CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE

For the first time, the Cuisine Good Food Awards will include a category championing changemakers in the sector: those people who see a better way of doing things; those prepared to act to solve the problems faced by society; the disrupters who take a stand and make an impact. Hillary Eaton shares some of their stories.


They say that the only constant you can expect from life is change. If nothing else, life during the pandemic has shown us just how true that is. But there’s the change that’s thrust upon us and then there is the change for which we wake up in the morning, that which we’re driven to create. For Cuisine’s inaugural Champions for Change, their lives are dedicated to the latter. We want to tell you of the people who are shaping all facets of New Zealand’s food ways for a better tomorrow for everyone involved, from fishers to chefs to policymakers. We’re proud to lift up the causes and voices of some of New Zealand’s most impactful changemakers.


SARAH & KARL WARR
BETTER FISHING
THE SEA-CHANGERS

For Sarah and Karl Warr, loving the fishing industry means honestly looking at its faults in order to see a better future. Stunned by the high juvenile mortality rate and small-fish bycatch found in standard nets, the couple founded Better Fishing. “Factories we were fishing into were asking us to ‘highgrade’ at sea, which is really just a fancy word for dumping, and that, for us, was a definite no,” Sarah says.

Unsatisfied by existing solutions to this industry-wide problem, the pair developed the rigid aperture cage – a cage that seriously reduces the catch of juvenile fish and enables them to swim free at depth, making for more responsible practices which safeguard future healthy harvests.

The Warrs have also led the way in revolutionising transparency in the fishing industry, installing a camera and live-streaming their daily fishing operation. As their sights continue to shift to areas of the industry that require innovation, their next mission is to help change New Zealand’s consumption of fish species into one that has longevity, with sustained biodiversity in mind. As Sarah explains, there is an ever-increasing number of people on the planet who need to be fed, so we need to start eating those more humble, more plentiful species from lower on the food chain – anchovies, sardines, pilchards and sea greens.

While the couple is proud of the strides they’ve been able to make in the industry, they are quick to call out to those who supported them, particularly restaurants who took a chance on them in the early years. “They have easier, cheaper options but they walk with us, together, for you, for our future, for the future.” dailycatch.co

NICK LOOSELY
EVERYBODY EATS
THE NO-HUNGER/ NO-WASTE WARRIOR

Nick Loosely, founder of Everybody Eats, began with one simple mission: to make sure bellies were full, while landfills stayed empty. Devising a pay-as-you-feel model for a volunteer-run restaurant serving a set, 3-course menu to both those in support and those in need, Everybody Eats has done tremendous work to hit two very difficult birds with one stone: to combat the issue of hunger by using what would otherwise become food waste, all under one restaurant roof.

“The pay-as-you-feel model is inclusive,” Nick explains. “It allows people who can afford to pay for a meal to do so, and perhaps contribute to future meals, while giving more vulnerable people an opportunity to enjoy a dignified experience without feeling any guilt or stigma.”

Having both groups – those in need and those there to support – eating under one roof provides an opportunity for community and kōrero, is unique in the charity space and perhaps one of the most innovative elements of Everybody Eats. “It’s quite uncomfortable sometimes,” Nick says. “But by making it comfortable for all sorts of people to eat with us, magic is created when everyone comes together.”

With three locations across New Zealand and another Auckland location planned for early 2022, we’ve never been more excited to see a restaurant group expand. everybodyeats.nz

ASHER BOOTE
HILLSIDE AND DAISY
THE RESTAURATEUR

Asher Boote of Wellington restaurants Hillside and Daisy has long been a proprietor of change in the restaurant industry. From the choice to go meatless at Hillside, to his ongoing efforts to create a more sustainable restaurant, Asher has championed a better environment for both the planet and those within his restaurants.

“We have worked hard over a long period to achieve things that are not all that glamorous,” Asher says. “For example, Hillside now only ever uses one rubbish bag per week and often that’s nowhere near full.” Instead, Hillside’s food scraps, old menus, used napkins and paper towels are put into a compost pile which is used to feed the garden and which, in turn, provides produce for the restaurants. Why be glamorous when you can be commendable?

The same thoughtfulness is seen in the creation of a work environment that coaxes out the best in staff. Mental health is openly discussed and worked on, while hours are managed in efforts to give staff proper work/life balance.

“We’ve always been a really agile business,” Asher explains. “But that’s because we built it in a way that allows it to adjust as life and the world changes. There have been huge amounts of people who have criticised the changes we’ve made over the years, but those voices are pretty quickly cancelled out by the positive moves we’ve made and the great people who support us in doing so.” hillsidekitchen.co.nz

PETER GORDON & ALASTAIR CARRUTHERS
HOMELAND
THE AMBASSADORS

With the opening of Homeland, Peter Gordon and Alastair Carruthers have created something unique in New Zealand: a food embassy to champion sustainable, tradable kai, showcasing Pacific and New Zealand producers by way of a cooking-school-meets-restaurant.

“We know we’ve helped many smaller producers reach market,” Peter says. “We are also proud of our fortnightly Community Days – a Tuesday where different migrant communities or groups in need get to come and cook with me, swap stories, share knowledge and then sit down for lunch and have a kai.”

Thanks to the pair, producers that have made a notable amount of their business in export markets are now being introduced to the domestic market in new ways. “With closed borders, it is increasingly difficult to reach offshore markets,” Peter explains. “And many exporters haven’t previously been selling into retail in New Zealand.”

Thanks to Homeland, there have never been more avenues for New Zealand to experience a connection to producers that may have not otherwise graced the table. homelandnz.com

DON SHEPHERD
CITIZEN COLLECTIVE
THE FOOD UPCYCLER

It has never been more important to consider the lifespan of what we consume, especially in the context of food waste. With 29 million loaves of bread wasted each year in New Zealand alone, bread is one of the most glaring examples of our collective propensity to waste. It’s this starting statistic that pushed Don Shepherd to found Citizen Collective, a company dedicated to upcycling food into something sustainably delicious.

“The linear concept needed disrupting,” Don explains of the lifespan most consumer goods take: from production to consumer to landfill. What originally began with making beer from surplus supermarket bread has now transformed into a circular concept: bread into beer into bread again.

But it’s not just beer – Citizen Collective tackles other food upcycling projects, partnering with consumer goods brands such as Sawmill Brewery, Lost and Found Wines and Morningside Cider, resulting in inventive tipples such as a piquette made from leftover wine grapes and a cherry cider that saves 20 cherries per can from landfills.

