Seldom would you have dined in the midst of singularly spectacular snow peaks such as the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains and within touching distance of the sapphire blue Pacific Ocean. And till the sun comes down, do not drop your wine on the fine upholstery if you catch sight of a playful dolphin doing a farewell somersault for the day or a peaceful seal colony bathing leisurely on the rocky shore. All this, wonderfully casked within large glass panes and dim chandelier lighting at the White Morph restaurant, to take nothing away from the magnificence spread outside.
While the Hallmark of Excellence award for “Beef and Lamb” is prominently displayed by the restaurant’s owners, Garry and Kerry Ford, I wasted no time in ordering the Kaikoura Crayfish with Hollandaise Sauce. After all, it certainly merits inquiry on why Kaikoura literally translates into “meal of crayfish”. I am told that bucking the trend of the restaurant industry, crayfish in Kaikoura restaurants are sold as per daily market rates.
Having driven through the picturesque Marlborough region, which is famed as the centre of New Zealand’s wine universe, before hitting the rugged mountains on the way to the town of Kaikoura, I was rather easily persuaded to jettison the French bottle of Moët and Chandon and cast my lot with the Deutz Marlborough Cuvée. The Marlborough-bred sparkling wine went fabulously well with the crayfish leviathan that descended on our table. The taste is best savoured with the breathtaking views outside keeping you company. Moments earlier, we had witnessed a rainbow forming in splendour across the horizon of the Pacific Ocean.
In the heat and sparkle of dinner, which starts at 5.30pm in most Kaikoura restaurants, we saw the sun dip into the Pacific waters, washing away the myriad colours into a pool of darkness. Just when I was about to direct the knife into the belly of the waiting crayfish, a “diamond shower” commenced, which paved the entire stretch of the Esplanade with a sheet of white hail crystals. The utter whiteness of the hail crystals lit up the otherwise dark exteriors after sundown, since the New Zealanders are very conscious about using street lighting at night in order to reduce their carbon footprint.
The ever-changing setting outside caused a dim in the conversation and made the once mammoth crayfish look nothing like its original avatar. Soon, it was time for the signature dessert, comprising apple pie with cinnamon spiced ice-cream. Thoroughly satiated, I asked for the bill, only to be met with a disapproving glare from the stewardess. She would hear nothing of it till I rather reluctantly ordered—against my better judgement—a glass of Cloudy Bay, a dessert wine, again from the Marlborough region. Well, to say the very least, this pale gold drink with aromas of lime and dried apricots was first-rate. It left a gratifying taste in the mouth and prepared us for the walk back to the Miharotia boutique hotel on Scarborough Street.
I will sign out now and savour this blissful experience for a while more before I start writing about the other breathtaking view points in Kaikoura.
Saionton Basu is an advocate in the Supreme Court of India and a solicitor in the Supreme Court of England and Wales. Comment at firstname.lastname@example.org