Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Food Of Wanaka

The night on the Cold floor was matched in culinary terms by the thing Air New Zealand like to call a shepherds pie. I mean, it shouldn't be hard to get right, some half decent pastry, lamb mince, but no, it was so bad it didn't even come close to the "pie at the footy" standard. The beer failed the same standard, being lukewarm and in a redbull can for some bizare reason. Perhaps airlines think if they can crush the spirits of terrorists with the food, they won't bother doing anything.

By the time we had got to Wanaka, about an hours drive out of Queenstown, I was tired enough and hungry enough to almost, but not quite, be happy to see another Air NZ meal. Thankfully we found a great little cafe, Lago, just in behind the pubs and I got stuck in to one of my alltime breakfast favourites, eggs benedict. I can be pretty harsh on these when i buy them out, mainly because I can make a great one at home, my own duck eggs and smoked salmon give me a certain edge i'll admit. This one, maybe because of the hunger, was 10 out of 10 good, not to mention a coffee i inhaled. Oh, and they had these great little rostis too, loved them.

I had a few hours before the bucks party, so we decided to go check out a local mediterranean foodmarket and the local butcher, with the nip in the NZ air i had a hankering for lamb shanks. The foodmarket was everything the waitress at the cafe had promised, I bought one of the best loaves of soy and linseed bread i have ever had the pleasure to smear unhealthy amounts of butter on. One of the other things i love about NZ is that they treat the potato with the respect it deserves. I could have bought heaps of different varieties, but they also had four different types in these big 10kg paper bags. A whole weeks worth of potatoes!

The lamb shanks went into a big steel pot with some tinned tomatoes, carrot, onion, garlic, a bottle of Montieths Apple Cider and some mushrooms and was whacked into an oven that had the least useable interface i have used. I took me 20 minutes of beeping to wrestle it on at the right temperature. After running round firing weapons with the bucks, a few beers then a nap, lamb shanks in front of a wood fire went down exceedingly well. Mashed potato of course.

The next day, rested and refreshed, we were wandering down into town for a coffee when we noticed a little odds and ends shop, Jumping Tangents that also sold chocholate. We tasted a whole heap, lime and chilli dark chocolate, sea salt chocolate and they were all really, really good stuff, enough that i shelled out for lime and chilli dark chocolate. Cathie also shared her fabulous hot chocolate recipe with me.

In two litres of milk add a few bay leave and some chilli. Bring to just under a simmer and leave to infuse. Make a ganache by melting 200g of the best dark choc you can buy in 300mL of cream. Strain the milk into the ganache and mix. That's it! No sugar needed or added. She told me the incas used to add a flour to thicken, as they used it for their armies as a type of energy drink when marching, but she like the normal consistency. It was very warming, with just the hints of the bay and chilli, a subtle added note. Delicious

We also did go for a coffee and i was drawn straight to the kitchen and these 80+ year old copper cookware hanging up. The chef told me that in all the time she had worked there i was the first to wander over and have a good look. Cookware like this is part art, part functionality, but I was disappointed to learn that they never cook with them.

We had a roast chook for dinner, a huge bird that must have won a chicken body building competition before going to the butcher and then the wedding on the saturday. Wedding food can be a funny thing but the food at this wedding matched the quality of the venue, the weather and the bride and groom, top class! Good sushi, rare roast rib fillet, new potatoes in butter, salmon, risotto and asparagus. I could go on, but my mate Davey sums it and the whole Wanaka food experience up much, much better.


  1. You're not wrong about the potatoes. The new season New Potatoes come through just on Christmas and it's a seriously big deal. Most of the best ones come from around Oamaru in North Otago.

    The one thing NZ can't do reliably is southern European cuisine, on account of having next to no southern Europeans.

  2. Wow, didn't think I'd miss the joint. But the food, yeah, forgot about that. Yummo.

  3. It was nice of them to invite the chicken to the wedding. Must have been quite a bird!

  4. G'day!

    It was great meeting you last night at Bar Barossa. It's so inspiring to speak to like-minded people here in Brisbane about food and blogging.

    You were interested in the Chocolate at Mt Tamborine post I mentioned yesterday. You can follow this link to it. http://iatebrisbane.com/2009/07/chocolate-shop-crawl/

    You have a great site here!

    Hopefully we will meet again soon!

    Sarah @ iatebrisbane.com

  5. Beeso looking forwards to commentary and photos of the sichuan dinner and trip to Melbourne, it was great to catch up.

    There is a place by the side of the road on the way out to Gippsland that seems to sell nothing but enormous bags of potatoes - every type under the sun! I got some nice Dutch Creamy's there.

    Nice hat by the way...