“The more that we sell, the more that we’re able to save,” Don says of Citizen Collective. “Convenience is key and taste is essential. We want to encourage and enable people to make a choice for good.”

Partnered with one of New Zealand’s top chefs, Ben Bayly, Citizen Collective is just getting started with upcycling surplus food into a new, tasty version of itself. With several new areas of food waste on their radar, you can expect to see big things in their near future. citizen.co.nz

IAN PROUDFOOT
KPMG’S GLOBAL HEAD OF AGRIBUSINESS
THE POLICYMAKER

For KPMG’s global head of agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, getting New Zealand to carbon neutrality isn’t a challenge, it’s an opportunity. “The best that other sectors can aspire to is zero: New Zealand agriculture can become climate positive. As opposed to being ‘less bad,’ agriculture can actually be part of the solution.”

It’s just one piece of the puzzle being worked on by the Aotearoa Circle, a partnership of public and private sector leaders committed to reversing the decline of New Zealand’s natural resources and pursuing sustainable prosperity. Proudfoot and others are involved in the Mana Kai project, an initiative looking across all aspects of New Zealand food ways, from producers and growers to eaters, to develop a New Zealand food roadmap which will enhance the New Zealand food system.

With a population of 5 million people and enough food exported each year to feed 40 million, there should be no reason for New Zealanders to experience the level of food insecurity we currently do. With the Mana Kai project, the hope is that there won’t have to be a choice between economic stability from exports and a country where everyone is fed and healthy.

The framework is reflective of a Māori view of our food systems, with the land, people and environment inherently interconnected. As an ongoing kōrero, the next phase of the Mana Kai project will be to listen, but not just to experts. “We want to hear from everyone,” Ian says. “We want to hear from you.” theaotearoacircle.nz/mana-kai

LINDY NELSON
SAFER FARMS
THE FARMERS’ ADVOCATE

If there is someone championing a culture of care for those who work in New Zealand’s largest industry, it’s Lindy Nelson. “[People that work in the agriculture industry] carry the largest weight, in terms of the economy, for all of New Zealand,” Lindy explains. “But we have the highest harm rate in the country. Seventeen people lose their lives on farms each year.”

Things like leadership fatigue, long-term stress and exposure to agrichemicals are just a few of the very complex issues that Lindy and her team have worked to address.

“The biggest challenge for food producers is the complexity of the system they’re now working with, as we grapple with climate change and our obligations around the environment,” she explains.

Through her work with Safer Farms, Lindy focusses on expanding the conversation surrounding agriculture beyond that of compliance to creating a concrete strategy for an industry that looks after the worker’s mental and physical health: a strategy by the sector and for the sector; a strategy that looks after those who feed all of New Zealand, quite literally from the ground up. saferfarms.org.nz

LIONEL & VAL HOTENE
PAPATŪĀNUKU KŌKIRI MARAE
THE COMMUNITY LEADERS

Community leaders the calibre of Lionel and Val Hotene are rarities. Heading the efforts of the Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae in Māngere – an inner-city marae dedicated to fostering and upholding tikanga, strong community relationships and a hectare of lush community garden farmed in accordance with Te Waka Kai Ora – the pair are the beating heart of the community.

“Entrepreneurial avenues are great support for our marae in that particular part of Tāmaki Makaurau,” Lionel tells us. You may have had the opportunity to try some of their thoughtfully farmed produce without even knowing it. After setting up its community gardening project over 30 years ago, Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae not only helps to feed people in the community, but also provides an economic stronghold through selling its vegetables to markets such as Grey Lynn’s Sunday market and Homeland restaurant. It’s so much more than just learning to work the land. It’s educating an entire generation (and those to come) with a view to a better future, strongly based in building knowledge of self-sustainability through ethical agriculture tied to community support. papatuanukukokirimarae.org


WELL SEASONED JANUARY 2022

David Neville has a play with tomatoes, vanilla and yoghurt, and hot dogs get a makeover.

THERE'S LOTS OF . . . TOMATOES

Tomatoes are the Cliff Curtis of the produce world. Whether raw or cooked, whole, as a sauce, juiced or pulped, there is no role that a tomato cannot play. The character of tomato can be both sweet, savoury, acidic and packed with umami. This makes tomatoes the ideal summer item for every shopping basket. Buy them and a purpose will present itself.

GIVE THESE A GO…

Tomato, black tea & kombu passata
Wash and shake dry 1½ kg tomatoes. Put in a blender and pulse 4-5 times. Sieve to remove seeds and skin. Place 2 tea bags and a 10cm piece kombu into a clean 1-litre Kilner jar. Stir 1½ teaspoons flaky salt into tomato juice and put in the jar. Put into a suitably sized pot filled halfway with water, and simmer very gently for 45 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Allow to cool to room temperature. Store in the fridge for up to 12-14 days.

Pan con tomate
Cut 8 slices of bread about 1cm thick and toast until lightly golden on each side. Cut a garlic clove in half and gently rub it on one side of the bread to scent. Place a box grater over a bowl and grate 4 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes to a coarse pulp. Drizzle 60ml olive oil over the garlic toast slices. Top each slice of bread with an even amount of tomato. Layer with a slice of salty Iberico ham. Serve immediately.

Pasta pomodoro
Cook a finely diced onion and 2 sliced garlic cloves with 150ml olive oil for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add 2 coarsely chopped tomatoes and crush to a pulp. Stir in 2 teaspoons sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 500ml tomato passata, reduce heat and slowly cook to thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Cook 400g of dried spaghetti until al dente and drain. Add pasta to the sauce, return to moderate heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly coated. Fold in 10 torn basil leaves just before serving. Top with freshly grated parmesan to taste.

Fried green tomatoes
Remove the cores from 4 large, green, beefsteak tomatoes; cut horizontally into 1cm-thick slices. Whisk 1 cup buttermilk with a size 7 egg. Put 1 cup flour into a bowl, put some buttermilk/egg in a second bowl, and fill a third bowl with 1 cup polenta, ½ cup flour, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon fine salt. Dredge each slice of tomato in flour, then buttermilk, then polenta and place on a tray in a single layer. Fill a pan with ½cm of oil and heat until shimmering. Carefully put 3-4 tomato slices in the oil and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove to absorbent paper and repeat until all cooked. Season with black pepper and salt. Serve with mayonnaise or Green Goddess sauce (see recipe below MAKE IT YOURSELF / YOGHURT).

