The region’s talented chefs, winemakers and producers are inviting those from near and far to taste the best of Central Otago. Eat.Taste.Central is the region’s annual spring celebration of food, wine and beverages, this year taking place between 23 September and 24 October.
A highlight of the festival is the Regional Menu, where cafés, restaurants and cellar doors across the region create their own dishes that celebrate the region’s world-class produce and wine and beverage matches.
This year, the Regional Menu consists of three categories: Pies, Burgers and Sandwiches and Main Meal and Match, meaning there’s a range of flavours to discover. “We’ve continued with our Regional Menu that includes some well-known venues, alongside smaller venues that have each developed something new to celebrate our flavours on a plate or in a glass,” says ETC campaign manager Antz Longman.
The festival coincides with the launch of Central Otago – A World of Flavour, a special project that has been two years in the making. After meeting with growers, producers, viticulturists, winemakers, hospitality venues and more, Tourism Central Otago has created a unique food and beverage story of the region, with a series of twelve videos that take people behind the scenes to meet the growers and producers and hear about their passion.
Not only featuring special dishes, Eat.Taste.Central also sees a series of special events over the Weekend of Wine from 7-9 October, including wine tastings, art exhibitions and a MiNDFOOD Long Lunch at Carrick Winery.
Gwen Harvie, head chef at Carrick Winery & Restaurant was named the best chef in last year’s ETC Judges awards. She talks to MiNDFOOD about her dishes in this year’s Regional Menu.
Tell us about your ETC dishes…
My menu for Eat.Taste.Central was designed to reflect the changing seasons and the region. In Spring we start to crave some fresher food, however nature is just reawakening after the winter. In Central Otago we have spring frosts and some days the chill in the air lingers throughout the day.
Pithivier is a take on a classic Kiwi pie with a modern Central Otago twist with wild thyme, which loves Central Otago’s arid conditions. It’s paired with pickled baby carrots and micro greens either from Carrick’s greenhouse or Basil, Parsley & Partners.
Rabbits have long plagued the area, presently they are under control. I’m happy to help by cooking a few and turn them into tasty pithivier. We source our rabbit from Fare Game who shoot locally. We make the brisee pastry with eggs from our free-range chickens who live in the vineyard.
We have a second dish, the Venison – Fare Game Slow Cooked Venison Osso Bucco, parmesan polenta, tomato fondue and gremolata. It’s a heart-warming dish using wild thyme, micro greens and venison from Fare Game, perfect after a day on the bike trail. I love slow cook dishes as they develop a lovely depth of flavour. The Osso Bucco is cooked in our delicious Pinot Noir.
What do you love about ETC?
Central Otago is an inspiring place to live and work, with amazing landscapes, seasonal produce and people. ETC give us a change to celebrate and showcase this.
It challenges us to ensure we are incorporating Central Otago produce into our dishes. I love seeing how other chefs are incorporating local produce too.
Eat.Taste.Central 2022 officially runs from 23 September to 24 October. For more details head to eattastecentral.co.nz