foodiegemsofwellie

For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather over at KNOW Wellington's Word on the Street Blog or hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…

Archive for the category “Wairarapa / Vineyards”

Luna Estate winery and Kitchen

I was recently invited to check out the new Luna Estate winery and Kitchen in Martinborough, after it’s recent revamp.

Luna wines.jpg

Luna is where Alana once was, and also encompasses the former Murdoch James winery out the other side of town, now known as Luna Blue Rock (currently converting to a function centre without a cellar door). Owner Charlie Zheng, a Wellington Investment Director and passionate wino (I say that in the nicest possible sense!), has supported other Wellington institutions to expand (Mojo into China, for example) and has an eye for regional and global opportunities (the James Murdoch brand will continue as the export arm).

In the last year Luna have ripped out most of the sauvignon blanc and replanted with pinot noir to take advantage of the Burgundy-like growing conditions (now 85% of their crop), launched their first vintage to market, and refurbished the old Alana tasting room into the new Luna Estate cellar door and kitchen, with courtyard al fresco dining.

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The food is Mediterranean/North African inspired tapas and sharing style, courtesy of Exec Chef Lisa Howard’s travels in that part of the world. The portions are generous (you truly do only need the recommended 1.5 – 2 dishes per person), with the eats ranging from from light snacks (patatas bravas with citrus dip and passata), to salads (roast pumpkin with feta and mesclun), to mains (morsels of NZ lamb roasted in a Moroccan marinade), to sweet desserts (baklava with greek yoghurt). Lisa makes all sauces etc in-house, and likes to use local wherever possible, for example using Drunken Nanny Goats cheese, Olivo oils, and Elysian Foods.

We enjoyed patatas bravas, the chilli jam chicken nibblets, the Moroccan spiced sticky pork belly, the grilled asparagus with broccoli and almond salad, and the loukoumade donuts. The stand-outs were the patatas bravas (satisfyingly crispy and feathery, resting on a bed of lovely pesto-density passata), and the pork belly (sweetly and lightly sticky, and melt-in-the-mouth tender).

Both the 2016 Luna Riesling, and the 2015 Eclipse Chardonnay went well with all dishes and released pleasing aromatics and flavours once up to room temperature.

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The wines also include several pinots of course, a rose, a pinot gris, and a sauvignon blanc currently. With a side of Bootlegger sodas for those driving, and a handful of beers, including light versions. Good responsibility.

The coffee was again slightly more European in style (dark toffee notes), but went down well to conclude the outing.

If you have youngies along (or are just feeling frisky/inspired after lunch), there were various balls and cricket gear on the lawn to run around with, or a cute wee chalkboard for releasing your inner Picasso.

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This is definitely a place to enjoy some nice wines and fill bellies in a very pleasant setting. It can be busy with tour groups passing through for tastings, so it’d pay to book your lunch spot, and if you wanted a more intimate experience, ask for a table in their private room.

7 days noon to 4pm (cellar door to 5pm).

133 Puruatanga Rd, Martinborough

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirabelle in Carterton

Another on my keep-missing-it list was Cafe Mirabelle at Carterton. I’d never managed to go past when it was open, but finally, success! Twice in fact, go figure.

Mirabelle is run by French husband and wife team Megan (the magic in the kitchen) and Olivier (the FOH maestro) Rochery. The food philosophy is simple, hearty and unpretentious, like dining at home in France. And what would French dining be without wine, beer and liqueurs? You’ll never need to find out here.

One visit was for a light brekkie, so I made a beeline for the pastries. They all looked delightful and beautifully hand-made, and in fact the apple danish I settled on might be the best one I’ve ever had. The pastry was light and crispy, the apple generous and beautifully layered, and both the custard beneath and glaze on top just the right hint of sweetness without overkill. I’m still revelling in the memory.

Mirabelle apple danish

The other visit was lunch so I decided on the macaroni cheese with bacon from the menu board. It was a close run thing with the goat cheese salad, but since it was a slightly cool day, and I was interested to see how Mirabelle would deliver the dish, the mac cheese won. And yes it did arrive French style, topped with cheese, pepper (noticeable), a dose of melted butter, bread for dipping, and bubbly hot grilled top.

