A pop of positivity

April 9, 2020

We passed the halfway point of the four-week lockdown last night.

There is very little chance we will get out of lockdown earlier and it is too soon to know whether it might extend beyond four weeks.

The decline, slow as it is,  in the number of new cases of Covid-19 gives reason for hope that four weeks might be enough to eliminate the disease, or at least get the spread so low it can be contained and the likelihood of that would be increased if all new arrivals are quarantined.

National launched a petition on Monday  calling for mandatory quarantining at the border and it had an unprecedented response:

. . .With the large number of cases overseas, experts, like epidemiologist Professor Sir David Skegg, say a blanket quarantine is needed to ensure Kiwis with the virus don’t return to the country and nullify any success our domestic lockdown measures have had. 

Likewise, the National Party leader told The AM Show that implementing a mandatory quarantine was about making sure the four-week lockdown wasn’t in vain.

“As we make sacrifices as New Zealanders, as dads can’t see their babies in hospital, as people can’t go to their loved ones’ funerals, let’s do some of the things that really matter,” he said.

“We know where COVID-19 is coming in from, it is offshore, that is where most of the cases are. This is urgent.” . . 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also appeared supportive of tighter border control on Tuesday.

“I agree with what Professor Skegg was saying, that, actually, if we’re going to go for the elimination approach, which is our extended keep it out, stamp it out, and for when we move down out into Alert Level 3, we need to be very confident we are not letting new cases into the country at the border,” he said. . . 

In the meantime, business not as usual goes on.

The regular newsletter from my MP, Jacqui Dean is usually full of what she’s been doing around the electorate.

The latest one is different as she is working from her lock down base.

She, like other electorate MPs, has been busy helping people in need of support, information  and advice.

She has also had time to notice the good things people and businesses have been doing:

A pop of positivity

Cardona Distillery

I visited Desiree and the team at Cardrona Distillery last year. It’s a wonderful family run business and I was impressed (but not surprised) by their offer of free hand sanitizer to locals who need it.

Prince Albert

We humans are social creatures and The Prince Albert in Wanaka has come up with a clever idea to keep their regulars connected. They’ve moved their weekly quiz night online, something I suspect could be a highlight on many social calendars in the coming weeks.

Bringing out the books

Geraldine’s new bookshop The Page and Post Booksellers has been offering a daily story time session through its Facebook page. Cromwell Community Board Chair and Goldfields School Principal Anna Harrison has done something similar by reading children’s books and posting the videos on YouTube.

Whitestone Taxis

Whitestone Taxis have offered to deliver Meals on Wheels to people in Oamaru without taking payment from Waitaki District Health Services. This news left me in no doubt that there are some absolute gems in this electorate. What a kind and generous offer.

Supermarket superstars

Frontline supermarket staff all deserve a round of applause at the moment but I’d like to give a special mention the owner-operators of supermarkets in our small towns who are going above and beyond in taking orders and delivering groceries to those who need it. I started to compile a list of the towns where this is happening and it just got too long – a wonderful reflection of community spirit.

Digital Libraries

Here’s a quote from the Waitaki District Libraries website that couldn’t be more appropriate in times like these:

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” ~ Anne Herbert

Their buildings may be closed but libraries are still there for you either on the phone, via email or social media, and you get your good reads using the digital platform.

Visit: https://library.waitaki.govt.nz/

https://codc-qldc.govt.nz/

#codclibraries #digitallibraryopen

When so much in the media is bad news, it was refreshing to read this pop of positivity and there’s plenty more.

Riverstone Kitchen chef Bevan Smith is live streaming cooking demonstrations.

Cucina chef Pablo Tacchini is live streaming cooking demonstrations too.

Netball NZ is offering free online fitness classes – Netfit.

Otago Museum has a range of activities including online jigsaw puzzles and Te Papa has online jigsaw puzzles too.

If you can add to th epop of positivity, pleaes do.


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.

 


Riverstone features in Cuisine awards again

June 10, 2014

Riverstone Kitchen, the first regional restaurant to win Cuisine’s restaurant of the year, features in the awards again this year as runner-up for the regional award.

Auckland fine-diner Sidart is Cuisine’s Restaurant of the Year 2014, heading off a string of strong contenders in the highest restaurant count in the 10-year history of the awards.

