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On checking the weather forecast last Tuesday, it promised heavy rain all week and then clearing up on Friday. And as Dale Depenning and his team from ASPEC Construction, together with wives and partners, rolled in Friday morning for a weekend of strategic planning - inter mingled with fun adventures - the skies started to clear.
As soon as the first work session was over it was time to ‘get one's eye in’ on the Sporting Clays Range. Some tricky shots were pulled off with Shannon and Mike vying for hottest gun.
A sumptuous dinner in the Wine Cellar was a fitting way to complete the day. Even reading the menu is enough to make the juices flow:
Warm sun and blue skies got Saturday off on the right foot, giving everything a chance to dry out. More planning work was being tackled by Dale and his team while at the same time a cooking class with Poronui Head Chef, Steve Carson was in progress in the Blake House Kitchen. It was knives to the ready with no time to spare - duck to be jointed, oranges to be filleted, jus to be tasted. Steve expertly guided the class to producing five dishes, three based on duck and two on Poronui Sika venison.
- Butter poached quail with micro green salad, pickled egg plant and field mushrooms drizzled with orange infused olive oil and vincotto.
- Smoked New Zealand lamb rack with wilted spinach, mashed potato, slow roasted vine-ripened tomatoes and rosemary jus
- Chocolate tart with raspberry sorbet
Culinary challenges were mastered and some were feeling quite confident, when Dale announced there were three modes of transport waiting outside to get to lunch - horses, quad bikes or mountain bikes - choose your mount! The challenge was set. Some set off with excitement and expectation, while for others it was a case of fear and trepidation.
- Confit duck leg served over white bean and bacon ragout with cherry jus
- Duck breast served over kumara, wilted bok choy with red wine jus
- Duck salad with orange, green leaf, cherry tomatoes with orange mustard vinaigrette
- Poronui venison with pumpkin, spinach and juniper berry jus
- Gin-poached Poronui venison with chorizo and creamed spinach, roasted cauliflower mash and red wine jus.
Suffice to say the journey was successful with everyone arriving at the Safari Camp by the Mohaka River with stories to tell, and a healthy glow as a result of the crisp high country air. Loin of pork cooked on a spit over the open fire was the highlight for lunch, if a bit of a logistical challenge for the Poronui team. Well done team, the mobile spit will now be added to the Poronui repertoire.
It was then back on the trusty steeds to return to Blake House for pre-dinner drinks. Over dinner at the Lodge and the odd glass of red wine many tales of the day’s adventures were recounted and new muscles discovered – a perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep.
Dale and Steve hatched a plan with Ben to hunt the wily Sika deer at first light. Congratulations Steve on an excellent shot and ‘bringing home the bacon’. The venison is hanging and will be with you shortly.
Following a leisurely breakfast it was time to bid farewell, with promises to share the many photos of the weekend! Thank you to Dale and the ASPEC Construction team for making a second visit to Poronui. Plans are already hatching for new adventures on your next visit!