Published in Ireland’s Food & Wine magazine in June 2005.Most people think of New Zealand and imagine spectacular scenery, lots of wine, and, thanks to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, a landscape populated with hobbits. But, since arriving in New Zealand six months ago, I’ve discovered that an interest in food permeates the very air the people here breathe. There are numerous food magazines, lots of cookbooks by New Zealand writers, the meals you get in cafés, restaurants and people’s homes are, almost invariably, fantastic and every road trip is punctuated with stops at country stalls selling fruit and vegetables, hazelnuts, cheese and yoghurt. Go to the farmers’ markets and you’ll find an emphasis on organic and regional foods alongside a wide range of artisan food makers. Much is known about New Zealand wine – Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has a justifiably excellent international profile – but the world is only just starting to wake up to the innovative food industry humming away in this little country.