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Everything posted by KennethT

  1. The next day was our time to explore Queenstown a bit. While we were staying here for 4 nights, we really only used it as a base of operations, and hadn't really seen anything there yet. After breakfast, we made our way to the Skyline gondola which takes you to an observation deck above Lake Wakatipu. Up there is a bungee platform (no thank you) and a ski lift that takes you up to the start of a luge track (again, no thank you). Also up there is the Ben Lomond trail - a supposedly great hiking trail. We got a start on the Ben Lomond trail but realized that we were still pretty tired from our long day yesterday, so we decided to turn back early and never really saw anything good on it, but we enjoyed the rest.... Some views of/from the gondola... Once at the top, we got a nice view of the lake (without the smudge on the window) We also stopped at the cafe for a drink: Once down on the ground, we walked around for some more views, then stopped for dinner... We decided on a restaurant called "Prime" which was at the edge of the lake, had a great view and had some tables outside. The view from our table We started with New Zealand's famous green lipped mussels, up to now, we hadn't had a chance to try these yet... They were excellent, in a white wine sauce with garlic bread. Rack of New Zealand lamb - much better than the version the other night, with kumara mash that was encrusted with crushed nuts and spices - lots of coriander... this was really interesting and tasty. New Zealand venison - excellent also. I'd highly recommend this restaurant. It definitely exceeded our expectations and was much better than it had to be, considering the view and location.
  2. The next day was a long day. Being Christmas day, and many things being closed, we thought it was an ideal time to drive to Milford Sound in Fiordland, which is about a 4 hour drive each way, without stops. The drive to Milford is filled with gorgeous scenery... Not quite before the halfway point, we decided to set up our picnic at a scenic picnic spot We had a feast!!! Byt he time we got to the store the night before, it was pretty well cleaned out, but we think we did pretty well. All products were locally grown/produced. These strawberries were probably the best purchased strawberries I've ever had. They reminded me of the ones I used to grow when I was young. This smoked salmon was definitely, imo, the best salmon I've ever had... and I come from the land of smoked salmon, NYC! The fish was rich and buttery, it had just the right level of salt (much less than typical NYC smoked salmon) and a nice background smoky flavor. It was so perfect just on its own, with no accompaniments needed. This was probably the one stinker in the group. It was ok - but just not really great. I loved these - deer jerky. I could have these on a regular basis. All together now! The ash rind goat cheese was also a standout - it had a great acidity to it and a creamy texture. The bleu cheese was ok in the beginning - a little cool from being in the cooler, but got better as it warmed up. Gratuitous scenery and strawberry interior shot. There was barely a hint of white on the inside of the strawberry - it was ripe from edge to edge. After our picnic, we drover further down the road. Once you get to Te Anau, the scenery changes and it starts to seem like you've entered an elvin woodlands... we decided to talk a walk at the Lake Gunn trail: Everything is covered in moss... it is magical Here and there the trail takes you to the edge of Lake Gunn. Back on the road, we continue to one of our primary destinations, a section of the Routeburn Track. The Routeburn Track is one of NZ's Great Walks, which are hikes that usually take 3-4 days to complete. We're not in nearly good enough shape to do something like that, so being able to do a section of one of these walks is fantastic.... The trail is well formed, but for much of it, the outer edge is almost a sheer drop off. There are spectacular views all the time... At the summit are some nice views of mountains still with some glacier ice... Up at the summit, there is a nature walk that has a whole bunch of unique plantlife.... They've built a walkway over some of it so the plantlife doesn't get damaged by people walking on it. After we get back down, we continue on our drive to Milford Sound. The drive there was as scenic as the destination... It started raining about halfway into our ascent of the Routeburn... the wet roads made some of the hairpin turns (of which there are many) even more fun. And then you reach the Milford Tunnel: They have a system of traffic lights that stops traffic in one direction while the other way goes through... until after 8PM when the light system stops, which we discovered why as we came back around 8:30 - there's no one on the road!!!! We didn't see another car for about 2 hours! But I'm getting ahead of myself... On the other side of the mountain, the weather was much clearer.... Note that the road is dry on the other side of the mountain.... And then we get to Milford Sound. Milford is a very popular tourist destination, but being Christmas day, many of the smaller tour operators were closed, and the fact that we got there so late - probably around 6:30-7, means that there was practically no one there. Most people take a tour where a bus picks you up from Queenstown and tends to get to Milford around noon and then has a boat that takes you through the fiord. This is the shot that is basically on every postcard: Some other ones... I love how the light and clouds paint the rocks with the shadows. By the time we finished walking around Milford, it was around 8PM. We had some more deer sticks then got in the car to start the long drive back. Dinner was composed of the rest of the bag of potato chips, but that suited us just fine. It's quite odd driving around the middle of nowhere when there are no other cars on the road. We didn't see another car until we got about halfway back.
