NZ Roadtrip: 2. To Dunedin, Lanarch Castle and dark chocolate orange pannacotta


Lake Tekapo is situated somewhat in the middle of New Zealand's South Island. Most people who drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo usually continue westwards towards the glacier regions but not us - we drove back east and travelled along the coastal road. It took us about 4 hours to reach Dunedin but the scenery along the way was spectacular - the steely blue of the Pacific Ocean on one side and mountains on the other. Much of the journey was through the undulating countryside and past cattle stations; cows, alpacas and sheep provided several photo ops.
The Pacific Ocean


Roads in S. Island are very well maintained, drivers are courteous. Occasionally we would pass other cars or camper vans. Whenever there was a bridge, the right of way would be clearly marked.

Dunedin is the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, many of the early settlers were from Scotland. The town's main business is education, the University of Otago, New Zealand's first university was set up there in 1869. The city sits at the head of the Otago Harbour and is a busy place where cars and buses rush along the streets.

Victoria Hotel Dunedinn

We checked into the Victoria Hotel Dunedin. From the window of our suite, we could see the Cadbury factory which was where we were headed next. A quick walk up the street and we made it just in time to join the Cadbury World tour.

Chocolate heaven - the Cadbury factory; my chocolate loot

Louis, our guide, took us out through a side door to a large locker where we had to leave our jackets, cameras and mobile phones. Cadbury has a no-photo policy inside the factory.

A gleaming purple and gold Cadbury milk truck. The green building in the distance is the silo

This is a milk delivery van that was used by Cadbury when they started production. Louis pointed to a silo in the distance and told us that was part of the original factory. The Cadbury World tour does not take you into actual production areas but there's a sensory room where you get to smell the various essences that go into the fillings that are then coated with chocolate. Also, a demo on tempering chocolate after which we could fill our little cups with melted chocolate and top it with a variety of toppings - from sprinkles to marshmallows to popcorn. We were shown how jaffas, chocolate balls coated with orange-flavoured shells are made and from there, led up inside the silo. There is a balcony on one of the landings and we could see the city of Dunedin from there. Louis pointed to a ridge that stood across the Otago Harbour and told us that New Zealand's only castle was located there! Getting back into the silo, we were instructed to stay well away from the middle and then there was a swoosh and a sheet of molten chocolate fell all the way from the top to the base of the silo. Of course we wanted a repeat performance and they obliged. At every stop we made, Louis would hand over chocolates and at the last stop, we were each given a large bar of milk chocolate.

If you do this tour and if the sights and smells of chocolate have not knocked your olfactory senses out of whack, there is a chocolate store on the premises where all the chocolates made in the the factory are sold. The most popular, we were told, are jaffas and chocolate-coated pineapple chunks.

Fair warning!

A castle in New Zealand was something we definitely could not miss. It was a 15 km drive from the chocolate factory and on the way, we passed this sign that had us in splits. Mt. Horrible, by the way, is an extinct volcano.

Larnach Castle; the main entrance

Larnach Castle was built in 1871 by William Larnach, a banker. There are stories of scandals, paranormal events and tragedies that took place within its walls, in reality, the castle was a private residence. Situated on the ridge of the Otago peninsula, it offers a fabulous view of the harbour and the Pacific Ocean. It was in a run-down condition when it was bought by the Barker family in 1967 and who now live in it and are restoring it to its former glory. Situated within a 14 ha property, the entrance is guarded by stone lions and eagles.

China plates and a recipe book on display

Visitors are encouraged to go around to all the rooms that are open to the public. It is indeed a stately home with magnificent ceilings and a lot of the original furniture. The music room has a piano and anyone who can play it well is encouraged to. From the ornate dining room, we went past the pantry whose shelves held beautiful china dinner sets, there was even a recipe book on display. Hmm... the cooks at Larnach Castle must have made some delicious meals.

Ceilings at Larnach Castle; the Staircase; nursery; the steamer trunk; view of the Harbour from the Castle

Going up the wooden stairs, we admired the gleaming banisters. A gleaming brass bassinet stood in the middle of the nursery. In another bedroom, there's a steamer trunk as big as a dresser (I guess one can't pack light for a long sea journey!)


Back in the city, we had a birthday to celebrate. Speights Brewery, in operation since 1876 was our destination. In spite of a slight drizzle, we decided to walk there as we were warned that parking might be a problem. Thankfully, we didn't have to go anywhere near Baldwin Street, reputed to be the steepest urban street in the world. Speights didn't disappoint, their pub food is superb.

Speights signage; Old Dark; cider & Old Pale - all spectacular!
Rattray Street ribs; Brewer's braised steak; "The Holmdale Salmon"; pecan tart & Fiordland venison

I love pannacotta and this recipe has been inspired in part by the jaffas during our visit to the Cadbury factory. Of course, I had to put a baketales spin on it so I've used dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. You could use milk chocolate instead if you like. 

Dark chocolate and orange pannacotta

Dark chocolate and orange pannacotta

Ingredients
400 gm cream
4 tablespoons sugar
150 gm dark chocolate chunks
 teaspoons gelatin, sponged in 2 tablespoons water
Pared rind of 1 orange
6 small ramekins



Method
Place cream and sugar in a saucepan, stir and heat over a medium flame till it reaches boiling point.
Remove from heat, stir in chocolate chunks, gelatin and pared orange rind.
Mix till smooth, leave to cool to room temperature.
Strain into the ramekins and leave to set in the fridge for about 4 hours.

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