....not that I need any encouragement to fall in to island time, maybe it was the sunshine and all that fresh sea air, but the moment you arrive all the stresses and the worries of the real world are left somewhere floating in the Hauraki Gulf. For it to finally feel like Summer made for a warm welcome indeed. Thankfully Waiheke has a micro climate that is more often than not sunnier and warmer than the mainland.
After checking in (to unit no. 13 on Friday the 13th...) it was more lunch time than coffee time and what better way to spend a sunny afternoon than among the vines at one of the local vineyards? There are many wonderful vineyards to choose from but The Shed at Te Motu won out, Mum having read good things about in the local paper.
Te Motu is in the sheltered Onetangi Valley, sandwiched in between Stoneyridge and Saratoga Vineyards. A very warm welcome from the daughter of the original winemakers, a run down on the history of the vineyard and a spot secured under the afternoon rays and we were set for what turned in to a perfect afternoon. Quite exceptional food and wonderfully warm and friendly service made for the perfect start to a few days on island time.
Te Motu's flagship wine is a cabernet merlot blend all grown on Waiheke. Vines of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and syrah pepper the surrounding hillsides. These are blended in to Te Motu and Dunleavy wines. For lunch Mum had a glass of bubbly and despite it being a wonderful sunny day I still had to have one of these lovely reds. I had the Dunleavy cabernet merlot 2006 and it was, well they actually describe it best... "blackberry aromatics, rich flavours of red and black currants, plum and hints of blackberry"
And to eat, well as it all sounded both intriguing and appetizing we decided to share to avoid any plate envy! Waiheke is the island of wine, but it also produces some exceptional olive oil so to start some Waiheke sourdough with Matiatia Grove Olive Oil. Fruity with a little peppery kick at the end I could just about drink the stuff.
To share so chicken liver parfait with walnut toast and fig relish. The parfait was silky smooth and just melted in the mouth, the slight sweetness perfect with the walnut toast and fig relish.
The crab cakes had me at sriracha mayonnaise. Sweet Waikanae crab enclosed in a wonderfully golden and crispy coating given a little kick with the spicy mayo. I loved the heat the mayo delivered and it was a great accompaniment to the crab cakes, but it missed the sweet and the sour that makes sriracha so addictive. Saying that I could have eaten a whole plateful of these crab cakes and mayo all by myself.
The star of the day however were the prawn dumplings. Oh my, these were so good. Perfect little dumplings filled with sweet, succulent prawns, with a hint of coriander served with baby leeks and a ginger tamari beurre blanc. The ginger and tamari adding warm and savoury to the sweet prawns making it quite the perfect dish.
On the side the potatoes lyonnaise were to hard to pass on. Crispy, fried cubes of potatoes pan roasted with herbs and onions. I mean really who can go past any sort of crispy potatoes? I have also found my new favourite salad; baby gem lettuce with fried white anchovies and a parmesan lemon dressing. Crisp lettuce, creamy lemony dressing and crispy little nuggets of anchovy, it was blissful.
An idyllic afternoon that certainly put paid to any superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th.
The Shed at Te Motu
76 Onetangi Road, Waiheke Island, Auckland , New Zealand
PO-Box 216, Ostend, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 3726884