Sauce vierge
Remove cores from 4 ripe tomatoes and make a cross in their bases. Submerge tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds and refresh with cold running water until cool. Peel away skins, quarter the tomatoes and remove seeds. Coarsely dice flesh and put in a medium-sized bowl. Add 1 tablespoon each of vinegar and lemon juice. Add 100ml olive oil. Finely slice 5 basil leaves and ¼ cup flat-leafed parsley and fold through. Season with salt and pepper. An additional teaspoon of sugar can be added if tomatoes taste more acidic than sweet. Pairs beautifully with ravioli, seafood and lightly cooked vegetables.

CELEBRATING THE STAPLES / VANILLA

GIVE THESE A GO…

Vanilla extract
Using a sharp knife, split 6 vanilla pods lengthwise down the centre. Place into a clean, small jar twice as large as the vanilla when it is bunched together. Pour a premium spirit over the vanilla (vodka, rum or bourbon) until vanilla pods are fully submerged. Seal the jar securely and shake until your shoulder tires, then shake a little more. Store in a cool, dark cupboard. After one week it will have developed flavour. After 6 months the iconic golden hues will develop, if using a clear spirit. The longer it matures the more pronounced it will be.

Vanilla hollandaise
Melt 500g salted butter in a medium-sized pot until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat to separate and clarify. Once the butter has separated, carefully pour off the clarified butter into a jug and discard any white milk solids at the bottom. Place 5 fresh, free-range egg yolks into a stainless-steel bowl and add 1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar and a teaspoon each of vanilla paste and vanilla essence with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove from heat. Place the bowl over hot water and whisk continuously until eggs are pale, doubled in size and showing whisk marks (as thick as Wattie’s tomato sauce). Remove from heat. Place the bowl on a damp tea towel to secure and, while whisking, slowly drizzle in the warm clarified butter. Adjust at the end with a tablespoon of warm water if it appears too thick. Season lightly with salt. Ideal for eggs, poultry, fish and especially grilled corn.

Vanilla-cured salmon
Ask your fishmonger for the top third of a skinless salmon fillet, approximately 700g. In a bowl, mix together 100g brown sugar, 75g coarse rock salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla essence and ½ cup chopped fresh dill. Sprinkle the base of a rimmed plate with one-third of the salt cure. Lay the salmon on top and generously pack around the remaining cure on all sides. Cover with baking paper and place an additional plate on top. Put in the fridge overnight. Be sure that the plate is deep enough as it will produce approximately 150ml of liquid during curing. After 8-10 hours remove from fridge, gently wash away the cure with cold water and pat dry thoroughly. The salmon is now ready to be sliced thinly for salads or antipasto, or for smoking or low cooking on the barbecue.

Vanilla, peanut butter & dulce de leche blondie - makes 12 / preparation 20 minutes plus 1 hour cooling / cooking 35 minutes
A sweet-tooth lover's dream, with just enough savoury notes to get a passing mark from those who don’t have sweet teeth.

In a large bowl, whisk together 300g standard flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon cornflour. Melt 170g butter in a pot and add 200g brown sugar and 130g caster sugar, then remove from heat and stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar and cool. Add two eggs and a generous teaspoon of Heilala vanilla essence and stir through. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir 5-6 times to partially combine. Add ½ cup white chocolate chips and continue to stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into a non-stick, or parchment-lined 20 x 20cm baking dish. Dollop 4-5 tablespoons of chunky peanut butter across the blondie, drizzle with 3-4 tablespoons Highlander caramelised condensed milk and swirl through with a knife tip. Bake in a preheated oven at 170℃ for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for one hour before removing from the tin.

REINVENTING THE MEAL / HOT DOGS

GIVE THESE A GO…

Double pork brat with kimchi, togarashi & tonkatsu sauce
Place 16 bratwurst (I use BavariaNZ Nürnberger) in a clean bowl, sprinkle over a generous tablespoon of togarashi seasoning and toss well to coat. In a separate bowl, mix 400g kimchi with 5 tablespoons mayonnaise. Cook the bratwurst under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes on each side and remove from heat. Warm 8 soft white hot dog rolls and place 2 bratwurst in each roll. Top with the kimchi and finish with a streak of tonkatsu and an additional sprinkling of togarashi.

Parsley, sage & rosemary tofu hot dogs with lime avocado & pesto
Put the flesh of 2 medium-sized avocados into a bowl and season with a good pinch of salt and 5-6 cracks of pepper. Add 2 tablespoons lime juice, mash together with a fork and keep to one side. Cook 8 Bean Supreme parsley, sage & rosemary sausages under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes each side and remove from heat. Split 8 soft white hot dog rolls and spread with mustard. Divide sausages between buns and load up with crushed avocado. Drizzle with basil pesto and add picked watercress sprigs for a peppery kick.

Tandoori chicken hot dog with blackened cucumber raita
Mix 1 cup yoghurt with 3 tablespoons tandoori paste in a bowl and add 8 chicken sausages. Cover and place in fridge to marinate for 1-2 hours. Split a large telegraph cucumber lengthwise and then into quarters. Place on a baking dish and rub with 1 teaspoon each of salt, ground cumin seed, mild chilli powder and ground fenugreek seed, and drizzle with oil. Place cucumbers skin-side down on a hot barbecue and cook on a high heat for 4-5 minutes until the skin chars. Remove from the heat and allow to rest. When cool, coarsely chop cucumber and mix with 1 cup yoghurt and ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves. Remove sausages from marinade and shake off excess. Cook on a hot grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. Warm 8 split hot dog rolls and brush with soft butter. Assemble the hot dogs and top with cucumber raita and some finely sliced spring onion.

Pilsner corn dogs
Place 8 sausages of choice into a pot of cold water and bring to a simmer to precook. Remove from water and allow to steam dry. Insert a popsicle-style stick halfway into each sausage. In a bowl, mix 1 cup each of fine cornmeal and flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add ½ cup each of milk and light pilsner beer and 2 whole size 7 eggs. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth and thick. Heat a litre of canola oil in a heavy-based pot to 160°C, or until a bread cube fries to golden in 6 seconds. Coat the dry sausages in flour and swirl in the batter. Shake off excess and cook 2 corn dogs at a time for 3-4 minutes until golden. Remove from oil to absorbent paper and repeat. Serve with ketchup and mustard.
Cook’s tip: The longer the batter sits, the more it will thicken. It can be thinned down with warm water for a lighter batter.

