April 2010

  • Seared Venison Back Strap recipe from Al Brown, April 2010

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    Al’s venison 'golden rule' is this: when cooking the finer cuts of venison such as the fillet or the back strap, never over-cook. Venison is extremely lean and should never be cooked more than medium, otherwise it will render the meat dry and grainy! Now try Al’s delicious recipe…

    Seared Venison Back Strap with Mushroom Fricassee,
    Buttered Swede, Cherry Relish and Truffle Oil.

    Serves 8 as a Main course

    Step 1. Cherry Relish


    1kg Frozen Cherries (thawed & de-pipped)
    2/3 Cup Sugar
    ½ Cup Sherry Vinegar
    2 tsp Mixed Spice
    1 Tbsp Garlic (Minced)
    ½ Cup Shallots (Minced)
    - Salt & Pepper to season.

    Method……Place all the ingredients, except the salt and pepper, in a suitable heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until reduced into a jam-like consistency. Cool then taste and season with Salt and Pepper accordingly. Refrigerate, will keep indefinitely.

    Step 2. Buttered Swede


    1kg Grated Fresh Swede
    100gm Butter
    1 ½ Cups Chicken Stock
    12 Fresh Sage Leaves
    - Salt and Pepper

    Method… . In a saucepan over low heat, place the grated swede, butter, chicken stock and sage leaves. Mix together then place the lid on the saucepan. Keep on low heat and stir every 5 or so minutes. Remove the lid after 20 minutes and finish cooking. It’s ready when all of the stock and butter has been absorbed in to the grated swede and it’s soft through the bite.
    Season with salt and pepper then cool and refrigerate until required.

    Step 3 Mushroom Fricassee


    75gms Butter
    - Cooking Oil
    250gm Shitake Mushrooms (stalks removed)
    250gm Portabella Mushrooms (rough chopped)
    250gm Oyster Mushrooms
    250gm Button Mushrooms
    ½ cup Shallots (minced)
    2 Tbsp Garlic (minced)
    2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme (Fine chop)
    3 Tbsp Fresh Sage (Fine chop)
    - Salt & Fresh Black Pepper

    Method………In a large saucepan add the butter and some cooking oil. Place on high heat then add all the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the mushrooms out for 20 or so minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid has been full absorbed. Season with Salt and Pepper and keep warm until required or refrigerate.

    Step 4 Cooking , Plating and Serving


    1.5kg Venison Back Strap (Fillet or similar)
    1.5 Tbsp Fresh Sage (Fine chop)
    1.5 Tbsp Fresh Thyme (Fine chop)
    - Salt & Fresh Black Pepper
    - Cooking Oil
    - Buttered Swede
    - Mushroom fricassee
    - Reduced Beef stock (demi) or Gravy
    - Cherry Relish
    - Truffle / Porcini oil (optional)

    Method…….Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. For the venison, remove any visible silver skin and cut the back strap into two pieces. Rub a little oil over the venison and liberally dust with the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper.

    Heat up a skillet or oven-proof pan on high heat. Add a little cooking oil, then carefully add the two bits of venison. Sear on all sides until golden, then place in the oven to finish cooking. It should take between 5 and 10 minutes oven time and be medium rare to medium in doneness. Remove and rest for another 8 – 10 minutes or so.

    While the venison is resting, heat up the buttered swede, mushroom fricassee and gravy.

    To plate, divide the buttered swede into the centre of pre-warmed plates. Slice the venison and top the swede with 3 or 4 pieces. Spoon the mushroom fricassee over and around, likewise the gravy. To finish drizzle a little truffle oil over each plate and add a dollop of cherry relish. Serve Pronto with generous amounts of red wine!

    Blogger's note: Al doesn't have a photo of this delicious dish, so if you make it, please take a photo and send it to me at anna@poronui.com, and I'll upload it.

