Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Zealand Pt. 2: The Best Blue Cheese Ever

Jetboating in Te Puke; People-eating Kiwi

A jetboat is a speedboat on crack. As in, you go much faster, make 360 turns, and your playground is a narrow and windy river. It's unbearably fun--as long as you have a strong stomach. My mom does not have one of those.

New Zealand may be surrounded by the Pacific, but it also happens to boast a number of gorgeous lakes and rivers. We spent some time on those inland bodies engaging in activities that you can't find anywhere else. One of those activities even brought me my new favorite cheese--Kapiti Kikorangi.

Before I get to the dairy--there's ice cream, too--let's talk water. That up there is picture of my family on a jetboat near Te Puke. My brother and I had a grand time, but my mother only made it about 3/4 through. She's never enjoyed roller coasters, but we're really proud of her for giving it a shot. As for the giant kiwi eating my brother, the minute my brother and I saw it, we knew we had to take pictures. He, my dad and I threw ourselves in its mouth, but my mom was lame and just sat down on it. We are not proud of her for that.

By the way, doesn't it kind of look like the kiwi I made for my winning post?

Waterfall on the jetboating river; Lake McLaren.

Rain or shine, Kiwis play. And so will you. We were set to kayak at night on Lake McLaren as part of the Waimarino Glowworm Tour, but it started pouring.  It was not canceled. So we were picked up by our intrepid guide, Blair, and taken down to the site. You can see the gloominess in the right picture. What's really nice about this tour is that prior to getting in the water, you sit along the bank and eat wine, cheese and fruit. What makes it even better is that Blair is a bit of a foodie, which means he picks out some delicious cheese and wine. Enter my new love.

Kapiti Kikorangi, a New Zealand Blue Cheese.

Ruffles & food. Picture of Kikorangi borrowed from Hospitality Magazine.

Ruffles, a local goose, decided to join us during our little chow session, but who could blame him? Do you see the cheese on the table? The deep blue veins? Ohhh yeah.

The cheese is officially described as a "stunning triple cream cheese with a golden curd and rich buttery texture marbled with dense blue veining."

That translates into the creamiest, moistest blue cheese I have ever had. It had an intense blue flavor, but there was a slight sweetness to it that was unexpected, yet gave the cheese a nice balance.

The wine? Mills Reef Pinot Gris, which is delicious. We also hit up this winery a few days later, and found that we enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Port. Unfortunately, the Sauv Blanc is the only of the four currently available in the U.S.

Which brings me to another point. Kapiti Kikorangi? Not yet available in the United States. After a bit of prodding (read: asking his son), my inside source has let me know that they are currently testing the cheese in a few upscale restaurants, but that we should be on the lookout for it near the end of the year. Once I find out it's here, I'll let you all know. You must try.

Also, the kayaking was insanely fun. None of us had ever been, so it was a bit hysterical for our first time to be in the rain and at night. My dad and I were in one kayak, with me steering the rudder in the back. I couldn't see over him (or much in the rain) so I had him constantly telling me to move left and right. My brother had my mom, and ended up doing all the work. That was planned.

What was not planned were our attempts to attack my brother and mom. They started calling us the iceberg on the way back. Hmph.

Ice cream at Lady Jane's in Rotorua.

You can't talk dairy without talking ice cream. But first, why dairy? 

New Zealand is actually the largest force in the international dairy market. The country accounts for about 35% of the world trade in dairy. And I think you can all appreciate that they are also the pioneers of pasture-farming. The entire dairy cow population is primarily fed a grass diet, supplemented when weather requires it. With the resurgence of grass-fed beef and dairy, American dairy farmers are looking to New Zealand for technology and expertise. 

Grass-fed dairy means better cheese. And ice cream.

We headed to Rotorua for a day, which is home to hot pools, geysers and sulfur lakes. It smelled a bit, but I had some delicious ice cream. And hey, one of those ice creams was made by Kapiti--same as the cheese. I had a lemongrass & ginger, which had chunks of candied ginger, as shown in the top scoop. The passionfruit swirl had gobs of passion fruit goo in it, which actually tasted like the fruit. 

I lost some of that passion fruit to my father. Some advice: when you offer someone a taste of your ice cream, instruct them to bite into it, not to lick it. The licking is disgusting and requires a wiping off of the ice cream. You can't even trust your father not to be so rude. Pfft. 

Stay tuned for the next post, New Zealand Part 3: The Secret to Amazing Fish & Chips. There will be dolphins, seafood pizza, Turkish food, and some surprising tips on how to make the best fish and chips. Seriously--you will be baffled by those tips. 

Disclaimer: While Zespri paid for my trip, I am under no obligation to write about my adventures. It's my blog and I'll write if I want to.


Lizzy said...

Oh, what fun...such gorgeous country. Mmmmmm...that blue cheese looks incredible...maybe I need to book a trip?

Shelley said...

Okay, so this is a wonderful NZ blog! Even though our son, Erik, lived there for a total 14 months, I never heard about much of this good stuff! Rotorua, yes... did you go Zorbing? Spend any time on the South Island? Dunedin and the 2nd highest bungy jump in the world? These I know about, as our risk-taking son fit right in there with those Kiwis :)
Sounds like it was the vacation of a lifetime!!!

bb's mom said...

sometimes there is no pleasing you-just because i didn't want to get eaten by a kiwi i let you down!

sara @ CaffeIna said...

I so want a bite of that blue cheese right now! Oh, and I'm with your mom in this: I don't think I would have liked to throw myself into the kiwi mouth either :)

Marcellina said...

Ooooh yum, passionfruit icecream, any icecream! Yep, New Zealand must be my next holiday destination!

heartbreak pie said...

Aaaaggh! So glad you found Kapiti Kikorangi! I love the stuff! Great post. And amazing that zespri paid for your trip! Maybe they'll send me away from NZ...!

Z-Tawan said...

Love both posts so much and now I need vacation. Thanks to you! Btw, just want to mention that your photographs have changed so much from your earlier posts and it hurts to read your post when I have no food at home. Now I craving for cheese!!!

Lisa Mary said...

This sounds like my idea of hell. Thankfully, though, you talked about ice cream and, more specifically, New Zealand ice cream. Passionfruit is my favourite. Isn't NZ great?

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