Savour­ing Cen­tral Otago

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By SUE FEA

Saf­fron owner and Ar­row­town chef Pete Gawron oozes en­thu­si­asm for all things food, so it is no sur­prise his lat­est cook­book The Taste of Cen­tral Otago is re­ceiv­ing some wellde­served in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion. It has just won Best Cook­book in New Zealand in the Gour­mand World Cook­book Awards. Gawron’s sec­ond tome is a de­light­fully pre­sented book, recipes in­ter­spersed with stun­ning pic­tures of blos­som, stone cot­tages and dra­matic gorge views, sweep­ing scorched tus­sock land­scapes and trees groan­ing with sum­mer fruit. Gawron ar­rived back from a 21st birth­day treat trip to Nepal, trekking up to 5400m to view Ever­est with daugh­ter Chelsea, to an­other high – the news of his win. ‘‘They even in­vited me to the awards cer­e­mony in Lou­vre, Paris. I said ‘is this for real?’. I’m pretty happy with it,’’ he said. Fol­low­ing on from his pop­u­lar 2007 cook­book, Saf­fron, Food from the Cen­tral Otago Heart­land, the colour­ful former Aussie is back with an­other stun­ning salute to the pro­duce of the re­gion he has long since called home and is im­mensely passionate about. In the four years since his first book, his dishes and cook­ing have pro­gressed. ‘‘The pub­lish­ers ap­proached me to write an­other book on what spins my wheels in a culi­nary sense, cast­ing the net fur­ther to cap­ture the orig­i­nal­ity of the area. ‘‘Let’s face it, if you live in Cen­tral Otago you’ve got to em­brace the sea­sons. They em­brace us and our menus re­flect that.’’ Gawron is def­i­nitely one of life’s great en­thu­si­asts, liv­ing life to the max. On any given win­ter or early spring morn­ing Gawron can usu­ally be found crank­ing in a few turns on the slopes of Coronet Peak. It’s a reg­u­lar es­cape in his favourite alpine play­ground, set­ting him up to start a long day in the kitchen at his suc­cess­ful Ar­row­town restau­rant, Saf­fron, which he opened 14 years ago. He also owns neigh­bour­ing Pesto and The Blue Door. Gawron’s love and deep at­tach­ment to Cen­tral Otago in­fuses ev­ery­thing he does, whether it’s in the restau­rant kitchen serv­ing up his sig­na­ture dishes or pulling up a chair to chew the fat with out-of-town­ers. He is known for his in­no­va­tions. Long be­fore en­ergy drinks and ‘‘V’’ were in vogue, Gawron was among the first in New Zealand to im­port guarana berries from South Amer­ica. His real fruit smooth­ies with guarana served up at his Jazz Bar take­away out­let in Queen­stown’s Camp Street in the early-1990s were leg­endary. Guarana is a trop­i­cal berry that is high in guara­nine, a chem­i­cal sub­stance with sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics to caf­feine. Gawron can of­ten be spot­ted out for­ag­ing for fungi, fruit and berries in the wild while out on a run. His new cook­book ‘‘sim­ply sings Cen­tral Otago’’, and re­veals an ar­ray of food that daz­zles on the plate and awak­ens the senses. There are more than 75 recipes and mag­i­cal im­ages by Aaron McLean and within it Gawron shows how he trans­forms lo­cal pro­duce into de­li­cious, art­fully pre­sented dishes. 3 rash­ers good-qual­ity, dou­ble-smoked ba­con, finely diced

Otago fan: Saf­fron owner Pete Gawron (right) chats to Wakatipu res­i­dent Jilly Jar­dine in the garden. Sad­dle of South­land lamb, filled with ba­con, savoy cab­bage and lo­cal white truf­fle In­gre­di­ents: 50 g but­ter

onion, diced

1 clove gar­lic

3 cups Savoy cab­bage, finely sliced

very small sprig each of rose­mary and thyme sea salt to taste a good turn of the pep­per mill 2 or 3 good-sized truf­fles, finely sliced

cup panko bread­crumbs, browned in the oven un­til very golden 1 sad­dle of lamb, boned, any ex­cess fat care­fully re­moved 50g but­ter SERVES 4-6

Sad­dle up: Sad­dle of South­land lamb, filled with ba­con, savoy cab­bage and lo­cal white truf­fle.

Stuff­ing Heat a sturdy fry­ing pan, add the but­ter, then saute´ the onion, gar­lic and ba­con. Add the cab­bage and cook for five min­utes over a low heat un­til the cab­bage has wilted, stir­ring con­stantly. Add the rose­mary, thyme, salt and pep­per, and the truf­fle, then re­move from the heat.

Fi­nally add the toasted bread­crumbs. Al­low to cool. Lamb sad­dle Pre­heat the oven to 180C. Lay the sad­dle, skin side down, on the bench­top. Place the stuff­ing along the cen­tre of the lamb and roll up firmly. Tie at 5cm in­ter­vals with butcher’s twine. Heat a large oven­proof fry­ing pan and add the but­ter, al­low­ing it to froth. Add the rolled sad­dle to the pan and brown. When the skin is golden, place the pan in the oven. Cook for about 25 min­utes. Rest the lamb for five min­utes some­where warm be­fore carv­ing.

Sec­ond book: Pete Gawron’s lat­est, The Taste of Cen­tral Otago.

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