On a Culinary Discovery in New Zealand

New Zealand has much more to offer than lamb and seafood, according to Straits Times food critic Wong Ah Yoke, who travels to Auckland, Waiheke Island, Hawkes Bay and Wellington sampling food cooked in a hangi, cheeseburgers, blueberry gelato and pork belly.

“Local farms produce excellent vegetables,” Ah Yoke writes, “which can be purchased at farmers’ markets and savoured in restaurants.

“We [arrive at Waiheke Island] on a Saturday, so we stop at the Ostend Market a weekly farmers’ market where stalls sell anything from vegetables to manuka honey to trinkets.

“In Auckland, a highlight of the trip is to cook a hangi, a Maori experience where a meal is cooked in the ground using heated rocks. John Panoho and his colleagues from Navigator Tours are up before dawn to prepare the cooking pit at Awataha Marae, a Maori cultural venue.

“The meats – chicken, lamb and a pork hock – and vegetables are soft from the long, slow cooking and have a smoky aroma. My favourite is the whole snapper, marinated in a mix of coconut milk, lemon juice and seasonings. It tastes delicious.

“Our meal at Elephant Hill [Wine Estate & Restaurant in the Hawkes Bay] is one of the most memorable. The setting is lovely, with a view of the vineyard. The cooking is light and bright, even my entree of twice-cooked pork belly, scallop, apple almond, crackling that boasts crispy crackling and plump seared scallops. I am equally happy with my main of glazed duck, soft-shell crab, pomegranate, cucumber, coriander, vanilla lime dressing – a wonderful mix of ingredients with varying flavours and textures.”

Original article by Wong Ah Yoke, The Straits Times, May 15, 2016.

Photo by Wang Hui Fen.

Tags: Auckland  Awataha Marae  Elephant Hill Wine Estate & Restaurant  Navigator Tours  Ostend Market  Straits Times (The)  Waiheke Island  

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