What Are the Gastronomic Specialties?
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- 1How About New Zealand’s Food?
- 2The Breakfast and the Marmite's Tasting.
- 3Delicious Lambs and Best Burgers in the World!
- 4Fish and Shellfish of the Day.
- 5The Hangi, a Wonderful Maori Tradition.
- 6Original Beers and World-Class Wines.
- 7Cheese, Dessert and Coffee.
- 8Fresh Food & Supermarkets.
1How About New Zealand’s Food?
The New Zealand cuisine is a classic British cuisine under the influence of the Pacific. Don't be afraid, without being the best on earth, food is quite tasty in the land of Kiwis!
New Zealanders have succumbed to the fast-food trend long ago, but the resistance is back. Organic and vegetarian restaurants are a sign of the gastronomy renewal.
Leaving aside the fast food and we turn our attention the authentic local cuisine. Your purchasing power, slightly higher than New Zealander's, should allow you to enjoy many restaurants during your stay.
Do not forget that Kiwis are usually having dinner around 19h in New Zealand. Your chances of finding a restaurant table after 10 pm are low, especially in the provinces.
At the restaurant, you can sometimes order at the bar and you may even pay the bill before consuming.
By the way, you are not the victim of a bad joke when you receive a pink plastic statue or a toy with your receipt. This object allows servers to easily locate your table. Of course, the best restaurants prefer the traditional way to do, but this touch of humor is nice.
New Zealand provides some culinary delights that you must taste during your trip. I will present you the menu and you'll just have to make your choice!
2The Breakfast and the Marmite's Tasting.
The New Zealand breakfast has evolved since the time of the settlers when people were eating lamb and bread... Now you can expect a continental or English breakfast according to your taste.
Marmite is a brown paste made from yeast extract, and very popular among New Zealanders and Australians.
Its little yellow-lidded pot is almost always found on the dining room table. When Christchurch's earthquake damaged a factory and stopped the production of marmite, even the Prime Minister spoke on TV about this national issue.
One must have been accustomed to the Marmite since early childhood to appreciate its very special flavor.
Frankly, I would not have had the idea to taste it at first, but the pot was on my breakfast table. The name in itself and its packaging evokes more a kind of insecticide.
My first attempt has sparked hilarity of my host in Rotorua,, but it was not a real surprise for him, as many foreign guests always react the same way.
I guess my stomach fought back against this terribly salty yeast. I challenge you to try, but fortunately there are other specialties far tastier in New Zealand.
The Vegemite coming from Australia is the Marmite's main competitor. It is even saltier but is more and more popular in New Zealand (most Kiwis have their own preference and never change).
3Delicious Lambs and Best Burgers in the World!
With 30 million sheep living on the territory, the lamb is a great classic of New Zealand's cuisine. The Kiwis are exporting this meat all over the world and you have probably tasted it without really appreciating it.
You should consider giving it a second chance! The lamb cooked in New Zealand is far different from the one who has traveled 18,000 km in a refrigerated container.
It is often served braised accompanied with mashed kumara, the sweet potato from New Zealand.
Another great specialty, the mutton bird is particularly tasty. The ancient Maoris used to put the bird directly into hot springs to cook it with its feathers! Of course, today it is prepared with much more delicacy in the gastronomic restaurant La Fleur near Moeraki.
But if there is a culinary tradition shared by the entire population, it is indeed the BBQ. You must not refuse an invitation, no matter the circumstances, including bad weather. To be polite, you should not come empty-handed. Bring some appetizers or a good bottle of wine and your host will supply the giant sausages and the steaks.
If you do not have the opportunity to join an authentic New Zealand BBQ, you still have the Fergburger.
This Queenstown's fast food is known to serve the best burgers in the country if not the entire world. Otherwise, you can consider the Burger Fuel restaurants with buns baked on site, for a result well above the average.
If you do not like meat, please stay with us until I present the specialties of the sea!
4Fish and Shellfish of the Day.
In an island nation where children learn to sail at school, it is not surprising to find fish in most restaurants' menu.
Fishing is a national sport, and the Kiwis usually eat their catch of the weekend with their family. The Fish'n chips is delicious, but there is an even more popular recipe ...
The Whitebait's season is expected by the entire country! Served fried, the whitebait was grilled under the sun by the ancient Maori warriors.
Today, it is a speciality cooked by the best chefs in the world.
The Whitebait is expensive, and if your budget is tight, there is another marvel that is found on the coasts of the country. Green mussels from New Zealand are both enormous and delicious. If you love mussels, prepare for a feast.
Of course, New Zealanders are no longer hunting whales in the Kaikoura Peninsula,, but there are lobsters to taste in the region! Kaikoura actually means “crayfish meal” in the Maori language. It is a speciality often cooked during the Hangis celebrations.
5The Hangi, a Wonderful Maori Tradition.
The Hangi of the Maori is not a dish itself, but a traditional cooking method popular in the Rotorua region. It requires cookware that we are not accustomed to find in a kitchen: a pick and a shovel!
Hangi preparation involves digging a hole in the ground. A bed of glowing embers is covered by a thin layer of soil. Then, the food is packed in a canvas bag with spices and placed in the hole just above the glowing embers and finally covered with soil. The full cooking lasts more than four hours and the Hangi just cannot to be improvised at the last minute! You have to earn it!
The meat is tender and the vegetables remain crisp and tasty. It is a cuisine that is both healthy and simple, with a very original smoky flavor.
While waiting to be served, you can enjoy a glass of wine or a local beer. Both are classic and highly recommended in New Zealand.
You can taste the Hangi during the popular Maoris shows in Rotorua.
6Original Beers and World-Class Wines.