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  • Interview with Val Atkinson

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    I still remember my very first fish - two little bluegills - caught in 1954 with a worm, a cane pole and a bobber. I was so excited I rushed home and my father - who was a serious amateur photographer - took my picture. Later I would visit the local hardware store in Zanesville Ohio and study the fly fishing equipment. Even though I really understood very little about it, somehow I knew instinctively I wanted to fly fish. I had no one to teach or show me, as my parents didn't even like to eat fish let alone catch them! I finally bought a cheap fly rod, and not knowing any better, attempted to thread the thick floating fly line through the eye of the fly. Pretty funny. No one had mentioned that I needed a leader to connect the two.

    I eventually figured it out and caught my first trout at the age of 12 in the Wissahickon Park outside Philadelphia where hatchery trout were stocked. My first wild trout also came from Pennsylvania- a mountain stream called Penn’s Creek, at the age of 15. It was a Brown trout about 13 inches long caught on a Yellow Sally and a St Croix glass flyrod. I can still see it clearly in my mind's eye.
    I didn't start photography until I went to art school, however my father was very serious about photography and I was exposed to it from an early age. Fishing and photography actually go very well together, and the secret is in knowing when to put down the rod and pick up the camera.

    At art school I spent five years studying illustration, fine art and photography. At one point I attended a seminar about how to make money from selling stock photography. They said 'find a niche and fill it', meaning find something you feel passionate about, and work to become the master in that area. I had always loved to fish and so I combined my two passions –fly fishing and photography.
    One of my first trips was on a camping/fishing adventure with some friends, and I documented the entire trip in black & white. Because I had been to art school and learned about color and content and composition, and because I had my own darkroom and had taken Ansel Adams classes, I could make beautiful black & white prints that were well composed and told the story of our adventure. The magazines had never seen anything quite like these prints and they purchased everything. It was amazing. The light bulb came on in my head and I thought this is what I want to do and it feels natural.

    Brown Trout Fly Fishing at Poronui
    I worked for Frontiers International Travel for 18 years as their staff photographer shooting the many sporting destinations they represent. They have sent me to 29 countries- some of them many times over. They are all fantastic and there's not a single destination I wouldn't return to in a heartbeat. The people and the culture combined with a variety of scenery and fish all come together to make this world a wonderful place to explore. Those were wonderful years.

    Patience and anticipation are important aspects of any good outdoor photographer. Sometimes you must wait for hours or days for the right things to come together, other times you need to be able to anticipate when exciting elements are going to coincide. My most famous image, the ‘jumping mullet’, was taken in the Seychelles as a school of hundreds of mullet spooked by a shark or barracuda came porpoising in and out of the water right at him. I had my camera around my neck -- where it usually resides -- and time only to point and shoot two frames. The mullet came right around and past me in about three seconds flat. The amazing thing is that images were sharp and well-composed.
    You just have to anticipate when things might happen and be ready to act fast. These things, combined with a certain amount of technical knowledge and skill, go a long way to being successful. My single tip is just keep shooting with truth, adventure and passion. The magic will come.

    When I'm on the river I start off early in the morning to make sure I catch lhe light just right with a low sun angle and maybe some mist on the water. I have all my tools (camera, lenses and fishing rod and reel in a backpack ready for action. Usually there's no hatch as the water is still cold, so I shoot pictures for a couple hours until the sun gets higher and the water warms often producing a hatch of some sort. I then exchange the camera for the rod and go fishing. If something spectacular happens my camera is never far away - it's in my backpack along with other essential gear. You just have to be disciplined. And do the right thing at the right time. But I always fish first!

    I guess that makes me a true fishing addict. I've loved to fish all my life. My mother used to say I'd rather fish then eat when I didn't show up for dinner. But as I get older I do find that my photography is starting to transcend the fishing. But only slightly, as the two go very well together. Ernest Hemingway once said “It's better to be a writer who fishes than a fisherman who writes”. That's the same way I feel about photography. I guess I am a true fishing/photography addict. I'm always either shooting pictures or fishing.

    One of my two favorite fish would be the brown trout. I love the challenge of sight fishing - meaning I like to spot my quarry first before casting. It's like stalking and hunting. You are searching and searching - then you spot the fish and quickly must decide how to approach and cast for him before you spook him. It's exciting! And of course Brown trout are very beautiful, they come in so many different color combinations and live in sublimely beautiful locations, like the stunning rivers on Poronui in the North Island of New Zealand. New Zealand is one of my favourite places to fish, and I visit Poronui as often as I can. The warm welcome i get there makes it feel like a second home, and i never fail to feel inspired by the majestic wilderness of the property and the clarity of the night sky – so many stars!

