Thursday, October 26, 2006

Labour Weekend at Millar Road

This is a really longggg post so you might want to grab yourself a drink.

Monday was Labour Day in New Zealand so we had a three day weekend. A couple of friends invited us to join them for a weekend in Hawke's Bay. The Hawke's Bay is known for it's many wineries and an abundance of outdoor activities such as hot air ballooning, art deco tours (pictured is the old Rothman's Tobacco Building), or a trek to see the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers.

We stayed at Millar Road which is described as "Seriously Stylish Accommodation" and it is. It's the kind of place I dreamed about having a honeymoon at. My wedding night was spent at a very average local motel which has since been turned into an old folks home. Perhaps hubby and I will return there one day!! I took one photo from outside of Millar Road but none of my other snaps did justice to the inside so you'll just have to check out the website. Also, I've not really gone public with my blog to the level where I am comfortable taking photos of food at restaurants.

Millar Road feels like it is situated in the middle of nowhere. The view from the cottage looks down a hill over vineyards and carries on to the sea. You can see rabbits running around and see sheep in the paddocks, and hear lots of birds warbling in the trees.

There are two cottages if you could call them that which have a two king sized bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. The kitchen is fully appointed with everything you might want to whip up a delicious meal. The open plan kitchen/dining living room has expansive views over the vineyards and there are candles on the dining table to set the mood if you're wanting a romantic dinner. The furnishing is contemporary and the cottage is decorated with local artwork in the form of paintings, cushions and handpainted bowls and

After we'd settled ourselves in we took a drive to Craggy Range vineyard and stopped in for a bite of lunch. Craggy Range is considered to be one of the premium wineries in New Zealand but from the service we received in the restaurant I wouldn't rate the place at all. The waitress who greeted us was surly, we were seated for what seemed like half an hour before we were even offered water, our wine didn't come until well after our breadbasket had arrived, the portions of our meals were teensy and the prices steep. Did we complain? No. It's not the kiwi way. Overall it was not a pleasant experience. Oh yeah - and my husband tricked me into eating flounder roe. Even the thought of it is making my nose crinkle in disgust. We didn't bother going to the tasting room but I suspect that most of Craggy Range's wine is priced at more than we would want to pay anyway.

On returning to Millar Road my friends and I went for a walk down the bottom of the hill and up over another hill expecting to get a closer view of the sea but unfortunately we were just a little bit closer to another hill and only marginally closer to the sea. My husband was determined to try and believe he was on summer vacation so he stayed behind for a dip in the pool. The water temperature was a mere 21 degrees C/ 70 degees F. Brrrr

For dinner we decided to stay in and make use of the self-service facilities at Millar Road so we swung by the supermarket and picked up some fixin's to cook on the BBQ - fillet steak , mushrooms, zucchini and red pepper to cook on the grill, green salad with tomatoes and fresh steamed asparagus. For dessert some orange flavoured Cadbury Snaps which are a blatant copy of Hershey's Swoops but delicious nonetheless.

Sunday dawned grey and drizzly which put aside any thoughts of lounging by the pool later in the day. Provisions for breakfast were supplied by the hosts of Millar Road. It was a pleasure to work in the kitchen which was equipped with the most stylish of accessories - including Scanpan frypans, quality knives, and a red KitchenAid toaster. We started off with homemade toasted muesli (granola) with Cyclops organic yoghurt together with dried prunes and peaches which had been poached and plumped to juicy fullness. To follow we had poached free range eggs, locally produced bacon from Holly Bacon Company, and locally made breakfast sausages from The Deli with assorted condiments. If we were still hungry there was toast and homemade marmalade. To drink - freshly squeezed orange juice.

You'd think that after a breakfast like that we wouldn't even need lunch but after driving around the Hawke's Bay we decided to stop in at a restaurant bar called The Loading Ramp which is where my girlffriend's niece works. The place had a nice casual atmosphere and a roaring fire which was welcome on such a grey day but the service was very slow and the food was somewhat average. We decided it was the curse of the Hawke's Bay. From the menu: chicken fettucini in a creamy tomato sauce; lamb shank and caramelized onion pizza; and crazy fries (a mixture of chunky cubes of potato, kumara and pumpkin)

Our next stop was Kim Crawford vineyards' cellar door where we sampled a selection of wines and liked them enough to purchase some. I bought a chardonnay, a pinot noir and a delightful riesling called Liebling which I liked as much for the label as the taste (the label had had pretty pink hearts on it). I am sure will make fine drinking on a sunny afternoon.

We went back to the cottage and lit the log fire as the afternoon was a bit chilly. We lolled about reading magazines until we decided it was time to eat again. Clive Hotel was recommended to us as being the closest restaurant to Millar Road. From the outside it didn't look like much but the d├ęcor was modern, the staff attentive and the food great - the curse had been broken. What we chose to from the menu: Scallops over puff pastry with smoked salmon, avocado and bacon; smoky squid over lemony bean salad; and fish of the day which was grouper. My girlfriend and I shared dessert which was a light lemon cheesecake served with drunken oranges and candied citrus peel. The guys just had coffee. Then it was back to Millar Road to watch the lights of Napier twinkle in the distance as we all flopped on the sofa and loosened our top trouser buttons after doing nothing much more than eating and drinking for two days. It was certainly a relaxing weekend and I look forward to visiting Millar Road again.


Lis said...

Finally! ha! Excellent post! I'm sorry about the dreary weather and even drearier eateries, but still - it sounded like a fabulous long weekend. I still can't get over the pictures on their website and if the "cottages" looked even 1/2 as pretty as the pictures then yes, I am very envious of your trip!

Hey.. whatsa "gannet colony" ?

Looking forward to Saturday! :D

Lis said...

And yes I am at work and yes I am goofing off while having my first "at work" cup of coffee. :P


Anonymous said...

well, with the exception of the two bad meals the weekend sounds perfect! glad you had a good time, and welcome back!


Deb R said...

Your photos are beeyoootiful! :-)

Morven said...

Gannets are a kind of seabird closely related to boobies!

Lis said...