For our actual anniversary evening, Kay from A Culinary Experience, a fantastic Nelson B&B, booked us into Hopgoods which she said was _the _best place to eat in Nelson and if you can't trust a foodie's word, I don't know who you would listen to. She and her husband Joe eat out regularly in order to keep on top of the food scene here. In Nelson, restaurants close down and change hands more often that you would think so eating out and sampling food is a necessary evil. OK I wouldn't call eating out an evil at all, who am I kidding?
Kay had warned us that Nelson is a more casual sort of place. People don't get really dressed up here and walking into Hopgoods, it's unstuffy looking but still retains elements of fine dining with brown wooden chairs, white tablecloths and cute decorating touches. Kay warns us that the meals are a little on the small side here but since we've had some of the gorgeous Kikoranji blue cheese, apple and aged gouda back at the B&B, we're not as hungry as might have been so we opt to share an entree and have a main each. The menu is not strong on native New Zealand food although there are a couple of NZ items.
Smoked Marlborough Salmon with Greek style salad, hot feta croutons and lemon infused olive oil $19.50NZD
The entree, smoked Marlborough Salmon with Greek style salad comes out fanned on a plate, sashimi thick. We delve right in and are rewarded with a delicious taste sensation. The salmon is gorgeous, and the salad , although not one you usually see matched with salmon, is a delicious match for it with the creamy feta, sweet cherry tomatoes and salty black olives a not overly strong foil for the delicate salmon. The crispy feta balls are perfection and just what the dish needs.
Olive crusted lamb loin and slow cooked shoulder with herb mash, ratatouille and salsa verde $34.50
We're waiting quite a while for our mains, in fact the other trio of people staying at the B&B are waiting even longer. They waited 2.5 hours to receive their mains so I suppose in comparison ours is a relatively short wait. The Lamb arrives with 4 delicate slices of lamb loin on top of a ratatouille and some slow cooked lamb shoulder and a salsa verde. It's perfect. The shoulder is fall apart soft with a lovely sauce and the soft ratatouille matches the softness of the lamb shoulder. I offer to not swap this with my husband but he's smarter than that. I should probably learn how to act disgusted instead of looking so over the moon with happiness and food lust.
Pure Angus beef fillet with mushroom gratin, bacon rosti, organic carrots and truffle jus $35.50
Creamy mash $6
The beef with mushroom gratin is soft and delicious and comes on a bacon roesti with organic carrots. It is lovely although anything preceded by the lamb is going to look less stellar simply by comparison. Whilst the service may be a bit on the casual side, the food is absolutely serious.
Ricky, the special needs tufted capuchin
The next day we visited Natureland Zoo, Nelson's main zoo. Natureland was actually one of our original reasons for visiting New Zealand as we had seen an episode of Wild Vets on television and fallen in love with the special needs monkey there called Ricky, a tufted Capuchin. Although this is a food and travel blog I just had to share my excitement at meeting Ricky with you.
Ricky happy at having his tummy tickled
Allow me to briefly share Ricky's story. When he was only a few hours old his older brother who was at the time the youngest of the group, hurt Ricky very badly giving him brain damage. As a result Ricky has epilepsy and can't live with the other Capuchins as they would probably kill him. However what Ricky does have is a very gentle nature so that he can walk around the Zoo without harming anyone and can be carried like a baby.
He is incredibly well looked after getting daily baths and teeth cleaning, twice weekly massages and physical therapy sessions and walks. His favourite food is carrots and strawberry and banana Eskimoes (NZ sweets) and even though he is special needs, he knows exactly how to get his favourite treats.
We were very lucky indeed when Gail from Natureland hears that we have come all the way from Sydney so she brings him out and lets us play with him. Being a complete monkey lover this was one of biggest highlights of our New Zealand trip and I can't thank the people at Natureland enough for looking after Ricky so well and for letting us see him.
284 Trafalgar Street, Nelson, New Zealand
Tel: +64 **(03) 545-7191
Tahunanui Beach, Nelson
Tel: +64 (03) 548-6166