It is always nice to see a chef absolutely loving the food he is cooking and talking about it with joie de vivre!
So it is with anticipation and excitement that we all sit down for lunch at the acclaimed Saffron restaurant. It was even more exciting to find out that the menu Peter has come up with was created especially for our group.
We start with an Amuse Bouche Bloody Mary. When I popped the ball in my mouth, the explosion of flavours was quite intense. It certainly got my taste buds going!
Then we had Live large Bluff Oyster which was served with Sorrel cloud and Chardonnay vinegar pearls. Initially I wasn't keen on having this as I am so not an oyster fan. But after hearing Peter extol the virtues of a Bluff Oyster, I couldn't help myself but want to try it. I actually didn't mind it at all, the oyster meat was quite large and very meaty.
The next dish was Vietnamese rice paper roll with crisp whitebait. An interesting combination of Vietnamese, Japanese and Kiwi. The Kiwi bit being the whitebait component. The Japanese bit being the wasabi mayo and pickled ginger that was served with the dish. There was also a small bowl of soya sauce that came with the dish. I really enjoyed this dish. I could have had another one of them rolls!
Then we had Pigeon carpaccio, served with raspberry and plum compote and vincotto. Now you may think, how on earth can we eat raw pigeon meat!?!? I assure you it was lightly cooked in sous vide at 55 degrees for a short period of time. No raw meat here, thank you very much!
It was a uniquely different dish, and I quite enjoyed it. It may not be to everyone's liking but it went down very well with me.
We then moved on to Southland beef cheeks, poached in an Asian style master stock, then crisp fried with peanuts. There were crisp fried pandan and lime leaves served with the beef. When I looked at the dish, it didn't look very attractive to me but I loved the flavours and the texture. The twice cooked beef had a lovely crunchy texture from the peanuts. The sauce was delicious, there was a salty, tangy and sweet taste to it.Yummy! More please! :)
The last main dish was Stewart Island Crayfish and blue cod with a salad of Asian greens and Mango, served with Namn Jim dressing. Again, more please!!! Loved the Asian flavours, loved the slight kick from the Namn Jim. The crayfish was perfectly cooked. Delicious!
And last but no least, we finished off with some fresh fruit sorbet. For today we had Plum, Mango and Lemon sorbets served with dried blueberries. It was a delightful way to end the meal.
The service was great, the chef Peter was only too happy to let us know some of the ingredients used for the dishes and Melanie was so gracious as to help out with the serving. With 22 of us, you can only imagine how busy the restaurant was as there were other diners at the restaurant too.
Peter was telling me of his time spent at David Thompson's restaurant in London, Nahm. His leaning towards Asian spices and herbs clearly comes from his time with David Thompson.
So if you are ever in Central Otago, please find the time to dine here, be it lunch or dinner. You won't regret it.
P/S I so enjoyed the meal that I bought his newest recipe book, personally autographed by Peter. It is called The Taste of Central Otago and the photography in the book is exceptional. Obviously the recipes look very good too! And I wasn't the only one in the group buying the book.
18 Buckingham Street