MAKE IT YOURSELF / YOGHURT

GIVE THESE A GO…

Green Goddess yoghurt dressing
Put 2 cups of yoghurt into a blender or immersion blender jug. Add the flesh of a whole avocado, 2 anchovies (optional), 1 finely chopped garlic clove and ¼ cup each of finely chopped basil, parsley and tarragon. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Blend for 10 seconds and scrape down the sides. Continue to blend until completely smooth and a light green colour. Season lightly with salt. Serve immediately or store in a snaplock container for a day. Cook’s tip: Makes an excellent dip for the fried green tomatoes (see above recipe THERE'S LOTS OF . . . TOMATOES).

Yoghurt marinade with Aleppo pepper, garlic & savoury yeast
Place 1 litre yoghurt into a large bowl and add 10 tablespoons Aleppo pepper flakes, 3 minced garlic cloves and 5 tablespoons savoury yeast flakes. Whisk together thoroughly. Add your desired protein, coat thoroughly and cover with a lid. Store in the fridge overnight. The following day, remove protein from marinade and shake off any excess. Place onto a moderately hot grill to cook and baste with the remaining marinade.

Grilled zucchini with yoghurt, preserved lemon & Sichuan pepper
Split 4 medium-sized zucchini lengthwise. Season the cut sides with salt and keep to one side. In a medium-sized bowl put 1 cup of natural yoghurt and the pith of a finely chopped preserved lemon. Put a dozen each of black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns into a pepper mill, grind into the yoghurt and mix through. Pat dry the zucchini and brush with oil. Place onto a hot grill and cook for 3 minutes on each side until becoming tender. Remove from the heat and spoon over the yoghurt dressing and garnish with 7-8 torn mint leaves. Serve immediately.


LOCAL HEROES / Northland-style

A thriving food culture inspires Martin Bosley to celebrate summer Northland-style.

Northland’s food story is an ode to the dream of seasonality and regionality. It tells of fruit ripened to perfection and vegetables bursting with flavour; of cheese that tastes of goodness; and of meat and seafood that have been treated with respect and reverence for the natural wonders of this region. It’s a living, thriving food culture where artisan food is prepared and sold with passion.

James Moore had a simple dream: to make his own salt. He began his journey in his Hamilton backyard with 100 litres of Raglan’s finest seawater. Eight weeks after harvesting that first batch of water he had 3kg of salt. The dream grew, so he, his wife Yasmin and the dog moved north to Taipa and built a salt farm. There he discovered the isolated pristine waters of Puheke Beach, on the Karikari Peninsula, which became the original source for the seawater. Once the water has been collected, it’s a simple process: the sun shines, the water evaporates, the salt is left behind. James has developed a range of flavoured salts, great for grilled meats, marinating seafood or seasoning salads and vegetables. thetaipasaltpig.com

Jeff Cleghorn grows herbicide- and pesticide-free macadamias (and they are hand-picked to avoid ground contamination), just outside Kerikeri. The raw macadamias eaten on their own are rich and buttery, while roasting them intensifies their flavour. Jeff also crushes them into a silky, sweet macadamia butter that is nutritiously addictive when spread on toast. jcnuts.co.nz

Waipu, about halfway between Mangawhai and Ruakākā, is home to Belle Chèvre Creamery. David and Jennifer Rodrigue farm Anglo-Nubian goats in a traditional European manner – the goats wear bells and roam freely, choosing what they want to eat from a variety of pasture and shrubs. Because of this and small-batch processing, the milk and therefore the cheeses have no barnyard ‘goaty’ taste, making them perfect for salads. bellechevrecreamery.co.nz

The last time I visited a smokehouse, the woodsy smell from the tar- blackened walls and rows of legs of ham hanging inside stayed with me for days. Nothing says ‘comfort food’ so well as smoked food. Hamish and Nichola Apatu operate their smokehouse from the small settlement of Coopers Beach, north of Mangōnui. They take great pride in their role as kaitiaki of the sea and their range of smoked seafood uses only the freshest fish, which they catch themselves using longlines. It’s a sea-to-smokehouse story, a true labour of love. Kingfish, trevally, kahawai and others are hot smoked to the colour of tarnished bronze, the flesh just falling away from the bones, the oils gently running. This is fish turned into something assertively hefty, rich and regal. apatuaqua.co.nz

I have a chilli memory that brings me no pleasure. I was rifling through a box of pretty, almost pastel-coloured capsicums and came across one so gorgeously small and perfectly formed, I just had to eat it. I imagined its sweetness as I bit through its golden skin and sucked on the juices as they burst across my tongue; I formed a perfect seal with my lips against the membranes to avoid losing any. In the time it took for the pain receptors in my mouth to tell my brain I had just eaten something hot, my heart rate went through the roof and I felt sure I was about to become permanently blind or insane: I had a eaten a habanero, one of the hottest chillies in the world. I am surprised I am still alive. Some people, like Clint Meyer from Fire Dragon Chillies, get a buzz from this masochistic endorphin rush, so much so that he grows his own organic, spray-free habaneros and other chillies near the Hokianga Harbour, and makes a range of sauces of varying spice levels that will either whip or kiss your lips. firedragonchillies.co.nz




THE SCOOP

Decadent ice cream, sorbet and granita from Laura Greenfield of Wellington’s Field & Green, including the scoop on her £3 million dessert.

Like many events in recent times, the awards ceremony of the Felix Wellington Hospitality Awards 2021 took to a virtual platform, with most of Wellington’s hospitality workers joining via a live stream. So when Laura Greenfield of Field & Green was announced as Outstanding Chef of 2021, she and her partner Raechal Ferguson were at home on the sofa in their pyjamas. Thank goodness there were no Oscar-style Zoom acceptance speeches, then. “Oh, I’m far too cool for the Oscars,” she says, tongue firmly in cheek. “I was really chuffed and not expecting it at all. I really didn’t think I had a chance,” Laura says, after being nominated three times now, and being up against talent such as Kelda Hains of Rita, Shepherd Elliott of Shepherd and Matt Hawkes of Mason. “I really feel good and I’m happy that it’s the hospitality people of Wellington who voted for me.”

So what next for a chef who is recognised by her peers as at the pinnacle of Wellington’s vibrant and competitive hospitality scene? Well, next morning she was back at the restaurant, folding cardboard and sorting laundry.

“In Wellington, people don’t care how old you are, or what you look like, it’s whether you’re a good person that counts. It’s not like in London,” she says. And she should know, having cooked in London for 20 years, before coming to New Zealand in 2014, opening Field & Green in 2015 with herself in the kitchen and Raechal running the business side.

At Field & Green, Laura cooks European soul food, drawing on her Jewish background and exploring the diaspora-driven strands of cuisines that spread as wide as Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Morocco, the Middle East and India.

