Saturday, August 1, 2015

Oamaru's Riverstone Kitchen + Driving To Omarama

Are you marveling at these NZ place names? I promise you they're real. On our second day in Oamaru we drove 15 minutes north for lunch at the splendid Riverstone Kitchen, NZ restaurant of the year in 2010.

The short, uncluttered menu focuses on local ingredients, with much of the produce from the family’s gardens. It is a wonderful showcase for what makes New Zealand cuisine special.

Special indeed. Art's beautifully spiced venison chili was piled into homemade tortillas, the garnish tasting like I'd just picked it from my own garden, and topped with a nice salsa.

My red cod (new fish for me) rested on an herbed melange of butter beans, lentils, and homemade sausage. Woo. Sublime.

I rarely order dessert, but look at this slow-cooked beetroot cake with cream cheese frosting and a puck of fresh cream. Dense and flavorful, we shared the second half today during our drive.

Much of Riverstone's food is grown on site

We spent Saturday morning at the Oamaru Hospital because, suddenly during breakfast, I had a persistent arc of flashing lights in my right eye and thought my retina might be tearing/detaching. I don't go to hospitals readily, but my Chicago ophthalmologist put the fear into me about this before we left for NZ: "Flashing, GO TO THE ER ASAP! No delaying."

(FYI for medical geeks from your severely nearsighted correspondent: Most retinal breaks, holes, or tears are not the result of trauma, but are due to preexisting factors such as high levels of myopia...)

So off we went. The hospital was three blocks from our campsite, likely the only time in four months I could make that claim. 
My favorite part of the experience was the tea lady, kind of like a Walmart greeter, who showed us into the ER cubicle and asked if we'd like tea or coffee while we waited for the doc to tend to a couple more urgent situations.The intake nurse took health insurance info and credit card, natch (I don't look forward to figuring this out with BC/BS, but will be curious to see cost).

All's well that ends well: by the time the doc got to me the flashing had stopped. He did a thorough exam and raved about the blood vessels in my eyes. Good enough for me.

We got a late start toward Omarama--which means "place of light"--traveling west from the coast along the Waitaki River. Pull out on this map to see just how narrow the South Island is at this point. In Omarama we're just about an hour south of the mighty Aoraki Mt Cook, part of the Southern Alps. (Trouble viewing click here.)

The rain cleared to reveal more achingly beautiful, and dry, central South Island scenery. There are very few people or roads here, lots of grazing and some viticulture.

When we arrive at the campground, snack attack: Whitestone Cheese's Lindis Pass Brie, named for this pass not far from our current location. Every day a gift here, more so with eyes to see it all clearly.

1 comment:

  1. Gah! That's what happened to one of my charges in Morocco and she had to have surgery. So happy to know it all worked to the good!! HRM