Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Monday, 9 July 2018

Food, glorious food

If you are allergic to food porn, then best skip this post.

The hunter-gatherer and I have just had a few days in the Adventure Capital of New Zealand - Queenstown.  

Setting aside the menu of adrenaline activities, 

we focused on gastronomic menus. 
The Feast of duck at Rata 

While the dinner at Rata was delicious it came out at the cost of a Milford flight by the time the h-g had oysters and we drank interesting cocktails before dinner. All worth it.

Not everyone is interested in the food at Rata

Instead of a couple of tandem hangliding trips, our adventure is a Trust the Chef dinner with wine matching at Amisfield bistro.  Vaughan Mabee, the chef in whom we trust, is a hunter gatherer himself and rather well known in foodie circles as a chef's chef - whose style and ethos they admire.

Everything about Amisfield is designed to stun: the setting, the building, the cellar door and the restaurant. Large windows in the restaurant provide a wide open view of the ski fields at Coronet Peak.  As the sun goes down we see the lights of the snow groomers flashing up the mountainside.

Looking out at Coronet Peak from the Amisfield dining room
The seven course menu is innovative and at times challenging. 

Fish and chips; Octopus, pinot noir; Bluff oyster, apple caviar; accompanied by Amisfield Brut 2015 
Spot the octopus, smoked over pinot noir prunings
I forced the oyster down - they really are wasted on me, but the smoked octopus was deliciously tender - at last a use for all those pinot prunings. The fish and chips was butterfish in the ball, with purple urenika potato chips on top.

Amisfield breads with marrow bone butter, lamb fat butter and ordinary buttery butter; Charcuterie from the cellar - Coppa; accompanied by Amisfield Burn Pinot Gris 2016 - an 'orange' wine, meaning unfiltered, unprocessed and undrinkable

Parsnip bones, nut marrow, autumn broth; accompanied by Amisfield Pinot Gris 2017

The photo doesn't do this justice - it was absolutely delicious - a steamed (I think) parsnip, with the core removed, parsnip charred then stuffed with walnut and hazelnut butter - bone marrow for vegans - and the broth was as rich as if it has been made with beef bones - which it might have been. 

Paua pie; with Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc 2017 - actually it was a Fumé Blanc and very drinkable for this non Sauvignon drinker.

looks like a snake but is definitely paua
The pie had a creamy smear of mash on the bottom, then slices of paua with a paua mousse topped with a seaweed flake and something else I forget.

Wild Otago hare, elderberry; Hidden truffle; Muttonbird lollipop; with Amisfield Pinot Noir 2013

These were 'find the food' dishes. It was a bit of fossicking to remove the leaves and moss for the glories beneath. The hidden truffle was so well hidden I never did find it, and you know what I think about mutton bird, lollipop or no lollipop.  I did try it again but the h-g had to take it off my hands.  Overall this course, for me, was a triumph of presentation over content and a bit disappointing for that. 

Cardrona valley lamb neck, plum, kawakawa; with Amisfield Pinot Noir 2015 (which was delicious, a lovely match for the slightly fatty lamb)

Lamb neck never tasted so good

Goody goody gum drops sorbet - oops, didn't get a photo
Tamarillo Pavlova with Amisfield Lowburn Terrace Riesling 2017

not the most photogenic pavlova
but the tartness of the tamarillos and mixture of soft and creamy Italian meringue underneath and crunchy meringue on top was perfect.

So, no adventure tourism for us - we couldn't afford it after all the eating and drinking.

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