  3. We only went to one winery - we are well acquainted with Felton Road here in NYC as it has wide distribution... Rippon much less so, but also, we visited them for other reasons.
  4. After our hike, we drove back to Queenstown - this was Christmas Eve, and lots of places were going to be closed on Christmas and we needed to go food shopping for our picnic planned along our drive on Christmas Day. After our food shopping in Queenstown, we decided to stick around the city and have dinner there. Parking in Queenstown is expensive. Street parking costs teh same asa parking lot - NZ$2.00 per half hour! We went to a place that was highly rated on Tripadvisor - it turned out to be in the prime tourist district, which is basically all of Queenstown proper, but this was on a street closed off to traffic, so is especially trafficked by tourists, many of whom by that time of evening were either drunk, in the process of getting drunk, or preparing to get drunk. We went to a place called teh Fat Lamb... Paua dumplings - Paua is like a local abalone and is quite a delicacy. Unfortunately, they were minced so finely, you couldn't really tell what you were eating. The dumpling skins were good though. lamb rib chops - I think these were cooked SV - but the problem is that the fat never really softened properly... Blue cod fish/chips... Crispy potatoes - chunks of potato covered in what seemed like parmesan cheese
  5. Sorry. In my exhausted, jetlag addled mind, I couldn't make heads or tails of it! There were wildflowers all over... we didn't take that many photos of them as we should have... Here's a shot I found - this was near the boulders... ETA: yes - practically everywhere we went, the fried fish was done really well.
  6. After our winery visit, we went into the town (city?) of Wanaka to get some lunch. This was one of the best meals of the trip... We went here: Unlike many of the restaurants, it's not on the main street with a view of the lake - it's set back on a side street and down an alley. While they had their share of tourists, lots of locals were there as well. The table setting and our view: Fried local blue cod tacos with chipotle aioli and chimichurri. These were amazing. Pressed chicken sandwich with caramelized onion and brie - really tasty. To drink: Interestingly, this lemon/lime soda had a dash of bitters in it. My wife had a ginger based soda (not ginger ale) not pictured. After lunch, we took a hike to the Diamond Lake Conservation Area (probably not the best idea to do that right afterwards, but oh well) to see some of the scenery. I loved the reflections off of Diamond Lake. Views of Lake Wanaka: Some idiot's finger got in the way Wild flowers.
  7. Middle of the road? I don't understand... NZ drives on the left side of the road which took a bit of time to get used to. My wife took that photo while I was driving.