We’re talking not long after the wrap-up of Bar Salonika, Field & Green’s pop up for Wellington On a Plate 2021, inspired by the city known as the Jerusalem of the Balkans. The capital’s premier food festival gives the Field & Green team an annual opportunity to run their imagination wild with a month-long theme digging deeper into the varied cuisines that have flourished along the migratory pathways of the Jewish community. Each pop up starts with an idea and a cookbook. For Bar Salonika it was Cookbook of the Jews of Greece by Nicholas Stavroulakis, first published in 1986 and a real find from an Athens bookshop. While the book sowed the seeds of the 26 dishes on Bar Salonika’s meze menu, Laura added her own “bits and pieces” to dishes such as beef and matzo pie, fish in rhubarb sauce and Sephardic stuffed vine leaves. Today, Field & Green has a reputation for its stellar ice-cream selection with flavours developed by Laura along with sous chef Sam Stott. If you are up to it, the chef’s bar menu option finishes with a dégustation of ice cream – the opportunity to try as many flavours as you wish (yes, some people manage all 18 flavours). But one favourite flavour harks back to Laura’s days as head chef at renowned fine-art auction house, Sotheby’s. There, her marmalade ice cream was always on the menu, and was credited with winkling a £3m commission from a tricky customer. The story goes that one day the head of Old Masters was lunching a client, but fees were a sticking point. To end the stalemate the dealer said, “I’ll order you a dessert: if you like it we’ll do it my way; if you don’t, then you win.” One scoop of Laura’s marmalade ice cream later and Sothebys had the £3m fee tied up. TRACY WHITMEY




WINNER BEARD BROTHERS – PORK & CRESS SAUSAGES

We’re proud to introduce the finalists in the Cuisine Artisan Awards category at the New Zealand Food Awards. And the winner is… Beard Brothers Pork & Cress Sausages. Here Rob Beard of Beard Brothers tells us how their prize-winning Pork & Cress Sausages came into being.

Lead judge Fiona Smith was particularly impressed by the flavour profile of our winning entry. “What a crowd pleaser – the humble sausage is elevated with the clever addition of watercress to Beard Brothers free-range pork sausage, making it an instant Kiwi classic. It’s a simple but perfect combination of rich, succulent pork cut through with the pepperiness of the watercress. All the judges agreed it was a winning combination.”

So how did this tempting flavour combination come into being? Rob Beard tells us the whole story. “The idea for our pork and cress sausage came from one of our young sons. I often take all three boys hunting on the weekends. We shot a deer and my middle son, Ned, spotted some watercress in a creek on our way back to the hut. So we get back to the hut and I bang a leg of venison in the camp oven while Ned sorts the cress. A few hours later we are scoffing our faces with the most tender venison ever and this incredible flavoursome watercress. Between mouthfuls of goodness Ned pipes up, ‘Dad, you should put this in a sausage.’ Boom… lightbulb moment, right there. I lay in my bunk that night fizzing with excitement. I knew this would be epic if we could bring it to the market but use free-range pork instead of venison, and from there the pork and cress sausage was born.

“To make this sausage we needed a good commercial supply of clean, trusted watercress. I spent hours on Google and ringing around all parts of New Zealand trying to find a good reputable supplier of watercress but just couldn’t crack it. I was telling our onion supplier about our dilemma and out of the blue he tells me about a young guy and his wife who have set up a small hydroponic business supplying microgreens to restaurants and a couple of supermarkets, and they were trialling hydroponic watercress. It just so happens they are two minutes from our plant. I was there like a rocket and we now have a steady supply of the most incredible watercress ever. This was paramount to the whole idea and I blimmin near cried when I knew this was going to work… when you obsess over something and can’t see a way forward but keep on driving hard for the result it just feels so incredible to achieve it once you get there!” beardbrothers.co.nz


BLOWIN' SMOKE

Chef Matt Lambert cooks over the coals with red-hot recipes to ramp up your summer barbecue.

Matt Lambert can’t wait to go camping. Just as soon as he can he will be packing up and heading north with his family to cruise round Cape Reinga, Ninety Mile Beach and Russell, as well as some quieter places to pitch the tent and spend family time.

It was a camping trip that inspired the recipes that Matt has cooked for Cuisine. He had pitched camp, had a camp fire going and some great meat prepared when inspiration struck. “I just went into the woods and got three sticks, made a tripod and hung stuff over the fire. It was really, really, really fun. The open flames become a focal point and you get some really tasty food, too.” He’s since upgraded his kit but the principle remains. “Because you’ve been nursing it all day, you’re excited to eat. That’s the sort of cooking I love.”

It’s a far cry from the upscale and elegant surroundings of The Lodge Bar in Auckland’s Commercial Bay, where Matt plies his not-inconsiderable exec cheffing prowess. Make no mistake, when Matt Lambert returned to New Zealand in 2020 it was a big deal – this is the West Auckland boy made good in the Big Apple, the chef whose spot-on-point New Zealand flair gained a Michelin star just four months after opening The Musket Room in New York City. What tempted him back was the opportunity to work again with the team at Lodge Bar Group. “They have huge future plans and I’m wildly positive and can’t wait to be part of them. It’s an amazing role with much more opportunity than I could do on my own.” Those plans include The Lodge Bar in the Myers store at Chadstone, Melbourne, newly opened in November 2021. The next in the stable will be in Brisbane, planned for the first part of 2022.

But right now, summer in New Zealand is on Matt’s mind and here he’s created dishes to make the most of it, including an epic eight-hour pork belly. “Gather people together, get the fire going and sit around and wait. These are the times you’ll remember years down the road. Time is pretty precious. Slow down.” TRACY WHITMEY




Bar Bites / Bar Magda

Bar stools are in – and our search is on for the perfect perch, some serious snacks and something stirred or shaken. The team from Bar Magda creates some very good reasons for you to explore the unusual.

Subterranean cool (it’s housed in an ex-swinger’s club, no less) and polished concrete floors are balanced with warm lighting, expressive art and comfy wood-crafted seating at Bar Magda, which opened midway through 2021, pooling the talents of hospo stalwarts Carlo Buenaventura, Matt Venables and Craig Thompson.

Carlo, who heads up the kitchen, will be familiar to anyone who has been fed or watered, or both, in the Karangahape and Ponsonby Road precincts over the past several years. He’s worked the kitchen and front of house at numerous establishments, as well as running successful pop ups, including his SuTuKil series which nodded to the Southern Filipino charcoal-grilled flavours he grew up with. At Bar Magda, Carlo pulls from a catalogue of ingredients, flavours and techniques from his upbringing in the city of Davao in the Philippines, and the coastal province of Davao Oriental, where his family spent holidays and where, he explains, “I was exposed to a more pre-colonial, indigenous approach to cooking.” Alongside this he cleverly weaves ingredients that make sense for Aotearoa and the way customers want to eat out these days.

