The Taste of Central Otago

The Taste of Central Otago is the name of a cookbook that I purchased at the restaurant, Saffron, in Arrowtown, New Zealand.

Our meal was spectacular there. I enjoyed a beet salad, followed by lamb with sweetbreads.

Even though the food was exquisite in its quality and presentation, it was not an upscale, stuffy dining experience. One would almost call it “pub-like.,” which I prefer.

When we were leaving, I spotted the cookbook for sale at the bar, and bought it on a whim.

Had I made time to actually look through the book, I might not have purchased it. Now that I’m home and perusing it, the recipes take me back to the many times I looked at my Charlie Trotter cookbook, called Meat and Game. I’ve not yet made anything from it, and never will. Everything is way too complicated!

The chef at Saffron, Pete Caron, and the author of this, his second cookbook, takes his food seriously. He’s a forager by nature, and chooses the farm-to-table approach, which makes sense with all that New Zealand has to offer.

But I had no idea how crazy involved his recipes would be in this cookbook. Like this:

Green Tea Creme Brûlée with Spirulina and Seaweed Biscotti and Crisp-Fried Lichen

Many of the proteins I have no access to as well, like Boer goat, mutton bird, red deer, butterfish, and Bendigo rabbit.

The book just isn’t for a home cook like myself. I don’t want to make Vichyssoise Spheres, or Cabbage Pearl Caviar, or Chamomile Foam, or Passionfruit Tissue with Mint Dust. Okay, you get the idea.

But I’m keeping the book, because looking through it reminds me of our lovely experience visiting New Zealand – especially the South Island. Otago is highlighted in the map below.

Most of the pages are gorgeous photographs from Otago, taken by photographer Aaron McLean.

If you want this book, I know it’s available on Amazon’s AU site.

By Published On: January 29th, 201837 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

37 Comments

  1. Ron January 29, 2018 at 8:11 AM - Reply

    New Zealand, especially South Island, is one of my favorite destinations. During my working years I was blessed to travel there (Invercargill) twice a year. Always spent a couple of extra days so I could explore.

    • chef mimi January 29, 2018 at 9:31 AM - Reply

      This was our one and only time, and what a delightful visit it was. So lucky for you to have been more than once!

  2. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso January 29, 2018 at 10:27 AM - Reply

    Very interesting. I visited NZ about 15 years ago, and as much as I loved the scenery, I can’t say I had any great culinary experiences (to put it mildly!), especially in the southern island. It’s good to know things have dramatically changed since! :)

    • chef mimi January 29, 2018 at 11:38 AM - Reply

      I think they went more gourmet about the same time as the UK!

  3. canelakitchen January 29, 2018 at 10:39 AM - Reply

    Sounds and looks really interesting and beautiful!

    • chef mimi January 29, 2018 at 11:38 AM - Reply

      Thank you!

  4. Jodi January 29, 2018 at 11:09 AM - Reply

    at least it is a beautiful memory :)

    • chef mimi January 29, 2018 at 11:39 AM - Reply

      Definitely! Crazy cookbook.

  5. anotherfoodieblogger January 29, 2018 at 11:13 AM - Reply

    You can think of it as your keepsake of your time there. :)

    • chef mimi January 29, 2018 at 11:39 AM - Reply

      Exactly! Thanks for reading.

  6. Greg Henry (@sippitysup) January 29, 2018 at 2:19 PM - Reply

    I have so many cookbooks I love that I’ll never cook from and that certainly doesn’t take away the joy. Have you looked at the Noma cookbook? Sheer inspirational beauty on every page, but there’s no way could I ever pull off even one small dish. But it’s fun to think I might… GREG

    • chef mimi January 29, 2018 at 8:21 PM - Reply

      Oh god no, i don’t want to look at it!

    • chef mimi January 30, 2018 at 6:48 AM - Reply

      No, I haven’t, and now I don’t think I really want to! It would be a wonderful experience to dine there…

  7. Tandy | Lavender and Lime January 29, 2018 at 11:07 PM - Reply

    Why on earth these books get published is beyond me. No home cook will ever try anything from it. I do like the cover photo though :)

    • chef mimi January 30, 2018 at 6:47 AM - Reply

      They must be more about ego – self-indulgent projects to show off with? No idea. But the restaurant was impressive.