Winners of the prestigious Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards, held in association with Vittoria Coffee, were announced last night at a glitzy who’s who of the restaurant industry at St-Matthew-in-the-City.

Sidart also took out the title of Sanpellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant, with head judge Kerry Tyack describing the degustation-only menu of inspirational and innovative chef Sid Sahrawat as “art on a plate”.

The picture-perfect presentation of superbly flavoured dishes, a complementary drinks list and seamless service made dining at Sidart an experience to be savoured in every way, Tyack says. “Good chefs never stand still – they continuously experiment, evolve and adjust. Over the past year, Sid Sahrawat’s food at Sidart has come into its own and truly excelled.”

Adds Cuisine editor Sarah Nicholson, “This year it’s been tougher than ever before to create a dining experience that stands out from the exceptional group of restaurants in New Zealand. Sid Sahrawat’s food is clever and technical, and looks amazing, but at the end of the day it is absolutely delicious, and that is the most important thing.”

Sixteen new eateries made the cut in the nationwide awards this year, with the total number of coveted chef’s hats increasing to 30 from 2013’s twenty.

The Grove, plus its buzzing new Italian offspring Baduzzi, earned executive chef Benjamin Bayly the title of Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year. Baduzzi was crowned American Express Best Specialist Restaurant, with Wellington’s popular Ortega Fish Shack & Bar the runner-up.

Nic Watts’ chic Japanese eatery Masu at Auckland’s SkyCity was named Electrolux Best New Restaurant, with the intimate Roots in Lyttelton as runner-up.

The KitchenAid Best Regional Restaurant title went to the smart, laid-back Chim Choo Ree in Hamilton, with North Otago’s awards stalwart Riverstone Kitchen the runner-up. The House of Travel Best Winery Restaurant was Hawke’s Bay’s elegant Elephant Hill, with Central Otago’s picturesque Amisfield Bistro the runner-up.

Proprietor Chris Upton’s long-standing dedication to wine service earned Auckland’s O’Connell Street Bistro the Negociants New Zealand Best Wine Experience award, a new category this year, and the captivating Mojo Horiuchi, manager-sommelier at Auckland’s Kazuya, was named European Foods Restaurant Personality of the Year.

Find full profiles of the winners and other successful restaurants in the Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards 2014 on cuisinegoodfoodguide.co.nz, or get the Cuisine Good Food Guide 2014 free with the July issue of Cuisine, on sale 16 June 2014.

Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards 2014 winners:

RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR 2014: Sidart, Auckland

Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year: Benjamin Bayly, Baduzzi and The Grove, Auckland

Sanpellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant: Sidart, Auckland

KitchenAid Best Regional Restaurant: Chim Choo Ree, Hamilton
Runner-up: Riverstone Kitchen, North Otago

Electrolux Best New Restaurant: Masu, Auckland
Runner-up: Roots, Lyttelton

American Express Best Specialist Restaurant: Baduzzi, Auckland
Runner-up: Ortega Fish Shack & Bar, Wellington

House of Travel Best Winery Restaurant: Elephant Hill, Hawke’s Bay
Runner-up: Amisfield Bistro, Central Otago

European Foods Restaurant Personality of the Year: Mojo Horiuchi, Kazuya, Auckland

Negociants New Zealand Best Wine Experience: O’Connell Street Bistro, Auckland

2014 Hat recipients
Scores out of 20 determine a restaurant’s hat rating. One hat is considered very good, two hats are great to excellent and three hats (18-20) mean a restaurant is consistently amazing and among the best of the best.

3 HATS
Clooney, Auckland
Sidart, Auckland
The French Café, Auckland
The Grove, Auckland

2 HATS
Baduzzi, Auckland
Kazuya, Auckland
Logan Brown, Wellington
Masu, Auckland
Merediths, Auckland
The Grill by Sean Connolly, Auckland

1 HAT
Amisfield Bistro, Queenstown
Bracu, Auckland
Cazador, Auckland
Charley Noble, Wellington
Chim Choo Ree, Hamilton
Depot, Auckland
Elephant Hill, Hawke’s Bay
O’Connell Street Bistro, Auckland
Orphans Kitchen, Auckland
Ortega Fish Shack & Bar, Wellington
Ortolana, Auckland
Pegasus Bay, Waipara, North Canterbury
Pescatore, Christchurch
Ponsonby Road Bistro, Auckland
Rata, Otago
Riverstone Kitchen, Oamaru
Roots, Christchurch
Soul Bar & Bistro, Auckland
Taylors on Jackson, Petone
The Larder, Wellington

One of the benefits of tourism and provincial development is the improvement in the quality of food in smaller towns.

