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Event Dining in Nelson – Nelson Mail 18.08.15

Earlier this year I wrote about some of the initiatives Nelson restaurants were putting in  place to encourage you and me to get out of the comfort of our homes during the cold months of winter and I must say these initiatives appear to have worked very well for a number of them.

Things like letting us take wines from our cellars on a Monday night or set menu dining deals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays have worked well but the thing that has really surprised me is how many dining events have been supported by the public, with many sold out. My take on this is that all we need is a really good excuse to get off the sofa and into a restaurant or café during cold winter months.

Take the Feast for the Senses as an example. This was organised by Uniquely Nelson and involved a number of events where you bought a ticket that got you a three course dinner, one course at each of three venues; these events all sold out very quickly. Feedback from those who attended was fantastic.

I have been to other events in the last couple of months, Morrison Street Café have been running a series of dinners as part of Late Night on Hardy and Hopgood’s have had some wine matching dinners too. Morrison Street Café owner Kay Field was wondering how her day-time café could be part of an evening event so I helped her set up some wine and food dinners. We were hoping 15 to 20 people would buy tickets for the first one but about 35 people attended.

For this first dinner I matched wines with food from Morrison Street Café’s normal menu. For the second dinner Dick Tout from Lighthouse Brewery met with chef Dan Kelly and between them they came up with a menu to pair with Dick’s beers. The food presented was quite different to their normal fare and was matched perfectly with the beers, well done Dan! A real stand out was an unusual match, stout poured over vanilla ice cream with a raspberry couli base. Believe it or not but this was an exceptional beer and food pairing.

Last week I went to a dinner at Hopgood’s Restaurant where Neudorf Vineyards dipped into their cellar library stocks to serve with food designed by Kevin Hopgood and his head chef Aaron Ballantyne. You can always rely on the quality of produce from both of these outstanding Nelson businesses but being able to try a 2003 chardonnay with fresh bread smeared with truffle tapenade or duck butter was a real treat.

Other pairings included smoked pure angus beef with Neudorf Tom’s Block Pinot Noir 2003, and exquisite piece of butter poached fish with Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2006. As good as the premium Neudorf wines are the extra age of the 2003 Neudorf Moutere Riesling that was served with an apple based dessert turned this wine into something very special. A lower alcohol wine with plenty of residual sugar the Riesling has developed some beautiful rich complexity while still retaining clean, fresh flavours. If nothing else this dinner was absolute proof that if you buy quality wine and cellar it correctly then those wines will reward your patience 100 fold.

The dinner at Hopgood’s sold out in a matter of a couple of days and there was such a big waiting list they are doing it all over again later in September so if fine dining with aged wines appeals to you book your seats soon.

The dinners at Morrison Street Café have also sold out in reasonably quick time so they are going to continue with them on the last Thursday of each month. This month they are featuring wines from France, Spain, maybe Italy and possibly Portugal supplied by Kahurangi International Selections. I have had a sneak peek at the menu Dan has created and it looks outstanding. If you want five courses of delicious food paired with outstanding wines on the 27th of this month then get your $70 ticket from Morrison Street Café as soon as possible, you won’t want to miss out.

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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