Feast of Canterbury is a great intiative to showcase Canterbury's finest food and drink, but was a bit thwarted last year by the shaking of the ground and interruption of service for restaurants and other event venues. Some things went ahead but this year is shaping up to be bigger and better and there are lots of cool things happening. There are events (check out the website for these - my picks are Dining with the Stars and Stop and Smell the Macarons) and Dine restaurants, who are offering special menus starting at $15 for cafes and $25 for restaurants. My sister and I visited She Chocolat in Governors Bay yesterday to test out the Dine menu there - at $39 it's at the pricey end of the Dine offers for lunch, but includes two courses and a glass of wine and the dessert (because seriously, would you go to a chocolate shop and not have dessert?) is a stunning array of their chocolates which is quite excellent.
As I mentioned I've eaten at She before, and they have a delightful habit which I can completely get on board with - incorporating chocolate into their mains. Not all mains - usually just one or two - but the option is there if you want it (and I do!). Last time we visited I had the molé short ribs, which were fantastic, and I was pleased to see that the duck on the Dine menu was accompanied by a chocolate chutney. Sister Cake opted for the duck, though, so I went with the interesting-sounding beetroot cured salmon.
The confit duck was absolutely divine - beautifully cooked, with lovely greens, parsnip mash and the aforementioned chutney, which was exceptionally good. I commented to the waiter when he cleared our plates that I'd done the chocolate tour last year and there were rumours of the chef bottling his chutney and offering it for sale, and asked if that had come about, and though sadly it's not available to buy, the chef kindly gave me some in little pottles to take home! How lovely is that?
My salmon was pretty good, lovely and tender and not strongly beetrooty, though the caramelised beetroot pieces served with it were, and were sweet and delicious. I found the watercress a little too strong for the dish and slightly awkward to eat (you know that moment when you realise you have too much salad on your fork to get it gracefully into your mouth at once, but you're committed to the mouthful?), but the croquette was lovely, crunchy and delicious, and not overpoweringly goats cheesy (actually, I love goats cheese and wouldn't have minded more of it, but it was still a yummy croquette and would still suit folk who are not so keen on the strong cheeses). Overall the food was great, though I was a little jealous of my sister's delicious duck so that's my pick of the two. ;-)
We were basking in the sun outside - though there are plenty of inside seats on a sunny day it's glorious outdoors and the views are spectacular. What a lovely way to enjoy your chocolate! The dessert tasting platter has several of their chocolates (which I've raved about before), as well as a florentine, a meringue, some chocolate-rolled cacao beans and a wee piece of brownie - it takes sustenance to get through it all but it's worth it because every bite will be delicious. My favourite is the "She" - white chocolate with a dark chocolate and rosewater centre, it's very tasty. If you need to take a break sit back and admire the surroundings - if you're lucky you might be able to spy the Kereru in the trees down below:
We had a lovely meal, and I wish I was in Christchurch longer to check out some of the other venues on offer but sadly work awaits me in Wellington - if you're in Christchurch, though, have a look at the Feast website and make some eating plans. I'll live vicariously through you. ;-)
She Chocolat is located at 79 Main Road, Governors Bay, Lyttelton, Christchurch, ph 03 329 9222, www.shechocolat.com. Mrs Cake and Sister Cake dined courtesy of She Chocolat and Feast of Canterbury.