CLICQUOT in the snow
Fizzing with fun... dish editor Sarah enjoys champagne and adventure
This year marked Clicquot in the Snow’s ninth year of creating a sparkling festival of winter fun in Queenstown. I was lucky enough to join the crew for three days of activities interspersed with sensational champagne and food in the south’s winter wonderland. Once I’d wrangled how to pack (how does one fit bulky woollies and crushable cocktail dresses into one relatively small suitcase?), I was happy to hand the reins over to the Clicquot team. And then, after a restorative brunch at Provisions café in Arrowtown, they handed them right back…
Our first foray was a half-hour husky sledding ride across the snowy terrain at Snow Farm in the Cardrona Valley, with the rest of the group and I in charge of each sled and its team of four dogs. I admit to more than a touch of nerves as one of my runners (Fish by name, racehorse by nature), strained, jumped and barked in the harness – and this was before we set off. But I needn’t have worried; Fish’s exuberance guaranteed me an exhilarating, but never dangerous, ride over the course.
The logistics were surprisingly simple, with no navigating required, and hitting the brakes was enough to bring us to a stop if needed. It was utterly fabulous.
Dinner at Aosta was the next highlight.
Ben Bayly and his team dished up a sublime sharing menu – add a crackling fire and stunning Veuve Clicquot champagne and this little pig was rolling around in mud. The dinner featured courses such as Flame-grilled Sardines with Cromwell Dried Cherries, Pickled Shaved Fennel and Pinoli (that’s pine nuts to you and me), stunning Buffalo Curd Tortellini, Shaved Paua, Kina Pappardelle (with fried leeks and unctuous terra sancta yolk), and Deer Milk ‘Mozzarella’ with Green Apple Granita.
The next day started bright and early with First Tracks on Coronet Peak. The potentially disruptive snow storm that was forecast was gratifyingly slow to appear, and once one negligible-vision run had been dealt with, the clouds parted and we whizzed down the freshly powdered slopes with glee. Happily invigorated and fatigued, we had plenty of time to rest before the dazzling Kathryn Wilson show hit the ‘big top’ at Jack’s
Point Clubhouse. The crowd bopped and boogied while sipping from flutes of Veuve as the models shimmied past in Wilson’s latest collection of fun, fashion-forward footwear.
Day three was all about the food as we gathered at Josh Emett’s Rātā for a feast of champagne-matched courses, kicking off with the outrageously good Warm Winter Bread with Caramelised Root Vegetable
Butter. Big Glory Bay Salmon followed, then Poached Chicken Terrine with Fiordland Crayfish,
Roast Canter Valley Duck with Cassoulet, and Caramel Poached Pear with Pecan Ice Cream and Vanilla Custard. The guests broke into welldeserved applause as Emett invited head chef Chris Scott out to take a bow.
After a small siesta, our last evening was spent sipping our final glasses of both rosé and yellow label Veuve Clicquot and enjoying a feast of nibbles at The Lodge Bar in the heart of Queenstown. We rolled back to the hotel, tired, replete and already filled with nostalgia for our Clicquot in the Snow adventure.
“We whizzed down the freshly powdered slopes with glee”
Who needs an ice bucket... Veuve champagne, a bracing sled ride and sensational food all add up to the perfect weekend for Sarah (bottom).