Monday, August 15, 2016

Sustainable Seafood

The opening weekend of Wellington On A Plate was a busy one. As well as eating burgers, we had two events to attend. The second, on Sunday, was the one I was looking forward to the most: Zibbibo’s dégustation. Zibbibo, as I never tire of pointing out, is Wellington’s most underrated restaurant. There normal fare is up there, but when it comes to WOAP, they pull out all the stops for their dégustation menus. In previous years we’ve had Quack Around the World, Splash Around the World, and Dining Through the Decades, all of which have been excellent. This year’s theme is Sustainable Seafood.

We arrived on the dot of 6:30, and the restaurant was beginning to fill up. Five minutes later, and it was full…apart from, mysteriously, the table next to us. The event was sold out so someone, apparently, had paid for tickets but not bothered, or forgotten, to show up. Some people have money to burn! On arrival we had a crab meat amuse bouche:

Then the owner introduced Martin Bosley, who would be our host for the evening. He provided us with commentary about each course, how it had been sustainably sourced, how the sustainable fisheries worked, and the efforts of the fishermen to maintain their fisheries around New Zealand.

The first course was an oyster, with a black roll (coloured with squid ink) and seaweed butter. Nicola, not normally an oyster person, put on a brave face and glugged it down. I like a nice oyster myself, but don’t have them often enough. This was a good one. Martin explained why buying your oysters in pots wasn’t such a good idea. Paired with the oyster was a fruity Italian viognier.

Second course was snapper sashimi with chilli lime tamarillo dressing. I didn’t detect any chilli in mine, but that didn’t detract from the dish for me. The wine match was a Central Otago pinot gris. I’m not usually a fan of pinot gris (they can be a bit bland) but this was a good one, with fruit flavours and some acidity.

The salmon for the third course was New Zealand’s premium fish, Ora King. It was prepared tataki style, with Japanese accompaniments of soy emulsion, wasabi, nori and toasted rice. An Alsatian riesling accompanied – drier than the usual New Zealand style rieslings with their distinctive honeyed flavours:

That’s effectively three starters so far; the portions have been designed for tasting rather than satisfying an appetite. The next course was more substantial – a nice chunk of monkfish, served with roasted carrots, fennel and mandarin cream, and a Californian chardonnay to accompany. This was big in the American style, with a lot of oakiness, vanilla and toffee flavours coming through:

Finally, we had what was described as a chowder, but I think was more of a bouillabaisse: a seafood soup, with tuatua, squid, prawn, and a bisque-like broth. With this they served a red wine, Milcrest Montepulciano. Despite the name, this comes from Nelson. It was a strong accompaniment to a fish course, but just about pulled it off, I reckon.

You’ll be relieved to hear that there was was no fish in the pudding, which was a sorbet of yuzu and lime.

So that’s the dégustation for another year. Another success, and I’m looking forward to 2017 already! No pressure, guys!

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