Popular images of New Zealand include of kiwifruit, sheep, vast farmlands and the grand locations used in the Lord of the Rings movies. For the next few weeks at the Westin Taipei's Danieli's Italian Restaurant, guest chef Ray McVinnie will be adding another to that lists: fine cuisine.
McVinnie, a respected food stylist, author, food-magazine editor and advisor from one of the least exploited and contaminated region of the world, believes that freshness is the key to culinary excellence. Along with his team he will create a series of fusion dishes made from ingredients including salmon, lamb, beef, berries, natural sea salt, avocado oil and Manuka honey, all sourced from New Zealand.
The dishes themselves can best be described as creative as McVinnie takes ideas from traditional New Zealand cuisine and blends them with culinary techniques from other countries, such as France and Italy.
His salmon tartar and parsley salad is prepared using a classic Russian cooking method. Marinated in lemon, oil and vinegar dressing and mixed with diced avocado, the creamy, rich flavor of the super-fresh salmon goes exceptionally well with the parsley and greens.
A culinary representation of the chef's childhood memories of roasting mussels on the beach during the summer time, the green lipped mussel dumplings in saffron and tomato broth with herb oil is a lesson in presentation.
The fillet of New Zealand beef with roasted beetroot, green olive paste and vegetable torta is a main course that can satisfy both gourmets and health-conscious patrons as the dish is a perfect union of savory meat and the sweet, beetroot.
There are other New Zealand goodies to enjoy: a wide selection of red and white wine from one of the country's oldest wineries Te Mata Estate; the award-winning sparkling water Antipodes; and the 42 Below vodka that comes in several flavors.
McVinnie's culinary delights will be available until April 22, after which he will return to his home country.