In North Otago we’ve got Riverstone Kitchen just north of Oamaru,  Fleurs Place at Moeraki to the south and in Oamaru for the finest of dining there’s Pen-y-Bryn Lodge.

Portside, at the harbour and Northstar are also worth a visit and for more casual dining Fat Sally’s is also good.

There’s others featured here.


If you want a castle . . .

January 2, 2014

Dot and Neil Smith were among the first people to take up the opportunity irrigation provided on the Lower Waitaki Plains.

They moved down from Northland more than 30 years ago and through hard work and good ideas established successful dairy farms.

Dot’s energy and enthusiasm didn’t stop there, she also established Riverstone Country, a store crammed with gifts, home and garden ware.

One son is dairying, the other, Bevan and his wife Monique, and his wife developed the award winning restaurant Riverstone Kitchen.

One reason for its well deserved reputation is its fresh fruit and vegetables from the expansive gardens which surround it.

The Smiths believe in their dreams and are prepared to work hard to realise them.

One of Dot’s dreams is to have a castle and she’s getting it.

Mrs Smith said . . . It would be the only ”new home” they had lived in.

”We have only ever lived in farm cottages on farms before, so this will be the first time we have had a new house.”

The 65-year-old said the chance to live in a castle was ”a dream come true”.

”Some people have a dream to own a Porsche. My dream has been to live like a princess in a castle, and really, everybody’s home is their castle.”

Although the castle would also have a ”secret tunnel”, along with a basement and dungeon, the building was intended as ”just a home”, she said.

”Hopefully, it will be lots of fun for the grandkids.”

TV3’s 3rd Degree profiled it, you can watch it here.

You can also read her story  in Dot Queen of Riverstone Castle, written with Nathalie Brown and published by Random House.


Riverstone Cuisine finalist again

June 18, 2012

North  Otago’s Riverstone Kitchen is a finalist in Cuisine’s restaurant of the year again.

It won the supreme award two years ago and was the regional winner last year.

The food and service are equal to any I’ve had anywhere in the world and it’s continuing success in these awards show it’s not justparochial people like me who thinks so.

It specialises in simple, fresh food, much of which is grown on the property or near by.

If you can’t get there in person, you could get a taste of what they serve via chef Bevan Smith’s recipe books.

The 50 finalists are:

Northland
Á Deco

Auckland
Antoine’s RestauranT, Café HanoI, Cibo, Clooney, Cocoro, Coco’s Cantina, Depot! District Dining, Ebisu, Kitchen at Hotel De Brett, Merediths, MooChowChow, O’Connell Street Bistro, Ponsonby Road Bistro, Roxy, Sidart, Soul Bar and Bistro, The Engine Room, The French Café, The Grill, The Grove, TriBeCa, Vinnie

Waikato/BOP
Palate, Chim-Choo-Ree, Victoria Street Bistro

Hawkes Bay
Black Barn Bistro, Elephant Hill Estate & Winery, Terroir at Craggy Range

Wellington
Ambeli, Arbitrageur, Capitol, Hippopotamus, Logan Brown, Martin Bosley’s! Matterhorn, Ortega Fish Shack & Bar, The Larder, The White House

Marlborough/ Nelson
Hopgood

Canterbury/ Christchurch
Edesia, Pegasus Bay Winery Restaurant,  Pestacore

South Canterbury/ Oamaru *
Riverstone Kitchen

Central Otago
Amisfield Bistro, Wai, Wakatipu Grill

Dunedin
Pier 24, Two Chefs Bistro

Cuisine profiles them all here.
* I think South Canterbury/Oamaru is a category not a geographical mistake.

Tourist hot-spots and hot tourist spots

March 1, 2012

There are tourist hot spots and there are hot tourist spots.