A delicious and unctuous dish (love that word!). All for $12.50. Excellent value.

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A place not to be missed if you can time it right.

Wednesday to Sunday daytimes (9-4 weekdays, 10-3 weekends), dinner Friday and Saturday nights (bookings recommended).

31 High North Street, Carterton

The Clareville Bakery, a must do

To begin our carbo loading for a Sunday half marathon vines walk, we decided on the Clareville Bakery for Saturday breakfast (followed by a Poppies lunch and a Medici dinner of course!).

These guys have won a number of awards in recent years (2014 pie of the year with their lamb and kumara pie, joint 2015 rural cafe of the year, and 2015 overall VWOAP Mindfood Producer winner for their lavash-style crackers), and just keep on creating.

10am was a bit early for pie, so I made a beeline for the hot cross doughnut (seasonally appropriate and delish), while others had a banana custard donut (delightful but very squirty) and chicken walnut blue cheese turkish (also rated highly).

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Rosie and Michael and their team are super hot on fresh, hand made and artisan methods, and make all their own pastries, breads (own natural sourdough starter), jams, jellies, sauces, the aforementioned lavash-style crackers, and more (check out their gallery pics here). As well as cabinet and counter food, you’ll find a range of brunch and lunch menu options Monday through Saturday daytimes.

On Wednesday evenings they do dinner and live music, and they also cater events (do these guys ever sleep??). There’s a range of nooks and crannies both inside among the simple white and timber decor (check out the building history on the wall), or out in the garden if a nice day.

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I’ve found some of their goodies on the counter at Poquito in the CBD recently, and shall keep my eyes out for where else they might supply, but if you’re in the Wairarapa Monday to Saturday daytimes, you should definitely head straight to the source.

3340 SH2 Claireville.

 

 

 

Delicious Wairarapa

I’ve been tootling around in the Wairarapa this weekend, so since I posted about it on Wellingtonista, I thought I’d share it here also….

Lots of delicious eats, and a rather fine 2012 Murdoch James pinot gris.

Murdoch James

Some of the other vineyard lunches out that way:

And some with platters and more cafe-style food:

We so need to get out of the city regularly and enjoy the lush offerings of the Wairarapa (hmmm, I wonder if I know anyone who needs a Wairarapa summer clerk one day a week….).

 

 

A Wharekauhau long lunch

For a luxurious experience without the need for a second mortgage, a long Sunday lunch at Wharekauhau is a feast for all the senses.

Wharekauhau decorA three course lunch with glass of Te Kairanga sauvignon blanc (swapped for a delicious Te Kairanga 2005 off-dry Riesling after a to-die-for Lustaw Pedro Xenemez sweet sherry starter for her, and followed by an Awatere Pinot Noir well matched to the beef for him),
Wharekauhau tablecomplimentary salmon amuse bouche, quality settings and service, in a private dining room overlooking Palliser Bay, was $105 each after the entertainment card discount (the starting point was $110 each before extra wines and discount).

Wharekauhau soupCompared to many dinners in Wellington recently with smaller courses,
shorter timeframes and not dissimilar costs, it stands head and shoulders above as value for money.

The wines were all of excellent quality, with the Foleys (owners) having ownership in Te Kairanga and Vavasour, and those wines featuring prominently beside a nice range of other NZ and Californian wines.  Wharekauhau lambI see in the media recently the Foleys are looking to acquire a few more Marlborough vineyards to add to the stable.

The menu provided three choices for each course, focused on locally grown or caught, and seasonal – their own vegetables, beef and lamb; Palliser Bay octopus and snapper.  The soup (butternut pumpkin, apple, parsnip with fresh horseradish) was crisp and refreshing, the lamb (roasted, with coffee, eggplant Wharekauhau dessertand jus) was tender, and the creme brûlée (vanilla with shortbread) rich and filling.

We also scored a complimentary cheese board by virtue of some mix-up in the kitchen.  Again, very good quality and well presented (and no dinner required for us that night!).

We were invited to explore the lodge and surrounds (indoor covered pool with bathrooms of elegance, fully equipped gymnasium, all weather tennis court, groomed croquet and petanque lawn, shady and pleasant pathways) and did so between mains and dessert (good suggestion!).
Wharekauhau pool

The lodge has a number of upstairs rooms for games, reading, leisure and socialising, all with different moods and decor, so one could easily find a spot that resonated.

