Southern Wairarapa richly rewards those hunting for a comforting winter supper, says Martin Bosley.

 

It only takes a few steps along Main Street to be charmed by Greytown, where shops, boutiques and restaurants make it easy to while away an afternoon. A 20-minute drive away in Martinborough, a number of landmark wineries call the South Wairarapa home. Within the cluster of towns that make up this region – Featherston, Martinborough, Greytown and Carterton – there lies an impressive diversity of natural beauty mixed with vineyards, orchards, olive groves, cheesemakers and farmers. No wonder it’s a favourite destination for food lovers.

Local heroes such as Schoc Chocolates, Longbush Free Range Pork, The French Baker, The Clareville Bakery and Lot Eight olive oil producers are already well known to many. Recent new arrivals are Vagabond Vege, a small-scale collaborative market garden just west of Greytown on the old river terraces of the Waiohine River. Four young ‘vagabonds’ – Elle Farr, Lise Van Laere, Saskia Wanklyn and Sheldon Levet – are passionate about a regenerative, no-till, no-chemicals approach to growing a diverse range of incredibly tasty vegetables, salads and herbs, as well as cut flowers. Available most weekends outside Mrs. Blackwell’s Village Bookshop, Greytown. vagabondvege.nz

Since 1966, Parkvale Mushrooms have been grown in Carterton. Closest to a true field mushroom is the Parkvale Flat, a fully-grown mushroom with wide, open gills. This is the mushroom I want for breakfast, thickly-cut and cooked in plenty of butter with nothing more than a clove or two of garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice, spread over some good, old-fashioned white toast bread. For a mushroom pie I mix the flats with smaller ‘Gourmet Browns’ and some shiitakes. Cream or crème fraîche would be an obvious addition here, but I prefer the less-rich route of a soft, dreamy havarti. parkvale.co.nz

In the hamlet of Featherston is Paul Broughton’s shop, C’est Cheese. One of the great cheese shops in the country, it incorporates its very own creamery, making cheese under the Remutaka Pass Creamery brand. Paul collects the milk in his own mini tanker from Te Pare Organic Farm in Kahutara. For this pie, a soft havarti with a gentle garlic flavour, aged for four months, will melt gloriously, oozing comfortably into the mushrooms. cestcheese.co.nz

From humble beginnings in an old packing shed, The Olive Press has turned into a modern, technology-based operation, managing multiple olive groves and pressing highly awarded extra virgin olive oils, blended and infused olive oils for local estates and small growers in the community. Olive oil works well in a pie crust (and makes it dairy-free) and imparts a unique flavour so choose something mildly flavoured. theolivepress.co.nz