Last July I found myself on the side of a hill, nose down in the dirt with the delightful truffle hunting dog, Sophie and the team from Amuri Truffiere by my side. Truffles have a unique taste, one not easy to describe but one that adds something special to a dish.
With the Perigord black truffle a delicacy worthy of its prestige, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to head to The Tannery for this year’s Truffle Festival with Chef Michael Maguire.
Five dishes were prepared. The first – roasted groper with green herb and truffle crust paired with Waipara Hills equinox Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – offered a wonderful way to start and made a fantastic pairing.
Next was the petite baked potatoes with truffle butter, crème fraiche and beef carpaccio, with the Waipara Hills Equinox Pinot Gris 2015. But then it came, the quintessential BBQ bone marrow with roasted carrot, red onion and truffle toast with the Waipara Hills Equinox Chardonnay 2015.
Wood fired pizza was up next with truffle honey and ricotta, Pinot Noir 2014 and desert was the vanilla, honey and panna cotta with caramelised figs and poached pears and the Waipara Hills Equinox Noble NV.
With truffles selling at $3 a gram and a 1.5kg truffle being found in North Canterbury this week, the industry is thriving and chefs and great restaurants have the opportunity to present a wonderful truffle experience like The Tannery and Amuri Truffiere’s Truffle Festival opening.
It was in 1998 that Mercedes-Benz New Zealand first offered a new vehicle that helped to redefine the brand and significantly grow its appeal. The M-Class (now known as the GLE) marked the brand’s entry into the emerging SUV category and set a blueprint for a family of high-riding vehicles.
The M-Class and the GLE, have become firm favourites all over the world. A combined total of more than 2.4 million have been built over 20 years and the two ranges jointly became the best-selling SUV in the Mercedes-Benz range in New Zealand.
Last year I got my hands on it to do a tour to Queenstown and get a handle on its performance in some of the worst winter driving conditions you can get. Sitting quite high with a reasonable clearance, it handled like it was a summer day.
Now there’s a new variant of the GLE 250 d 4MATIC and GLE 350 d 4MATIC, known as the ‘Edition 20’. In addition to standard equipment, the Edition 20 adds the AMG Line interior package, the Night Package featuring black exterior accents, 21-inch AMG twin-spoke alloy wheels, AIRMATIC air suspension, sports seats and a three-spoke AMG multifunction steering wheel.
The GLE 250 d model utilises a 2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine producing 150 kW and 500 Nm, while the 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbo diesel engine in the GLE 350 d model outputs 190 kW and 620 Nm. Both engines are paired to a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission and drive all four wheels – great for handling that Lindis Pass ice rink.
I can’t express the exhilaration of drifting a BMW M2 at the Southern proving grounds in the Crowne Range, marking the lead up to one of the quintessential driving days of my lifetime.
The invitation to BMW’s Alpine xDrive experience had arrived about a month before the event. The invitation comprises two nights’ accommodation at the stunning Millbrook Resort, including airport transfers and a helicopter ride to the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds, that features some of the world’s most advanced winter testing facilities.
There was an amazing range of BMW vehicles, including the BMW X Range and M series and you get the full BMW driving experience on the snow and ice, being taught key driving techniques by qualified professional BMW driver trainers and much, much, more. At the incredible Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown, the bed was wider than I was tall. All amenities are available for you to use and you truly get spoilt.
The first day involved discussions on how the day would proceed and prepping for the event. When dawn broke we were flying over the Crowne range, the sun glistening off the fresh powder snow. I had Kenny Loggins’ ‘Danger Zone’ rattling around in my head and couldn’t quite believe what was happening.
When we landed, we were met by top driving instructor Mike Eddy. A great guy and very well known in the industry, he has a plethora of knowledge, not only on racing, but also on teaching someone how to drive well.
Our modules consisted of drifting, slalom and drag racing, all on the fresh powder snow. We broke up and were handed a comprehensive range of the new BMW X and M series vehicles to drive. We would change over vehicles at random intervals, allowing us the opportunity to experience the intricacies of each model. What surprised me is how much variance there was.
I found myself drag racing against New Zealand journalist and television personality Carly Flynn. We left the start gate and I sailed past her 640i xDrive in my black 5 series 540i. Well I thought I was the bee’s knees… ‘till we changed cars. And there’s the rub. Her hysterical laughing as she waved goodbye, taking with her my dream of race car glory, had me plotting my revenge.
