Five Nelson restaurants try the wild side

Last updated 12:32 26/07/2013
Kevin Hopgood
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
A CUT ABOVE: Chef Kevin Hopgood prepares a lamb dish in the kitchen at Hopgood's Restaurant in Nelson.

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Wild food connoisseurs and chefs the length of the country are participating in the Monteith's Wild Food Challenge, back for its 16th year.

Five Nelson region restaurants are among the 143 from across New Zealand seeking the $15,000 prize.

Each adventurous dish has been on the participant's menu throughout this month.

Head judge Kerry Tyack and his team of food-loving professionals are on the hunt to find the most captivating wild fare.

"I've been doing this for 16 years, but am still being introduced to new combinations of wild ingredients and beer and food matches that surprise and impress. Each year, it is more and more exciting to see how chefs push the culinary boundaries, challenging everything we think we know about combining beer and food," says Kerry.

It's not just the professional judges who pick the cream of the crop; diners also have the chance to get involved by visiting a participating challenge outlet and casting their vote for the People's Choice award.

The five Nelson entrants are:

Toad Hall - their dish is called Shanks my Deer Fallow. It features braised wild fallow venison shanks with a creamy parsnip puree. Accompanied with sauteed carrot, kumara and bacon lardons, and finished with a rich cherry jus.

Hangar58 - their dish is called The Flying Pig. It features wild pork belly, slow cooked with vanilla and cinnamon, served on crispy duck fat potatoes, baby cress, walnut, freeze dried blueberry salad, and blueberry dust.

The Riwaka Hotel - their dish is called Oma Rapeti. It features a rabbit dish consisting of kumara gnocchi stuffed with rabbit belly bacon and pumpkin on a parsnip and apple puree. Accompanied by crumbed foreleg of rabbit and rabbit stew with puff pastry. A side of pan-fried loin on sauteed cabbage with a cider and fennel sauce.

The Apple Shed Cafe - their dish is called Wildly Fresh Fish on Apple Cider and Ginger Risotto with Preserved Lemon and Wild Rocket Salsa and a Mini Herb Salad.

Hopgood's Restaurant - their dish is called Bunny Lays an Egg and Makes Some Bacon. It features wild rabbit loin wrapped in bacon with a braised rabbit pie, scotched game egg, carrots, malt and barley.

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