The hot-spots are the ones most people know about and where most tourists will be directed by travel agents.

The hot tourist spots are often less well known and none the less attractive for that. Among these is Oamaru and its hinterland and it’s not just parochial people like me who think so.

In this month’s 25th anniversary issue of Cuisine Amanda Hyde lists 25 of the hippest destinations.

Only two of the hip destinations are in New Zealand – one of those is the Te Araroa Trail, the other is the Waitaki Valley and Oamaru.

 Want your holiday to come with spectacular scenery, good food, top wine and cute penguins? Head to New Zealand’s Waitaki Valley.

Oamaru’s beautiful historic stone buildings will transport you back several centuries – complete the illusion with morning tea at Annie’s Victorian Tea Rooms, where you’ll be served leaf tea and homemade cakes by staff dressed in period costume.

Steampunk HQ continues the historic vibe – through art, music, film and machines, it imagines a world where steam power is king.

The region is also home to the renowned Riverstone Kitchen, Fleurs Place and The Loan & Merc, as well as a host of vineyards and, of course, the blue penguin colony. visitoamaru.co.nz

The ODT and Oamaru Mail have more on the story.

If you want to learn more about the area’s charms, have a look at Oamaru Life. This is the blog written by the owner of Pen-y-bryn Lodge, a  five star, category-one historic residence. He has travelled widely and lived in many different exotic locations but is now pleased and proud to call Oamaru home.


Playing tourists at home

September 20, 2009

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to give the partners of conference attendees a taste of North Otago, the caller told me.

It’s not often I get to play tourists at home so I was happy to accept the challenge to occupy 10 people for three hours. The difficulty wasn’t what to show them but what to leave out.

saturday 003

We started in Oamaru’s historic precinct where attractions include Lavish Soap,  the New Zealand Malt Whisky Company, and the Grainstore Gallery.

Donna Demente is one of the artists whose work is available in the gallery. She’d parked her car downstairs:

car

Our second stop was Parkside Garden a two acre testament to the creativity and energy of Linda Wilson and Bob Wilson, of Parkside Quarry where Oamaru stone comes from.

A 15 minute drive from the downlands to the Waitaki Valley took us to Riverstone Kitchen  .  Fortified by a sumptuous afternoon tea we then partook of a little retail therapy in the adjoining gift shop:

choc 009


Riverstone

August 23, 2009

Thirty years ago the Lower Waitaki plains were dry and barren. The stone-strewn paddock supported a few sheep and crops which only did as well as the weather let them.

Then came irrigation. In its wake new business opportunities followed, on and off farm. One of these is Riverstone gift shop:

choc 009

 It grew and then came Riverstone Kitchen which offers delicious food, efficient and friendly service in delightful surroundings.

We lunched there today. It hadn’t occurred to me to book, but I will next time because it is now so popular we were lucky to get the second last free table.

Misses nine and four were happy with the play area inside and the swings, chickens and peacocks outside while waiting for the food. The menu catered for them and the adults.

Chef Bevan Smith uses good quality, fresh ingredients. He grows what he can in the garden on-site and sources as much as possible of anything else he needs from local suppliers.

 Today I enjoyed the Italian Provincial Soup:

choc 003

Then my sister in law and I shared a chocolate sour cream cake with berry compote and vanilla bean ice cream:

choc 004


Riverstone on-line

July 8, 2009

Riverstone Kitchen, one of North Otago’s best restaruants has a new website.

Buy local, think seasonal, eat well is Riverstone’s motto and it practices what it preaches, serving delicious, fresh food which includes produce from its own garden.

The website includes some of chef Bevan Smith’s recipes.

He has been providing recipes for the ODT. I can recommned his hazelnut shortbread.


Hon Dr, OBE & inspirational bloke

April 9, 2009
In his typically modest way Sid concluded his speech last night by saying, “In honouring me you have honoured yourselves because we have all been part of this.” He had a point, but he was the leader and continues to be an inspiration. 

The invitation was to celebrate the contribution Sid Hurst had made to the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company and the evening was a tribute to a man who is still doing more at 91 than many people half his age.

 

He learned about the importance of water early because North Otago was drought prone and farms were dependent on rain to supply water for stock and houses.

