23/10 UPDATE: Congratulations Pacifica for winning the casual section with your dish!
Rebecca and Jeremy Rameka of Pacifica Restaurant have entered the Hawke’s Bay Signature Dish competition for the first time this year, so I dropped in to learn a little about their dish and foray into the regions competition. Jeremy is taking a firm stand on promoting local producers. “You can do fantastic things with local ingredients,
and this year the competition rules are closest than they ever have been to promoting Hawke’s Bay as a provenance.” says Rebecca. Using local ingredients is the basis for creating a regional signature dish. “The south west region of France is renowned for foie gras, everything is geese and ducks, pate and foie gras. Marseille is known for it’s bouillabaisse, that’s how the signature dish should be.” says Rebecca.
In previous years, I must admit I had mistaken the meaning of Signature Dish to be the hallmark of the restaurant or chef rather than a defining dish of the Hawke’s Bay region. With that in mind, this years 37 participating restaurants and cafe’s are vying for their dish to be awarded best in class for representing what is quintessentially Hawke’s Bay. With that in mind, I ask Jeremy about what’s going on the plate for the Pacifica Signature Dish. “It’s a vegetarian dish and will appeal to everybody that comes in. It is a ‘Tribute to Spring’ based on a dish that people come back to Pacifica for each year. It’s changed so many meat eater’s minds, even people who don’t like asparagus love this dish.” says Jeremy.
Pacifica’s menu includes exquisite choice in flavours and I’m reassured that although this dish isn’t something regulars normally order, once they have tried it as part of the tasting menu, the feedback is ‘it’s the most delicious of all the tasting items’. “We had a chef in from New York last week, that we created a special 15 course dinner for, and this was his favourite that he pointed out to us.” says Jeremy. “It’s delicate, rich and full of flavour but still quite neutral so it makes a great starter to any follow on dish.”
Soundtrack is Home, Land and Sea by Trinity Roots (Jeremy Rameka’s cousin is the Bass Player).
The Hawke’s Bay asparagus crop represents the beginning of spring and the white asparagus for this dish is sourced from local supplier Christina Schulz. ”She has five white asparagus tunnels on her property, each one labelled, each one reserved for different restaurants and areas, now that’s provenance. The green asparagus is from Janet & Judy at JJ’s Organics. These ladies have a boutique organic vegetable shop on their property on River Bend Road that supplies most of the vegetables used at Pacifica. The mushrooms come from both Te Mata mushrooms for the consommé (meaning rich stock) and from Hillcroft Mushrooms for the ragu utilising an oyster mushroom they grow. “We love to use small local growers who specialize in one or two things. If it is grown with care and attention, we want it.” says Jeremy.
Alongside Hawke’s Bay’s mushrooms and asparagus, the dish features quail eggs produced by Manarau Game Birds in Nuhaka. “We get quail eggs and duck eggs from them every second day.” confirms Rebecca. The kiwi Parmesan cheese is sourced from Gourmet Direct’s Ahuriri store and local black truffle is sourced locally from different places depending on availability. Olive oil on Pacifica’s Signature Dish originates from Esk Valley Oils and Village Press Olive Oil.
The wine match for the dish is the Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2011, and a super classic Hawke’s Bay as far as wine drinkers go. The Te Mata tasting notes promise the 2011 Cape Crest to be “the finest example of this wine to date.” Rebecca outlines what to expect from the wine with the dish. “The wine is fermented in barrel. It’s a food wine with compact, sustained flavours yet a long beautiful finish. The earthy mushrooms of the dish will balance out the characters from the barrel age. The Semillon adds minerality and longevity while the Sauvignon Gris adds weight and body. It’s aged for 18 months on lees which also gives great mouthfeel. The Cape Crest really goes well with asparagus as this Sauvignon tend to have a similar flavour profile and the weight is light to moderate and gorgeously round.”
Pacifica’s Signature Dish is entree sized giving you the option of either popping in for the wine matched dish on it’s own or continuing on to explore more Pacifica style fine dining kiwi dishes. If you have never been to Pacifica before, this is the perfect opportunity to experience a wine matched dish. For the regulars who come back from for the tortellini, this dish promises to have evolved a whole lot.
A Night at the Aquarium with Pacifica Restaurant
No sooner does the Signature Dish competition finish up before the Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C.) event gets underway. Pacifica are experimenting with a progressive tasting menu ‘on your feet’ called A Night at the Aquarium. “The food is going to be exciting and interactive.” says Rebecca. “It’s the fun and playful side to Jeremy, and there’s a lot of thought that’s gone into it.”
I ask for an example. “The new penguins enclosure opens on the 3rd November. We’ll be starting at the penguins, and penguins eat sardines and raw fish. I came up with the idea of making dried sardine dusted potato chips. It’s something salty to get started and relates to what penguins eat.” says Jeremy. There’s a connection to the Bluebird ad featuring potato chips and penguins I’m sure, except in this case, Pacifica is the word.
- Pacifica’s Signature Dish is entree sized giving you the option of either popping in for the wine matched dish on it’s own or exploring more options. Tweet
- Book A Night at the Aquarium with Pacifica Restaurant @pacificaHB. Tweet
- ‘Tribute to Spring’ based on a dish that people come back to @pacificaHB for each year. Tweet