WineBlog of RedbankJames – Silver Linings

Now I know why I have to be dragged kicking and screaming away from our little slice of heaven in the country.

I agreed to fly to Auckland to take part in a discussion of te reo Maori at AUT for Maori Language Week (I am a student of the language) along with some lovely people including- Mike McRoberts of TV3 who I think shouldn’t read bad news because he has such a kind face. I’d practised my mihi all the way up there (Tena Koe Mikaere, Tena Koutou katoa, ko Deborah taku ingoa, ko Coddington taku ingoa tuturu, No Martinborough au, Ko Ngati Pakeha au, Ka iti noa iho taku reo Maori, Ka aroha hoki, Ka ore taku reo Maori i te tino pai) but thank Tane I didn’t have to say it because I am such a hopeless student.

Anyway, I was supposed to be returning at 4.30. However, the wind gods had other ideas, and rendered Wellington airport out of action so I was stuck in Auckland. Colin went home to tend to the darling animals, and I headed back into the city.

A good chance to dine out, just down the road from our apartment, at Wine Chambers, Martina Lutz’s splendid restaurant housed inside a beautiful old building. The service is perfect. Contrary to most restaurants which seat sole women diners right next to the loo, or the kitchen door, I was ushered to the best table in the house, looking out over O’Connell Street. Hey, you could pretend you were in St James, London, with this view, except the food wouldn’t be as good. True! New Zealand cuisine is among the best in the world, in my opinion.

I chose the scallop starter – panfried with pancetta and capers – and a glass of Alpha Domus Viognier. This chef knows how to cook fresh scallops – I swear he just waved them over the pan, they were still so juicy, plump and soft, nestled among rocket leaves and sheltered by the pancetta. It all went perfectly together.

Then I moved on to a glass of Rioja – well actually I ordered a glass of Rioja but the waiter came back and said he’d run out, but would open a bottle of Torres “Celeste” Crianza Tempranillo Ribera del Duero for me instead. More expensive, but I could have it at the same price. Well, I would have happily paid more, this wine was so smooth and velvety, rich and glorious, it just went down red lane with ease. And the smell! (Or nose, as I should say.) Sometimes I wish I could just smell wine because after you take that first sip, the nose is never as effective. I had it with the venison steak, cooked to perfection on mash with red cherries.

What a divine meal. Rounded off with affogato (espresso with a dollop of vanilla bean icecream) and a glass of Schubert dolce.

Sometimes closed airports and delayed flights have their silver linings. But even better, soon I shall be home again.

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