AS PEOPLE who keep up with showbiz and society news know, actress Anne Curtis and businessman Erwan Heusaff had a fantastically stylish New Zealand wedding last year. At a June 13 dinner which Mr. Heusaff hosted in collaboration with Tourism New Zealand, he sounded as if he were in love with a place as well as with his wife.
“New Zealand for me, obviously, holds a very special place in my heart,” he said.
The dinner, a Kiwi-style cookout at Mr. Heusaff’s new cooking studio, Hectare One, in Makati City, was made with meats and fish from New Zealand.
For a fish course, with salmon, Mr. Heusaff brined it and cooked the fish at a very low temperature, and then popping it back in the fridge for the flavors to come together. The result was a delicately flavored, almost velvety fish that melted in the mouth. This was served with horseradish cream, pickled onions, and arugula puree, so that the sharper flavors could lend more structure to the fatty salmon. This was paired with a nice Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, which had the fragrance of grass, and a light citrusy flavor.
Next came roast beef, simply salted. It’s probably a testament to the quality of the beef that it was backed up by just one other ingredient, but it already had severally layers of flavor in itself. This was paired with a well-balanced pinot noir, which, despite its overt fruitiness, had a backbone of char and ash.
A more delicate lamb needed a little bit more for the flavors to come out, namely a cherry demi-glace and garlic confit, and what it may have lacked in inherent flavor, it more than made up for with a texture that immediately conjured the image of a soft and innocent lamb (we’re sorry, but rest knowing that you were absolutely tender).
When Filipinos think of the Southern Hemisphere, most don’t think of New Zealand. “Filipinos are probably more familiar with Australia as a destination,” said Kate Campbell, Southeast Asia PR Manager for Tourism New Zealand.
Still, New Zealand is an increasingly popular holiday destination for Filipinos — over 9,000 visited in the last year (year-end April 2018), a 28% increase from the previous year, according to a press release from New Zealand Tourism.
New Zealand probably has it made when you’re looking for a travel experience outside the setup of an urban sprawl. It has adventure trails, mountains, and meadows, and let’s not forget Hobbiton.
Why is it important then, to focus on produce, when you can eat anywhere in the world?
“I think it’s an essential part of a travel experience,” said Ms. Campbell. “If you’re choosing a travel destination, you’d want to know you can get good food there.”
“It’s one of our best-kept secrets.”
“When you go to New Zealand, what happens is, you’re actually surprised by some of the produce,” said Ms. Campbell. “It’s still a surprise to people, the combination of flavors, and how we present these foods from New Zealand.”
Visitors to New Zealand can try the Maori Hangito fresh seafood such as crayfish in Kaikoura and Bluff oysters in Southland, notes the release. They can also take advantage of wine trails and food tours which are available all year round.
“With Philippine Airlines introducing its direct, non-stop flights between Manila and Auckland last December, we are looking forward to welcoming more Filipinos to experience world class New Zealand food and wine first hand,” Steven Dixon, Tourism New Zealand’s Regional Manager, South & South East Asia, was quoted as saying. — Joseph L. Garcia