07 May 2013

Wanderings:Hawke's Bay,New Zealand

A week ago I was lucky to be in the Hawke’s Bay helping a very dear friend celebrate their Birthday. About 20 of us from Auckland, Palmerston North, Tauranga, Wellington & even the USA descended for 4 days of lots of laughing, good food & just the odd tipple or 2.  What a wonderful few days.

Post settling in, a few vinos & a BBQ on arrival we were picked up in this bus with the loveliest bus driver the next morning...

First stop was Moana Park. Moana Park is a family owned boutique winery in the Hawke’s Bay near Taradale.  They follow a natural, low allergen philosophy that came about as their chief winemaker wanted wine that he was not allergic to but that was also top quality.  This is now the philosophy at the heart of Moana Park & they have succeeded on both counts, producing some wonderful top quality wine with minimal additives.  Also allegedly hangover free....!!! But that they still depend to a certain extent on the quantity consumed I think!

The whites  were delightful but it was the reds that were the stand out for me, that is what the Bay is best known for & my personal favourite was the Reserve Merlot Cabernet. Deep plum hue, rich & smooth, dried fruit & cherries. My other pick was the the dessert chardonnay, I think it was the rich golden colour that won me over from the get go.  Then the aroma & then the taste...fruity, citrusy & just lovely.

Sadly the day after we were there some idiot did this...why?  

Next stop Salvare, another beautiful spot & alongside the wines dukkah & dukka buttah! Yes dukkah buttah which was off the chart good. Spicy dukkah mixed with olive oil. I have no idea why someone hasn’t done this before.  They also do a frappe mix that makes for a tasty little wine dessert.

After a morning of tastings it was Elephant Hill for lunch.  What a setting....

The steak tartare entree was sublime, on the side puffed black rice, wasabi ice cream & pickled chioggia.  Melt in the mouth tender & packed full of flavour.  The salmon main was also a great dish sitting atop vermouth creamed leeks & a bacon jus & pretty as a picture for some , sadly my confit egg yolk had fallen & burst on the side but it did still taste great.  For dessert it had to be chocolate & again mustn’t have been my day as mine had collapsed! But hey chocolate is chocolate.

After all of the previous day’s festivities first things first was breakfast & thanks to Nicky we were treated to the best bacon & egg pie, a bit of a kiwi classic; bacon, eggs, puff pastry need I say more?  This one was a real treat...please share the recipe!
A caffeine hit was the next priority before the supermarket to stock up for Saturday night’s dinner.  We were lucky to come across Bay Espresso.  A hustling & bustling little coffee spot that gave us the kick we needed to get on with our day.

Hastings New World! The supermarket does need an honourary message as it was the most gorgeous, yes gorgeous supermarket we have ever come across in NZ.  Fresh, local produce piled high.  The deli abundant with local olive oils & vinegars.  The wine aisle 

Once the meat was in the fridge & marinading away for dinner it was time for a little lunch & some of my Twitter friends very kindly sent me to Ten24 to sample Kent Baddley’s food.  What an idyllic few hours.  Interesting, surprising, delicious food.  Attentive, friendly service from the moment we arrived.  This really was up there as a top lunch of all time.  Here’s a taster, as this one deserves a post all of it’s own.

Ginger Palm Sugar Roasted Glacier Salmon & Rhubarb

Sicilian Spiced Orange Cake
Pre heading back to the house to cook dinner for everyone there was a little late afternoon wine tasting at Craggy Range.  Another spectacular setting at the foot of Te Mata Peak & a wonderful tasting right in the cellars.

So for Saturday night dinner I was chef.  To start & being a responsible hostess lots of nibbles post the wine tasting to keep everyone going.  The usual array of dips, cheese & olives.  For the main event I turned to a marinaded leg of lamb & a couple of trusted favourites.  Ottolenghi’s Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar & Pine Nuts, Herby Grilled Vegetables* & Farro Salad being the tried & trusted.  The lamb a garlic & paprika spiked marinade a new one for me.  However it is from Moro, a trusted & favourite cook book that has never failed me & didn't this time either.  Also on the menu Marie’s prawns with mango salsa, the perfect burst of sweet & spicy.

It all went down a treat & for dessert I kept it simple with affogato & frozen grapes & dark chocolate, the latter quite possibly the easiest dessert in the world.  Freeze the grapes, remove from the freezer, the look all lovely & dusky as they defrost & taste like sorbet.  Perfect alongside some dark chocolate.  I think this is a Jamie one from way back. There was also a delicious sticky date toffee pudding from Nicky which was heavenly with a good dollop of caramel sauce.

Butterflied Lamb with Spanish Marinade, from Moro The Cookbook

2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Mix everything together except olive oil & rub over the lamb.  Then pour over the olive oil. Marinade for at least one hour or overnight.

BBQ for 25-30 minutes for medium-medium rare or longer if you like it more well cooked.

*Thanks to Jinny for the homemade pesto.

The queue at the breakfast BBQ!

The BBQ Master!
Feeling not actually too shabby the following morning we were all up bright & early.  Teresa’s dad fired up the BBQ & fed us all a feast of sausages, eggs, hash browns, burgers & tomatoes. That & a few pots of coffee & we were all good to hit the Hawke’s Bay Farmer’s Market.  What a tempting array of local produce.  Great fruit & veg, cheese, dressings, olive oils, cakes, salamis & the list goes on.  A more leisurely stroll around the next time I am in the Hawke’s Bay. The highlights for me Orcona chillies....all sorts!  Serrano, annaheim, poblano, jalapeno, habanero...chilli heaven. And also St Andrews Limes....lime curd, lime dressings, lime chutney, lime pickle, lime jam, lime drizzles, lime splashes & the stand out for me; lime syrup with vanilla. It will be perfect over some poached fruit or vanilla ice cream.

And our last pit stop Crab Farm Vineyard.  A little ramshackle, a little rustic & very lovely red.

What a special weekend.  Good times would be an understatement.  So much laughter among the vines of the Hawke's Bay, along side good food, good wine & most importantly very, very good company. Life is indeed good.


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