  8. After all the detours, we arrived at our Queenstown hotel around 6PM. By the time we checked in, parked our car, and settled in, we decided to have dinner at the hotel's pub type restaurant, since our hotel is about 10 minutes outside of Queenstown proper. View from our table - the water is lake Wakatipu. \ Salt and pepper squid Lamb shank with mashed potato football. I think this was like a NY strip - but they called it something else. The lamb shank was very tender, but the sauce had not much flavor and while the steak was cooked properly, it was pretty dry. All in all, the food here was pretty average, but it definitely sated us for the evening. What's interesting is the weather here. Most days were about 60-65degF. But it was always windy, which would make it seem much colder. BUT! When the sun was out, it felt like it was 80degF! it's amazing how strong the sun is there. I think this is because there's supposedly a hole in teh ozone layer above NZ - we saw a lot of people badly sunburned. We enver had an issue - we always wore long shirts/pants and put sunscreen everywhere else. When we first sat down, it was sunny and warm, but soon after dinner was served, teh sun dipped behind a building and it got instantly chilly, but we were enjoying the view so we didn't bother asking to change tables. By thte time we were finished, we were very happy to go back inside and warm up. The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, which I didn't bother taking pictures of because everyone has seen the most mediocre hotel breakfast ever. So my breakfast every day was basically a mediocre croissant and an apple - maybe I'd add a mini blueberry muffin once in a while. After breakfast, we headed up to Wanaka (about an hour away) to visit a winery. My wife had set up our appointment since she's in the wine biz. One of the owners of the property showed us around and talked to us for about an hour before dropping us off at their tasting room to join their tasting. The winery is Rippon, which makes some excellent wines, as well as having a beautiful property. Central Otago is known for their pinot noir, of which we had 3, but this winery also makes Sauvignon Blanc, which is very different from the Marlborough version which is so famous. They also make a Riesling and Gewurtz... the rose is not make all the time, but is a saigne, and another wine they started making recently is the Osteiner, which is a crossing between Riesling and Sylvaner, and was, perhaps, my favorite of the day, but it's hard to say because their Emma's Block pinot was stunning as well.
  9. After the boulders, we visited another site about 10 minutes away to see some of New Zealand's fur seals. He wasn't barking - he was yawning.... lazy seal... After Shag Point, we continued on our journey to Queenstown (about 3-4 hours), warming our just-out-of-the-refrigerator sausage roll on the dashboard: About mid-way to Queenstown, we stopped for our sausage break: Our snack companions next door to the picnic area The sausage roll. It wasn't very good - first of all, I probably should have let it warm up a bit more, but the pastry was really doughy and barely flaky and the sausage was like a flavorless hot dog... but it was improved by the view from our picnic table:
  10. We skipped breakfast the next day and set out to continue our trip. The next stop was Queenstown, most famous for being the extreme sport capital of the world - the place that brought us bungy jumping. Anyway, we didn't partake in anything extreme... On teh way to Queenstown, we stopped at the Moeraki Boulders... but before seeing the sight itself, had lunch at the cafe above the beach. The view from our table Fish and chips... the fish is local Blue Cod and was perfectly fried - the batter was nice and crispy and the fish perfectly cooked. Oddly enough, the ketchup (called tomato sauce) that came with had a strong flavor of clove! The spherical boulders are hollow and after enough erosion from the sea, break open. Upon leaving the site, we went back to teh cafe to get a sausage roll (something I've never had before) for the road.
  11. Funny story - years ago, we were in Bangkok - we were supposed to come home by EVA airlines through Taiwan, but I changed our flights at the last minute as a typhoon was headed to Taiwan just when our plane was supposed to land there. So I changed us to Singapore Airlines, BKK-Sing-Frankfurt-NY... I was just getting over some food poisoning and was up all night the night before, so I didn't eat anything and basically slept the whole time from BKK-Sing and Sing-Frankfurt. At one point on the Sing-Frankfurt leg, the flight attendant, after taking away my mostly full tray of food, asked us with a scared look on her face whether the food was ok on the plane, thinking that was why I didn't eat anything. She was determined to find me something I would want - but then settled down when I told her the reason why I didn't eat anything.
  12. They definitely feed you plenty... and if by some miracle you're still hungry, you can request snacks to be delivered to you, or you can go to the back of the plane where they have set up a station where you can get your own - all sorts of cookies, chips, fresh fruit, nuts, etc.
