Culinary capital

November 29, 2019

Cuisine’s list of 100 top New Zealand restaurants includes three from the Waitaki District – Cucina in Oamaru, Riverstone Kitchen a few kilometres north of the town and Fleurs Place in Moeraki a few kilometres south.

Given the District has only around 22,000 people it is a contender for the most top restaurants per head of population in the country.

Queenstown Lakes, with nearly twice as many people,  would come a close second with Bistro Gentil and Kika in Wanaka; Botswana Butchery and Sherwood in Queenstown and Amisfield Bistro  at Lake Hayes on the list.

An out-of-town friend asked me which of the Waitaki restaurants was best. I couldn’t answer, they are all different and all serve delicious food, using the freshest ingredients, locally sourced where possible; and their food is enhanced by wonderful waiting staff.

We’re spoilt for choice in the country’s culinary capital.


NZ Beef and Lambassadors

January 25, 2019

Pablo Tacchini from Cucina in Oamaru is one of Beef + Lamb NZ’s Ambassador Chefs.

Pablo is originally from Argentina where he trained at the culinary institute, Mausi Sebess for two and a half years. He worked in Argentina in different restaurants for more than five years before coming to New Zealand for a holiday with his wife and young son. They fell in love with New Zealand, especially Oamaru and after being offered a job as a chef they decided to stay and make New Zealand home. 

Pablo worked at restaurants around the Otago region before taking over as head chef at Cucina 1871. About two years ago the opportunity came about for Pablo and his wife to buy the restaurant. They changed the name to Cucina, upgraded the decor and changed the food style to what it is now. 

Pablo’s style of cuisine is a reflection of what he grew up eating with his family every day. Part of his family comes from Italy and the other part from Spain, so when he mixes these two influences with his Argentinian culture, his style of cuisine gets very interesting. . . 

Oamaru is blessed with several restaurants where diners are guaranteed delicious food and wonderful service.

Riverstone Kitchen a few kilometres north and Fleurs Place to the south are the most well known.

Cucina, at the entrance to Oamaru’s historic precinct, facing the southern end of the town’s main street is just as good.

Beef + Lamb’s media release on the Ambassador Chefs:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have announced their five Ambassador Chefs for 2019 to act as figureheads to drive innovation and creativity within the foodservice sector. The appointments follow the announcement of the 173 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award holders for 2019, with the ambassadors selected from some of the highest rated restaurants during the assessments.

The five selected for the coveted roles are; Andrew May (Amayjen the Restaurant, Feilding) Freddie Ponder (Tables Restaurant, New Plymouth), Jarrod McGregor (Rothko at Sculptureum, Matakana), Pablo Tacchini (Cucina, Oamaru) and Scott Buckler (No. 31 Restaurant, Hanmer Springs). . . 

The Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chefs’ roll of honour looks like a who’s who of Kiwi culinary trailblazers, with the quintet following in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s most celebrated chefs. Peter Gordon, Ben Bayley, Sid Sahrawat, Kate Fay and Rex Morgan are just a few of Aotearoa’s finest that have featured in an ambassadorial capacity for Beef + Lamb New Zealand over the 23 years of the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards. . . 

Lisa Moloney has been Food Service Manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand for over 12 years, overseeing the Ambassador Chef programme. Lisa said: “This year’s ambassadors have been selected not just because they are fantastic chefs, they were identified because of their creativity, dedication and excitement for cooking with beef and lamb. 

Their purpose is simple; to inspire a network of likeminded chefs to move forward, try something new and showcase what amazing creations are possible with beef and lamb.

Kiwi food fanatics looking to sample the very best the ambassadors have to offer will be able to attend an Ambassador Series Dinner, hosted at each of the chef’s restaurant, with each chef being paired with a Platinum Ambassador Chef to create a unique beef and lamb dining experience.

The Excellence Awards and Ambassador Chefs give recognition to the chefs who highlight beef and lamb on their menus and do it superbly.


365 days of gratitude

November 11, 2018

We’d taken the precaution of booking a table for lunch with friends at Riverstone Kitchen.

