Nearly a week on the ground in New Zealand, and I barely touched a sauvignon blanc or any lamb. But there was good reason: there must be about a million boutique breweries in NZ, and they’re doing some pretty amazing stuff – so no need to indulge in any cloying sav blancs. Plus, there were so many steaks on the hoof, that it would have been rude not to have partaken.
My ski season lasted all of one day. But it was a good one. And it’s nice to slide around the place with the benefit of heated seats – thank you very much BMW New Zealand and BMW Asia for the opportunity.
skiing with heated seats: hmmmm
What I cannot stress enough is just how beautiful the Southern Alps are – if I believed in a god (or even a God), I’d believe this was the place where s/he thought “yup, I got that bit right.” Absolutely stunning.
And there were some good meals too, thanks again to a range of quality local produce.
Saffron restaurant was a great introduction to the dining scene, as was an Emerson’s Pilsner at the related The Blue Door bar next door. A little local chardonnay with my crispy whitebait (it was whitebait season) followed by a baked puff pastry stuffed with confit of local rabbit, sultana and pine nut black pudding, double smoked bacon, and served with braised lettuce and what they called a cranberry jus. It’s a common mistake – the word is coulis – but I’m willing to forgive the faux pas, because it was bloody good. A nice Central Otago pinot noir hit the spot too.
Oddly enough, Arrowtown (it’s about 15km from Queenstown, and apparently where all the locals moved when property there got too expensive – it’s a pretty little gold-rush town, but at the end of a valley, so apparently is as cold as a witch’s something-or-other much of the time) is also home to a tapas joint, officially a wine bar, called La Rumbla, which was also pretty good.
Sharing plates. Some a bit hit-or-miss, but with sharing plates it matters less. And I did get some lamb here too, along with a couple of really nice hoppy ales. The boys went for girly tamarind cocktails, but seemed to enjoy them enough. It is another place to which I’d return.
And now on to more important matters: burgers. Queenstown, by which I mean the actual town (pictured above – is that not the prettiest city in the world?), is home to the Fergburger. Now you need to be careful about your pronunciation – a furburger is apparently something completely different (don’t Google that if you’re under 18, thanks). But log on to the official website – it captures the spirit of the place beautifully.
In Ferg we trust
Any burger joint that was set up to cater to drunk people – it’s open 21 hours – has to be good. And it is. My ‘Mr Big Stuff’ only just squeezed under the ‘if it’s bigger than your head, you shouldn’t eat it’ rule, but was pretty amazing.
Yeah, I’m eating it anyway
Sitting by Lake Wakatipu, taking in the scenery, and eating a Fergburger was pretty damned nice, despite the single-digit temperatures. I even saw people boarding the flight to Auckland with Fergburger bags. Probably the online ordering won’t work from Bangkok – I expect soggy rolls by the time the order arrives here – but it has set me on a mission to find the best burger in town. That’s for another post.
Meanwhile. What I’ve learned is that: You need to go to NZ; driving BMWs on ice is wickedly entertaining; you need to go to NZ; setting up a good burger shop catering to drunk people makes a lot of sense – at least if there aren’t any souvlaki joints in the neighbourhood; you need to go to NZ; and, you really should go to NZ. Seriously, it is the most amazingly beautiful natural scenery you will ever see. And they do good produce; they make great craft beers and wine other than sav blanc; they seem to enjoy life a lot; they don’t turn away boat people (unless they’re Americans with nuclear weapons); and they whip everybody in the world at rugby. What’s not to like?