  13. We never had kumara chips, but we did have a nice mashed kumara one evening...
  14. OK - you'll have to forgive me for any typos or any statements that don['t make sense as I am exhausted right now. While NZ's time difference to NY is not that great (it's forward 18 hours, but that means your body only feels a 6 hour time difference, but the next day - so right now it's 10:30 AM in NY on 12/30, which means it's now 4:30AM on 12/31 in NZ), the amount of flying time (hence time not sleeping very well or at all) is really long. Air New Zealand doesnt' fly direct from NY - although that will change in October 2020, and the closest city that it does fly from is Houston, with a flight time of about 15 hours. But, flying Economy on Air New Zealand was about twice the price of Premium Econ. on Singapore Airlines (the NY - SG direct only has Prem Econ and Biz) but the flying time is a lot longer as SG is pretty far out of the way. Also, since we were going to South Island, we'd need 3 flights on ANZ (NY - Houston, Houston-Auckland, Auckland-Christchurch) which always makes me nervous that weather or something can cause you to miss a flight which could then screw everything up. The SG route has two flights as SA flies direct to Christchurch which is exactly where we wanted to start our trip. For the food on teh flights, see and I am always impressed by the quality and selection of SA's menu. Plus, the service is really attentive, friendly and efficient. The last time I flew the NY-SG route, it took us straight North out of NY, almost directly over the North Pole, however, this time, due to weather, they took an alternate route which crossed central Asia and the Middle East... looking at the map, it was hard to tell exactly where we were, but there was some nice scenery from 40,000 feet: Once we arrived in Christchurch, we decided to have lunch in the airport as were about to start our road trip and had no idea when we'd find somewhere to eat. We went to the noodle place and had a very lackluster bowl of noodle soup - above is a wonton-noodle soup - the broth had one flavor - salt - it was bit better when I added some chili paste to it. My wife got a bowl of katong style laksa, not pictured... she said hers was as lackluster as mine. We then proceeded to rent our car and got on the road. We decided that we were awake enough to take a slight detour (about an hour each way) to see Kura Tawhiti, in Canterbury, on our way to our destination, Oamaru. You might recognize Kura Tawhiti from the Lord of the Rings... View of the scenery on the other side of the parking lot: Once we got to Oamaru and checked into the motel, we went out for a quick bite to eat. We were thoroughly exhausted, so I forgot to take a picture of the name of the restaurant, but it was pretty tasty and had a nice view.... Pork dumplings (recommendation of the waitress) - I think they were pork - they were pretty good, but kept falling apart. Seafood platter for two. Crab, marinated shrimp, salmon, scallop ceviche, clams came with garlic bread and regular bread. It seems that garlic bread is an appetizer at just about every restaurant we visited. We were supposed to see the Blue Penguins, which Oamaru is famous for, at 9:30PM (they come back to their nest just after sunset) but we were so tired, we decided to skip it.
  15. The nice thing about NZ is that many of the hiking trails have bathroom facilities... how does this happen in a remote area with no power or water service you may ask? The bathroom is basically a small hut with a hole in the ground and a seat over the hole. So maybe the bears use that? BTW, the huts do have an exhaust vent pipe, but the fan that does the exhaust is wind powered.... which is great when the wind blows - it doesn't really smell so bad in there, but if the wind doesn't blow - wow... I think the bears would have to go REALLY BADLY in order to be able to stand it in there.
  16. I was thinking of doing a food blog of my recent trip through parts of New Zealand's south island. Most of the food we had was nothing spectacular, but the experiences and various scenery we had over the trip were amazing. Is there any interest in this?
