A neat part of blogging is the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded companies. I've been friends with Regal Salmon for a while now (whose salmon products I adore), and so when they approached me about touring the beautiful Marlborough region and checking out the place that supplies their world-class salmon (literally the best!), it was a big fat yes.
Marlborough - ridiculously photogenic by air
Marlborough is a region at the North-Eastern tip of the South Island of New Zealand. I hadn't been before, but was aware it was a beauty of a spot known for its endless vineyards, rolling mountains and of course the iconic and uber picturesque Marlborough Sounds. The Sounds are quite magical - they're a sprawling network of maze-like islands and penisulas dotted some 4000 square kilometres off the coast. Arriving and departing by air proved a fabulous introduction to area - welcome to Marlborough, here are the Sounds and here are the vineyards.
The Kings of Salmon...
As a nutritionist I talk a lot about eating food. However, over the last few years I've become more and more interested in the origin of our food too. Where does it come from? Who looked after it? What were their values? So a few steps before it actually winds up on our plate.
In New Zealand the only salmon we farm is King salmon. While this makes up 0.06% of the worlds farmed salmon population (Atlantic salmon is far more dominant), little old NZ currently supplies just over 50% of the King salmon load to the world. Pretty impressive, especially since not all salmon are regarded as equal - this type is heralded as the kingpin of all salmon, famed for being a culinary superstar with it's high oil content, which contributes to its buttery texture and flavour - the kind of salmon that melts in your mouth. It's also one of the most naturally rich sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are well documented for their anti-inflammatory effects, and role in aiding brain, heart and joint health - the "superfood" of the fish world.
We took a boat ride across the Marlborough Sounds, and docked up at one of the salmon farms for a tour. They have a huge environmentally-focused practice to farming, committed to sustainability and preserving the pristine Marlborough Sounds.
...and the masters of the Sauvignon Blanc
The Marlborough region is synonymous (and also world famous) with Sauvignon Blanc wine. Both the soil and climate (hot sunny days and cool nights, which extend the ripening period of the vines) create ideal growing conditions of the grape variety, contributing to it being New Zealand's largest wine growing region. It's not hard to believe - the vineyards really are endless, with sauvignon blanc vines dominating. There's also a number of organic vineyards, where no syntethic chemical pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers are allowed to be used within the vineyard. Instead wine producers skilfully work with a deep understanding of ecological processes, given the mass crops, to produce a wine that in many ways is a true expression of its surroundings.
It wouldn't be a tour of Marlborough without checking out a few beautiful vineyards. A favourite was the beautiful Cloudy Bay, one of NZ's iconic vineyards, who are (world) renowned for their sauvignon blanc. We were treated to a wine tasting in their cellar and had a perfectly executed crash-course into the different types of wine and theory of wine making. The buildings were gorgeous, all covered in vines.
A festival to celebrate Marlborough...
Our stay in Marlborough timed with their annual Wine and Food Festival, New Zealand's longest running wine festival. There were cooking demonstration with Regal salmon, beautiful local food, and of course wine from all of the surrounding vineyards - all situated in the middle of an actual vineyard. It was a gloriously sunny day, and there was this one gelato stall that were selling a manukau honey hokey-pokey ice cream that had sticky honey tossed amongst beads of hokey pokey - yes, this is a health food blog, but it made my heart sinnnng. There was no time to take a photo, it was too yummy.
Beautiful plates and sustainable cuisine.
On our last eve we dinned at a beautiful restaurant called Arbour. Their menu is seasonal, with a focus on supporting and celebrating local producers - the food gives you a true taste of the Marlborough region. I adored their plating - here is the chocolate torte with summer berries, figs and honey ice cream.