Samples of Food Thoughts From New Zealand—February, 2005

(Note: entrée is what we call an appetizer)

February 15, 2005: It’s an hour’s drive back to Nelson—and Jeff falls asleep about as soon as we get back and naps until we leave about 8:00 for our dinner reservation at the Boat Shed.

It’s semi-organized mayhem and chaos at the restaurant, a small establishment that hangs over the water. Jeff, with his good sense of direction, finds it like a shot. After about 15 minutes of standing around, a waitress takes us upstairs out of the din into a small room with only a few tables and a single window looking out on the water and the setting sun. A nice couple from Ottawa sitting at the table by the window lets me come over there to take some pictures. Jeff goes down to the street and shoots some wonderful shots of sunset and the moon. I know that I am not supposed to go into details about what we eat, but this rates a change. Our entrée is steamed mussels, cockles, scallops, and clams, all in the shell. We have ordered the special for the evening which is supposed to be a “gourmet size” (read that as “pretty small”) crayfish (what we would call a rock lobster, but different in taste), some prawns, and new potatoes. What we are told later by the waitress is that they took a huge crayfish out of the tank (and I mean huge) and gave us each half. Besides more crayfish than you can imagine, there are four or five huge prawns. We have our bottle of sauv blanc (a local Nelson vineyard) and dig in and dig in and dig in and… It’s almost too much to eat. The tail meat is more than I have ever seen and there is tons of meat in legs, claw, body. The taste is somewhere between lobster and Dungeness crab. Andy would be in hog heaven eating this. Of course we have to have a rich dessert to cut the richness of the crayfish…and a short black.

Read more: New Zealand - Meals

Bud and Jeff’s Excellent Adventure—New Zealand

January 30, 2005—Beam Me Up Scotty or Time to Take A Napa:  Chesterfield limo service comes on time at 6:55 and we are off to the airport. We get to take off our shoes to go through security (and when I unpack this evening, I see that the TSA has put a notice inside my duffel saying that its contents have been inspected). 

The flight to SFO is uneventful. Jeff iPods and I read the first 131 pages of The October Horse. We get into SFO 50 minutes early. We each have Enterprise rentals and, after discussing where each is going and me getting directions on how to get over the Golden Gate, we are on our way.

I drive through the city and over the bridge and up 101. At Petaluma, I cut eastward toward Napa. There I grab a quick lunch in “historic Napa” and head up to Clos du Val. I start the wine tasting and then tell them that I am a member of their Cellar Club.  Well, besides the regular wines they were offering for tasting, they pulled out some of the higher-end wines and reserves for me to drink. Good thing I had just had lunch and coffee! I put together a case of different wines for them to ship back home.

From there I meander up the valley, cut across to the west on the Yountville cross road and then up through some back roads to Oakville. Beautiful vineyards. Lots of yellow flowers growing between the rows. All the vines are cut way back ready for this year’s growth.

I head north through St. Helena and Calistoga and then west over the Petrified Forest Road over the mountains and down into Santa Rosa. Beautiful route with lots of twists and turns. I am not sure how to find the Vine Hill Inn where I am staying, so call them, ask directions, and get there in about 15 minutes. I am the only guest here tonight, so the innkeeper gives me the choice of what room I want to stay in. I choose the one I had specified beforehand, but, since it has only a tub and no shower, will take a shower tomorrow in another room.

The owner is Kathy Diechmann who was raised in Webster Groves, went to Nerrix Hall, worked at Camp Pegnita, and went to college at SLU. For many years she lived with her husband in Carbondale. They are now divorced and she has been in California for eight years. We talk about who we know in common.

Timi calls and says that instead of my coming over there for dinner, they will pick me up and we will go to a place in Sebastopol. And she tells me that Michael and she spent the night here the night before they were married in August of 2002.

They arrive at 7:00. We drive into town and stop at Lucy’s for dinner. When we get out, I see that they have a Scotty in the back seat – 16 years old – who they cover up and who sleeps through our dinner.  Good food. Nice wine. Wonderful conversation. Both Timi and Michael are fun to talk with. About 9:00 it’s back to the inn. No TV in the room, so it’s just this computer and me.

Read more: 2005 New Zealand Trip Notes

Sauv Blanc

Cloudy Bay

Oyster Bay

Shingle Mountain


Pegasus Hills


Pinot Noir

Chard Farm Finla Mor

Mount Edward Susan’s Vineyard