Sunday, April 29, 2007

Purangi Winery

Like California, New Zealand has a fair share of flash wineries: long landscapes of carefully cultivated vines, graveled paths, gently swaying trees bordering the drive like Zeigfield ladies singing in their leading man. For me, the great offense of wineries is always all that jazz. By the time of the tasting, I can't tell if I'm drinking good grapes or sipping at the refined masquerade that I live in a 17th century chateau. In contrast, the Purangi Winery, sitting near the banks of its namesake river, offers a run-down, joyful alternative, and fabulously sweet and tasty locally made liquors. The liquors from the fijoa, a small, uniquely citrus-y fruit with a jelly-like texture; and manuka, New Zealand's blossom honey, were my favorites. But more the best part is Danny Evans, the loquatious vinter, whose helpful banter guides you through mangrove politics, a collection of fossils and kauri gum, samples of Purangi Winery products, and (two months after a first visit) remembers your face to welcome you back.

Pacific Rose Apple Crepes

My last fortnight in New Zealand was among the best of the whole three months! I stayed with Pam and Gary of Pukekohe. We used these Pacific Rose Apples (Pam's tree at their bach--holiday home--in the Coramandel was a grafted gift from a botanist friend) to make simple crepes. The secret to their fluff? Adding beer to the batter instead of baking powder, and letting it sit to rise for a 1/2 hour. To keep the apples from turning brown while you prepare the batter, put the diced bits into a bowl of water.