Over the long weekend we had recently, we decided to take a little trip over to Central Otago. Central Otago is renowned for many things in NZ, not least of all pinot noir grape vines, olive trees, apricots, pears, apples, quinces, plums, cider, peaches, cherries, wines and honey. It’s a fabulous area for a foodie like me, but that was not why we went. The world famous Warbirds over Wanaka was on too, and the Clyde Wine and Food festival, oh and a craft festival in Wanaka itself.
None of these, however were the reason for our trip. Not even the Perambulator museum or jet boats we spied on the way could sway our resolve to get to our destination.

We traveled more than 4 hours each way (yes it takes that long with a 5 year old that needs to stop every 30 minutes to play) to go to Puzzling World. We decided to take him to puzzling world because he’s wanted to go for SO long and we got tired of him asking.

So after many hours of “are we there yet?” and “I want to go home” and “I feel sick” we arrived in Puzzling World. Isaac’s need to stop regularly was not all bad though, the drive through Central Otago was spectacular - as it always is. This is real life Hobbit Country. Central Otago is where much of the Lord of the Rings was filmed. If you want to see where little Hobbits adventured, this is where you go.

It’s a harsh alpine countryside, with lakes and rivers that are intense blues and greens. We stopped just outside of Clyde to pick some wild thyme and enjoy the views. These photos are not touched up at all. The sky is this blue, the river Clyde is that shade of aqua and indigo.

That’s Kit and Isaac picking up bits of quartz in the background while I’m sitting in the thyme with the camera.

The thyme grows all over what would otherwise be barren rocky hills and crags. Just merino sheep and rocks as far as the eye can see. It’s incredible that this little plant can survive and do so well. Apparently it came to Otago via the gold miners camps and thrived; it’s actually considered a weed. When you walk and crush the thyme underfoot - puffs of the scent rise up, it has a much stronger aroma than your garden thyme.

Little stacks of beehives are scattered all along the hills and the sides of the road to collect a very special honey. Single floral honey, Wild thyme honey.
This particular artisan honey won a cuisine award this year. When the thyme is flowering the hills are shaded pink and purple, instead of brown and covered in outcrops of rock.

We weren’t able to stop to buy any honey along the way, because we had to make the most of the opportunity when Isaac was content to travel, so once I got home I ordered a little jar of wild thyme honey to make these crisp cookies with.

Honey and Ginger Lace Cookies

(Perfect for dessert- we had these with flambe bananas and icecream at a friends house with dinner)

  • 50 grams butter
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 good Tblspns honey
  • 1/4 cup plain baking flour
  • 1/2 tspn ground ginger

Preheat oven to 18C0/350F

Combine sugar, butter and honey in a saucepan, heat until mixture bubbles up. Sift in flour and ginger.

Stir until smooth. Drop in teaspoonfuls on a piece of parchment. Make sure you leave plenty of room for these to spread and only cook 2 or 3 at a time.

Cook until bubbling all over and starting to go deeper golden around the edges. They will still continue to cook after you have removed them from the oven for a minute or so.

Leave on the tray until they have cooled slightly then pick up the parchment and the cookies and place over a rolling pin to mould - remove when cool.

If you wish to leave them flat remove from the parchment when almost completely cool and sit on a rack.

Watch these carefully when you cook them - they will burn in an
instant.
Depending on your oven they will take between 3 and 8 minutes to cook roughly.

Recipe makes roughly 15 cookies - they should be eaten soon after they are made or stored air tight with waxed paper separating each one - they will keep for a day or so stored like this.

These look beautiful and fragile, but they have a tremendous flavour for something so delicate. They pair well with fresh fruit and cream or ice-cream. You can dip half the cookie in chocolate or drizzle a little over the top for something different.

This is a special cookie that takes a little extra time and makes a nice hostess gift.

Oh yes .. and just before I forget - on the way home in the dark with the stars twinkling in the sky we also discovered that there are two new constellations - the leaf blower and the very thin submarine - according to Isaac. We also had a great time at Puzzling World even if we did take the Emergency Exit out of the maze …. Isaac is not letting us forget that one.