The Unintentional Food Tour of New Zealand

It was meant to be a walking holiday. You know, getting out into nature, the quiet, the solitude, the tweeting of only the birds. Bit of exercise to work off the flab of Christmas. Hopefully a bit cooler than the oppressive Sydney Summer.

As it turned out, NZ was in the middle of a mini heatwave, and temperatures topped 34 in the south of the South Island on Christmas day. Not prime walking conditions in my book, being a bit of a wuss when it comes to exertion.

Thus it was that we spent more time eating than we did actually hiking. And drinking beer. Lots of beer. Turns out that there’s something of a craft beer thing going on in NZ. Nice.

Our first hint of this occurred at the excellent Pomeroys in Christchurch. A cab ride from our accommodation, but worth every taxi cent. Huge range of local, proper beers from peeps such as 3 Boys, Four Avenues, Emersons and Harringtons. The 3 Boys coconut milk stout a particular favourite. Range of single malts for Mr Chopsticks, all with unpronounceable gaelic sounding names. He heartily recommends Balblair 2001 Vintage and Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay’ (apparently Islay’s smallest distillery). Burgers & cheese plate weren’t bad either. And there was live music. I mean, seriously, what else could you possibly want in a pub?

Next up, the initially incongruous seeming Japansese restaurant in Lake Tekapo village, Kohan. Incongruous until we realised there was an excellent salmon farm at nearby Mount Cook, that is. The salmon sashimi was sublime:IMG_2428  Continue reading

World of Bivalves

One of the few things this area is known for, other than the colourful Coasties themselves, is the Oysters. Some of the best oysters I’ve ever had have been from Patonga Creek, round the corner from me. Lovely, uniodine-y (creates new word), smooth and pale tasting.

So I was excited last year to see the Brisbane Water Oyster Festival advertised – over 2 days! Entertainment! Crafts! Seafood! We went; we were saddened. It was apparently the first year the event had been staged over 2 days, and our attendance on the extra day* was a disappointment. How many seafood stalls were there at the Oyster Festival 2011 Amazing Extra Day? One. One solitary, lonely & unloved stall amongst a sea of crappy tat stalls, set in the unlovely surrounds of the Ettalong Markets. Mr Chopsticks tried to cheer me up by pointing out that It Is The Central Coast, but this only served to highlight how unlike the culinary delights of Sydney the place can be. The crushing disappointment of this reminder made me cross all day.

So when I saw the ads leading up the this year’s Oyster Festival, I’d already written it off as pointless. However, our planned entertainment for that day fell through and, drifting listlessly in the sea of Ought To Do Something With Our Weekend, we decided to go. Continue reading