Oh, and year on year on year lamb and beef award winners. What more can one say?

Three hours of feeding the senses for a delicious birthday treat -simply divine.

Turn south down Western Lake Road at the southern end of Featherston, and keep going for about 40km.

Wharekauhau pool towel

Medici, Martinborough

Having stopped here in the past for coffee and cake while out riding, staying over at Martinborough meant the perfect opportunity to experience Medici’s full brunch offerings.

We arrived around 9am at the beginning of the day (Sunday), so were met and seated easily.  And enjoyed the ambience peacefully before the 10am rush.

Named after the Italian royal house and banking dynasty of Medici (who knew they developed the double entry book-keeping system?), the cafe gives a nod to its history with Sistine chapel-style paintings on the ceiling, rustic wrought iron chandeliers and an old Medici head (coin?) in the logo.

Local art on the walls is for sale, there is a (usually) sunny courtyard out the back, the coffee is by Mojo, and there is a mix of both counter and menu food on offer.

And so to brunch.

French toast and pancakes were the order of the day.  Both with banana, bacon and maple syrup.  The french toast was rated as pretty good with a pleasing balance between the salty crispy bacon, and creamy egginess of the toast.  And the pancakes (which were really small pikelets) were presented appealingly in a stack with accompanying condiments in separate dishes and jug.  Good for those who like to mix and match flavours to personal taste.  Like me.

One coffee was missed off the order, and the wait staff seemed a little more focused on what they had to get through rather than engaging with the customers, so perhaps some room for improvement on that front.

But otherwise good food and coffee, in a cafe with character, in a delightful corner of the greater Wellington region.

It will remain a regular ride stop.

Gladstone Vineyard, definitely worth the ride…

A weekend with no obligations, no children and no plans.  Yippeeeee!  Ergo opportunities to eat out.  So I will be selective in which ones I blog about to save your eyes from falling out.

Friday night ended up being Zibibbo in Taranaki Street.  I have posted before about their tapas, and still didn’t get to the desserts this time, but suffice it to say they are one of the best for classy food, very good service and a nice ambience.  A wood roasted portobello mushroom herb gnocchi with goat cheese sauce for me, and the special pork belly, blue cheese and mushroom mousse gnocchi for him (Zibibbo is Italian influenced after all!).  The group next to us had the ice cream cone sorbets for dessert and they looked truly impressive.  Zibibbo also do a range of wood fired pizzas in the early $20’s, so it doesn’t have to be an expensive night out there.

Saturday was looking the finest of the weekend, so a ride was required, and a (long-desired) jaunt to the Gladstone Vineyard via Martinborough (for coffee and access to the nice winding Longbush road ensued.

A meandering driveway to a picturesque garden beside the old homestead, with chunky garden tables and brollies, and even a kids play area on sand under the trees (and built from wood not modern glaring brightly painted steel or plastic). Which seemed to do the trick nicely for the kids present.

There was a large family group there for a celebration at one big long italian-lunch style table, so we could only choose a platter for lunch (presumably the kitchen was fully occupied dealing with the big group), which worked just fine.  The choices were a ploughmans platter (very substantial we discovered!), a seafood platter or simpler pate, breads and dips offerings.  The menu is not large and looks like it changes every couple of months, but did include things like courgette, mint and feta fritters, a pork belly salad, and a fish daily choice dish.

All wines on offer were their own (we had a wee sample of Sophie’s Choice, being a barrel fermented sauvignon blanc, yummo), and they are developing the vineyard towards biodynamic principles.  They had about 8 of their wines on offer by the glass – a riesling, sauvignon blanc, vigonier, pinot gris, Sophies choice (named for their golden retriever Sophie), pinot noir, auld alliance red and a dessert wine.  So pretty much a full range.

Again, we didn’t get to desserts, but the descriptions had me deciding to come back during a Wairarapa weekend (also on the planner sometime) for a full tasting session, and dessert and wine some afternoon under the trees.

They open Thursday to Sunday mid morning through to mid-late afternoon, and can be found in the pleasant countryside out behind Carterton.

 

 

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