One of the great things about the day was how it ran so smoothly. Everything had been planned down to the most minute detail. As a driver you wanted for nothing and all the tutors were not only accommodating with knowledge but had great skill in dealing with drivers of different abilities.
There was a whole lot of love between drivers by the end of the day. Drifting had me in a metallic M2 turning off the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and just using my rear wheels to fang it round an ice track as fast as my foot could take me. You are taught how to counter-steer and accelerate to make the best of the situation – pure adrenalin fun!
Slalom has you in an X2 using the knowledge you have gained throughout the day to run through a course of orange road cones. I excelled at this, likely because of my experience navigating Christchurch’s post-quake roading system in winter. Taking away the gold trophy in the end of day finale is an honour I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I lost count of the spin I got up to on the track, but when I stopped, I found myself laughing hysterically like a man possessed. At the end of the day you’re wishing you could do it all again, knowing that tomorrow it was someone else’s turn to have the drive of their life.
The xDrive on the new BMWs is quite an experience. When you start up on a hill, it allows you to move your foot from brake to accelerator, while keeping the brake engaged for a few seconds. Heading downhill, you can push the descent button, which can be pre-set to allow the car to drive downhill while you do nothing but steer.
The xDrive provides variable torque split between the front and rear axles through the use of a multi-plate wet clutch located in the gearbox on the output to the front drive shaft. What this means is that the power is distributed between all four wheels automatically. So, if one wheel isn’t gripping on ice, the power is sent to the other wheels and you have constant traction moving forward in the most hazardous of scenarios.
Relaxing back in the spa to ease my aching bones, I reflected on how truly incredible the BMW Alpine xDrive was and how lucky I had been to have taken part. For the learning experience alone, it was a stunner. For the adrenalin kick, it just can’t be beaten. BMW, I love you.
This year’s Clicquot in the Snow in Queenstown from 2-5 August marks the 200th year since Madame Clicquot blended the world’s first rosé champagne and, to honour the special anniversary, long-time friend of the brand, designer Kathryn Wilson has designed a special edition rosé pink belt.
To the delight of many Kathryn Wilson fans, the special edition rosé belt is reintroducing her much loved belts to her coveted designs. The talented shoe and accessories designer is releasing the celebratory belt as part of her spring/summer 18 collection which is set to be debuted at Clicquot in the Snow this year. An annual highlight for festival guests, this is her 7th year showing at Clicquot in the Snow.
Kathryn Wilson will also be releasing her spring/summer 18 collection at her annual runway show presented by Veuve Clicquot. This year is particularly special as she celebrates the brand’s 15-year anniversary.
This year will also see another magnificent presentation at Rata with celebrity chef Josh Emett to bring back the Clicquot Long Lunch series at Rata Restaurant; a four-course degustation lunch inspired by Clicquot Colourama and the Veuve Clicquot range including NV, Vintage and Rosé.
The weekend’s highlight will be the magnificent and much anticipated Clicquot Gala. This time with an exciting new Colourama theme. Bringing a touch of glamour to close the four-day celebration, the Clicquot Colourama Gala at QT Queenstown will be the ultimate place to be in Queenstown on 4 July.
Guests will be treated to an exclusive performance by Anna Coddington and Dick Johnson of DJ – Vocalist duo, Clicks, and multiple iconic Clicquot moments. Tickets are $99 per person and include entry to the Clicquot Colourama Gala, canapes and one flute upon arrival with cash bar available for the rest of the event.
It’s colourful and luxurious, it’s fashionable and it’s refined. Clicquot in the Snow is fast becoming the event to attend on the Queenstown social calendar. To view the full Clicquot in the Snow 2018 programme and purchase tickets, visit clicquotinthesnow.co.nz.
On Tuesday 28 August, Christchurch will have an icon of music visiting us again. With a career spanning six decades, Bob Dylan’s impact on popular music and culture is immeasurable
He is responsible for some of the most influential albums of all time, including The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, and his socially and politically charged singles, Blowin’ In The Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin’, are widely considered among the most important songs in modern music.
The ‘voice of a generation’ boasts an unparalleled repertoire, including timeless classics, Like A Rolling Stone, Tangled Up In Blue, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door and Girl From The North Country. Few people haven’t heard his music and to some, it connects on a much deeper level.
