Seven dishes you must try in Queenstown, New Zealand: Chef Darren Lovell

1. PORK BELLY SAUSAGE ROLL, FERGBAKER

While tourists line up for the Fergburger, sly locals sneak into Fergbaker next door for the pork belly sausage roll. The pastry is buttery, crisp and light; the filling is meaty and delicious with a good amount of fat that drips down your hand. No need for tomato sauce. 40 Shotover Street.

2. RAMEN BOWL, TANOSHI

This Japanese sake bar and restaurant is a favourite hangout for Queenstown's over-worked chefs. The menu is studded with go-to dishes but I cannot resist their Tan Tan Men – noodles in a rich pork broth with spiced pork mince. Three simple ingredients in a menage a trois of umami  goodness. See tanoshi.co.nz

3. SALAD BOWL, HABEBES

Hidden down an obscure lane, this Middle-Eastern-inspired cafe serves mouth-watering chicken and lamb kebabs with an eclectic array of salads. For $10, the salad bowl – four salads with either succulent chicken or flavoursome lamb – not only hits the spot for lunch but leaves plenty of change for Queenstown's adventure activities.  See habebes.co.nz 

4. SOUTHLAND CHEESE ROLL, RATA

A Southland cheese roll is an odd local delicacy, the background of which no one knows. And they are only found this far south with even folks in Christchurch scratching their head at the slice of white bread with a mix of cheese, French onion soup powder and evaporated milk rolled and fried in butter. Celebrity chef John Emmett's fine-diner version  – burnt onion salt, truffle and pickles – makes for a fun entree. See ratadining.co.nz

5. WHOLE FLOUNDER, FISHBONE

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There is one dish on the Fishbone menu that I inherited when I bought the business 12 years ago with my partner Mark Godden that remains on the menu – the whole flounder, lovingly roasted in brown butter with crispy capers, lemons and herbs from Fishbone Farm. It often prompts locals to tell stories from their childhood summers spent in the rivers and estuaries around the southern coast catching flounders. Fishbone may be a serious one-hatted seafood restaurant these days but our heart is still in these kinds of local memories.  See fishbonequeenstown.co.nz 

6. PAUA TORTELLINI, JACK'S POINT CLUBHOUSE

Golf course clubhouses do not get much better than Jack's Point. Here executive chef Vaughan Mabee, fresh for the kitchens of Europe, explores his Southland heritage. A standout for me is Mabee's use of paua, keeping it moist  and full of ocean flavour in hand-rolled tortellini that is left to float in a  flavoursome broth. See jackspoint.com 

7. SMOKE & FIRE PEANUT BUTTER, FIX & FOGG

When I first spied this bright orange jar of peanut butter at Raeward Fresh, I thought: "Who would bastardise peanut butter by adding cayenne chillies, natural manuka smoke from Central Otago and Spanish smoked paprika? How dare they!" The best peanut butter ever. Raeward Fresh is the supermarket in Queenstown selling artisanal products from around New Zealand. See raewardfreshqueenstown.co.nz

Fishbone chef-owner Darren Lovell's fish comes fresh off the boats, from ports around the South Island, the vegetables are locally grown, some at Fishbone's kitchen garden. The wines are handpicked by business partner Mark Godden, showcasing the best of New Zealand and Central Otago. This year, after 25 years serving locals and visitors, Fishbone earned One Hat at the Cuisine Magazine 2016 Good Food Awards. 

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