While the tasting menu is the best way to journey the Bar Magda path, Carlo covers all bases. “We also recognise that some people come in for just a few dishes and drinks, so I make sure every dish is balanced.” There are whimsical touches, too, as Cheez Whiz – a processed cheese spread with nostalgic status in Filipino culture – is reimagined in a parmesan custard served with fantastically springy bread, and a play on the ‘meadow’ theme has succulent lamb ribs buried in a stack of delicate fresh herbs. But this cleverness doesn’t feel forced as it’s so often wont to do: that parmesan custard will stay on your mind for days; the herbs that blanket the lamb are well chosen so that no one flavour dominates, a green sambal edging in to add piquancy to the quaint meadow.

Tropical fruits play an important role in Filipino cuisine and Carlo has obvious fun calling on Kiwi substitutes for the often sweet-sour profiles of fruit such as batuwan. Our feijoa, tamarillo, citrus, rhubarb, amarillo chillies and peaches give chef plenty to work with, and they play nicely, too, at the bar.

Matthew Venables drew inspiration from hole-in-the-wall bars in big cities such as Berlin, New York and Tokyo when designing the liquid offering. While the wine and beer list is excellent, you shouldn’t shy away from a cocktail or two from the list that spans old world classics to the more contemporary. In fact, the best way to start a Bar Magda visit is with a cocktail that piques your interest; your waitperson can use that to inform recommendations from the food menu to suit your palate.

Bar Magda builds on Carlo’s work to get Filipino cuisine included in the dialogue beyond ethnic, Southeast Asian and fusion. “I’m hoping soon we’ll be included more in the conversation around contemporary, modern, new wave and progressive. Like me, there are many in the culinary world who came from the Philippines and are sharing a personal narrative beyond what is deemed to be ‘traditional’. We can still be authentic, in our own right.” ANNA KING SHAHAB




GUT FEELINGS

Functional nutritionist Vinka Wong on how diet can help to alleviate anxiety.

It comes as no surprise to learn that cases of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders have increased by more than 25% worldwide, according to a world-first study of the impact of COVID-19 on mental health by The University of Queensland. Our functional nutritionist Vinka Wong makes a case for using nutrients as ammunition… Kel

Anxiety: that heavy weight that pushes down on us, racks our shoulders and turns our tummies inside out. Most of us have experienced it at some stage, but for some living with anxiety is a constant and continuous battle.

There is no denying that there are very real existential challenges facing all of us right now. These are all genuine, stressful and overwhelming and can often lead to various levels of anxiety.

Anxiety differs for all of us: for some people it doesn’t even register; for many others it can consume our life, halting conscious momentum, making normal, simple daily tasks difficult to near-impossible and reducing our quality of sleep.

But it doesn’t have to go unchecked. Thankfully, in most cases we can establish a calm and happy self, and one easy way to treat anxiety is through food. When we are anxious, our body quickly becomes depleted of certain nutrients as they are used up in producing stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, the chemicals that are released when feeling anxious. When we are low in those nutrients we are more prone to anxiety, because these particular nutrients are what we need to make our calming neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Also, our body can become super- sensitive to certain foods that induce stress. So, to combat anxiety it’s helpful to make sure we’re eating the right foods.

Magnesium and zinc are my anxiety warriors and foods naturally rich in these minerals are critically important in this fight. Magnesium-rich foods include almonds, spinach, avocado and dark chocolate. Zinc-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, lamb, oysters and pinenuts. Starting your day with a chocolate (cacao) smoothie with spinach, nuts and seeds is a great way to get these nutrients into your diet. One tip is to add frozen cauliflower to the smoothie to make it nice and creamy – if my fussy kids love it, you know it’s a winner!

However, certain foods can act as ammunition for negative emotions. By being aware of how these may increase or decrease our stress, we can better manage anxiety when it arises. One common food trigger for this is coffee (sorry, coffee-lovers). Coffee is a powerful stimulant that increases your heart rate, blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. Caffeine consumption can more than double your blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. Also, caffeine hinders the calming neurotransmitter GABA, which increases your chances of anxiety and panic attacks.

Another key to success is to feed our gut bacteria, the little legends (microorganisms or bacteria) that are collectively known as the microbiome. I can’t tell you how hugely integral these are to immune function, digestion and brain health and we now know that there are more happy-hormone receptors in our gut than in our brain (serotonin particularly). My mantra: “If happy is the destination, we gotta start with good digestion!”

If you are experiencing bloating, gas, reflux, diarrhoea or nausea these are clear indications of inflammation or fermentation in the gut. All these symptoms will affect your microbiome then eventually your mood and happiness ultimately leading to anxiety.

To help your microbiome out, include probiotic-rich foods in your diet a few times per week and go for options such as miso, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh or natto. Making your own water kefir is simple and is an effective way to re-establish healthy live probiotics. Play around with flavours such as ginger and lemon or whatever fruit flavours are in season, to make this a refreshing drink.

You may also find it helpful to take a probiotic that includes Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. In studies, these two strains of bacteria have demonstrated the ability to improve mood, reduce anxiety and enhance cognitive function. While addressing the topic of foods that help affect our mood and reduce anxiety, it’s also important to include the amino acid glutamine in your diet. Glutamine packs a punch when it comes to promoting good moods, because it helps stabilise our blood sugar (more on this later), improves nutrient absorption in the gut and helps us make our calming neurotransmitter, GABA. Glutamine is in foods such as animal protein, seafood, dairy products, nuts, and eggs.

When you have stable blood sugar, you’ll feel grounded, experience less anxiety and feel less overwhelmed by stress. There is also a good chance you will have fewer sugar cravings. Simple diet changes can help control your blood sugar levels and one of the most important of these is to eat enough protein. We all have unique needs, but a good rule of thumb is to have 1g of protein per kilo of body weight, so if you weigh 70kg then try to consume 70g of protein a day. Note that protein in meat is not the whole weight, for example, a 100g steak has approximately 26g of protein.

As we know, food is life and making smart food choices almost certainly leads to better health and wellness outcomes. But, anxiety is real. If you are feeling overwhelmed, make sure you reach out and talk to someone you trust.

