A Food and Wine Adventure in New Zealand Slideshow
March 8, 2013
We touch down in the small town of Blenheim, where the winery is located. There, Cloudy Bay estate director Ian Morden welcomes us to Forage during an opening reception. He tells us that a wine’s “place of origin – its provenance – is important. Provenance is where your roots are. Countries like France have already figured this out. We are planting here in virgin soil.”
As we nibble on fresh, local produce and drink Cloudy Bay wines, we are given our assignments. One team will go east into the sea for shellfish, one north for local produce, and one west for fresh-water fish. My team will take for fourth point of the compass – south into the sparsely inhabited mountains to hunt wild boar and wild deer.
Into the Mountains
At daybreak, our team flies by helicopter into the mountains bordering the Waihopai River where hunting guides meet us at Glazebrook Lodge, a 24,000-acre private ranch. The wild animals we will be hunting roam the surrounding mountains. To find them, we will travel along rocky trails and across streams in small, all-terrain vehicles.
Chef Gault & Rifle
Guide Mike Darling first shows us how to use our high-powered rifles safely. Team member chef/entrepreneur Simon Gault – who will be cooking our Forage celebratory meal – has prepared game many times in his Auckland flagship restaurant, Euro, but this is his first time hunting.
Darling’s instructions on hunting prove successful, as Chef Gault shoots one of two wild deer bagged during the morning hunt. Then Darling conducts a brief outdoor course in dressing and butchering game, which we transport with us back to Cloudy Bay.
Other teams have been equally successful in harvesting farm produce such as garlic, greens, and other vegetables, and finding fresh honey and aged cheeses, as well as salmon, oysters, mussels and other shellfish. Gault works this evening and the next day preparing a menu from our booty. Head winemaker Tim Health matches each course with a range of sparkling and table wines.
Assembling for Harvest Dinner
The next day we are in the vineyards learning how Cloudy Bay’s grapes are grown, then we assemble at the winery in the evening to see what Chef Gault has assembled for us from our Forage. We eagerly anticipate the first of 10 local courses are paired with local wines.
Our meal begins with Tio Point oysters foraged by the team that had searched the bay floor. The chef uses a light hand with the raw shellfish, using a little jalapeño for spice and mandarin for fruit. Crayfish, paua (abalone), and salmon tartar courses follow.
Finally, we arrive at Gault’s version of “trail to table” cuisine, his own venison from yesterday made into carpaccio with horseradish custard and crispy capers. He next executes a venison encore with a slider flavored with a local plant called horopito.
Night Falls at Cloudy Bay
As daylight disappears over the mountains – looking very much like Cloudy Bay’s own shadowy mountain logo – we finish our all-too-brief Forage in Marlborough. Finally as the warm evening comes to an end, goodbyes and business cards are traded before we return to our own individual provenances.