Irish eyes on Kiwi Christmas

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Irish chef Peter Roddy is cooking up an Antipodean feast for his third Christmas outside Europe.

The 27-year-old executive chef will be whipping up summer fare for those who come knocking at the door of Pier 19 restaurant on Steamer Wharf.

“I don’t want to generalise too much but prawns on the barbie is just this part of the world,” says Roddy.

“And you mix it up with the local produce and seasonal stone fruit. That’s what Christmas is for me in New Zealand so far – stone fruits coming in.

“When you’ve got something that good just down the road, it’s fantastic.”

For Roddy, who did an apprenticeship under TV kitchen tyrant Gordon Ramsay, the Kiwi Christmas is poles apart from the Irish experience.

“At home it’s cold and everybody’s out shopping, the weather just puts you off, whereas here it’s summer and warm – so it’s not Christmas as I know it.

“Out here, at first impression, it’s about a family having a barbecue in shorts and jandals.”

It’s a bit of a change for the freckled Irishman, who’s also worked at U2 frontman Bono’s posh Clarence Hotel in Dublin.

Roddy has cooked a traditional feast for his family – winter warmers such as roast duck and turkey – every Christmas since he was 14.

He says he’d always head back to his hometown of Dublin even if he was working up till the last minute.

“I used to fly home on Christmas Eve so I’d bring the food for Christmas dinner with me – even in the middle of the foot and mouth [outbreak].

“So I’d be trying to smuggle fois gras through British Airways. I didn’t get caught – I’d put it in my luggage.”

But Roddy won’t be serving up rich, heavy food this Christmas, favouring three light courses incorporating the best Queenstown has to offer.

First up are barbecued prawns, served with pistachio nuts in a strained, chilled puree of six pitted Central Otago apricots and the juice of one lemon.

The main course is a trio of New Zealand lamb – roast rack, grilled rump and braised fillet served with mashed kumara, crisp peas and baby beetroot.

He’ll top it off with a dessert he whipped up one night to try on friends – hot chocolate soup, served with Cromwell cherries and toasted marshmallows.

Hot Chocolate Soup with Kirsch Marshmallows 
by Peter Roddy

  •  200 grams good quality chocolate
  •  200 millilitres full fat milk
  •  500 grams unsalted butter
  •  30 millilitres dark rum
  •  4 egg whites
  •  150 grams white sugar
  •  100 millilitres water
  •  8 leaves of gelatine
  •  Cromwell cherries, pitted

Melt chocolate, milk, butter and rum in a bowl over simmering water.

Boil sugar and water for five minutes.

Whip egg whites in a separate bowl, pour in boiling sugar and continue to whip.

Add the gelatine, allow it to melt then allow the whole mixture to cool.

Serve the chocolate mixture poured over cherries and a big dollop of marshmallow.

Peter Roddy is a chef at Pier 19 restaurant on Steamer Wharf