Apart from the obvious appeal for the adrenalin junkies of the winter and summer adventure sports, and the shear beauty of Queenstown – the region is also a mecca for the inner Foodie in us all.
I was recently in QT, NZ for a skiing holiday and took a day off the mountain to discover the local food and wine. I have always been a fan of the wine region of Queenstown/Wanaka, Central Otago. It has become world renowned for it’s Pinot Noirs , however, as I discovered, when you meet the people behind the these exquisite wines and sit with the extraordinary backdrop of the mountains, you truly fall in love with all that is Central Otago.
We took a day out to indulge by weaving the wonders of the wine with the talents of the chefs and their love of the freshness and deliciousness of the local produce.
For the ultimate day in Queenstown, check out our top picks.
We started the day with breakfast at Bespoke Kitchen in Queenstown. You’ll find the 2016 award winning cafe only a 5 minute drive from the centre of QT. The team & dishes served pride themselves on simplicity, and paired with a million dollar view – you can’t get a better start to your day ! They offer unprocessed and local dishes, keeping things uncomplicated, real and beautifully presented. You can ease into a day of indulgence with a beautifully balanced and healthy breakfast, plus they’ve got great coffee too.
After breakfast, you’ll want to slip out of Queenstown for a 20 min drive to Gibbston. We had an appointment with Duncan Forsyth, the winemaker and owner of Mount Edward winery. A visit to Mount Edward is by appointment only, but as Duncan says, “for anyone who goes to the effort of calling to make an appointment, I will go the effort to make their visit memorable”. The tasting room-come lounge/dining room with its open fire roaring and highly entertaining “winery cat” befriending all, makes for a perfect scene to discover Mount Edward and understand why so many wine lovers search high and low for these wines.
100% organically grown and made, the wines ooze class. Their balance and flavours have you immediately easing back into your seat. We tasted through his range of whites and Pinot Noirs – all very impressive. For me, the Chenin Blanc and Riesling in the whites, showed the most poise. Their perfumed aromas and spritely flavours make for truly delicious and fresh white wines.
(I was dreaming of fresh Oysters while sipping on these beauties)
The Pinots all shone brightly for me. Each Pinot Noir we tasted showed how Duncan’s attention to detail and his holistic approach to caring for the soils and environment can be truly rewarded with pristine fragrance and everlasting flavours. The purity of Pinot Noir and the region combine in each wine with wonderful balance and delicacy, which surprised me. Truly stunning wines – a must for all lovers of Pinot.
Fork & Tap
With the flavours of Mount Edward Pinot Noir lingering on our palates we turn back for a short drive to Arrowtown. A quaint historical mining town, buzzing with charm and plenty of visitors. A slow stroll through the main street affords you plenty of opportunities to browse through the many boutiques of antiques, fashion and local arts and craft. The final destination being The Fork and Tap, a historic watering hole with rustic charm and lashings of local brews, ideal for a pre-lunch refreshment. A pub which quickly urges you to stay for a longer session – but we had a lunch date we did not want to miss.
A 5 minute drive out of Arrowtown is the very well-known winery and restaurant, Amisfield. The Remarkables mountain range looming large over the dining room sets the scene for what is to be a spectacular lunch. We chose the do the “trust the Chef” lunch, where you just sit back and let the chef feed you.
As the first two amuse bouche dishes came to our table we sensed something very special was unfolding. Not knowing, we asked who the chef was, and our server, a cheerful and charismatic local, told us he was also local and had been there for about 18 months. By no means overselling the guy behind the food.
Once we launched in the heart of the lunch, we unexpectedly got the attention of the chef after posting an Instagram shot of his “Oyster Batty” ( his interpretation of a Kiwi classic sandwich). We were confronted by a flour dusted, disheveled chef asking if we had just posted a photo. Once we got yaking, it all become clear we were speaking to a chef who’s passion was only outclassed by his experience. Having honed his craft at a three-star Michelin restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain, Vaughan Mabee was invited to showcase his extraordinary talents at two-star Michelin phenomenon, Noma, in Copenhagen, and was instrumental when it claimed Number 1 restaurant in the world. A local boy with 20 years of top of the class global experience, but more at home hunting and forging in his own backyard.
The food he brought to the table that day was nothing short of stunning. This creative genius brought to life Kiwi traditions, local produce and three star technique. A mind blowing lunch. The Amisfield wines held up their end of the bargain and were the perfect lunch partner.
Before we knew it the sun was setting over the mountains and the temperature was dropping, and our day of Gourmet discovery was drawing to an end. What a day, simple yet stunning. And all with within 20 mins of Queenstown.