Think. Eat. Heal. vinka.co.nz @vinkanutrition


Felicity O’Driscoll Book Reviews Issue 209

Felicity O’Driscoll of Cook the Books shares her favourite summer cookbooks. Find out more at cookthebooks.co.nz or visit her at 19 Williamson Avenue, Grey Lynn, Auckland


SEASON
NIK SHARMA, CHRONICLE BOOKS, $69.99

There’s just something about summer that makes me want to eat spicy food. Set the table outdoors and serve the slow-roasted leg of lamb blanketed in a spiced yoghurt crust; a Caprese salad with a sweet-sour dressing of tamarind, lime and jaggery; garlic naan charred on the barbecue; and chill a jug of pineapple chilli gin. For dessert, the bebinca, made with kūmara. Season is definitely not a traditional Indian cookbook, though Nik’s heritage is the DNA of the recipes.

 

HONEY FROM A WEED
PATIENCE GRAY, PROSPECT BOOKS, $69.99

Perhaps more a book to lie under a tree and read than to cook from. Described as both a passionately autobiographical cookbook, and a cult classic, it’s been in print continuously for 30+ years. While this is the food of the Mediterranean – risotto, cuttlefish, brodo, pasta – it’s the author’s musings on life on its shore that make it unforgettable. If Patience Gray were alive today she would be 105. Her recipes for salads of foraged ‘weeds’ could have been written yesterday.



KIWI SIZZLER SMOKING BOOK
CHRIS FORTUNE, BATEMAN BOOKS, $29.99

Sometimes you just need the perfect little book that tells you exactly what you need to know. From building a smoker, to the fundamentals of flavour, brining and sourcing ingredients, this is the perfect Kiwi how-to guide, with straightforward recipes that you can build flavour into. I was drawn to the variations on smoked fish, but don’t look past the hot-smoked chicken with lemon thyme or the hot-smoked rosemary leg of lamb.




RIPE RECIPES – A FRESH BATCH
ANGELA REDFERN, BEATNIK, $59.99

Don’t get me wrong, I love them all, but of the three Ripe Deli cookbooks, this is my favourite. Something about it encompasses what ‘Ripe’ is – that freshness, the clever combination of flavours and the wonderfully abundant salads. Somehow I go back to this time and again; while the tahini slaw and the African wild rice salad are favourites, it’s the powder puff cake, slathered in pink Italian meringue, that has a special place in my heart.


FROM THE TOP

Pack your togs and a good appetite as Lauraine Jacobs takes us on a foodie road trip around New Zealand’s stunning north.

One of the first things that always strikes me when I visit the northerly parts of New Zealand is the almost golden-green hue of the countryside, a vibrant and unique colour that glows from the grassy slopes of the farmland. With unique tropical crops such as bananas, pineapples, citrus fruit, kūmara and coffee thriving in this almost year-round warmer climate, it is reminiscent of the colours and foliage seen in subtropical regions around the world.

The north is an area where the history of our relatively young country reveals itself in myriad ways. The Bay of Islands sits firmly in the centre where quaint remnants of the earliest colonial settlements near Kerikeri, dating back to the 1820s, are juxtaposed with the magnificence of the historical Waitangi Treaty House and its surrounding grounds alongside sparkling waters, showcasing that most important document signed there in 1840.

Start from Mangawhai and Wellsford to the east, Kaipara to the west and follow gently winding roads that stretch almost 350km to the northern tip, Cape Reinga. This is more than just a simple one- or two-day trip. There are countless not-to-be-missed landmarks, history to absorb, relaxation and swimming opportunities at numerous beautiful, pristine beaches, and wonderful casual and sophisticated flavours to taste everywhere in this abundant region.

We’ve asked three locals from the area’s leading restaurants to share some of their favourite foodie recommendations, as we know that chefs know best…

DANIEL FRASER is head chef of Sage Restaurant at the Paroa Bay Winery overlooking the Bay of Islands, and is a champion of Northland food. He focusses on a moana-to- whenua approach, with his beautifully presented cuisine marrying the abundant ocean bounty to the produce he sources from local farms, orchards and gardens. More than 80% of the ingredients he uses are from the region, and he is proudly ‘super ethical’ when purchasing food for his stunning menu.

MARCUS BERNDT is owner/chef of Terra on the waterfront at Paihia in the Bay of Islands. He and partner Sarah Connor and their family often travel about to soak up the holiday atmosphere of the region, exploring and finding local treats and specialities from farms and markets to use on the ever-changing brilliant-value tasting menu at their tiny restaurant overlooking the beach. Passionate about their restaurant and passionate about Northland food, they have favourite cafés almost everywhere from Hokianga in the west to Doubtless Bay in the north.

MING POON (chef) and Diane Langman (front of house) own Māha, an intimate and comfortable restaurant set in tranquil and subtropical Wharepuke Gardens near Kerikeri. They offer an exciting and eclectic menu composed of plenty of local and seasonal food, including their signature sashimi plate and a large, tasty Māha Platter. They’re experts at feasting on casual fare right around the north, as they frequently take road trips to their favourite spots.

MANGAWHAI, WAIPU TO WHANGĀREI

It’s an easy day’s drive along the superb coastal route past many white, sandy beaches and through bushy glades to explore this most southern part of the north. Bennetts of Mangawhai (bom.co.nz) have been making superb chocolates for years and have an excellent café. Further on, near the main Mangawhai beach, Brewed As Collective (brewedas.com) is a don’t- miss stop for your daily brew of coffee (Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith drives 45 minutes from his farm for his fix) and fancy vegan slices and other fare. At Waipu, the Farmshop at Durham Farms (durhamfarms.co.nz) in Durham Rd is stocked with organically produced eggs, milk, beef, herbs, salads and preserves – well worth any detour as it’s their milk, eggs and beef constantly on the Sage menu. Stop at McLeods Brewery (mcleodsbrewery.co.nz) for finest Northland-brewed beer – sip on the Paradise Pale Ale while munching on one of their terrific pizzas. Around the Whangārei Town Basin there are many little cafés and restaurants, including The Quay (thequaykitchen.co.nz) to dine well and Sabio (sabiocoffee.co.nz) for freshly roasted coffee. Don’t miss a chance to visit the Hundertwasser Art Centre opening later this summer.For superb local cheese, Grinning Gecko (grinninggecko.co.nz) is worth a stop, behind Bakers Crust in the city centre. Heading further on the coastal route, go to Tutukaka for a fresh, fishy Pacific-style meal at Schnappa Rock (schnapparock. co.nz) and order the steamed mussels.

