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    Monday, May 18, 2009

    The Terraces - Bistro Lago in Taupo- Craggy Range, -Terroir in Havelock North. Fine Dining in New Zealand.

    We have just done another Road Trip. Just the North Island this time.
    The occasion was our friend Diana’s birthday party.
    Let’s not fly, let’s drive, let’s bother our friends, was the cry.
    So on Friday we took off for Taupo.
    First stop, Lichfield Poultry Farm
    This is an amazing place, not only do they have fabulous eggs, but it is so quaint.
    How about this garden of Gnomes?
    We bought some eggs for our hosts John and Sue. They had booked us into the Bistro Lago at the newly renovated Terraces Hotel.

    What a stunning place. The old hotel has so much charm, and how welcoming it was, with the big roaring fires, on a very cold Taupo day.
    The food was superb. Simon Gault is the Executive Chef.
    I had the Steak Tartare Special. It was divine.
    The extra touch was the tempura egg, beautifully placed on top of a superbly seasoned piece of prime beef.
    When you broke the egg to mix, it had the added taste of the tempura batter,
    Accompanied by crispy tasty croutons. Excellent.
    My next course was Pork Belly, nestled on braised cabbage and truffle mash.
    Then the dessert.
    Chocolate Fondant...juts right and Creme Brulee, which came with a sort of sugar foam on top and little lychee egg sitting in mandarin syrup.
    You put the foam on top of the egg and sculled it down. What a taste sensation.
    I was so impressed with this restaurant.
    We have friends with wonderful gardens. This belongs to John and Sue. I couldn't get a better shot as the sun was all over the place, but you should get the picture.

    So the next morning was beautiful. Bacon and Lichfield Eggs breakfast, and on our way south.
    First stop Taihape
    The Land of the Gumboot...the town symbol.
    But also there is a lovely little cafe Brown Sugar. Great coffee stop.
    Their Danish Buns are fabulous. I had Cheese and Ham, which had a cheesy custard inside.
    Dale's was flavoured with Pesto.
    We were so lucky with the weather. A beautiful, albeit, cold day.
    In the distance is the South needs to be very clear to get this view.
    On to Lower Hutt to our next port of call.
    This is the area where I grew up, so naturally I had to do a small my roots. Down to Petone…this is one of oldest settlements in New Zealand. Decades ago, every house was allocated a 1/4 acre section. NZ Paradise.
    Our house was built pre 1900. My father was a wonderful gardener and half of the section was taken up with a huge garden…no flowers, he couldn’t be bothered with them, but almost every fruit and vegetable you could think of, flourished under his tender care. Great soil in this part of he world. Now the section has been cut in half and has accommodates 2 houses.

    My Father "modernized” the house in the 50's, He demolished the old veranda, put in a glass porch with a glass front door to let in light. Painted it white.

    The new owners has returned it to it’s original glory. Replaced Dad's porch with a wrap around veranda and painted the house in classic colours. It looks good.

    My father built this garage about 55 years ago… doesn't look like much has been done to it since! Actually I quite like the look
    My primary school, Petone Central, is now the local police station
    My high school HVHS (below) which once had a magnificent ivy clad building is now "Modern"!
    But Unilever House, where I spent the first 6 wonderful years of my working life, is exactly the same.
    That night, we celebrated with great gusto Diana's birthday and after a verrrry late night were forced into a quiet Sunday.
    A brunch with the birthday girl and family, then while Gerry and Dale slept, I went to see "Last Chance Harvey" at the Petone Lighthouse Cinema complex. A classy little place. A glass of wine to accompany the movie then home in time for dinner. Good movie for the way I was feeling!
    Our host Gerry, took us to his favourite Teppan Yaki restaurant Ichibban.
    Gerry is a regular and we were welcomed by the staff.
    Once again not a lot can go wrong with Teppan Yaki. They had their own personal touch... your message written in salt. Upside down no less.
    After an early night, we awoke to a shocking day. Heater on in the car and off to Bunnythorpe to the next hosts, Lorraine and Derrick.
    Derrick greeted us with a wee dram of Single Malt Whisky to warm us up.
    We had to sample a few more of his collection, and after a delicious lunch, and a little Rose, it was time to rest.
    Lorrain and Derrick live in wonderful surroundings... just a couple of views of their garden.
    So after a great night. Lamb shanks, red wine, chocolate mousse, all preceded by Insalada Caprese. Excellent company as well...we were back in the car and off to Napier.

    Ms Mary Hostess, at our next port of call made curries for dinner. Vege and fish, both excellent.
    I am going to make them they are worth blogging.
    We awoke to a beautiful day and it was off to Craggy Range Vineyard and Their Terroir Restaurant for lunch.
    You can see why it was named. The splendid view from the Restaurant.
    The menu was innovative and it was difficult to choose. But I picked the special...French Onion Soup with Braised lamb and a lamb cake on top, with little mint jelly cubes.
    Then my love of black pudding influenced my next choice.
    A Black Pudding and Quince Charlotte, with a little cake filled with braised Pigs Cheek.
    So so good.
    I loved this bottle of Grand Marnier on the bar. The colour is superb.
    We didn't sample it was decided that we should spread ourselves around, and went to Elephant Hill Vineyard for dessert.
    Beautifully presented food in an exceptional setting.
    Wonderful taste.
    I think I have used up all my superlatives.
    Once again, we have proved that New Zealand has some of the finest food, spectacular views and sensational people. We are really lucky to live here.

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