New Zealanders have long known pubs with a 6 pm closing time. The end of this kind of prohibition in 1967 made the happiness of an entire country (to be honest, the South Island cities had almost never respected the law anyway).
Steinlager, Speight's and Tui are the most popular beers, but it's up to you to try the specialty of each region you visit. Of course, one must be at least 18 years old to drink alcohol in New Zealand. The Kiwis are great beer lovers, and their beers are tasty for sure, but their wines are even better and deserve their international reputation.
The vine was introduced by British settlers in 1830. The result was far from good, until 1970 when techniques have finally evolved to take advantage of the volcanic soil.
Today, New Zealand exports its wines and the Sauvignon Blanc is considered to be one of the finest in the world.
Unlike Westerners who jealously keep secret their manufacturing process, many wine makers of the country decided to share their expertise. There are more than four hundred vineyards in New Zealand and many can be visited, like in the central Otago region. Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can be ordered in restaurants (glass or bottle), often accompanied by excellent cheeses.
Wine in New Zealand is covered in a complete guide on Kiwipal.
7Cheese, Dessert and Coffee.
New Zealand produces more than 200 varieties of cheese. The classics are present, but original cheeses are to be tasted. Try the spicy and fruity Kikorangi or the famous Airedale before moving to the dessert!
Both New Zealand and Australia claim the paternity of the Pavlova for over a century. This crispy meringue created in honor of a Russian ballerina is traditionally served with fruits and some whipped cream. It is the traditional Christmas dessert, to be tasted in family or in great restaurants.
This is a delicious recipe, but perhaps too plentiful after a meal. That's why I recommend ordering it after a long mountain hike. In many restaurants, the choice of the fruits is left to the customer.
I have always found the taste of green kiwi too acidic, but there is a golden kiwi with a sweet taste that grows in New Zealand.
Other exotic fruits are available in any supermarkets, like the Babaco whose taste reminds pineapple and melons.
This is also with the seasonal fruits that Black Peak Gelato prepares its ice cream. The famous Glacier of Wanaka proposes fifty different flavors, including the Hokey-Pokey (a blend of vanilla with small lumps of honeycomb toffee) which is the most popular ice cream in New Zealand.
New Zealanders' passion for coffee comes from the 90s. I particularly recommend the Fidel's Café in the Cuba street of Wellington. The trend is such that the consumption of tea declined strongly which is incredible for a country founded by British settlers.
8Fresh Food & Supermarkets.
New Zealand might not be the best country in the world for gastronomy. But nothing prevents you to cook your own meals during your stay... The supermarkets sell all the ingredients you might need, like fresh vegetables and products from all over the world.
The visit of a New World or Count Down (the two main local supermarkets) is an experience on its own. There is a multitude of original products and it's difficult to resist! Beware of the English cream cakes or you'll return from New Zealand with some extra weight.
On the road, you often come across fruit stands without a vendor to watch them. A simple wooden box allows the travelers to pay the products. Such concept says more about the honesty in New Zealand than anything else.
In the same spirit, some restaurants display the BYO mention (“Bring your own”) on the menu. It means you can bring your own bottle of wine for the meal. The corkscrew and the glasses will be charged a few dollars only.
Do not wait until the last day to buy bottles of wine as a souvenir. The Marlborough and Otago shops are more interesting than the airport duty-free zone. Remember also that the customs will control the number of bottles per traveler. Treat yourself well and remember that if tipping is optional, it is appreciated.
Questions & Answers.
What can I do for you? I can give you the Pavlova recipe if you ask me, but you must promise to taste the Marmite right after!
- All topics ... 12 answers in total
- Restaurants 3 answers
- New Zealand Wines 3 answers
- Fruits and Vegetables 2 answers
- Vegemite 2 answers
- Best Burgers 2 answers
- What does the BYO mention mean in restaurants?
This means you can bring your own bottle of wine to the restaurant. The Bring Your Own does not exempt you from paying a few dollars for the service (glass and corkscrew).
- At what time do restaurants close?
The Kiwis go to sleep early and outside the big cities you have little chance of finding a restaurant open past 10 pm.
- Are you expected to pay at the checkout?
This method of payment is mostly present in entry-level or tourist restaurants. This has an undeniable advantage for the hurried traveler to get back on the road.
New Zealand Wines
- What are the best New Zealand wines?
Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are the two best wines of the country.
- Why are New Zealand wines so good?
After many difficulties to find vines adapted to the volcanic soil, the New Zealanders found the right formula and helped each other. The government also largely financed the removal of old grape varieties in the 1980s.
- Are New Zealand wines available in Europe?
It is difficult to taste New Zealand wines at the restaurant. We sometimes find a few bottles in specialized wine caves but the simplest remains to order on the Internet. I recommend the Sauvignon Blanc.
Fruits and Vegetables
- What is Kumara?
It is a sweet potato that is usually cooked for the hangi prepared by the Maoris.
- What is the difference between golden and green kiwis?
The yellow kiwi is called the Golden Kiwi. It is sweeter and less acidic than the green kiwi. Ideal for breakfast!
- Is it easy to find Marmite in Europe?
Vegemite is easily found in supermarkets, but the Marmite is more difficult to find.
- What is the difference between the Marmiteand Vegemite?
The Vegemite is a little saltier than the Marmite.
- Does the Fergburger deserve its reputation?
A recent vote of Internet users confirms the quality of these tasty hamburgers. Impossible to leave Queenstown without having tasted one of these wonders.Fergburger Queenstown
- Can we eat anything other than burgers?
The question also arises for lamb served at all sauces in restaurants. The answer is positive, and you will find all the fresh products you need to cook your own meals.
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