Wandering in New Zealand
Those of you who are regular readers may have noticed that it’s been quiet on Bibliocook over the last week or so. The reason for this is because I have recently returned from a road trip up the East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island with my mother and aunt who were visiting from Ireland.
After a few nights in Christchurch where we introduced them to New Zealand foods like silverbeet (in the form of a Pasta and Silverbeet Bake), lamb (Braised Lamb Shanks with Chickpea Mash) and kiwifruit (Apple and Kiwifruit Crumble – the crumble obsession continues!) while keeping them topped up on Irish foodstuffs (Brown Soda Bread, Ham and Pea Soup), it was time to hit the road. Just because we were touring didn’t mean that we had no time for food. On the contrary. Food assumes an even greater importance when you’re on the road for several hours a day and we weren’t even an hour out of Christchurch when we stopped off at the Brew Moon Brewery and Café for tasty refreshments.
We spent a couple of nights at a bach at the township of Oaro near Kaikoura with the aforementioned Ham and Pea Soup, supplemented by the traditional New Zealand fish and chips on the beach. Leaving Kaikoura and travelling north, we kept our eyes open for the only building on the right hand side of the road – The Store at Kekerengu. On last year’s miserable Christmas Eve, after a rude awakening in our Kaikoura hostel, the Boyfriend and I had had a large morale-boosting cooked breakfast here. This time round, even though it is mid-winter here, the weather was warm enough for us to take our food outside and eat in the sun, although it wouldn’t be any kind of hardship to eat indoors in the airy rustic surrounds of the refurbished dining area. Although The Store is just off State Highway 1, you’re a world away from any kind of driving stress with great food, good coffee and a view to die for. It wasn’t too long after breakfast but we couldn’t pass up a piece of the Kiwi classic Ham and Egg Pie to share. Always good to have something sweet with the coffee/tea so we also chose a Tan Slice (like a shortbread-caramel-chocolate layered Millionaire Square but without the chocolate).
That wasn’t all the eating done for the day as we decided to stop at the Mud House in Marlborough for some wine tasting and purchasing. Although it’s rather like coals to Newcastle, turning up at a New Zealand house with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, we still chose the 2004 Marlborough White Swan Reserve Sauvignon Blanc – and it was well worth it. After my mother had been tempted into another tasting and was considering buying a bottle of Prenzel‘s Butterscotch Schnapps, I judged it timely to adjourn to the MudHouse Village Café. More tea and coffee were consumed, this time with the addition of a very tasty Venison and Merlot Pie – never let it be said that I spared myself when trying to give my family a wholehearted New Zealand culinary experience!We stayed at the very lovely Garden Motel in Havelock for a night before continuing on to Nelson where we had time for a wander around the Saturday market and its foodie delights (harissa paste from Hellish Relish, Dutch apple doughnuts Olie Bollen, beautifully packaged dried lemon rind, yet another bag of Braeburn apples) before staying with the Boyfriend’s family for a couple of nights. When it came to food, we were spoiled there as the Boyfriend’s mother cooked us several feasts, introducing the Irish visitors to roasted kumara (a starchy Maori vegetable rather like potato) and pumpkin, neither of which I’ve yet been brave enough to cook. We also travelled to their bach by Lake Rotoiti for a night, once again supplied with food courtesy of the Boyfriend’s mother (a delicious Chicken and Asparagus Soup and Lasagne) which went down very well after a few walks which, I can tell you, we needed at that stage!Although my mother and aunt only had a short time to spend in New Zealand, we certainly managed to eat our way around the small portion of the South Island that we visited – proof that there’s plenty of good eating in New Zealand, wherever you may roam.