    Val with a rainbow he caught at Poronui

    I guess deep down what motivates me is the beauty and solitude of nature. It is my sincere hope my imagery will help others share the passion and magic I feel for these special places I photograph. That my viewers will also share the romance and help to cherish, respect and protect what wilderness remains in this world, and actively resist the greed that flourishes and threatens. This success would help to realize another dream of mine - that our grandchildren will see these same places one day in the future and find them as lovely and pristine as they are today.

    More information about Val can be found on his website www.valatkinson.com. Val will be at Poronui in November 2010 to host an exclusive Photography Weekend. Details can be found here or contact us by email with any questions.

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  • How Brown and Rainbow Trout found their way to Poronui, April 2010

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    The Brown Trout found its way from the United Kingdom.  

    During the nineteenth century many unsuccessful attempts were made to bring brown trout out to the antipodean colonies of Australia and new Zealand from the United Kingdom. Eventually a shipment of moss and ice-packed trout ova, from the Itchen and the Wye streams in England, survived a trip to Tasmania. The eggs of these Tasmanian fish were successfully transported to New Zealand, where they were raised in a Masterton hatchery by the Wellington Acclimatisation Society.

    In 1878 the first and only recorded brown trout liberation took place at the bridge crossing on the Taharua Road. As no other trout have ever been released into the Taharua, it is a commonly held belief that the brown trout found here at Poronui are now the purest strain of brown trout in the world. Their original English home streams have been over-fished and re-stocked many times over the last century.

    A series of rapids just before the Taharua flows into the Mohaka ensures our Poronui brown trout remain pure and don't stray far from home!

    The Rainbow Trout Arrived a Little later!  

    The Mohaka rainbow trout have a more diverse history, as there have been many releases into this long river over the years. The first rainbow trout were brought to New Zealand as ova from California and hatched into specially built ponds in the Auckland Domain (a plaque there still commemorates the release).

    Auckland weather proved too warm for rainbow fingerlings and the population started to decline. Survivors were rushed to a specially built hatchery near Putaruru in the Waikato, where they thrived and formed the basis of future rainbow trout liberations. They were first released into Lake Taupo in 1883, and the nearby Mohaka River soon after.

    Today, the catch and release policy and the management of fishing pressure ensures that the trout population at Poronui is healthy and robust. The Taharua, Mohaka and other nearby rivers regularly yield their wily trout – to the delight of Poronui guests.

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  • Magnificent Sika Trophy, April 2010

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    Pat Stratton took a magnificent sika stag this week while hunting at Poronui. The huge stag scored 195 Douglas score and is yet to be scored SCI. Pat’s stag is the largest to be taken on Poronui for several years. Pat was guided by regular Poronui guide Neil Philpott. Well done Pat and Neil on a great trophy!

    Pat Stratton sika hunting at Poronui New Zealand April 2010 

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  • Kai Waho first hand, April 2010

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    Driving the well worn and rugged 4WD track to Tamau Pa set the scene for the visit. By the time we arrived at the waharoa, or entrance to the Pa, we felt like we had reached wilderness. The landscape is stunning – vast sub alpine shrub lands surrounding the deeply incised canyon, cut by the sparkling Ripia River.

    Staying at Tamau Pa with Tom was a special experience even though we already knew him well and understood the background to the Kai waho experience. Kai waho can be translated as 'outdoor cuisine' but the experience is way more than just food. It is about the connection with the land and how to live with what the land offers. The respect shown to Tuwharetoa ancestors is significant and tends to put things into perspective.

    Sam (9) and Georgia (7) had a ball. Sleeping in a comfortable whare without electricity was an experience in itself - and that was before the possum visited during the night and Tom’s “wild” pig came for eleven’s the next day. Sam and Tom went for an early morning hunt - though if they were talking as much throughout the hunt as they were when they got back, the Sika deer were in no danger! Tom’s “sneaking like a ninja” tactics impressed Sam, although 'puffing like a train' might have been a better description by the time they had climbed back up out of the Ripia. Georgia slept in and then enjoyed a bush walk after the sun finally broke through the mist, before feeding the “wild pig” some bread.