Not many years ago this was a very stoney paddock. Now it’s home to a thriving business, set in beautiful and bountiful gardens, overlooked by newly built Riverstone Castle.

The first car park was full when we pulled in, the shops were bustling and the restaurant was busy.

But busyness didn’t detract from the service which was up to the usual high standard. The food was simple and delicious, and the company fun.

The Riverstone complex makes a valuable contribution to the economic and social fabric of the Waitaki District and I’m grateful for it.


365 days of gratitude

April 15, 2018

We’ve been eating our way through a long weekend.

It started on Thursday with lunch at Minaret Station for a friend’s birthday (will post about that in the next few days).

On Friday we dined at Jacks Point with international chefs and media who are in New Zealand as part of Alliance Group’s Antipocurean tour (more of that in a future post too).

Yesterday we celebrated a friend’s 77th birthday at the Hawea pub and today we caught up with friends for lunch at Riverstone Kitchen.

Fine food, good friends and other friendly people – I’m grateful for them all.

 


Stadiums don’t make profits but

April 3, 2018

Economists generally agree that stadiums don’t make profits.

I am not equipped to argue against that but, profitable or not, Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr stadium is making a huge contribution to the social life and economy not just of the city but the wider region.

South-bound traffic was bumper to bumper on State Highway 1 through Oamaru on Thursday as people from Canterbury headed to Dunedin for Ed Sheeran’s first concert.

Traffic heading north and east to the city were just as busy.

The ODT reported on a city full of people enjoying themselves, and spending up large through the weekend.

North-bound traffic was bumper to bumper as people headed home yesterday and businesses en route benefitted from travellers who stopped.

Riverstone Kitchen, north of Oamaru and a few kilometres on the right side of the Waitaki River, is always popular with locals and travellers.

But this Facebook post shows how busy it was this weekend, owing in no small part to concert goers stopping on their way to and from Dunedin.

Easter Weekend – 5 record breaking MAMMOTH DAYS!

Here’s a few stats for you:
38kg Coffee used
over 1/2 tonne of potatoes
25 staff with an accumulated 916 hours worked
2420 people eating in the restaurant ( plus many more takeaways we didn’t count)
95kg fish
312 litres milk
and 218 Hot Cross Buns (sold on just 1 day!)

We hope you all had a good weekend and got to relax a little more than we did.  . . 

The building of the stadium attracted a lot of critics, some still argue against it. They may have grounds for their criticism.

But when the stadium has a show that attracts visitors numbering more than half the city’s population and their spending benefits many businesses en route as well, the optimism of those who backed it is vindicated too.

 


366 days of gratitude

September 1, 2016

The recipe for Riverstone Kitchen’s chocolate cake I was making said put all ingredients into a bowl, mix on low speed for three minutes and then high speed for 30 seconds.

I did that, peered in the bowl and saw little blobs of something that hadn’t mixed properly.

Uh oh. It was butter which the recipe said must be warmed and which obviously wasn’t warm enough when I’d added it to the rest of the ingredients.

I was reluctant to waste all the other ingredients so I got a sieve and forced the mixture through it.

I was left with little bits of butter in the sieve but the cake batter looked okay so I put it in the oven.

An hour later it had risen as it was supposed to and smelled delicious.

It’s now sitting on the bench waiting to cool enough to ice.

I wouldn’t recommend my method for the recipe but it worked this time and for that I’m grateful.


366 days of gratitude

January 25, 2016

At Riverstone Country today I ran into Dot Smith, Queen of Riverstone Castle, hard at work and smiling broadly as she almost always is.

She is one of the most energetic and positive people I know and I always finish a chat with her feeling the day is brighter.

You can read about her here.

If you haven’t visited Riverstone Country nor enjoyed the delicious food at Riverstone Kitchen, a couple of kilometres south of the Waitaki River on State Highway 1, both are well worth a stop.

Today I’m grateful for positive people who work to realise their dreams.

 


%d bloggers like this: