Central Otago Regional Menu

The inaugural Eat.Taste.Central Central Otago Regional Menu came to a close on Sunday when participating venues gathered at Monteith’s in Alexandra to hear the judges’ decisions for the top dishes. The Eat.Taste.Central judges had been on a whirlwind Central Otago road trip over 36 hours, tasting 15 dishes across the three categories: pie, burger/sandwich and main meal.

The four-person judging panel consisted of Wellington on a Plate and Beervana event organiser Sarah Meikle, Eliot and Kate Morse from Morsel Honest Food Co, and Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan.

The hard task of analysing and discussing the dishes resulted in the awarding of four winners, and two highly commended results. The Burger & Sandwich category was awarded to the Chatto Creek Lamb Sliders from the Chatto Creek Tavern. The dish featured truly local Rockdale lamb, which was described as “from over the back fence” by tavern owner Lesley Middlemass. The lamb was dusted in a locally inspired dukkah served on a European bakery slider with slaw and grilled halloumi and matched with a Chatto Creek Riesling.

The Pie category was introduced by judge Sarah Meikle, who said “Pies are an area that Central Otago can truly hang its hat on. Three of the five finalists featured rabbit in their pies some even with bunny ears on top – showing connection to the regions association with rabbits.”

The judges awarded a Highly Commended to Chatto Creek Tavern’s Wabbit Pie. The overall award for best pie was given to Pitches Store in Ophir for their Rabbit and Ophir Thyme Pie. This pie showed perfect cooking of pastry, clear and strong flavours, and was beautifully presented and matched with a local Ferris Road Trail Ale.

The Eat.Taste.Central main meal section was diverse in flavourings with five dishes serving a range of lamb, goat and venison in various ways by the Chatto Creek Tavern, Armando’s Kitchen, Mt Difficulty Winery Restaurant, Ancient Briton Hotel and Paulina’s Restaurant.

The winning dish and overall Judges’ Supreme Award was given to the Provenance Lamb Shoulder from the Ancient Briton Hotel. The dish was locally sourced Provenance lamb shoulder slow cooked, served with grilled haloumi, caramelised shallots, roast yams, turnip and root vegetable medley and a sweet sherry jus. The lamb was matched with the new in-house Naseby Brewing Porter a smooth and quality beer that again left the judges desiring more. The judges were unanimous that the dish was the “best” lamb that they had ever tasted. As Adrian Hood and Jan from the Ancient Briton Hotel were unable to attend the prizegiving the award was accepted by David and Glenys Crutchley of Shortlands Station and Provenance Meats.

Central Otago Mayor and E.T.C Judge Tim Cadogan said “Eat.Taste.Central was a standout event from Tourism Central Otago that local restaurants, bars, cafes and the public got alongside brilliantly. It has showcased just how fantastic the dining experience is throughout the length and breadth of Central Otago. It provides a great focal point into the future for the creation of great dishes highlighting the produce and excellence of Central Otago.”

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