South Island, New Zealand
I’m afraid I have been neglecting my duty to seek out fine foods in Melbourne as I have been enjoying the delights of the South Island of New Zealand. I encountered some terrific produce, particularly the cherries, raspberries, gooseberries and blueberries – seems they have the perfect cool climate for these fruits. Other fruits were mostly imbibed in the form of pinot noir – enough said. I also enjoyed some of New Zealand’s lovely abundant fish, including the famed blue cod, as well as oysters, mussels and tiny but delicious scallops from Dunedin. The lamb was terrific and I wonder whether it is because the sheep enjoy more luscious, irrigated pastures than our Aussie sheep. But what really blew me away was the extent of deer farming and number of times I encountered venison on menus. I enjoyed several venison meals but probably the most memorable was a venison burger from a little food van pulled by a bright orange 4 wheel drive called Otoko Espresso in Haast on the West coast. The burger was actually made with a couple of pieces of fillet quickly seared on a hot plate – sensational. I immediately wondered about getting some venison back home and creating my own healthy, lean-meat burger. However, the whitebait patties with wasabi mayo were the main attraction at this little van, justifiably a great New Zealand delicacy and nothing like the large whitebait we get here. Holiday over, sadly I will have to make do with smoked blue cod (Canals Seafood in Nth Carlton has this and its great for making kedgeree) rather than the fresh I was getting used to. And I am now on a mission to source some lovely venison here and experiment with recipes.