Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Zealand Part 2: Foodie and Wino Heaven

So what about the food and wine you ask? During our trip we visited 4 major wine regions (Auckland/Waiheke for Bordeaux varietals, Martinborough for Pinot and Sauv Blanc, Marlborough for Sauv Blanc and some Pinot, and Central Otago for mostly Pinot) and tasted until our teeth were purple. We dined on freshly picked produce from local farms, freshly caught fish from nearby seas, and freshly slaughtered lamb from neighboring ranches (they're cute but too delicious to pass up, I make no bones about being a carnivore). We splurged and ordered the decadent tasting menus with regionalized wine pairings at nearly every restaurant in which we dined. And best of all, we did this all at $.53 to the dollar thanks to the delightful exchange rate these days. What could be better?!?

I must admit I had low foodie expectations thanks to Big N's stories about the awful food he ate a decade ago on a trip to Australia. Thankfully, we were dead wrong. New Zealand food is awesome, wine too, which is good because NZ wine is all you're getting there so you best enjoy it. We found wonderful and unique restaurants in every city we visited. Here were a few highlights:

Lamb three ways (below left) and pork belly with blood sausage and grilled peaches (below right) at Mudbrick Restaurant on Waiheke Island

Razor thin Blue Fin tuna with apples and duck liver ice cream at Herzog Winery (left)

The favorite wine pairing menu was at the Tirohana Vineyard restaurant in Martinborough.

As for wineries we visited, the favorite cellar doors were:

Ata Rangi in Martinborough, for having the best overall portfolio, especially Pinot and even a fantastic Chardonnay, plus very friendly service (below, right)

and Te Whare Ra in Marlborough for being a daring husband and wife team and staying true to their ideals on just 25 acres, plus the awesome wine, of course, especially the aromatics

And the favorite bottles:

Tirohana Pinot, Martinborough, 2006
Ata Rangi Chardonnay, Martinborough, 2006
Te Whare Ra Gewurstztraminer, Marlborough, 2008
Huia Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2008
Chard Farm Sauvignon Blanc, Central Otago, 2007
Felton Road Pinot, Central Otago, 2007