Hawkes Bay is one of my favourite places in New Zealand. The colours, the countryside, the people and of course the food lure me back year after year. This year a group of 20 came with me as we discovered the culinary joys of this stunning region and onwards to Wellington.
Our tour started off at the 2017 Cuisine Magazine restaurant of the year Pacifica. Run by couple Jeremy Rameka and the gorgeous Natalie Bulman, Pacifica is a modest but sophisticated restaurant on Marine Parade. Four days before we all sat to dine, Jeremy had competed in and completed the Taupo Iron Man competition. A gruelling task for for a trained athlete let alone a man who spends all day in a kitchen. We were awed by a homemade pasta dish served with a sweetcorn and mozzarella cream that had us all oohing and ahhhhin as we ate it.
New friendships were forged and as we met the following morning, the revolting cyclonic weather that whipped our hair into different directions than it would normally be, could do nothing to dampen the spirits of the group. Our courageous bus driver successfully navigated the gusts to take us up to the Te Mata peak, where group photos had everyone in fits of giggles.
The highlight of the Friday was definitely our trip to Cape Kidnappers. Our trip around the gardens had to be forgone by the winds and rain, but the amazing garden team had gathered some of the native herbs and plants, their heirloom vegetables and salads and little alpine strawberries for us to try. Did you know that growing strawberries in a pine needle mulch will improve their flavour? No nor did we!
Our four course lunch kicked of with a very fresh bluff oyster served on a bd of samphire. I love love love samphire especially slightly pickled. This was delicious!
We went on to be wowed by a kaffir lime broth poured over a piece of mouth watering kingfish and an amazing lamb main course.
Yoghurt panna cotta and rosemary roasted peaches made the perfect dessert and we finished with local cheese the Sleeping Giant sheep cheddar.
The banter between chef, maitre’d and waiters kept us all entertained and we left wishing we could afford the $17,000 / night accommodation! What a treat of a day it was.