Phantom Billstickers Owner/Marketer Jim Wilson says, “Bob Dylan just keeps on working and keeping his own counsel. His defining moment was in 1993 at a concert in Switzerland where he decided that he was ‘going to make a stand whether God delivered me or not…’ I take my lead from that….at some stage I just decided that I was going to stand up like a man and just take all the s**t that people can hurl. I am on my own never-ending tour. I can’t see myself without seeing Bob Dylan.”
With a catalogue of more than 50 albums, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records globally, received 11 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award for Things Have Changed (Best Original Song), and has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2012, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama and, in 2016, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Last in New Zealand for three arena shows in 2014, Bob Dylan and his band are a commanding force on stage. To experience Bob Dylan live in concert is an opportunity to share an encounter with one of the last remaining musical legends of the modern era.
The New Yorker reported last month on rumours that Bob Dylan has a new studio album ready to go and his manager is going around Europe, for listening sessions in different cities to gauge unique perspectives. That gives you an idea about how deep Dylan and his team think. Great music drills into one’s core and resonates, creating a special moment in time and space. That’s why this artist connects on a deeper level and most only scratch the surface of what Bob is all about.
Dylan has been able to weather the storm of other people’s opinion and just kept on with what his ever-changing vision is. An artist who polarises people, he doesn’t do interviews or venture into his opinion on politics; boy, wouldn’t you love to go there right now? But that’s the great thing about Dylan. He does it for his art. Who is he? The closest you get will be to see an ICON of modern music at Horncastle arena on 28 August. This may be your last chance – I suggest you go, with an open mind.
Sunday and Monday nights, many of us are locked to TV Three to watch some of our much-loved celebrities swing, pirouette, lunge and cha-cha their way across our screens in an attempt to become New Zealand’s heartfelt winner of Dancing with the Stars. Metropol talks to Sam Hayes about her journey from the news desk to the dance floor.
How far out of your comfort zone is ballroom dancing?
The show is right at the very edge of my comfort zone but I’ve managed to get the nerves under control now we’re a few weeks in. I’ve never danced before, so every week means starting our assigned style from scratch, remembering the steps and trying to breathe confidence and emotion into every movement. I liken it to climbing a mountain every week, because that’s what the challenge feels like! I’d probably prefer to tackle a mountain to be honest, but I’m throwing everything I’ve got at dancing and having a lot of fun along the way.
How important is your chosen charity, Riding for the Disabled, to you?
I wanted to support a charity that helps children and because I grew up riding horses and teaching kids to ride, NZ Riding for the Disabled (RDA) seemed like the perfect fit. There are 55 RDA centres around the country that work with thousands of children and adults with disabilities every week, using four legged therapists to assist the development of their bodies and minds.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet several young riders who just love their weekly sessions. Seven year old Pippa has spina bifida and rides with braces on her legs. It’s brilliant physiotherapy for her and helps develop the muscles in her legs, back and core, all while she’s having fun and not thinking about any pain. Seeing the smiles on the RDA riders’ faces is motivation enough for me to get cracking with five or more hours of dance training each day.
RDA has a long waiting list and wants to reach double the number of people they already do. I want to do everything I can to help them reach that goal and once I have some free time again (after the show is finished!) I’ll be volunteering as often as I can.
How has your career thus far prepared you for Dancing with the Stars?
More than a decade in a news studio has certainly helped me with the live TV aspect of the show, but that’s about it. Dancing with the Stars is completely different to anything I’ve ever done before and it’s fair to say it really pushes me out of my comfort zone, but I love a good challenge and it’s for a great cause.
Have you always loved dancing?
I love music but I’ve never danced before and never thought I would find myself taking up a dancing challenge like this one. Do I love dance? Of course! Aaron and I went to see the Cuban ballet company Ballet Revolución for some inspiration and I was absolutely floored by their beauty and skill, especially now I have a bit of insight into just how difficult it really is.
Do you find it a challenge physically or is it more of a mental challenge?
Both. Physically, I am getting fitter and stronger, but there’s no time to rest and recover so every week it gets a bit harder, rather than easier. Mentally, I find my mind fatigues more quickly than my body, and I get frustrated when a move or sequence isn’t sinking in. It’s been so good for me to face that mental and physical fatigue and push myself to keep going. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and what I’m capable of. It’s been such a positive and rewarding journey – and I have to say a huge thank you to my dance partner Aaron for that.
You’re in great shape on the show; how much preparation went in before and was it enough for the demands you’re facing now?
