A few weeks back, I received an invitation to The Taste of New Zealand event organised by Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand and Virgin Australia. It was also the launch of the new Boeing 777-200 direct flight from Perth to New Zealand, held at Venn Bar+Cafe in the Perth CBD.
On the night, I arrived promptly at the start time of 6.30pm and was greeted by a Tourism New Zealand representative as well as an Air New Zealand flight attendant. They gave me a name badge and moved me through to the bar area of Venn. Seeing as though I was extremely punctual, I thought that I would be the only person in the room, however the small bar was already very busy.
I grabbed a glass of the 2010 Crossroads Winery Hawkes Bay Merlot that was offered on arrival and made my way to the side of the room. I was planning on taking photos but instead struck up a conversation with a gentleman standing nearby. He was a travel agent who was kind enough to tell me a little about New Zealand and how he got into the industry. Strangely enough, I ran into my neighbour who was attending on behalf of her travel agency and joked about seeing each other 15 minutes beforehand, as we share a driveway, and our future car pooling plans. An amazing reminder at how small Perth can feel sometimes!
Mixing with a few travel agents left me with a lot of newfound knowledge of New Zealand. Funnily enough, they were trying to sell me a New Zealand holiday, stating that it was the place for great food, wine and coffee (after learning that my blog focuses on those three aspects). I’ve never been to New Zealand, and the night before this event A and I were discussing the possibilities of a trip next year. Little did we know that it would come to fruition with very little input from us!
Thanks to Twitter, I was soon standing with four other food bloggers; The Food Pornographer, Abstract Gourmet, Juji Chews and Tannic Teeth. We were standing close to Ben Merito, a New Zealand singer-songwriter who was providing the music for the evening.
It wasn’t too long before the evening’s speeches began. The first was by Tim Burgess, the General Manager from Tourism New Zealand who welcomed us in Maori (“Kia ora”) and provided a bit of background to the evening, including why Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand are focusing on Perth. Apparently, Perth people are visiting New Zealand more and more each year.
The second speech by Cam Wallace, the General Manager of Air New Zealand, gave a quick introduction in regards to the new Boeing 777-200 direct flight from Perth to New Zealand.
After the speech by Cam Wallace, two Air New Zealand flight attendants did a special version of an in-flight demonstration, to which they provided advice on keeping your handbag or manbag safely tucked away and your phones switched to silent. After which, we were told that we should “have our passports ready” and that we were all going to New Zealand via premium economy on the new Boeing 777-200. At this point, the audience were quiet for a few seconds, waiting for the “just kidding” of the flight attendants. It never came and this amazing giveaway was confirmed later by a Tourism New Zealand representative. We also received the ticket in our goodie bag at the end of the evening. After these speeches and the amazing giveaway, there was definitely an added buzz in the room, thanks to the excitement of a free return trip to New Zealand.
The night continued with New Zealand inspired food, catered by Cocktail Gastronomy. The food provided on the night included Cold-poached Seafood with smoked New Zealand Green Lip Mussels and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc-Beurre Blanc, Kumara (the kiwi word for sweet potato) and Feta Arancini with a Bush Tomato Chutney as well as King Salmon Tartare with Avocado Whip and Sesame Dressing…
Lamb Cutlets with Tarragon Béarnaise…
… and Venison Carpaccio with Wild Rocket and Fennel Salad with a Lemon Parsley Puree.
My favourite of the night were the Lamb cutlets and the Kumara and Feta Arancini balls.
After a bit of munching and chatting, it was time for me to request a second glass of wine and this time I decided to try The Crater Rim Pinot Noir Canterbury 2009. The colour of the wine in the glass was beautiful – the red looked almost smokey in the glass. There were other wine options on the night, including Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Pinot Gris 2011 and Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc (2011). For those who didn’t feel like wine on the evening, there was also Steinlager beer (brewed in New Zealand), Antipodes Sparkling water (from Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, in New Zealand) and orange juice offered.
For dessert, we were treated to Pavlova topped with Kiwi Fruit Caviar, Mini Hokey Pokey Biscuit and Puka honeycomb ice-cream cones as well as Lemon and Paeroa Sorbet, which was based on the Lemon and Paeroa soft drink manufactured and found in New Zealand. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try the Lemon and Paeroa sorbet, as at the time it was floating around I still had half a glass of red to finish. I really enjoyed the mini ice-creams and it was the first time I’ve tried ‘Hokey Pokey’.
It was a lovely night of food and wine, plus an awesome gift at the end of the evening. I went home afterwards and told A, who was very surprised. We are now in the process of planning our trip to New Zealand, where I am keen to check out the Marlborough region and the Lord of the Rings set! Luckily, I also received a goody bag which was filled with lots of New Zealand trip ideas, including an Air New Zealand book all about food, wine, culture and activities to try in New Zealand, The Age 2012 Good Wine Guide and samples of New Zealand produce, including a bottle of Antipodes Sparkling Water, Feijoa Milk Chocolate made by Devonport Chocolates and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Hand Cream made by Simunovich Olive Estate.
A huge thank you to Detail Marketing Communications, Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand and Virgin Australia for extending the invitation to Perth Food Journal as well as the amazing gift!
Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 777-200 flight from Perth to New Zealand starts on September 3.