The folks in charge of planning the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s New Zealand trip made sure they didn’t miss one of the country’s biggest assets: its renowned Pinot Noir.
On Sunday, after attending church services and helping coach a kids’ mini rugby game, the couple stopped at the Amisfield Winery and Bistro in Arrowtown, near Queenstown, for a special wine tasting and lunch.
After a walk through the grapevines (the Duchess traded her signature stilettos for more grass-friendly wedges), the couple stopped to sample the Amisfield Pinot Noir 2011, which was recently given a 92 rating by Wine Spectator magazine and is currently the vineyard’s most famous wine. (Although it can be enjoyed now, it can also be saved for about four to five years: Maybe it would make a nice tipple for the grown-up guests at Prince George’s fifth birthday party?)
Lunch came next, and the chefs from the winery’s Lake Hayes bistro created a menu that mixed reliable standbys with new dishes. One of the perks of being royalty: People don’t just cook really well for you, they create menu items in your honor.
Highlights included ceviche made from local sea snails and blue cod that was garnished with ginger kimchi, venison from the country’s Fiordland region and fresh figs wrapped in the bistro’s house-cured pancetta.
We got the recipe for the beet-cured salmon appetizer, which is one of the restaurant’s most popular starters. Because the salmon isn’t cooked, the success of this dish will depend on using the freshest, highest quality fish that you can find. Make it for your next cocktail party — and be sure to tell your guests that they’re eating it in royally good company.
Amisfield Beet-Cured Gravlax
2¼ pounds of salmon side or fillet
6 tbsp. sea salt
6 tbsp. brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 bunch of dill
2 large beets, cooked, peeled and thinly sliced
For pickled cucumber:
½ tbsp. kosher salt
6 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
For dill cream:
½ cup creme fraiche
½ cup cream
1 bunch of dill, chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 oz. salmon caviar
1. Two days ahead before you plan to serve it, pat the salmon dry and place on a baking tray. Mix together the sea salt, brown sugar and lemon zest.
2. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the salmon. Place one bunch of dill on top, then layer the beets over the dill. Wrap in plastic film and place another tray on top and weight down with a rock or brick. Leave in the fridge for 2 days; the salmon should become slightly firm.
3. The next day, peel the cucumber and discard the skin. Peel the flesh of the cucumber into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler, discarding the seeds, and place in a bowl.
4. Season with the kosher salt and leave for 2 hours, then discard liquid. Add the vinegar and granulated sugar and refrigerate overnight.
5. On the day you will serve the salmon, whisk together the cream and crème fraîche until thickened enough that it holds together on a spoon. Add the chopped dill and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Slice the two whole cucumbers on a slight angle. Thinly slice the salmon. Place each piece of salmon on top of a cucumber slice. Garnish with a dollop of dill cream (about 1 tsp.) and top with salmon caviar.