Not nearly enough! I thought I was reasonably fit before the show; I went to the gym a couple of times a week and would run a fair bit too but none of that prepared me for the physical demands. I’ve trained for a minimum of four hours a day, every day since Easter, back in March. There are definitely moments when everything hurts!
Earlier in the season I was on Tramadol for a rib injury, thanks to a lift in one of our dances. But is it all worth it? Absolutely. We’re supporting an incredible charity and I’m now starting to believe we could make it to the final. I’d love to win that mirror ball trophy for all the kids at Riding for the Disabled. If they can overcome the challenges in their lives then I can push on through the mental and physical fatigue and hopefully make them proud each week when we take to the dancefloor.
Do you have anyone you admire from the show? How’s the dynamic with the other dancers?
We’re a happy little family at the studio. We’re all going through the same ups and downs and supporting each other through it. I admire each and every one of the professional dancers. They’re not only teaching their celebrities a dance each week in record time, but they choreograph that dance too. They’re endlessly creative and encouraging in what is a highly stressful environment. They’re the real stars.
In 2011 BMW introduced its ‘i’ brand to incorporate all of its electric plug-in vehicles or hybrids. Last year I was fortunate enough to drive the exceptional i8. This month I was introduced to its zippy little cousin, the unique BMW i3.
The base model of the i-range, the i3 also has a bigger brother: the i3s. Looks-wise, it’s a bit like a ‘cube’, with unique suicide doors that open up, revealing no centre pillar and rear seats that can be laid flat to allow an amazing amount of storage space in the boot area. It also has a surprising amount of leg room and a large front windscreen.
It’s packed with loads of great details like the carbon fibre chassis and hemp interior panelling, making it not only light, but also a little bit greener.
The concierge system is a BMW service that allows you to connect with someone to assist you if you are lost or need assistance. Yes! Even if you’re looking for good Indian food in another city! Crazy, huh? The Li-ion battery is 33kWh and, although that doesn’t sound very powerful, I felt it was more than enough for getting around town.
And that’s really what this is; an easy to park, no petrol cost, rear view camera, turn cycle of 9.9 meters, town mobile. With petrol prices around $2.30 a litre, most of us are thinking of options. Charging from your garage wall socket, easy to use, a $77,200 starting price, all with a 200km range.
Although comments about how it looked were not super complimentary, I found it cute with its 19-inch BMW i-light alloy wheels, turbine styling, easy connectivity and simplicity of use being great features. Its keyless entry and start were good, but the ignition switch, park and gear lever sit behind the steering wheel on what people would call a column shift.
That was a little annoying, I thought, though the reasoning I guess is so that you are constantly thinking about being on/off or driving so you don’t make the mistake of leaving it in drive and having it roll away. Unlike a fuel car, it doesn’t give you clues when you take your foot off the accelerator that it’s still in gear.
Charging time is not long but like your phone, you’re going to have to make sure it’s put on the charger at the end of the day. Even though it has regeneration power options when driving, you do have the option of quick charge and that takes about 15 minutes at locations that offer them. This is BMW’s mass production electronic offering for the day to day vehicle and in my opinion, it’s good! To take a test drive, go and see the wonderful Mary or Lorenzo at Christchurch BMW to try for yourself. Good driving.
The chance to drive the new Ford Endura range around Queenstown earlier this month was a great opportunity to put the five-seater, twin turbo, 2 L performance diesel through its paces on some great terrain.
Winding through the Crown Range to Wanaka, I got a real feel for how smooth the new generation platform will run in New Zealand conditions.
Called the ‘Edge’ in the northern hemisphere, the Endura is an SUV that can provide the power and torque needed for a great drive and will fill an important space in the Ford product range.
Refined and spacious, yet with a very capable boot space, I could see a strong resemblance to the Landover Discovery Sport in both looks and performance, with a price tag starting at $73,990.
The high profile of the bonnet and the 20-inch rims make for appealing eye candy but with an 154kW/450Nm engine and electronic stability program (ESP) that made cornering and drive through very pleasurable on such a challenging drive, it’s much more than just a good looker.
I was going to try it on the rough gravel road to Cardona ski field but was way laid at the Cardona Distillery, a must see when in Otago, testing the orange liqueur, vodka and gin. The silver-lining of this hold up was that I got the opportunity to find out what the passenger experience is like while my companion on the trip drove back.
