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23 Feb 2020

Wellington, New Zealand 2020 - A Day With Chef Shawn Clouston

 by Allyn Shiulman, Guest Blogger

What a spectacular day in Wellington, the capital of bustling New Zealand hosting 420,000 inhabitants, affectionately known as “kiwis.”

I chose to take a foodie tour with a famous local chef, Shaun Clouston.  We started the day visiting a local market.
I was amazed to learn that the markets do not have bakers or butchers.  The local bakers bring their goods in every morning.  One local baker’s bread is so popular, it is brought in four times a day, and never stays on the shelf!   
Similarly, the popular green lip mussels and tuatua are a local favorites. The tuatua, huge delicious clams, are indiginous to and only found in New Zealand.
They sell herbs and microgreens that are still growing as the kiwis are a very healthy bunch!
They support all homegrown activity and sell only their local olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Then we headed to the beautiful Logan Brown restaurant where we started the festivities with a creative and fabulous gin and tonic.  
The sommelier began burning leaves that included kawakawa, a local medicinal herb.  She held a glass so the smoke went into the glass.  Then she added gin, a home made tonic and spooned a creamy white honey flavored mixture on top.  It was flavorful and appealing to look at.  She explained that New Zealanders as a whole, don’t like strong alcoholic drinks so she creates drinks locals will enjoy.
Next we were invited to enjoy a seven-course meal, with some of the local items we had purchased that morning. Did I mention the WINE PARING??  With one course, the sommelier decided we needed to taste TWO wines.
My favorite course was a small crayfish sandwich with herb mayo and summer truffles that were to die for, along with sipping a 2016 Pinot Gris.  I had never heard of a Pinot Gris, as opposed to a Pino Grigio until a wine tour a few days ago. The are the exact same grape, but one is Frech and the other Italian.  Pinot Gris wines are more full-bodied, richer and a bit spicier.
Their signature dish was lamb with smoked ricotta and pasta filled with Rabbit Bolognese with peas sprinkled on top.   Magnificent.
The meal wouldn’t be complete without a chocolate dessert with a seared marshmallow.  Wheel me back to the ship please!
The cuisine, the people, the chef, the wine, the restaurant, all top notch!  I highly recommend Logan Brown if you are in New Zealand!!