Monday, March 22, 2010

14 glasses of wine and 12 courses later

When a celebration has a name that takes a lung-full to say, I guess it’s a good indication of its importance. The Royal Easter Show Wine Awards Trophy Giving Dinner (phew!) was a culmination of some of the best New Zealand wines, food, industry folk and me.

Ruth and I got ready for the evening at my place. She went with the ‘stretch the tummy’ approach, opting for a trip to Yum Cha at midday. Interesting approach I thought, but knowing Ruth, she would have given each of those 12 courses a nudge either way.

On arrival we were given a glass of the Deutz Marlborough Blanc de Blancs and led to our seats. I was pleased to be given a ticket to the Easter Show and, a little taster bottle of one of my favourite olive oils, The Village Press . I think I could drink that stuff straight out of a glass, truly.

Upon first peak at the menu, I see a bunch of food I haven’t really gotten to know yet. Rabbit, ostrich, even venison.

Award winning wines:

Wooing Tree Blondie 2009 – A Rose that was almost as clear as the Sauvignon it sat next to, delicious though.
Lake Chalice Marlborough Eyrie Vineyard Pinot Gris 2009 – This wine renewed my love for Pinot Gris.
Mondillo 2008 Central Otago Pinot Noir – My overall favourite, and not just because the judges chose it as the overall winner either
Coopers Creek Late Harvest 2009 Riesling – I do love a good sticky

My favourite and most memorable dish of the evening was the second course, an Asian crab tian with wasabi peas, pink grapefruit and tonkatsu sauce.  

I also enjoyed the smoked monkfish that came served with a crunchy and sweet pistachio cracker (also known as a tuille) and cucumber and chive dressing.

I tried rabbit for the first time…quite tasty, kind of like chicken. Is that sacrilege to say?  I always thought that rabbit would be a slow cooked food, something for a stew, but the rabbit loin I ate was seared and served on a bed of hibiscus flower risotto. Hibiscus is a tasty flower.  

Everyone has been raving about the quail. I have photos of me eating it (see below!), I know this sounds terrible, but my memory of eating it is a little hazy. Shocking, I know. I have since requested the menu and found out that this was a honey-roasted quail with a micro herb salad, soy and lemongrass reduction. I think there were peanuts involved in this meal as well because I can see them in the picture. 

Champion winner of the night was the Mondillo Pinot Noir. I almost had a tear when I missed my glass, as the bottle made its way around our table. Luckily, my journalistic intent helped me to weasel an extra glass off the waiters.  What a special wine it was. Aptly described as ‘elegant and feminine,’ this is a glass of wine I won’t be forgetting quickly.

Turns out my friends Phoebe and Ruth were sitting with the wine maker himself, Rudi Bauer who also won wine maker of the year!

I had a really great evening; I didn’t get to do too much mixing and mingling, apart from that which was had at my table I didn’t have want for much more - finding myself rather occupied with all the lovely wine and food. Phoebe and Ruth had great company at their table too, a lovely man by the name of Mitch who helped school them on the wines and rapped their knuckles when they over-poured.

Needless to say, I woke up with a sore head. I spent Sunday afternoon enjoying a glass of riesling and eating oysters at The Mulberry in Mt Eden. The great recommendations from the barman and the comfortable perch I took under the test cricket game playing on the telly sorted my head out in no time. 

I’m heading down to The Food Show Christchurch tomorrow morning! I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re planning on going along, and you spot me, do come over and say hello. 

Bye for now,


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