How often do we eat a meal, during which "Oh my God" is uttered far more than it ever has been in the bedroom?
I had just such a meal at the Millhouse Restaurant (Millbrook Resort in Queenstown, New Zealand)...
The journey from shaky Christchurch to Queenstown was in reply to an overwhelmingly insatiable desire for the salt caramel tart a foodie friend had told me about. I had been in discussions with Millbrook regarding the salt caramel tart and was promised that it would be prepared for me if I booked in and came down.
I was hungry.
Showing an unusual capacity for self control, I did not order three courses of salt caramel tart, but I did abandon the idea of an entrée, because I wanted to reach dessert with enough hunger left to fully—with reckless abandon—enjoy and appreciate every moment of the salt caramel tart.
My husband, however, is not a sweet tooth kind of guy, so he ordered the oysters for the entrée., which were beautifully prepared, and beautifully presented.
(I am assuming he was well aware that I would not be sharing a single molecule of my long awaited for dessert!)
For the main he ordered the lamb, which was again beautifully cooked and presented.
Visual appeal is a huge factor when dining out. First we must be aroused via the eyes, and then via the aroma, before we fully release ourselves into the taste experience. Yes, it is like sex...there are steps to be fully comprehended and appreciated. You can't rush it, you can't skip steps, certainly not when you are in a truly good restaurant.
Being a vegetarian can be limiting when it comes to dining, and it is not often I find myself getting gastronomically aroused, but when I saw the Blue Cheese Ravioli, I felt a certain excited anticipation rising! When it arrived it was not what I had imagined, it was more, it was a story on the plate, from the bed of paper thin overlapping slices of beet, to the salad leaves of the matching colour, roasted hazelnuts, scattered quarters of roasted baby beet, small coin sized baby beet chips, snow pea shoots, halves of yellow cherry tomatoes, and then the glory of the blue cheese ravioli. On slicing into the ravioli, which were perfectly cooked, the inner thick creamy blue cheese filling oozed out. The combination of blue cheese ravioli and beetroot is a perfect partnership.
It was only a year ago that I first tried blue cheese, and came to understand the unique flavour – and also came to understand why people adore this cheese! The blue cheese ravioli filling was not too strong, in fact the balance was perfect, any stronger and it would have overpowered everything on the palate, too subdued and it would have been an ordinary cheese filled ravioli…but this ravioli filling was the perfect balance for the rest of the dish.
On to the dessert, the very thing we had driven all the way to Queenstown for (my husband still thinks the weekend was a romantic getaway, and I don’t have the heart to tell him that the trip was all about my lust for a tart!)
The tart arrived at the table. A chocolate lined base, filled with salt caramel, topped with swiss meringue, and sitting atop a bed of apricots and a berry coulee. The apricots were intense, a perfect match to the rich sweetness of the tart. The berry coulee had a twang to it, but it sang a different note to the apricots, and it too was the perfect balance to the tart.
Eating the tart was one of those experiences where you know you are grinning like an idiot but you can’t help yourself. All you want to do is cry out “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
The wait staff were all friendly, and prompt, the environment was relaxed, and food arrived at the table at a good pace. Everything was cooked well, with the flavours carefully thought out, and each plate was presented to look as good as it tasted.
The menu prices were fairly standard for a good restaurant, and the whole meal, plus a glass of wine cost $134.