Tag Archives: New Zealand

Where Next?

B-Abel-173-LOWAnd so it ends.

Another incredible month in New Zealand and Australia. Typically when I return from a long holiday people bombard me with “where next?”. As I was watching the tiny islands of the New Zealand fade away en route to Australia, I was thinking about that too.

Germany is on the books for this year. A combo Iceland-Sweden-Norway trip for 2017. Of course, my almost annual trek back to New Zealand to complete the Great Walks is likely going to skip a year, you know, for variety’s sake.

At least that sounds good to me on paper today.



While on a wine tour in New Zealand I asked the tour operator if she would be willing to make a detour to MOA brewery, even though it was not on our itinerary. I had discovered a MOA beer at a local grocery in Picton and was curious about their other offerings. Tour Operator was very accommodating, offering to drop off anyone interested in MOA as a swap with Cloudy Bay, which was next door.  When we arrived at MOA the tour group polarized; boys got off at MOA, girls went on to Cloudy Bay.

Cliche, I know.

We sampled 5 beers and they were all great. Or so I remember. The boy-MOA faction was mostly 20’s and were fully focused on childish verbal sparring on our way to being drunk, so recording details on the beers was secondary. I did have sense enough to check the website of our local Home Depot sized liquor store to make sure I could get MOA at home.

Confirmed, continue with verbal sparring focus.

Back at home I have two friends who I consider to be the beer experts; they brew their own and  its always exceptional. Both are MIT educated and I like that they can apply all that knowledge to something fun like beer. By taste they can tell you the ingredients, the brewing method and sometimes what the brew-masters might have done to make the beer taste better. And they even put it in simple terms for a beer neophyte like me!


I was curious what they would think of the MOA selection; they liked.

  • The Breakfast, however oddly named, is the lightest and most refreshing of the lot. It has almost a floral smell and a very fruit taste, I would say cherry. The MIT crew describe it as a lager. Yeah, what they said.
  • The St. Josephs is a little more dense but still light. It also had a vaguely floral smell and definite fruity quality but it also registered some spice; I was getting pumpkin pie spices. The MIT crew call this a Belgian Tripel. Yeah, what they said.
  • The sledgehammer to the palate is of course the Imperial Stout. Holy crap, I’ve had steak and kidney pies that were less filling. When I poured it out it was jet black and smelled like espresso and chocolate next to a campfire. The taste is about that too; heavy chocolate, dark coffee,  raisin, a tiny bit of astringency I taste in molasses and something that tastes woody.

For someone who isn’t a beer person, I’m really enjoying  MOA. They have other varieties but unfortunately these are the only ones sold in Houston. I see a MOA scouting trip to my standby shoppes when I’m back in NYC.

MOA |  Specs Downtown | $5-6

Pairings: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Ah, the battle of the Sauvignon Blancs!

While in the Marlborough region of New Zealand I went on a wine tour. Half of the people on the tour were 28 and under and it rapidly turned into the party tour and was characterized by excessive tasting and snappy banter. I think I had a good time. At least the pictures would indicate so, however I don’t remember what I liked from the tour, save a few blurry pictures of wine bottles I probably took while I was laughing my ass off. I deleted the pictures of myself, I’m still unclear on who took those with my phone.


Back in Houston,  we’re a more sedate tasting group. With just one additional research assistant, we present our combined scientific data now before we finish off the lot and start taking blurry pictures and laughing our asses off.  Our subjects:

  • Forefather’s Sauvignon Blanc | 2011 | Marlborough, New Zealand
  • Momo Sauvignon Blanc | 2011 | Marlborough, New Zealand
IMG_1108 IMG_1107

No Pairings


  • Great acidity, crisp and bright
  • Relatively dry
  • Its light body and finishes quickly
  • Fruit, light but mostly on the tropical side; we say guava, pineapple and green apple
  • Unlike most SB’s we did not pick up any mineral flavors
  • Slight smell and taste of bell pepper (seriously, and we like it)
  • Pale, pale almost vampiric in color.


  • Good acidity, balanced.
  • A little more residual sugar but not sweet
  • Strong body that lingers
  • Fruit; strong papaya, peach, red apple, plum
  • A little mineral; shale
  • Smells of agave and tropical fruit
  • Golden color

Israeli Salad

  • IMG_1109For those who don’t know Israeli salad its just diced cucumbers, tomatoes with extra virgin and a squeeze of lemon. For this experiment I added a little Israeli sheep feta.
  •  Forefathers was good with the salad, its bright notes, lighters flavors and low residual sugar worked with the subtle flavors in the salad.
  •  Momo went Kill Bill Vol 2 and landed successive roundhouse kicks to the salad’s face. The tropical fruit and body in Momo are just too strong for the salad’s lighter, earthy flavors.

Tuna-Avocado Sushi

  • Forefather’s pairs extremely well with this, its acidity joining forces with the creamy avocado and its lighter flavors enhancing the delicate tuna. Even its light residual sugar counterbalances the soy sauce I used.
  • Momo to sushi: “Really? You are just a piece of fish wrapped up in a rice coat and I am the Momo.” I think if it had it been a Spicy Tuna or Cajun Roll, it might have gained more respect.

Pork Dumplings


  • Forefather’s: Just OK. Its acidity breaks through the doughy case of the dumpling just fine but its fruit flavors become unfocused against the savory flavors of the pork.
  • Momo: Brilliant. It has enough acidity to work well with the dumpling’s case and its heavy body and strong tropical flavors, particularly the papaya, pair well with the garlic and ginger in the filling.

Garlic-Herb Boursin with Pita Chips

  • Forefather’s: The acidity worked well against the creaminess of the Boursin but then It IMG_1105totally lost it’s shit and mumbled something about never coming back  – ever again!
  • Momo: Better, the stronger tropical flavors of the wine work well with the garlic and the acidity cuts through the richness. But, there is some discord with the herbs used in the Boursin. It was better with less Boursin and more Pita Chip.

Surprising results since I was not expecting SB to hold up with meat-ginger-garlic flavors in the dumplings but I completely expected the Boursin to pair across the board.

Forefather’s Sauvignon Blanc | Spec’s Downtown | $17

Momo Sauvignon Blanc | Spec’s Downtown | $15