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My Favorite Food & Wine in NZ

I had the most amazing meal today. I am in Christchurch, getting ready to head out of the country (anybody want to buy a campervan?) and decided to go up to Waipara and have lunch at one of my favorite wineries, Pegasus Bay. The restaurant at the cellar door has won all kinds of awards and I've always found their food interesting. And they didn't disappoint.

They were featuring a 3 course Christmas dinner which looked tempting. The meal started out with an amuse a bouche - a raspberry and cranberry granita with a touch of Riesling. A very nice combination which I'll be copying at home.

The first course was titled "Lime and Brown Sugar Cured Tuna with Organic Cucumbers, Lychee, Peanuts, and Sesame" and was one of the most unusual dishes I've had in a very long time. The combination of fresh lychee and tuna was inspired. And the lime in the cure was fantastic. The lime also beautifully brought out flavors in the glass of Wiapara Riesling I had with the course; flavors I've never tasted in that wine before, and I'm quite a fan of that particular drink.

The main course was "Smoked Duck with Poached Pears, and Almond Couscous." It was another stand-out dish with flavors I've never experienced before and beautiful textures. The skin on the duck was perfectly cooked: crisp, salty, and savory. The individual pasta in the couscous were large, almost the size of pearl tapioca. And the bits of crunchy toasted almonds in the couscous were great. I'm not sure if I would have added the pears, I'm not sure they added to the dish, though they worked very nicely with the almonds. I had the Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir with this dish and although it didn't clash, there wasn't any real magic in the pairing.

Dessert was "Bread and Butter Panottone Pudding with Stewed Cherries." It was much creamier and richer than traditional American bread pudding, but the serving size wasn't overwhelming and the tart cherries were a nice compliment.

This was easily the most intelligent cooking I've experienced in New Zealand. Each of the dishes had flavors and textures I've never experienced before. Top it all off with what I think are some of the best wines in the country and it was a fantastic way to say good bye. The cost for the meal was NZ $79 (US $55) which included two glasses of their best wines and tea. If you ever get to Christchurch, make the 45 minute drive up to Pegasus Bay and I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself.

Posted by Bruce on December 15, 2006 11:34 PM

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