Mention the country of New Zealand and wine lovers will immediately start drooling over the opportunity of visiting the vineyards and tasting the famous wines of New Zealand. When I traveled to New Zealand a few years ago, I combined my love of fine wine and food with a luxurious stay at the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Everything is an experience. Yes, that beautiful building is a luxury “barn” lodge, offering 5-star accommodations and serving New Zealand cuisine and wine. Located on the North Island in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, the Farm at Cape Kidnappers is your ticket to some of the best dining with wine pairings in the area, not even to mention the unsurpassed accommodations.
I knew I was in for a treat — and a retreat — when our van detoured off the main road to roll across an unpaved road, for a vacation inside the 6,000 rolling acres of stunning pasture land in Hawke’s Bay. Who knew that barn looking structure housed an exquisite luxury lodge, spa, AND a fine dining restaurant?
Just days previously while traveling in Wellington, a stumble and fall resulted in a broken wrist, and my dream of playing golf on their exclusive course was momentarily appeased knowing my future would include sipping more New Zealand wine.
Working Farm, Fine Dining and Wine – Oh Yes!
A working sheep and cattle farm set among thousands of acres of rolling hills, the Farm at Cape Kidnappers seems an unlikely place for an award-winning restaurant. But X-factor Group chef Dale Gartland and head Chef Pickering’s menus use this idyllic hillside location to their advantage by featuring local produce, much from the Farm’s own vegetable garden, and incorporating seafood and New Zealand’s beef and lamb.
The two dining areas of the Farm at Cape Kidnappers are also rustically unique, with decor elegantly “farm themed,” courtesy of interior designer Linda Bedell of Aspen, Colorado. A combination of stone and weathered wood, the Farm’s main building and cottages combine rustic materials with comfortable modern furniture.
Our group was given a private dining area with a cozy fireplace just off the reception, a perfect setting to sit back and enjoy a Tasting Menu highlighting New Zealand cuisine was it should be.
New Zealand Food & Wine Pairings
Let’s start with wine pairings – after all, we are in Hawke’s Bay, known as the “food bowl” of New Zealand, where some of the world’s finest wines originate.
STARTER COURSE: perfectly paired with a Salad of Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Clevedon Buffalo Mozzarella, lightly drizzled with Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Wine Selection: From the TeMATA Estate. Established in 1896, this beautiful vineyard is still family owned and produces international recognized wine exclusively from its Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, location. Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc ’09 aged in older barrels for 2-3 months, with softer edges, still crisp like a sauvignon blanc should be.
SECOND COURSE: Local John Dory and Seared Scallop, Caramelized Cauliflower, Raisin and Capers, in a Red Wine & Shallot Reduction, a melt-in-my-mouth fresh seafood taste, and the raisins added an interesting sweetness.
MAIN COURSE: Angus Beef Tenderloin, Fondant Potato, Broad Beans and Celeriac, with a lovely Thyme Jus. The beef was perfectly cooked to a perfect Medium Rare.
Wine Selection: CJ Pask ’09 Syrah from Gimblett Road Gravels, an interesting enhancement of the thyme.
The Gimblett Gravels area of this region is the warmest area of The Hawke’s Bay with stony, alluvial soils. These are perfect conditions for growing grapes that require a “phenolic ripeness” to show off their many attractive qualities. The perfect balance of ripe fruit, acid and friendly tannins provides a successful blueprint for the many award-winning Bordeaux Blends (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot predominant), Chardonnays and Syrahs that are produced from this area.
Oh my! Hot Chocolate Truffle Cake, caramelized Pineapple, Hokey Pokey Ice Cream. And then the second presentation of dessert.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers also serves breakfast and lunch. I choose to dine in the enclosed patio with a simply amazing view. Breakfast features a buffet of local and imported fruits, home-made muesli and cereals, yogurts and freshly baked pastries. But I couldn’t resist ordering the Traditional Eggs Benedict, always my favorite!
Temptation arrived a few minutes later with a morning mimosa — and, of course, I failed to resist, because after all when you’re in New Zealand on vacation, one must sample as many Kiwi wines as possible, right?
Disclaimer: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers provided food and wine for my review; opinions expressed are my own.