A bumpy flight to Hawke's Bay was quickly forgotten in a whirl of Southern cuisine and bourbon, vineyard visits and eight course degustations at last weekend's Winter Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C) celebrations.
You may remember a few weeks ago we followed three F.A.W.C participants for a day, gaining a behind the scenes look at the work that goes into preparing for spectacular dining events. One such story was that of Wellington chef Martin Bosley and the artistic Culy family, who collaborated with honey producer Beagle's Bees to celebrate the art of beekeeping. Their dinner was our highlight of the weekend, every aspect of it was thoughtful and well crafted.
The collaboration came about thanks to the Culy family's desire to become beekeepers. Over the past six months, local honey expert Beagle of Beagle's Bees has shared a plethora of knowledge with younger daughter Billie Culy and her partner Matt. The process gave the family an appreciation of beekeeping practices that put the bee first, profit second, and inspired them to promote the story of the bee and its vital place in our ecosystem in the form of a dinner held in the dining room of their private, heritage home, Balquhidder House.
No detail was overlooked, with the evening beginning with a pop-up exhibition in the family's art gallery, sharing the works of photographer Brian Culy, painter and textile artist Leanne Culy, and their talented relatives. We proceeded to the beautifully decorated dining room, lit by Beagle's Beeswax candles and Brian Culy's slow-motion videos of bees in flight, and enjoyed a feast of epic proportions, prepared in Balquhidder's domestic kitchen by Martin Bosley.
What we ate: With eight courses (plus canapes), anticipation for what honeyed delight was next was the theme of the night, justifying the title of 'Bee Prepared'. Honey is a romantic ingredient, its ability to capture the essence of the environment from which it originated – the terroir if you will – provides ample inspiration for a chef like Martin Bosley. The challenge was obviously how to create eight different courses without uniform sweetness, one that Martin tackled with bold use of citrus, salt, vinegar and 'umami' horseradish.
Buttermilk and Honey Bread, Churned Butter
Zany Zeus Ricotta, Honeycomb, Hazelnuts, Toasted Sourdough
Domaines Schlumberger Les Abbes Pinot Blanc 2012
Persian Salad of Oranges, Almonds, Honey and Goat's Milk, Pickled Balquihidder flowers.
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2012
Caramelised Moki, Bee Pollen, Cauliflower Puree, Rosemary
Rod MacDonald One Off Chardonay, 2014
Salt Baked Potato, Horseradish Panna Cotta, 65/65 Egg Yolk, Wild Rocket Purée, Apple Cider and Honey Vinegar
Esk Valley Verdelho 2011
30 Hour Lamb Shoulder, Honey Glazed Root Vegetables
Ogier Cotes du Rhone, 2013
Honey Cheesecake, Honey and Orange Blossom Ice Cream, Roast Tamarillo, Candied Bread
Brookfields Indulgence Viognier 2014
Chocolate Dipped Honeycomb, Sea Salt.
Hawke's Bay Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C) is back again next summer. For more information visit www.fawc.co.nz. For more information on the talented Culy family, visit their site www.homebasecollections.co.nz. For Beagle's Bees Honey, visit their Facebook page.