 

Sid’s family was one of the first in the district to install a flush loo in their home. It would have been an improvement on a longdrop but water shortages meant it could be flushed just once a day.

 

Sid was one of the people behind the Windsor Rural Water Scheme, New Zealand’s first, and one of the first to use irrigation in North Otago. He was also the driving force behind the development of irrigation on the Lower Waitaki.

 

Last night’s celebration was at Riverstone Kitchen which wouldn’t be there, offering superbly cooked fresh food, had irrigation not transformed the arid Waitaki Valley bringing more people, making more money and improving the environment.

 

Sid had been an innovator in farming and business, succeeding in both and helping other people and the wider community. His service was recognised when he was conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Science from Lincoln University and awarded an OBE.

 

In his typically modest way, Sid concluded his remarks last night by saying, “In honouring me you have honoured yourselves because we have all been part of this.”

 

He had a point but he was the leader and continues to be an inspiration.

 

 


Boutique cheese growing business

October 18, 2008

Whitestone Cheese opened a new 300sq metre distribution centre and chiller last night and today launches three new cheeses.

The goats milk cheeses will be launced at Riverstone Kitchen tonight.

The varieties all have North Otago names – Parson’s Rock (near Otematata) is a brie-style, Danseys Pass is a pressed white mould and Duntroon a pressed wax.


Which Province is NZ’s Food Bowl?

July 12, 2008

If Waikato is the food bowl of New Zealand  as Lianne Dalziel said in justifying the appointment of former MP Dianne Yates to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Board, then the province needs to improve its marketing.

I’d have accepted the cream can or horse racing capital, but Waitako wouldn’t immediately come to mind if I was asked which province is the nation’s food bowl.

If we’re going for North Island entrants for the title Hawkes Bay with its wonderful fruit, vegetables, sea food and wine would be a finalist. The Bay of Plenty, Poverty Bay and Northland have a delicious range of fruit and vegetables too; and Wairarapa has wine and olives.

In the South Island, Central Otago can claim the country’s best stone fruit, it has pip fruit and wine too. Nelson and Malborough also grow tasty fruit and have delicious sea food and wine. Canterbury produces tasty fruit and good wine too.

Oysters put Southland on the list, though I’m not sure if swedes would be counted for or against them 🙂

Lamb is legend in Hawkes Bay, Canterbury and Southland, though just about anywhere in New Zealand grows it just as well, and the same can be said for beef.

North Otago may not spring to everyone’s mind as the culinary capital but we have a growing appreciation of our primary produce. There’s a fledging viticulture industry, and Fleurs Place at Moeraki has woken our taste buds to the delights of local fish and sea food. Just as the cold winters add intensity of flavour to Central’s stone fruit, the colder water enhances the flavour of fish, particularly blue cod.

Riverstone Kitchen , a finalist in the Cuisine restaurant of the Year, uses as much local produce as possible – including fruit, vegetables and herbs, from its own orchard and garden.

Wasabi is grown in the Waitaki Valley and it also produces very sweet strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, tayberries and boysenberries.

Whitestone Cheese has an array of national awards to back up my ever so slightly biased view that they produce the country’s best cheese.

Totara Lowlands  sells the most succulent cherries I have ever eaten – they don’t export so the pick of the crop is sold locally. Their hazelnuts and honey are also top quality.

While we’re in that part of the the district, Totara and nearby Kakanui are renowned for the vegetables from their market gardens and there are simply no better new potatoes in the world than those which grow here. They are no ordinary spuds, they’re more like underground strawberries.

If you don’t understand how proud North Otago would be if we were called the nation’s potato patch then you obviously haven’t tasted the Jersey Bennies which grow here.


Riverstone Kitchen

June 23, 2008

Lauraine Jacobs waxed lyrical about the delights of Riverstone Kitchen  duirng her guest chef slot on Nine to Noon this morning.

The praise is well deserved. Chef Bevan Smith serves delicious food in simple but elegant surroundings. Most of the fruit and vegetables served are grown on the property and he features as much local produce as possible.

If you’ve time, a wander round the adjourning gift shop run by Bevan’s mother, Dot, is a delightful way to finish your visit.


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