While working harvest at Mountford Estate in Waipara, New Zealand we ate well everyday. All the meat and vegetables that we ate on a daily basis came from the farm, straight to the table. There was fresh veal and lamb that had been killed prior to my arrival. And, the venison was planned for after my departure. I was okay with this and thought I had gotten off easy until they announced that it was time to kill the geese.
There were 25 loud squawking geese that we heard every morning, day after day. Despite their being annoying, they were well-fed, happy geese who lived a good life on the farm. But, on a calm Sunday, while waiting for the grapes to ripen, the harvest team took a trip for a couple of hours only to come back to 20 dead (decapitated) geese.
After a visit from Chef Thomas Hishon to Mountford Estate during my stay in New Zealand, I decided that a visit to Clooney Restaurant in Auckland was not to be missed. Considered one of the best restaurants in Auckland, Clooney has been a Restaurant Finalist in the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards and the Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards for 5 years running.
Clooney is a partnership between restaurateur Tony Stewart and Chef Des Harris, one of New Zealand's most prolific chefs. Chef Thomas Hishon, who had cooked for us at Mountford Estate, joined Clooney as Sous Chef 1-1/2 years ago, after training in the UK and Canada and today at the age of 25 oversees a staff of 12.
The dinner of dinners at Mountford Estate was for Winston's Birthday. Winston, Mountford Estate Winemaker CP Lin's seeing eye dog, turned 5. Each year on his birthday, CP organizes a large dinner party filled with great wines and food and this evening was no exception, from the guest chef to the food to the wines!