Recently I was asked by NZ Venison to show around a group of Belgian chefs. I wanted to make a good impression so they could take word back to Belgium of Otago’s wonderful produce!
We started with a visit to our suppliers and a few favourite wineries along the way, before cooking them dinner in the evening.
Their epicurean tour of the Southern Lakes commenced with 'olives & greens' splashed with Cairnmuir Olive Oil, kindly supplied by Bob at ‘Basil, Parsley & Partners’ and David at ‘Goodies from the Gorge’.
Wineries from our region were ticked off next with a visit to Surveyor Thompson Vineyard and Northburn Station - where we also stopped for lunch and admired their kitchen, gardens and winery!
Our visiting chefs then enjoyed a dinner at True South Dining Room, which was the perfect end to their Queenstown visit.
Tiki-touring around the Southern Lakes is not all I’ve been up to, it’s also been a busy time in the kitchen conjuring up new recipes.
True South Dining Room was recently awarded a 2013 Beef and Lamb Award of Excellence – that is now the second year running! The dish we created for the entry is a Merino lamb neck fillet rolled in apricot glaze, coated with saffron cous cous. It’s then laid on a bed of broad beans with cos lettuce and pesto. On the side are cherry tomatoes stuffed with goats cheese, saffron polenta, tomato chutney and a ‘Toulouse’ style sausage made up of minced lamb shoulder with thyme, garlic and paprika – it’s truly delicious!
This lamb dish is currently available in True South and is also entered in another component of the Beef and Lamb awards - basically a ‘People’s Choice’ award, with guests being able to fill out a review post-meal.
Also new on the menu is a dish made of Nelson scallops with homemade black pudding, curried corn puree, fresh corn with apple, red pepper and lime leaf sauce, red pepper glass (dried red pepper to make a biscuit) and curried popcorn.
When creating the black pudding I made 2 ‘prototypes’ - MK1 and MK2. They were from two different recipes that I found and added my own tweaks too. The kitchen team voted and MK2 won out in the end, thanks to it’s superior flavour and texture.
Last but not least is an heirloom tomato dish – an ode to the season! Fresh, seasonal (and delicious!) heirloom tomatoes are drizzled with a dressing of tomato, olive oil, lemon verbena and basil. It is accompanied by basil oil, cucumber and lemon verbena sorbet, lemon verbena meringue, black olive biscuit, tomato liquid sphere and Blue River Vintage Feta & red pepper mousse. Thanks to both Goodies from the Gorge and Aspiring Organics, we are able to source the hefty supply of these rare tomato treats.
For the heirloom connoisseurs who were wondering, the varieties we have at the moment are black Tula, San Marzano, Potente, Yellow Yummies and Golden Nuggets.