Plume’s new Summer Tasting Menu is better than Christmas because each and every one of the courses is like an exquisitely wrapped gift – and you get to unwrap six of them.Plume’s head chef, Atesh Ram, (below right) has designed a classic menu with some clever twists, presented as a series of dishes painted onto the plate in summery colours. Prior to coming to Plume, Atesh worked with many internationally renowned chefs in the kitchens of the Stamford, Langham and Heritage hotels. It’s a short distance but a great leap from being one of many in a large hotel kitchen in Auckland to being responsible for every aspect of the intimate dining experience offered at Plume in Matakana and Atesh is has clearly excited by the opportunity. He’s unleashed his creativity on the Summer Tasting Menu. The experience begins with a goat’s cheese terrine with a pistachio crumb base, served with a savoury berry compote, red pepper coulis and preserved lemon chutney. The Runner Duck Estate 2014 Chardonnay was the perfect companion with this and in fact, as promised by our very helpful waitress, good company throughout the meal. (Wine matches for each course are available). The next highlight was a smoked beef carpaccio (top left): wafer-thin slithers of perfectly smoked eye fillet drizzled with Tuscan mayonnaise and dotted with capers. This dish is, on its own, a good enough reason to order this degustation as it’s not available (yet) on the à la carte menu. The squid ink rotolo arrived (centre) – jet black squid ink pasta rolled around a creamy seafood mousse within a bright golden circle of saffron-infused nage (a sauce made from the broth in which the seafood has been poached) trimmed with scarlet paprika oil. The grape sorbet, made with the Syrah and Sangiovese grapes from Runner Duck Estate vines, provided a refreshing resting point before we moved on. The pork tenderloin (right) was perfectly cooked, perfectly tender; complemented by the rich Calvados sauce and horseradish cream, and served on warm, mustardy pickled savoy cabbage, reminiscent of mum’s piccalilli. The final gift from Atesh’s kitchen was a passionfruit torte with mascarpone. Take someone you love and languish in luxury, far from the madding Christmas crowd. Six course degustation menu | $109 per person 49 Sharp Road, Matakana | T: 09 422 7915