After wandering around Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market, we drove to Te Mata Peak, in Havelock North. Measuring almost 400 metres above sea level, Te Mata Peak provides panoramic views of Hawke’s Bay. According to Maori legend, chief Te Mata O Rongokako fell in love with the daughter of his rival, and to prove his devotion, accepted a series of near-impossible challenges. He died attempting his final task, and the outline of Te Mata Peak is said to resemble the outline of his body – locals call it ‘The Sleeping Giant’. Read more on the legend of Te Mata.
My lunch date was Vicky from Hawke’s Bay Tourism. But before lunch, Craggy Range Cellar Door Manager Laura took us on a tour of the property.
The Terrôir chefs have access to a wonderful herb and vegetable garden, always ensuring the menu features fresh seasonal ingredients.
If I worked here, I’d want to go for a walk around the grounds every day. Ever since coming back from New Zealand, I haven’t stopped telling friends and family what a gorgeous country it is. Seriously breathtaking, picturesque scenery.
I tasted a few Craggy Range wines, including Sophia, Les Beaux Cailloux and Riesling. The 2012 Te Muna Road Vineyard Riesling, with aromatic notes of lemon, lime and rose, was my favourite and I ordered a glass to have with my lunch.
Craggy Range sources grapes from a number of vineyards, including the famed Gimblett Gravels property, to create single vineyard wines. Their winemaking is driven by the philosophy that every chosen piece of grape-growing land brings together a unique combination of soil and climate – the foundations from which fine wines of character and distinction can be crafted. Accordingly, Craggy Range’s restaurant is named after the French term “terrôir”, used to describe the inherent character of soil, climate and culture reflected in the wine or food from a particular region.
Terrôir restaurant uses the best Hawke’s Bay produce, creating dishes matched with Craggy Range wines. Vicky and I sat outside at a sunny table looking out at a lake and Te Mata Peak.
Sometimes I really can’t believe how lucky I am to have all these experiences. Sitting here, surrounded by this majestic view, trees and mountains, I felt awestruck and very blessed in this extraordinarily beautiful place.
We began with freshly baked bread rolls, anchoide, garden crudites and crostini. The anchoide is anchovy dip: salty, savoury and addictive. The crisp vegetable batons are perfect dippers but frankly, I’d be just as content attacking the anchoide pot with a spoon. Or maybe indulgently happy using my finger.
I’ve eaten plenty of pork belly but never like this: Razorback boar belly presented in crumbed, cuboid form. Bloody phwoarsome. Pork fans: this.
And THIS. I’m surprised (and thankful) I could even hold a coherent conversation with Vicky, with so much to look at, all around me and on my plate.
Next, two surprises from the kitchen, which we shared. First, the poached rose veal with tuna mayonnaise, micro salad and fried shallot. Busy, arty, delicious and surprisingly light.
Next, one of Craggy Range’s signature dishes, presented in a shiny copper pot: steamed littleneck clams with ‘Craggy Range’ verjus and mustard cream sauce. It was once taken off the menu but the protests from regular customers saw it reinstated. I don’t usually order clams but gave these a go and wow, they were fantastic. I’m still not fond of large beasties in shells like green lip mussels but these tiny creatures held just the right amount of sauce, with a satisfying springy chew. Thank goodness for my ‘light’ early breakfast, eh?
Vicky’s main course was the ‘Over the Moon’ goats curd agnolotti with toasted almond, burnt butter and sage, and cream sauce piped like soft serve at the table.
We shared mac ‘n’ cheese with pancetta. That Terrôir restaurant’s got a magical way with crumbed cubes of delicious things.
My main course was the pan-fried line caught fish with cucumber, garden herb salad, bean sprouts, chilli and kaffir lime. The fish of the day was blue nose, with a golden crust and white, tender flesh. The salad was crunchy, fresh and bursting with juice. I smiled as I thought about the kaffir lime tree in the garden nearby.
It was a meal I’d happily eat all over again. It would’ve been lovely to linger after lunch and enjoy a nap in the sunshine but I had an appointment to keep for the next part of my journey. I left with a Terrôir food baby, but there were still more Hawke’s Bay food babies to come…
Te Mata Peak, at Te Mata Park
Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Craggy Range Giants Winery and Terrôir Restaurant
253 Waimarama Road
Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Check the Craggy Range website for cellar door and Terrôir restaurant opening hours (restaurant is open for lunch and dinner).
Accommodation is available in two luxury vineyard cottages.
I travelled to and stayed in Hawke’s Bay in May 2013 as a guest of Tourism New Zealand. I dined as a guest of Craggy Range.
F.A.W.C! Summer Series 2013
The Food and Wine Classic, referred to as F.A.W.C! (pronounced ‘fawk’, rhymes with hawk), will see over 50 food and wine experiences held over 10 days in Hawke’s Bay. It kicks off with a launch party at Craggy Range Winery on 1 November and finishes with the Carnivore Carnival at the Hawke’s Bay Races on 10 November.
Find out more about F.A.W.C! – pre-sale tickets on sale now, general sales from 26 August.
Hawke’s Bay series
The posts so far:
- Welcome to Napier
- Pacifica Restaurant, Napier
- Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market, Hastings
- Te Mata Peak, Craggy Range and Terrôir Restaurant, Havelock North – this post
There are more stories to come from the trip.