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Published: April 6th 2018
School for the day
Akaroa, New Zealand, April 4 ,2018 – Weather forecast: sunny with scattered clouds; temperature 21°C, wind 22kts (5 Beaufort)
Today we dropped anchor in the habour for Akaroa, the South Island’s oldest town. It is a historic settlement founded by both British and French settlers and is nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Akaroa serves as the port for New Zealand’s third-largest city, Christchurch whose harbour and its infrastructure was devastated in 2011 by a series of earthquakes.
Our excursions for the day were mixed, John and Mary Ann took the shuttle to Christchurch to visit with a friend there; Brooke sailed around the harbour on a sailing ketch to view the wildlife and I took part in a cooking class. This was my combined Christmas and birthday gift from Brooke.
After tendering ashore Brooke boarded the Fox II, a traditional gaff-rigged ketch, the oldest sailing vessel in the area. With its tanbark (red) sails hoisted the ketch cruised around Akaroa Harbour, with its gigantic volcanic sea cliffs, caves and rock formations. Though the tour operators cover themselves by saying “wildlife sighting not guaranteed”, Brooke
Roasted apple and lemon pastry
did see a rookery filled with a variety of sea birds, New Zealand fur seals, and the fins of dolphins. The dolphins are only 1.5 meters long and are a protected species. Back on shore Brooke enjoyed a traditional lunch of fish & chips, served in a paper cone, followed by a brief exploration of this quaint town.
Meanwhile I, along with four other guests, were immersed in a full day cooking class. After tendering ashore, we walked a short distance to the Akaroa Cooking School, whose primary focus is to use the rich locally grown produce matched with the bounties of the sea. They purchase ultra-fresh seafood directly from the local fisherman and prepare it in their wharf side location.
Our cooking hosts, Ant and Lou Bentley took us through the complete preparation of a dinner with appetizers for cocktail hour, entrées for your first course, main course, and dessert. Each dish was matched with an award winning local wine.
We were greeted at the door and immediately offered tea or coffee and a pastry. Lou, in her role as the primary chef, immediately set out to show us how
One of the fish for the menu.
to prepare the Roasted Apple and Lemon pastries that we were consuming.
The rest of the menu consisted of the following:
Tiger prawns on spoons with sweet chilli and lime dressing.
Crunchy grilled Akaroa mussels on the half shell.
Hot smoked Akaroa salmon on pickled cucumber, minted labne and black sesame seed.
Pan fried groper fillets with a tomato & anchovy vinaigrette, with lemon & rosemary roasted potatoes and seasonal greens.
Lemon Panna Cotta with coconut crumble and fresh seasonal berries.
We started this extraordinary culinary experience completely stuffed and thoroughly satisfied. After leaving the demonstration kitchen a number of us took a walk around the harbour to a local grocery store where we purchased some of the flakey sea salt the Lou and Ant used in their cooking.
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