  8. Jeff the Chef January 29, 2018 at 11:21 PM - Reply

    Are you sure you don’t want to make mint dust? it probably has magical properties!

    • chef mimi January 30, 2018 at 6:46 AM - Reply

      AArrrrggghhhh!!!

  9. cookingwithauntjuju.com January 30, 2018 at 9:25 AM - Reply

    A cookbook for me is sometimes more than the recipes but a history of the area I visited. I couldn’t make those recipes either – I have a French cookbook that is the same!

    • chef mimi January 30, 2018 at 1:03 PM - Reply

      Which cookbook? An old one or a modern French cookbook?

      • cookingwithauntjuju.com January 30, 2018 at 3:31 PM

        An old one – probably 30 years ago and in French. I needed a foreign language for my Masters Program and on a trip to France bought it. Mistake as everything sounded foreign – which it was :) I was taking conversational French and thought a French cookbook would help me. I have a number of modern ones and love them.

      • chef mimi January 30, 2018 at 5:00 PM

        Oh. Yikes!

  10. franflint61 January 30, 2018 at 9:58 AM - Reply

    I’ve visited New Zealand several times (South Island), in fact we left Christ Church the day before the big earthquake hit 7-8 years ago! I don’t mind complicated recipes but this cookbook looks a little but too complicated for me!

    • chef mimi January 30, 2018 at 1:02 PM - Reply

      I’m positive you could cook his recipes, but I’m not sure you would want to! Glad you missed the earthquake.

  11. kitchenriffs January 31, 2018 at 10:08 AM - Reply

    So many chefs seem to write for other chefs, so their books are hard for many of us to read and use. Fun to look at, though. :-)

    • chef mimi January 31, 2018 at 1:05 PM - Reply

      The book is about 90% photos, so it’s definitely fun to look at it. But I think you’re right.

  12. Bill February 1, 2018 at 9:41 AM - Reply

    Certainly on the someday maybe list of places we’d love to visit. How wonderful that you got the chance. We have family in several countries and we tend to end up there mostly, which is still pretty great. I too have some cookbooks that are more souvenir than anything, but it’s a house built of bookshelves.

    • chef mimi February 1, 2018 at 6:29 PM - Reply

      Well, traveling is still fun, whether you’ve already visited the country or not. I’ll never quit going to France!

  13. Loretta February 1, 2018 at 12:37 PM - Reply

    So envious that you visited New Zealand and brought back some memories. I wish we had when we were in Australia about 15 years or so ago. I doubt I’ll be able to make that journey now, long haul flights I cannot handle anymore.

    • chef mimi February 1, 2018 at 3:55 PM - Reply

      It was definitely a long flight. Longest I’ve even taken! worth it, obviously, but I understand.

  14. Gerlinde February 2, 2018 at 8:24 AM - Reply

    I have several of those books , New Zealand is definitely on my bucket list.

    • chef mimi February 2, 2018 at 8:33 AM - Reply

      It’s so worth it!

  15. David February 2, 2018 at 3:53 PM - Reply

    I have lots of dust in my house, but no mint dust. I need to remedy that, don’t I?

    • chef mimi February 2, 2018 at 3:55 PM - Reply

      Maybe mint dust will smell better than regular dust?!! Crazy.

  16. chezlerevefrancais February 3, 2018 at 10:33 AM - Reply

    I do love cookbooks and sometimes take them into a bath with a glass of wine, never intending to make the recipes so I get this! I love fab food but some dishes are just not worth trying to recreate!

    • chef mimi February 3, 2018 at 2:08 PM - Reply

      No, they’re definitely not!

  17. Frank Kraemer February 4, 2018 at 10:04 PM - Reply

    Charlie Trotter was one of my favorite chefs. I have all his books. I love his type of cuisine. You should try it. It’s easier than you think.

    • chef mimi February 5, 2018 at 7:04 AM - Reply

      I took my daughter to Chicago for her 18th birthday and we went to Charlie Trotter’s, where they layed out the welcome mat for her, quite unexpectedly. After the incredible meal, we got a private tour with him, and he even allowed photos in his kitchen. He pulled her aside for a pep talk, as she was just about to go to college, which was very cool. Although she ended up graduating phi beta kappa, summa cum laude!!! He seemed so kind, and I’ve been told since that he was. His premature death was very sad.

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