We have just had the most glorious weekend at the Poronui Ranch near Taupo. We spied the ad for a food and wine weekend there, with a 7 course dinner cooked by Hunger for the Wild chef Al Brown (of Logan Brown) with wines matched to it by Mount Edward wines. My dear husband decided it was too good an opportunity to pass by as it was limited to 20 people so booked it for us knowing it would doubtless be a good time and an ideal anniversary/birthday present! I was so excited about going and was so looking forward to a relaxing weekend with great food and wine.
It absolutely surpassed expectations. Those who know me know that that is no mean feat! I had absolutely no idea what to expect as far as the accommodation went but I was amazed and delighted by the whole property. It is an enormous tract of land about 1/2 an hour from Taupo, in the hills off the Napier Taupo highway. It has a fabulous array of buildings and facilities and so many things to do. We did none of the available activities (guided fly fishing, deer hunting, mountain biking, hiking etc) but would definitely give them a go next time (yes, we are already planning the next time!!!). I apologise for the quality of some of the photos, it appears my zoom is not the greatest and the lighting in the cellar was of course rather low!
The main lodge is the centre of activity where breakfast is served each morning and has cottages close by perched on a cliff overlooking the Taharua river. The revelation was where we stayed....6 km up the road at the original owners residence 'Blake House'. It has four huge bedrooms and two cool big bunk rooms so can sleep a whopping 16 people, all in exceptional style, with a spectacular outlook. Two massive living areas and four lovely big open fires as well as a fully stocked serious kitchen. The weekend was an all inclusive package so all food was included, which was fantastic, but the fridge was well stocked with drinks, snacks and nibbles, the biscuit and cake tins were full too!
On the Saturday we were ferried by 4WD into the Safari Hut Camp, by the Mohaka River, which is truly my kind of camping. Two 'tent' huts with real beds and a kitchen/dining 'tent' complete with running water (!). You can only get to the spot by 4WD so it is totally isolated, only the roar of the river to keep you company. We had a gorgeous picnic, complete with wine and basked in the afternoon sun for a while.Saturday evening's dinner was outstanding. It was held in Poronui's underground wine cellar, which houses something like 10,000 bottles! It was a lovely setting.
Here is the menu and each of the 7 courses (except the paua fritters which were gone too quick!) Salmon Gravlax with green olive and lime tapenade and fresh wasabi Sauteed turbot with fresh tuatua on savoy cabbage with lemon zest Butter poached baby crayfish with salsa verde and horseradish Porcetta with celeriac puree, caramelised pear and bitter salad (celery, fennel, whitlof and walnuts) Seared duck breast with roasted garlic custard and pinot noir jelly Gingerbread and Cherry Trifle The pictures speak for themselves, it was completely delicious.
The wine was also excellent and it was great to get a run down from Duncan, wine maker at Mount Edward, on their philosophy and approach to wine making. We made sure to stop in at Scenic Cellars in Taupo to grab a couple of bottles of the Reisling, one for us and one as a thank you to my mother for the babysitting!
We are hoping the weekend is on next year as we would definitely do it again. Although I was a little apprehensive about spending the weekend with a group of strangers, we had an excellent time, meeting lots of great people, all of who shared the same intent - enjoying the occasion! Our impression of the weekend was that it represented amazing value. The level of hospitality was like nothing I have ever experienced and was absolutely worth paying that bit extra for.
As we were leaving the deer that we had seen plenty of all weekend on our drives to and from the lodge seemed elusive when I decided I wanted a photo. We just managed to catch this one before it darted off into the trees.... This will be my last blog for a wee while as I have my final assignment due for uni for the year. I will be back in a couple of weeks!