Key features include leather trim and seating, Apple CarPlay, eight-inch colour touch screen, heated seats – great for those cold Queenstown mornings – and with a great satellite navigation system in such a quiet cabin, you hardly heard the drive. Overall the experience was brilliant; a worthy addition to the Ford line-up and a great option for someone looking for a quality SUV.
Last month, Christchurch was witness to one of the best musicians of the 1980s. The legend himself, Lionel Richie.
Songwriter, actor, singer and record producer, he has been gracing our televisions of late with his role as an American Idol judge. With such hits as Endless Love, All Night Long, Stuck on You, Say You Say Me and, of course, the heart-wrenching Hello, the hits from his years with the Commodores and many, many more, his ability to bring a stand up and dance moment at his concerts is never in question.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with him the night before the concert for a chat. “It’s Lionel Richie!” I said as I approached.
“Have been all my life,” he said in the beautiful gravelly voice of a seasoned pro.
How do you find New Zealand audiences?
“It’s a great country and I always enjoy coming here. You are all so friendly!”
It’s such a privilege to meet you, I grew up with your music in the 1980s and Hello is such a beautiful song
“You know what? I grew up with that music too! When I first started, people would say ‘what a sexy man’. When I got into my late 20s early 30s, people would say, ‘what a handsome man’. Now all I get is… ‘You look good for your age!’
“I was out in a bar in New Orleans and I saw this attractive woman looking across at me and I started looking at her, she looked at me and I was giving her ‘the look’ when she came over to me and said in this French accent ‘Yoouu are Lion-Nell Reechiiee?’ And I said ‘Yeeeesss, I am Lion-Nell Reechiiee’.
“She then handed me her mobile and said, ‘I’m friends with your daughter Nicole, she wants to say hi’. That’s when I got an earful from my daughter about hitting on her friends. I’m OLD now!”
How do you find the audiences respond to your music these days?
“Nothing’s changed except for the fact when I started off everyone said that if I kissed a girl at the front of the stage, the audience would go nuts – so I started doing that. Obviously now it’s a lot harder to lean that far down, so I don’t do that anymore. I’m OLD. I’m really looking forward to the Christchurch audience. You’re going to have a fun time tomorrow night.”
And he was so, so right. Those fortunate enough to be at Horncastle Arena were subjected to hit after boogie-down hit. The energy that this 68-year-old can conjure up on stage would make any teenage musician envious. Reminding us just how prolific and how relevant he was during the decade of music that was the 80s, back when he had us all singing We are the World, which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson. Music royalty was visiting Christchurch.
“As always, Lionel put on an amazing show, we love hosting him at Horncastle Arena,” Turlough Carolan from Vbase says.
“It’s also great to see such a varied range of events visiting the city over the coming months, from the incredible Dynamo (20-21 July) to the sublime Queens of the Stone Age (25 August), yet again, Vbase will be bringing many more great acts to Christchurch.”
Marvellous to have caught up with a living legend here, such a down to earth man with a beautiful voice for singing and conversation. A moment all those who saw him in concert will remember for a long time. He had us all, Dancing on the Ceiling.
Interviewing the director of distilling and whisky creation from Glenmorangie/Ardbeg with the title of Dr was more than slightly intimidating but my fears were put to rest when the rumours of him being more like Dr Emett Brown from ‘Back to the Future’ were right on the money. In town for the biannual Dram Fest, Bill and I caught up at the George Hotel, not for a whisky but an Earl Grey tea.
I asked him how Glenmorangie got to where it is now. “I grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and ran with it. I knew Glenmorangie was something special.”
Part scientist, part artist, Bill’s skills and attitude to whisky is one of experimentation and discovery and he’s here to release the Pios, the 9th release from Glenmorangie’s acclaimed ‘Private Edition’ series, fully matured in ex-American rye whiskey barrels.
Aptly named for the Gaelic word ‘spice’, these barrels impart flavours never before seen in a Glenmorangie – rich and sweet with toffee, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg, with brazil nuts and citrus developing in the finish.
I asked Bill what he was most proud of and I was pleased to hear it was one of my favourite chocolate malt whiskys, the Glenmorangie Signet. “I found the Signet ground breaking. I achieved what I wanted in that. Although I’m seeing other brands making similar styles its still stands out as a great benchmark for me.”
“I see a great future for whisky lovers and, with such a fine event as Dramfest, there’s plenty of room to expand one’s palate.”
With his son and daughter following in his footsteps, there’s a great future too for the Lumsden legacy.