Do Local

My wife and I love to travel. My bother in law and his family are very much action travellers and adrenalin seekers. My sister in law and her husband are real intrepid travellers. We are very much gastronomic travellers. I can’t wait to dive into the local cuisine and drinks – especially the alcoholic ones. We can feel so isolated in New Zealand even though we have a thriving wine industry and food culture; something to be very proud of. 

I’ve been wanting to write for some time about a trip to Athens where we enjoyed the hospitality of Panos and his wife Iza at the Vintage Wine Bistro and the great night we had there. They have over 600 wines by the glass and a menu to match. We sauntered in there one August afternoon last year and basically told Panos to feed and water us with local fare. I must admit my knowledge of Greek wines to that point had been limited to Retsina (which stopped me wanting to find out more for many years) and white wines from Santorini, but we were in for a gastronomic festival. The passion and knowledge that he had for the wines of Greece was intoxicating. We arrived in the late afternoon and left late into the evening well-watered and feed and with a new appreciation of the many and diverse wines that Greece has to offer. Iza and Panos’ hospitality is only matched by their passion for what they do and the amazing wine list they represent.

Another recent trip has been to Tasmania. Robyn had been there many times. As a young girl from Melbourne it was a reasonably quick trip in the ferry to get there. I really didn’t know what to expect but was blown away by the gastro feast that was on offer. The wines of Tasmania are in tune with what we offer rather than the rest of Australia with a maritime rather than the continental climate of  the mainland. Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the main varieties plantings which leads to some great methodes as well as table wines. I’ve never really been enamoured with the Pinots from Mornington in Victoria (must try more!) where we visit often due to Robyn’s family still being domiciled in Melbourne but the cooler climate pinots from Tasmania are well worth diving into. The Chardonnays were lean and elegant the Rieslings, mostly on the drier side, were floral and moreish. We have great seafood on offer in NZ but it is truly matched in Tasmania. Their passion for cottage industry is equal to our own. We truly tested our limit for customs on the way home. 

This brings me to our latest adventure in Bali. Yes, they do produce wine in Bali (not that I have tasted anything that I would recommend) but in the last couple of days had gastronomic experiences that have left me salivating (all of a dribble really). We had been to Mozaic in Ubud on a previous trip which made us book well before we left home to make sure we could get a table. Mozaic is fine dining with a local twist and one gets the choice of two degustation menus. All food is sourced locally, and they are very proud to explain it all to you. I was fascinated by a nut that raw is poisonous however if you burn it in a fire and then bury it for 30 days it becomes delicious. I didn’t have the heart to ask how many locals had become ill (or died) in the journey to find the correct way to present this nut.

We also visited Locavore in Ubud which while being up-market is not as formal as Mozaic. Again, everything is sourced locally and they give you a full description of what ingredients are and where they have come from. Locavore has two degustation menus – a herbivore and a locavore option. We went the meatier locavore choice and were surprised by the many editions in the menu. What started out as a nine-course lunch ended up being around fifteen courses. It was a waddle back to the villa. What was very different about Locavore was that they offered a cocktail beverage pairing rather than the normal wine match with the menu.

I couldn’t recommend any of these establishments more and will be going back to them all when time (and travel funds) permit. I type this while sitting by the pool in our villa in Seminyak and guzzling a Bintang. Go local!