When you consider how much a perigord truffle costs in New Zealand – about $3.50 per gram – a stay at boutique accommodation Wallingford Homestead during truffle season is exceptional value for money. Almost every dish at every meal has some form of truffle incorporated into it, from the eight-course wine-matched degustation dinner on the Friday we arrive, to the cooking workshop and lunch on the Sunday afternoon before we depart.
Truffle ice-cream, truffles grated over steaming bowls of soup, truffle oils and butters, pasta sauces and fresh bread… over two days we consume more truffle than I’ve had in my entire life. And all of it is sourced just metres from the dining room of this grand estate.
We arrive late afternoon at the Central Hawke’s Bay property in Pōrangahau, 30km south of Waipukurau. It’s a dank winter’s day, the rolling green landscapes we pass through boggy after days of heavy rain. Deep muddy puddles line the driveway, before we scrunch over gravel and pull our now-dirty hire car to a stop. We feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere – there are no bars on our cellphones, and no other hotels for miles around – but the beauty of the Pacific Ocean is just 20 minutes’ drive away and Napier just two hours north of here.
The homestead looks cosy and inviting as we unfurl ourselves from the car. The smell of woodsmoke and fresh rain are in the air, as one half of the management team, Jeanette Woerner greets us warmly.
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