Posted: February 28, 2023 in Uncategorized

On my recent trip to the northern half of New Zealand’s South Island, I made it a point to try as many foods as I could, from simple cafes to pubs, from farm-to-table fine dining to roadside shacks. On my journey of over 1000 miles, here are some of the best plates I enjoyed.

The market fish crudo at Urban Eatery and Oyster Bar in Nelson. The market fish of the day was warehou, a delicious fish I had on several occasions in New Zealand. Plated with scorched cream, orange segments and curry leaf oil, this was the only dish of my vacation that I had twice. The cream was so good, you were glad they served it with a spoon!

Troy’s line-caught Grouper “wings” at Saint Clair Family Estate in Blenheim, Marlborough wine country. One of the great discoveries of this trip was how many wineries had their own fantastic restaurants! Nestled among the grapevines were outdoor tables, plus plenty undercover inside. Meaty and delicious and on-the-bone, these grouper wings, on a spicy tomato salsa with coriander and lime, were just amazing! Had I stayed in Marlborough longer, I would have come back for these again!

Baked Mills Bay (Havelock, NZ) mussels with tamarind mayonnaise, Sichuan chili oil, and chives at the Boat Shed Cafe in Nelson, NZ. It’s literally a boat shed, a tiny place serving up great food on the Nelson waterfront. I had these for lunch, and they were out of this world! And these bad boys were big…because that’s the way they grow ‘em here!

Ora King salmon, edamame beans, confit garlic, pickled daikon, fried wakame, lemongrass and lime dressing. Also from the Boat Shed Cafe in Nelson. I ate my weight in Ora King salmon on this trip, partly because it’s hard to find in the United States and partly because it’s so damn good! I’ve had it raw, smoked, and cooked. This was my favorite version of all that I had tried.

My first dish in New Zealand, and a sign of great things to come. A delicious fish with the texture of mahi mahi: it’s called tarakihi, with fried artichokes, almond, fennel, olive and ruby grapefruit at Hopgood’s & Co. in Nelson, NZ.

No, I didn’t just eat seafood! Of course, you have to have the incredible pastured grass-fed lamb when you come to New Zealand, and this was my favorite roasted version of it, offered at the beautiful Black EstateVineyard in North Canterbury, NZ. BBQ Wash Creek (Canterbury) lamb, smoked eggplant, carrot tops. The bean side dish was delicious, with varieties I’ve never had before: BBQ Little Owl beans, honey and sesame. Another amazing vineyard that not only has fabulous wines, but serves beautiful local food.


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