International MOFAD BBQ

It has been rather a good day. It started out with that fantastic visit to Abbey Cellars/Fat Monk and took in several other wineries along the way. As we made our way back to the “city” we decided to stop at Countdown (we’ve been to one nearly every day) to pick up some supplies for a BBQ. A wonderful sunny day was turning into a wonderful sunny evening, perfect for a little al fresco dining.

Like Keith Floyd, I’m a great believer that a little slurp helps the creative cook. So let’s start with a Harrington’s session red IPA. We picked up a box of their ales at Countdown in Rotorua (I think, we’ve been to so many Countdowns). Let’s dissect this beer.

Red? Yes.

Session? Just about.

IPA? No. Needs about 3 kilos more hops. And then some more hops. All perfectly pleasant, and a very nice beer, just not an IPA. You need to be very careful when bandying these terms around!

So let’s get down to BBQ business. A minted lamb rump, 2 cobs of corn (25p each from a local farm shop also en route), grilled halloumi, a lovely fresh coleslaw and a cheese/onion bread. And a yoghurt dip. This was perfect summertime BBQ food, a great way to round off a day.

Mrs MOFAD was also enjoying a local drink, this “Red Apple Cider” from Zeffer Cider company. I continue to have to explain to cider makers that “red” is not a variety of apple, and basically means nothing when put on a label.

Anyway, it was a pleasant enough cider, enjoyed in the evening sunshine. I saved the best for last.

Funk Estate Oh Lordy Pale Ale. It is called that because it is supposed to make you say “Oh Lordy”. And it does. Here comes the hop hammer. Whichever way you turn it smashes you in the face. A superbly hoppy pale ale, which was fantastic. The photo is a little blurry, but it was getting late and getting dark.

A great way to round off a great day.

Unison Vineyard, Hawkes Bay

Our wine and cycling tour continues. After two disappointments, first at Trinity Hill and then at Te Awa, we were hoping for third time lucky here. We sort of got that.

Originally, this was to have been our lunch stop, but due to some mystical spidey-sense, we had lunch at Abbey Cellars instead. This proved extra wise.

Today, Unwined Café @ Unison Vineyard was closed. Their chef had the day off to go to his brother’s wedding. This was no problem though, because they had a reserve chef ready to step in. Only he didn’t turn up. So on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Hawkes Bay, they had a lovely empty cafe with no-one available to cook in it. Luckily they did have some delicious cakes available, so we had some of them, including a very tasty dark chocolate tart:-

Then, some wines. We tasted our way around some of their offerings, including a very nice Rocky Riesling and a Rocky Rose, both of which found their way into our bags and on to the plane home.

And we had a lot of chat with the lovely Terry, yet another ex-pat who was running the tasting, talking about life back home, Derbyshire, the Peak District and various other things. Back home in England it had just snowed, so we were sharing photos of the snow and stories of snowy days. As you can see, we had beautiful blue skies so it was lovely to look at snow without having to deal with it 🙂

A lovely little family winery, hopefully the cafe will be open the next time we visit, but it was still a very pleasant hour of eating, drinking and chatting about wine, the universe and everything.

Trinity Hill Winery, Gimblet Gravels, Hastings

This one had been recommended to us by MOFAD drinking companion Bruce, a native of the sparsely populated islands of New Zealand. His favourite winery in the land.

So we were really looking forward to visiting and checking out their wines. However, upon arrival we hit a rather large snag (and no, Kiwis don’t use this as slang for sausage like their Australian cousins, so not a giant sausage). This snag was that they were not doing any wine tastings today. Instead they were trying to charge you 5 dollars to enter the grounds, buy some food (not included in the $5 charge) and listen to some live music whilst drinking some local beers.

Eagle eyed readers will have spotted that we had already done that at Abbey Cellars/Fat Monk just an hour earlier. And they were still doing tastings, and not charging people to get in and to listen to some live music and drink local beer. So reluctantly we said no thanks, waved goodbye and cycled on.