  17. The return journey - Christchurch, NZ to New York, via Singapore: Mee goreng with shrimp/squid. As before, teh seafood was cooked perfectly. The mee goreng had a really good flavor - a little spicy and lots of spices used. Dessert served after lunch Ravioli bolognese - the meat sauce was quite good, and the pasta was nicely done - not mushy at all. The appetizer shrimp glass noodle salad had a vietnamese flavor to it. The dessert was also really tasty. Singapore to NY: Chicken biryani (book teh cook). My wife had gotten this on our last trip and really liked it, and I can see why - it was really good. Better than most biryani I've had in NY, I'm sad to say. Stir fried chicken with garlic chives. This was also really tasty - chicken was boneless dark meat - noodles had a good texture. The croissant was really good, and the fruit was really good too - there were some chunks of pineapple that I was savoring... Coconut mousse and passionfruit puree - I must have had 3 or 4 of these - if you took it out of the plastic cup and put in on a plate, you would think you were in a restaurant. The mousse had a great coconut flavor and was light and airy and the puree on top was sour in a really good way. Mid-flight snack...
  18. Recently came back from New Zealand, via Singapore with Singapore Airlines. About 30 hours of flying each way. Singapore Airlines (SA) had great service and good food, as in the past. We flew Premium Economy, which is the lowest fair class in the direct flight from New York to Singapore (there's only biz and PE), which then put us in PE for the Sing-NZ flight, which has 3 classes. As I've stated before, there are a ton of meal choices on SA - in addition to the 3 inflight choices (which I was able to choose from in advance on their website/app), there are also about 8-9 choices that can be used on any flight from their "Book the Cook" series, which you order in advance on the website/app. On my last flight to Singapore, I chose 100% book the cook, but this flight, I mixed and matched.... So, without further ado... The menu: All flights started with: I chose green tea, but you could have had your pick of beverages to go with your snack. This was from book the cook, herb roasted chicken with potatoes, veggies - quite good - everything was well cooked, except the broccoli, which I didn't touch - not because of how it was cooked, but because it was broccoli. Broccoli is to me as corn is to @liuzhou. Dessert after lunch. Someone, I don't know whether it was teh in-flight staff or the caterers (they flight attendant said it was the caterers fault) made a mistake and made the Baked 3 cup chicken the lunch dish - but I had preordered it for dinner. So, when dinner came around, they did not have it prepared - so I was forced to choose another on the fly. I got the prawns with potatoes and veggies in a light cream sauce. It was tasty and the shrimp were perfectly cooked, even though the potatoes and veggies were a bit redundant, and I was looking forward to the 3 cup chicken. The flight attendant evidently relayed the situation to the head flight attendant, who came by and apologized profusely and then offered me a SGD$75 gift certificate good for anything in their shopping catalog, valid for a year. I initially refused it saying that it wasn't a big deal, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. I wound up using it on a gigantic bottle of flaxseed oil capsules on the last leg of my return journey. Random snack: Pizza and tiramisu. The pizza was serviceable but the tiramisu was really good. Singapore to Christchuch (NZ): Hainanese chicken rice (from book teh cook)... complete with chili sauce and sweet soy sauce. chicken was super tender and very tasty but the bok choi was not, unfortunately - it looks to have died a long time ago. I wound up not getting the mid-flight snack as I was sleeping - by that time, we had already gone through an 18 hour flight and a 2.5 hour layover in Singapore, plus the time to get ready and to the airport in NY early enough, we had been up for probably about 24+ hours at that point. Breakfast before landing in Christchurch - cheong fun with siu mai. Quite tasty - even the croissant was good - light and flaky.
  19. KennethT

    Dinner 2019

    I used to use my Cameron stove top smoker all the time. Loved it.
  20. I've never seen it fresh, but have found it in small chunk form (about 15mm) which you can grind in mortar to make powder for thickening. I've only seen it in specialty stores so it's pretty expensive
  21. Beautifully shot. Thank you for sharing!
  22. KennethT

    Dinner 2019

    @robirdstx How do you reheat the toasted ravioli? Do you bake them or fry them?
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