticky Rice Cooking School, Stirling, SA.
TripAdvisor Traveller rating
In the early days of European settlement, the Adelaide Hills offered a welcome respite from South Australia’s summer heat and the colony’s wealthiest citizens built fine gabled houses up here and laid out English-style gardens. Many still survive. After a short-lived gold rush in the early 19th century, the people of the hills have devoted themselves to small-scale farming and fruit growing. In more recent years, cool-climate wineries have added to the agricultural mix. There are now more than 50 cellar doors scattered throughout the hills, including Shaw + Smith, The Lane, Bird in Hand, and K1 By Geoff Hardy. Apart from the faux Bavarian charms of Hahndorf, visitors will find many other delightful things in the hills, including challenging hiking trails, historic gardens, wildlife parks and a profusion of cheese makers, craft brewers, olive growers, chocolatiers and other artisan food producers.
Surrounded by native scrub, Sticky Rice Cooking School is a five-minute drive from the township of Stirling. The small complex includes the cooking school itself, complete with demonstration kitchen, dining room and shop, plus three Asian-inspired garden villas. Each villa – named Yoko, Bali and Zen respectively – is immaculately designed, furnished and equipped. We stayed in Zen, which comes with its own professional-standard kitchen, a glamorous almond-shaped bath and a sunny courtyard. The suite is boldly decorated with huge pendant lights, black leather couches, flamboyant drapes and dark-wood veneers. The fridge was packed with all kinds of gourmet goodies, including a cheese platter and a bottle of white wine. The breakfast provisions were equally generous.
Food is at the core of the Sticky Rice experience. The cooking school runs a packed program throughout the year, with classes in Thai, Singaporean, Vietnamese, Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines. Launched in 2013, the school has already earned a national reputation for excellence – previous guest chefs include Tetsuya Wakuda, Luke Nguyen and Poh Ling Yeow. Our teacher was Japanese-born Yukiki Auschutz, who guided us through the subtleties of preparing Thai food. These three-hour sessions are not for gastronomic wimps: we prepared five separate courses, including steamed prawn and pork dumplings and pad thai, and learnt vital new skills, such as how to stop noodles sticking together in the wok. The reward was being able to sit down afterwards and enjoy the fruits of our labour with a glass of wine. Staying on site in a villa is a real treat – unlike our classmates, home was a two-minute walk away.
Adelaide Hills is a friendly, community-orientated place. Rub shoulders with the locals at the Stirling Market, held on the fourth Sunday of every month. You’ll find plenty of edible goodies here, plus jewellery, native plants and hippie threads. Horticultural types should visit some of the famous Victorian-era gardens. Best-known is the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, which has 97 hectares of magnolias, camellias, roses, ferns and native plants; guided walks are available on Thursdays during spring and autumn. Nearby you’ll find The Cedars, the former home of the great Australian artist Hans Heysen. On display are 200 paintings from Heysen’s private collection.
Need to know
Cost: Weekend Cook and Stay packages from $485 a night (minimum two nights).
Distance: 20 minutes’ drive (20km) south-east of Adelaide.
Children: Yes, in Zen and Yoko. An additional charge of $100 a night applies.
96 Old Mount Barker Road, Stirling, South Australia
PHONE: (08) 8339 1314