Ngatarawa, Bridge Pa, Hastings

Cycling is thirsty work. You need to make regular stops to take on some extra liquid. When you are cycling around the Bridge Pa triangle, luckily there are plenty of places to stop for a drink. They just happen to be wineries.

Ngatarawa has a long driveway, but there is a friendly welcome when you finally get to the top of it. There was also a very friendly, but very hot, chocolate labrador waiting to greet us.

We popped inside to chat about wine, sample an interesting Pinot Gris and a few others, and came away with another lovely dessert wine (all purchases have to be carried back in rucksacks on our ride, so we have to be disciplined).

Whilst we were there, a fairly refreshed hen night turned up. They were on bikes. The stretch Hummer that arrived shortly afterwards just contained a family day out. Which was odd, since you would expect the drunken hens to be in the Hummer. Just another difference that you find in the Southern hemisphere…

We sat out and enjoyed the sunshine for a little while before continuing our journey.

Abbey Cellars and Fat Monk Brewery, Bridge Pa, Hastings

Spoiler alert!

This was without doubt one of the highlights of the Great New Zealand Road Trip 2016. Let me try and tell you why with just a few words.

Great ales. Simple pizza. Sunshine. Tunes. Wines. Vines. Blue skies.

I’ll try and expand on that a bit. Today we did our version of the “Wineries ride” which is set out in the Hawkes Bay cycling guide. We did a modified version (as we pretty much always do), by starting our ride from our campsite in Hastings. This involved cycling through Hastings “city centre” (another place abusing the word city), which was surprisingly quiet. There is plenty of well segregated cycling around, although it’s not all perfect. Once you leave Hastings, the paths start to separate from the road, and well packed gravel tracks soon take over, and are the dominant feature for the majority of the ride around the wineries.

Around 10 miles later, you are out of the “city” and well into wine territory. We made our first stop of the day at Abbey Cellars, which also incorporates Fat Monk Brewery. You can probably guess why we wanted to come here.

We started off with a wine tasting (after a couple of glasses of water to rehydrate). We sampled a nice riesling, the “passion” rose, and a sweet Gabriel Chardonnay and dessert Malbec (both of which came home with us). A friendly and relaxed tasting.

Things don’t stop there. Further ingredients for the perfect lunchtime rest stop are now added to the mix. During the summer, Abbey have laid on the “summer sessions”. This involves local acts playing live music out in the back garden. You can sit out and listen whilst enjoying a glass of wine or two, a selection of food or some beers from their brewery.

Today was the turn of Ian Munro, a local act, with a mixture of his own songs and then acoustic covers of Layla, New Kid in Town, Waiting in Vain, Losing My Religion and that antipodean classic “Down Under”. We would have loved to have stayed to listen to it all, but there were more wineries to visit.

Lovely views all around…

So, on to the beer. Today there were four of their beers on tap, so we picked up a “flight” to enjoy out in the sun. From left to right we have:-

Pilsner – citra hops in a pilsner – a first for me, and a perfect start in the blazing sunshine.

Pacific pale – a better IPA than the IPA, a tropical hoppy delight, utterly delicious.

American IPA – not pale enough (typical of anything classed as an American IPA), and the hops come through very late. A few more wouldn’t go amiss 🙂

Raspberry wheat – good raspberry sourness, but suffers in comparison to the lovely hoppy hits from the others.

A lovely line up of beers, and there were more bottles available inside, but with other places to visit on the ride, you have to draw the line somewhere.

These alcoholic beverages need some food to accompany, and there are a few selections to choose from. We opted for some simple margharita pizzas – a simple food done well is a joy, and these were just perfect with a hoppy ale. Thin, crispy, delicious.

Look at all of the ingredients here. They all combine to make the perfect visit. This was a perfect few hours. If you are anywhere in the area, get here and spend some quality time in the sunshine with great food and drink.

1000% MOFAD approved!