I didn’t know this about New Zealand (well, that’s a long list). They have daylight savings time, and it ended early this morning. Which meant we all (those of us who remembered) put our clocks one hour forward when we woke up this morning. Seems like I just did this in March……
I was off work this weekend, so Saturday morning was a catch up day around the house. But first, off to the farmer’s market, since I missed last week’s. And whitebait is in season! What’s whitebait you ask? It’s a small, eel-like fish (which is white) that people here really like. It’s supposed to be a delicacy, and so when they were selling whitebait patties at the farmer’s market I had to have one.
That’s mine, there on the right, along with some shrimp kabobs (which weren’t mine). The nice woman at the fish stall cheerfully ladled out some thick yellow liquid from a white plastic 5 gallon container and poured it on the grill, and I could see the little whitebait fish mixed in with a batter (I didn’t ask what was in the batter because….sometimes you just don’t want to know). When the patty was done (I’m not sure how she know, but I took her cheerful attitude as a sign of confidence), she placed the concoction in between two pieces of very white bread.
It was very good. Hard to describe, because we don’t really have anything similar to this back in California. And I shudder to think what you would end up with if you asked for a whitebait sandwich in the States, but I wouldn’t want to eat it.
It was a cold and rainy Saturday night. They said it was a Southeaster wind, and when I went for a jog in the early evening, dogging the rain showers, I did notice it was quite cold. When the wind blows in from the South, guess where it comes from? The Antarctic, which I can attest is a very cold wind indeed. I took a long, hot shower and I’m not looking forward to the electricity bill.
Today, I had decided to see Central Otago, famous for many things. Most importantly (you can see where my priorities lie) is trout fishing and the fact it is the southernmost wine region in the world. I’m planning to fish next weekend, so it was wine and touring today. It was raining when I left early this morning (it’s about a 200km drive there), but after about an hour the rain stopped and there where patches of sunshine.
At every turn in the road, there was a new beautiful vista. Just be glad you weren’t behind me. Most of the roads I’ve driven on so far have been two lane roads (one in each direction), with speed limits of 100km/hr in the country and 50km/hr in the towns. I went through several small mountain ranges by the time I came to Alexandria, one of the main towns in Central Otago.
It’s surrounded by snow capped mountains (and remember, it’s Spring, not winter) so I think it gets cold here in winter. The weather today was very pleasant, about 14C and very little rain after the early morning showers at the coast. Alexandria is a pretty good sized town. I saw a SubWay and Kentucky Fried Chicken; that’s how you know it’s civilization. The Clutha river (which used to be very, very wild with thunderous rapids, but now more tame since several dams have been constructed to bring power to the area) runs through Alexandria.
From there I took a small road towards the town of Clyde. On the way I saw a winery which was open. So I stopped. Not a difficult decision, really. I pulled into Coma Villa Winery, and there was a guy cleaning an old Model A truck (built in 1923), who was one of the winemakers. I was the only one there (the whole day, he said). But he stopped washing the truck and went to get some wines for me to taste (I think he should have thanked me breaking up his day). We went inside an original building from the farm built in the 1800’s.
It was so cool. He had hundreds of antiques in the room…old pistols, traps…you name it. And the wines were pretty impressive. The 2009 Pinot was the best I’ve tasted in Nz to date; everything a Pinot should be. He had to open a new bottle of the ’09 Pinot for me to try, and as I was leaving he asked if I wanted to drink the rest of the bottle. Which I did…want to…but I didn’t since I was my own designated driver. On the way to Clyde I passed a lot of fruit orchards. Central Otago is famous for their summer fruits. In the Spring, it blossom time.
The blossoms were everywhere and it was a magnificent site, with the brightly colored blossoms silhouetted against the grey cloud cover above and green grass underneath.
Now, it’s time to get ready for the work week. But first, a big congratulatory shout out to Sam and Christine on their wedding day (Saturday for them, in Hawaii). My body and palate were in Central Otago today, but my heart was Hawaii.
Way to go, you two. A long and happy life together!