New Zealand was a country meal that I was very excited for. The country has breathtaking landscapes, a wild reputation rivaled only by Alaska, and of course as a huge nerd it is the land of Mordor and Mount Doom. I had very little insight into cultural aspects aside from the Haka and working in the Lamb industry for one year in California. I could not wait to delve in! What I found was hearty food. Lots of root vegetables, simple seasonings, and a love for “Taters” just like the Hobbits. However, what I was not prepared for were some of the ways simple ingredients were used together and just how different the flavor palate would taste.
The lamb was a hit, as the kids have eaten similar before. The Cheese rolls were also consumed, but just know they will be slightly bitter as the recipe exists. One way to change that would be to change the cheese from Cheddar to Mozzarella or Swiss. Two dishes that have remained a favorite in the household were the citrus salad and Pavlova. I introduced the kids to goat cheese during this meal, and it has become a staple in our salads. You can purchase it with fruit flavoring at first if you have picky eaters as it will be sweeter, but the tart mix with the salad is amazing.
The Pavlova was a bit intimidating for a BBQ guy with little to no dessert background. The key is cutting off the oven and do not touch the oven door no matter how bad the urge becomes. will admit I had a pre-made backup of ice cream and chocolate syrup in the wings as I was certain I would screw it up, but much to my surprise and joy it turned out great. The least favorite dish for the kids was the Sweet Potato and Carrot Fritters. When making these, please take the time to press the water out multiple times. You will be surprised at how much water grated vegetables can hold, and the presence of it will mess with your consistency. Although I got the hang of it on the fly, the flavor did not resonate with two of the three. It was not a surprise, as those two do not like carrots. The reason we serve them frequently anyway is that palates change, and they tend to change quicker for us with constant exposure.
Consequently, this was a journey with many turns. The upside was the ability to smoke lamb, which I am very familiar with. The hard part was navigating seasoning mixtures I was not familiar with and tweaking them slightly. Movie selections are very easy for this as well since the landscape is so rugged and beautiful. For the adults, the wine selection is not bad either, and we were able to find it at our local grocery store.
Regardless of red or white, I would recommend wine from Marlborough for their mixture of slightly sweet, with a balance that is slightly heavy on the tongue, yet low in tannins. The wines here are bold enough for the lamb, but will not get in the way of the flavorful dishes. The best part is you can find options under $20 with little effort, and even their vintage years come in under $30. We went with Yealands Pinot Noir 2017 and were not disappointed. As for the movie we went with Kiwi Flyer. I wanted to do one of the Hobbit series or Lord of the Rings, but we have one who is not quite ready for that level of intensity. This movie had a good enough story line to suck the girls in, but also had soapbox car racing for the boy. All things considered, New Zealand was a pleasant experience that offered new flavors with some familiarity as well.
- Haere rā