Friday, 17 February 2012

The New Zealand Diaries: No.4 - Food, glorious food.

Wherever you go on holiday, whether it be the oriental paradise of China or the sunny palms of the Caribbean, you are bound to try the different foods each culture has to offer.

New Zealand is no different. The food may not be as exotic as the grub served in Brazil, but it is nevertheless imaginative and tantalisingly good.
 When I asked friends before I went out to New Zealand what food they might link with the country, nearly all said Lamb. New Zealand lamb is world famous, and having viewed one of the production lines at Silver Fern Farms during my visit (one of the biggest producers of Lamb products), it came as no surprise to see just how good the quality of the lamb is out there. Not only does it taste divine, but it is a damn sight cheaper than the price we pay in the UK.

But being surrounded by baby lambs and friendly sheep made me feel guilty about eating lamb, although not so much as to turn me vegetarian. I was therefore keen to try new things, and this is where the friendly spirit of the kiwis helped me taste some of the island's finest delicacies.

At a BBQ, I experienced the interesting combination of fish in a 'White-bait patty'. A pancake of sorts, the small white-bait patty is viewed in New Zealand in very much the same way as we view Marmite; you either love it or hate it. I quite enjoyed it. As a savoury pancake, it was different and not as 'fishy' as I was expecting. After lamb, fish takes pride of place on the kiwi dining room table, and with so much fresh fish on offer, you would be crazy not to sample the catch of the day.

For snacking, an arrange of flavoursome snacks are available. Yams, like a sweet potato, accompany any roast dinner with their sweet, soft centre. Boysenberries - yes, that is a real thing - is a healthy option, which tastes lovely when served with plenty of cream.

For dessert, Ice Cream is a must. The world-famous Hokey Pokey ice cream is an array of colours and flavours, all brought together in what soft scoop. For after dinner, chocolate is always a winner. Whittakers chocolate is tasty and comes in a wide range of flavours. Beware fellow Britons; the Cadbury chocolate, which is popular in NZ, tastes a lot sweeter and creamier than in the UK. It was too sickly for me.

To drink, New Zealand wine is your No.1 alcoholic beverage. From crisp Sauvignon Blanc to fragrant Pinot Noir, a glass (or even the whole bottle) is worth downing alongside your evening meal. This is where going on a tour of the local vineyard is well worth paying for. For a less formal occasion, the local beer is great. Often served in a bottle, makes such as Speights or Steinlager are popular with the locals. If you fancy something less alcoholic, the national lemonade - L&P - is as New Zealand as Crowded House or the All Blacks. You cannot buy it anywhere else.

Besides the food, the New Zealand dining experience is enjoyable and varying. Whether you like a traditional Steak House (I had some of the nicest steak's ever whilst dining in Dunedin), something oriental or just a legendary cheese-roll at one of the many bistro's, eating out may be expensive, but it is a luxury that is worth paying for, and will be remembered in years to come.

And as a special mention, if you are stuck on where to go in Queenstown, make sure you visit the world-famous Furgburger. This small, yet heaving establishment offers the tastiest and biggest burgers in the South Island, and has won numerous awards for its burgers. If you get one, see how quickly you can eat it. The classic burger and fries combo took me thirteen minutes to finish!

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