About Me

Food is one of my many joys in life. It is a common bond I share among my friends and family. Combining food and travel makes it all the more interesting. I enjoy going out for a good meal with friends and family. The array of various cuisines and our fantastic array of produce really makes Sydney such a great city to live in. Blogging is my hobby and my posts on restaurant meals I have had are paid for and not gratis. Any gratis provided to me will always be stated beforehand.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Lunch At Wild Earth

I do like the sound of the name Wild Earth. For me it conjures images of the wilderness and it is apt that this winery is located in the midst of what was historically a gold mining area. As we drive towards the parking area to adjourn to the winery, we could see relics of old mining dwellings, mining tools and old carriages. This was across the gorge as we were driving by.

Wild Earth is located in Central Otago, at the Kawarau Gorge Mining Centre. To get to the winery, we literally have to cross the gorge on a long bridge. Pretty cool actually! For someone who has vertigo (as in yours truly), it didn't bother me at all having to cross the bridge. Believe it or not, I even stopped to take photos when I was in the middle of the bridge.

The Wild Earth Cellar Door and Restaurant is located in such a picturesque garden. We had specially reserved tables set under a large tree, which provided just the right amount of shade and breeze to not feel too much of the 30 degree heat.

We met Quentin Quider, who is an absolute character. He is so passionate about what he does, about the wines he produces, the style of cooking he has invested time and money in (i.e. wine barrel cooking) and has such a uniquely interesting background that you cannot help but be fascinated to hear his story. In addition Quentin is not even a Kiwi, he is in actual fact an American who is an avid fisherman and in his formative years earned his living as an oyster diver in Stewart Island.

We had a chance to look at his wine barrels specially designed for cooking. The style of cooking mainly being hot smoked and we met his head chef David Harrison who explained to us the dishes that was being cooked even as we were inspecting the barrels. Fascinating stuff!

Once again, each dish was matched with a wine from the winery. We started with:

Smoked octopus infused with thyme, olive oil and preserved lemons. And served with a salsa sauce. All this matched with the 2010 Chelsea Riesling.

On the same platter, we had the Cajun style chicken with wild thyme. This dish was matched with the 2012 Pinot Gris.

Both were lovely dishes and I couldn't find fault with anything. I love all things octopus so I was delighted to have had that and the chicken had subtle cajun spices but was not overwhelming spicy.

Then there was a side dish of smoked salmon pate which was also cooked in the barrel.

The next dish was hot smoked salmon with Pinot Noir glaze which was reduced down with a little honey, orange juice and star anise. The salmon was served on a bed of shaved fennel and shaved carrots. In addition there were servings of Panazanella salad.

After which we had barrel cooked pork belly with five spice and BBQ plum sauce, served with polenta and baby bok choy. It was a little touch of Asian which worked really well with the pork belly; and I thoroughly enjoyed the polenta. This dish was matched with the 2010 Pinot Noir.

The wild earth theme continued with Merino lamb served with couscous and jus. This dish was matched with the 2009 Pinot Noir.

An extra special dish of Hare back legs with blue cheese caper sauce was served. I don't believe I have ever had hare in my life and I was surprised at how delicious it was. A rather unique dish and I appreciate the effort Quentin made to serve such an unusual type of meat to the group.

The dishes were served in unique long wooden platters, which were boat-like in shape. Again, this was one of Quentin's designs.

Poor Kate had some red wine spill on her blouse and Quentin with his quirky sense of humour gave her a sticker to put on her blouse. See if you can read what it says!

Believe it or not, there was no dessert. But we were so full by then, I don't think anyone was too upset at the absence of the sweet.

Seriously, I was just about ready to slide on to an imaginary hammock swinging under the tree to snooze the rest of the afternoon away.

It was a memorable meal in a memorable location. A unique experience which I am glad not to have missed out on.

Wild Earth Outdoor Kitchen and Cellar Door
Goldfields Mining Centre
803 Kawarau Gorge Road
Cromwell, Central Otago
New Zealand
Website: wildearthwines.co.nz

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