    Spending time with Tom at Tamau Pa is fantastic fun, with plenty to laugh about. Beneath the humour Tom is incredibly good at sharing the history of the Tuwharetoa people and their customs and practices - particularly in relation to the collection and preparation of food, which was so significant to Maori survival. It made quite an impression. Sam said “Tom was a great guy who always had a trick up his sleeve for everything”. He was not wrong there! We all had fun, shared an incredible experience and wanted to learn more.

    Kai Waho experience with Tom

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  • Tracking Study - Stags on the Move, April 2010

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    After months of inactivity as stags enjoyed the summer bounty provided at Poronui, the basic urges that go with the rutting period have provided motivation for some to pack up and travel to other areas. The seven stags carrying radio tracking collars had been very sedentary during the summer as they put on condition and grew out velvet antlers. Four of the seven, however, moved quickly to leave the property as soon as the cooler weather signaled the arrival of autumn and the rut.

    One stag moved an incredible 12.5 kilometres to find an area where he obviously felt more confident of keeping a bunch of hinds for himself. At this stage we can only speculate as to why the stags move as there are certainly plenty of hinds on Poronui. We should get a clearer picture of stag movement and behavior over the next two years – as long as they don’t get shot that is!

    It will be fascinating to determine whether these movements are consistent from year to year or whether they change as the stags become older and potentially more dominant over other animals. One thing that is already very clear though is the enormous contribution made to hunting on surrounding lands by stags living on Poronui during the summer. It is clear that the Poronui grass is important to stags who ultimately move out to a very large area on neighbouring lands. 

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  • Big Stag Success!

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    The 2010 rut has been characterized by some incredible action with tremendous trophies being taken during the past month. The rut started early this year and there are still stags moaning and fighting even though we are now midway through April. Guss Congemi took a monster with bow after guide Ian Lowe did a great job roaring it in out of the fog to within 30 metres. Gill Moyle’s stag was also a ripper, after a great hunt through the eucalypts.

    Gill Moyle Red Stag 409 at Poronui

    While the red stag rut is slowly coming to an end, the Sika are now in full voice. Their high pitched roar has been echoing around the valley for some now but is currently rising to fever pitch. The clash of antlers is a common occurrence as aggressive stags fight over hinds. The exceptional growing season experienced at Poronui over the summer seems to have contributed to the action, with there seemingly being more stags than ever throughout the property.  

    Guss Congeni Red Stag 410

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  • Al Brown at Poronui

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    There is nothing Al Brown of 'Hunger for the Wild' and Logan Brown Restaurant likes more than gathering his own food from the wild - truly organic. He is also clever at choosing the right place. Al was joined at Poronui - the location for his next Cuisine Magazine article - by Kieran Scott, photographer and Tamara West, Style Editor for Cuisine Magazine.  The Safari Camp was just perfect and provided the right atmosphere for his delicious game dishes. Buy the magazine to see Al cooked up!

    Safari Camp at Poronui with Cuisine Magazine

    Safari Camp at Poronui with Cuisine Magazine

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To discriminating anglers, Poronui is an historic fly fishing lodge where they go fishing for superb NZ brown and rainbow trout in pristine waters.

To sportsmen, Poronui is a supreme hunting lodge where they can hunt majestic deer in a hauntingly beautiful landscape. To others, Poronui is the ultimate luxury wilderness retreat, a place where they can relax or explore 16,000 acres of timeless wilderness.

To match the premier quality of the outdoor experience, Poronui offers three supremely comfortable accommodation options: the legendary Poronui fishing lodge, luxury camping down by the Mohaka river at Safari Camp or stately Blake House - the choice of celebrities, captains of industry and royalty.

Whether your passion is New Zealand fly fishing, hunting or hiking, our guests talk of the magic of Poronui – the breathtaking location, the genuine Kiwi warmth, and the camaraderie they share with guides and fellow adventurers.

Come and experience the legend of Poronui.

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