BAY OF ISLANDS & KERIKERI

There’s loads of accommodation on the Paihia waterfront or stay at the historic and popular Duke of Marlborough (theduke.co.nz), a ferry ride away in historic Russell. This area from the Bay through to Kerikeri is a garden for foodies and the markets are essential visiting to discover local artisan and fresh foods. Driving into Paihia, stop at Beaver Farms on the Te Haumi straits for fresh farm-grown produce including summer strawberries, blueberries and watermelon. Heading north, grab coffee and a famous cinnamon scroll at Third Wheel Coffee Co. (facebook.com/thirdwheelcoffeeco) before calling into Mahoe Cheese (mahoecheese.co.nz) to follow all our chefs’ recommendations to taste and stock up on its award-winning cheese, including the extraordinary Montbéliarde (if you’re lucky) and the superb aged gouda and edam.

On the road to Kerikeri, look for Kaipatiki Eco Hive to pick up some honey from Honey Paihia (facebook. com/honeypaihia) and taste its mānuka varieties and an excellent G&T honey made with wild ginger. Northland Bagels (facebook.com/bakedtoday) on the Kerikeri Rd will keep everyone happy and look out for numerous roadside stalls stocked with berries, which grow in the enormous shelter belts all summer long, and fresh citrus almost year round. Keri Berries Farm Store (facebook.com/keriberries) is well recommended and it also stocks Durham Farms produce.

Vineyards were first established in this part of the world by British Resident James Busby in the 1830s, and his legacy lives on with wineries and winegrowing areas scattered through this part of the north. A visit to Marsden Estate (marsdenestate.co.nz) is on everyone’s list, but also look for 144 Islands (144islands.co.nz) and The Landing (thelandingnz.com) to truly taste the terroir.

THE FAR NORTH

It wouldn’t be a true Northland experience without swimming at the crystal-clear beaches. Head to Doubtless Bay, but first plan to take a revitalising soak in the newly renovated Ngawha Springs Hot Pools (ngawha.nz) followed by a double beef burger and mussel fritters at Kiwi Kai in Ōkaihau. It’s a scenic route to beautiful beaches at Matauri Bay, Te Ngaere and Tauranga Bay and you can stop at Blue River Orchards (facebook.com/BlueRiverOrchard) for coffee and blueberry ice creams.

In Mangōnui, the restaurants to seek are The Waterfront Café & Bar (facebook.com/thewaterfront cafeandbar) and The Thai (thethai mangonui.co.nz) and at Coopers Beach you will find coffee and ice creams at The Beachbox (facebook.com/BeachBoxCoopersBeach), at Cable Bay Store (facebook.com/cablebaystore) and at The Bush Fairy Dairy (facebook. com/bushfairydairy). One of the gems of the area is Apatu Aqua (apatuaqua. co.nz) at Coopers Beach. Fresh wet fish and all sorts of amazing seafood is offered at its smokehouse and this is another top recommendation from our chefs.

The Karikari Peninsula to the east of Kaitaia has stunning twin beaches at Matai Bay, and Carrington Estate (carrington.co.nz) is a touch of luxe with villas, a hotel, golf course and an excellent winery with casual meals. Near Pukenui and Houhora, stop for avocados on roadside stalls and marvel at the vast acreage planted with this nutritious, creamy fruit. Finally there’s the loop to Cape Reinga and guided tours will take you to New Zealand’s northernmost point and for a drive along the famous Ninety Mile Beach, tide permitting. Finish at Ahipara for fresh snapper and chips to eat on the beach.

KAIPARA AND HOKIANGA

While the eastern coast is well known for boating, beaches and lush growth, it’s worth taking a different path by leaving SH1 at the foot of the Brynderwyns and heading west to northern Kaipara. The Thirsty Tui at the Paparoa Hotel (paparoahotel.nz) has stylish accommodation and on the dining menu the baked flounder from the Kaipara Harbour is not to be missed. The Crispy Grind (facebook.com/thecrispygrind), a kai cart at Tinopai, has great snapper burgers and coffee.

Head on, passing the kūmara fields alongside the Northern Wairoa where you will find roadside farm stalls, through sleepy Dargaville and, if you have time, visit one of the wild and wonderful beaches to the west of that township. Journeying on, take a walk in the shady Waipoua Forest and on to the stunning and almost forgotten Hokianga Harbour. At Omapere, book into The Heads (theheadshokianga.co.nz), crossing the harbour to go horse riding or sliding down spectacular sandhills. Learn the intertwined stories of Kupe and the Hokianga Harbour on the 75-minute tour of recently opened Manea – Footprints of Kupe (maneafootprints.co.nz) and don’t miss the excellent fish and chips in Rawene at Hokianga Takeways (hokiangatakeaways.com). Life moves at a different pace here and it’s one of the best hidden gems of the north.

MARKETS OF THE NORTH

LIKE ANYWHERE in the world, to understand the food of the region, head to the farmers’ markets to see what’s seasonal, what’s cheap, what’s truly special in the area, and to meet and engage with locals. Look there for some of the special producers on our pages.

MANGAWHAI TAVERN MARKET Saturdays 8.30am to 1pm. Local produce and products including olive oil and honey, food trucks and a holiday atmosphere. mangawhaitavernmarket.co.nz

WAIPU SUNDAY BOUTIQUE MARKET Second Sunday of each month in the Coronation Hall with 50 stalls of locally grown produce, preserves, baked goods and local arts and crafts. waipumarket.co.nz

WHANGAREI GROWERS MARKET Every Saturday morning 6am to 10am. Strictly only growers and their fresh produce including value- added preserves, sauces, flowers, seafood and local meats. Go early for the best picks. facebook.com/thewhangareigrowersmarket

PAPAROA MARKET Saturday mornings, for sparkling fresh local Kaipara Harbour fish and seafood, olive oils, delicious homebaked patisserie and more. facebook.com/Paparoafarmersmarket

BAY OF ISLANDS FARMERS MARKETS Thursdays on the Paihia Village Green 12.30pm to 3.30pm and Sunday mornings at the post office carpark in Kerikeri. A wide variety of luscious local fruits, eggs, orange juice, vegetables and coffee. bayofislandsfarmersmarket.co.nz

OLD PACKHOUSE MARKET This purpose-built market is held on Saturdays 8am to 1.30pm and is a focal point for food artisans and Northland produce with a fair sprinkling of local arts and crafts. The Packhouse Store and café on site is open 7 days. theoldpackhousemarket.co.nz

KAITAIA SATURDAY MARKET 7.30am to 12 noon. A real taste of the far north including exotic herbs and vegetables, local produce and food trucks and craft stalls.