What impressed me the most when I photographed TRENZ in Queenstown this year was the food and wine. Local caterer Flying Trestles was hired to feed 1100 exhibitors, media and buyers lunch and tea breaks throughout the four day international tourism showcase. Divine looking salad platters such as wild rice, fennel and hazelnut or tomato, bocconcini and eggplant were complemented by hot dishes of venison denver leg, kumara and lamb pies, blue cod, and more. All washed down by fine New Zealand wine (mostly from Central Otago). For dessert huge cake stands were festooned with tiny chocolate mousse cups, lemon tarts, lamingtons or miniature meringues. Lavish lunchboxes including Mediterranean salad, Turkish rolls, sushi, locally made Patagonia chocolates and Phoenix organic juice were provided one day when the vistors were taken on "famils" with the Queenstown tourism operators. Even the muffins at morning coffee provided a mouth full of excitement.
At a regular TRENZ social event the Regional Rendevous, the country's regional marketing agencies put their best foot forward presenting wines by Quartz Reef (including the fab Methode Traditionelle), Peregrine, Akarua, Astrolabe, Gibbston Valley, Mt Difficulty and Two Paddocks (complete with Sam Neil), Te Kairanga and Te Whau. Among the many pass-around foods were whitebait fritters from the West Coast and shavings from whole rounds of Balfour cheese from Gibbston Valley Cheese.
At tea breaks professional chefs from luxury operators Touch of Spice, Millbrook, Fiordland Lodge, The Spire Hotel,Whare Kea Lodge, Sofitel Queenstown, Azur and Matakauri Lodge put on cooking demonstrations for eager viewers who then got to sample the meals. The menus included Dale Gartlands' (Matakauri Lodge) Aoraki salmon, crayfish tortellini, scampi and chervil dressing and a Kiwiana intepretation of NZ by Sadie Richens (Millbrook) with the dessert called Hokey Pokey pavalova islands.
On the exhibition floor the Prime Minister and his entourage were handed out Roxborough dried apricots by the Central Otago operators. There was a new exhibit from Zealong Tea, the Waikato organic tea operation and a move to the national stage for Zest Food Tours now touring in Auckland as well as Wellington. Bon apetite New Zealand!