Category Archives: Cheese

The Big New Zealand Food and Wine Virtual Tour

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on April 08, 2020

Welcome to day one of our Tour de Vineyards or The Big New Zealand Food and Wine Virtual Tour. We’re starting right up here in Northland in the historic town of KeriKeri. KeriKeri is the largest Northland town where the sunshine is endless and the area is rich in history and culture. 

Our tour starts at the The Old Pack House Farmers Market run by Warwick and Judy Hyland who have dedicated the last few years turning an old fruit pack house into the thriving market hub it is today. Everytime we visit the farmers market there is something new and exciting happening. The onsite bakery pumps out breads, cakes, pastries and delicious delicious pies. To be honest I'm not the biggest pie person, but there is no way I am going to miss out on the beef and oyster Pie, made using oysters from Warwick's farm. On Saturday mornings it is full farmers market day with produce so local and so fresh it's very easy to fill shopping baskets to the brim. 

You can find excellent olive oil, beers from a local brewery, honey, eggs, some glorious crafts and weaving. One of the stalls makes delicious fritters! I love a good mussel fritter and theirs is one of the best I have found in New Zealand. Make sure you take away some of the local sausages and keep an eye out for all the seasonal goodies too. I love the Macadamias when they are super fresh and very creamy. We bring bags of the shells home for the fire places at Vineyard Cottages.

Just across the road from the Old Pack House market is the Makana Chocolate Factory. The company has three branches in Blenheim, Auckland and Kerikeri. There are big windows into the factory so you can see the chocolate being made right in front of you and generous samples are handed out when you walk through the front door. 

I'm totally partial to the macadamia crunch. It's not often I managed to get away from the Chocolate Factory without at least two or three boxes - obviously to share with friends and family!

If you're going to stay the night in Kerikeri, The Kerikeri Park Lodge is right across the road from the farmers market and only a 10 minute walk into the main town. it's clean spacious rooms are much more than your average motel room and it is tucked down the driveway away from the road creating a very peaceful and tranquil location to stay. In Kerikeri town a favourite place to eat is the Jerusalem Cafe. It's off the main road down an alleyway and can always be found full of happy diners. The best thing about the menu is you can pretty much try everything with their generous portions and combinations of mezze options. Whatever you do, try the aubergine dip and the Israeli wines


Follow the road out of the town and down the hill to the Stone Store. A favourite stop on the tourist route, it was built beside the river in 1832 by the missionaries as a warehouse. Today it is a wonderful shop full of all kinds of knick-knacks souvenirs and artefacts of a bygone era.

One of our favourite wineries in Northland is the Marsden estate. It is a family run Vineyard set on 10 acres growing varietals are not often found in New Zealand including pinotage, a hybrid grape originally from South Africa. With fellow hybrid Chambourcin (say what?) grown in the vineyard, a trip to Marsden is a must if you are looking for the unusual.  You can enjoy breakfast or lunch and there beautiful restaurant or down by the lake looking out over the vineyard.

Now if you're going to head all the way up to Northland you really can't leave without a bottle of the local limoncello from the team at Sovrano.  It is liquid gold or liquid antidepressant if you need to put a smile on your dial. It has long been one of my favourite drinks morning noon or night! The Limoncello cream comes with a highly addictive health warning and we're very partial to the chocolate and coffee liqueur as well. Many of our guests have looked at me oddly over the years when I have told them it is a compulsory tasting, with many declaring “But we have been to Italy and had the real thing.” or “Oh but, I make Limoncello at home and my friends say it’s amazing.” I refrain from saying what I want to say and smile when they all drop to their knees in love with Sovrano’s bottles of joy!


You can find them at the Old Pack House farmers market on a Saturday that rumour has it they are opening a new factory very soon! If you’re only visiting Auckland, Parnell Market and La Cigale are your places to head to at the weekends to stock up. 


So we're off on the bike heading south and within 10 minutes were at the Mahoe cheese factory. owned and run by a Dutch family making some of the most extraordinary cheeses in the country, Mahoe produces the crack cocaine of cheese AKA The Very Old Edam. It’s a story we tell every day that out of all the thousands of people who have done our Tastebud Tours over the years, only two didn’t fall in love with the cheese and were instantly banned from New Zealand. 

Mahoe is down a tree lined driveway and if you’re in the know ask them if they have any camembert out the back. It is delicious! The cooking cheese is fab for pizzas, grilled cheese and mac n cheese! 

I can highly recommend taking the detour around to Paihia to jump on the ferry over to the beautiful town of Russell to watch the sunset outside the Duke of Marlborough with a glass of wine in hand and dinner on the deck at the Historic Hotel. But for now, we head South!


Top reasons to go on a Food Tour with the Big Foody Food Tours

Posted by on November 08, 2018

Top reasons to go on a Food Tour with the Big Foody Food Tours

1. The Big Foody Food Tours, named in the World’s Best Destination for Travel Experiences according to TripAdvisor travellers and the only food tour provider in New Zealand to be recognised by this. Now that’s a good reason to join us!


2. We are a dedicated FOOD TOUR COMPANY, not a tour company that does food tours. It is what we do! We love it and wouldn't want to do anything else.


3. The BEST guides. Whether you get Elle or Colleen, they are local foodie experts from forever ago and experts in guiding, you will be entertained for hours. Bubbly and friendly, they know Auckland and it’s food scene, they will be able to make personalised recommendation for any foodie and their quirks. They are more than just food guides, you’ll finish the tour having made a new friend.


4. DELICIOUS stops! Taste Auckland like a local. We visit the popular, must do experiences of Auckland, but also the hidden delights only the locals know of. We take you where we take our friends and family, only selected favourites make the cut for their tastes and the best people and their stories. It’s not just about the food, it's’ about our people, our land and our producers. We serve up the stories behind our favourite spots and their incredible food.


5. Meet the LOCALS. Our suppliers and who we visit on our stops are considered part of our family. On our tours, we treat you like family too. Our relationships with our suppliers therefore make you part of their family. You will get insights into their passion and their livelihood so that after your tour, you will be filled with knowledge about New Zealand’s artisans and producers to take with you on your travels and back home.


6. Best RECOMMENDATIONS on dining in Auckland and New Zealand. Don’t end up at soulless tourist eateries, join a Big Foody Food tour for our insider knowledge of where to dine. Venture off the beaten path to experience the best of Auckland cuisine just like a local. As we have said before, we are foodie experts and we love food and dining out and we KNOW the restaurant scene. You can be guaranteed to come back from the tour with a loooong list of recommendations for dining out in Auckland and throughout New Zealand.


7. RELAX -  We lead the way around Auckland on our organised and customer focused tours and we are are pretty laid back and love to have a laugh! Rely on us to take care of everything and enjoy the tastes of Auckland. And even better, on our most popular tour, The Tastebud Tour we drive you around Auckland exploring the best spots in town. What better way than to explore and taste Auckland whilst sitting back and relaxing.


8. PERSONALISED service. Our tours are small and personalised, we try to customise (to a degree) to what you are passionate and interested about. It is about you, the customer after all. You will be able to hear every word that comes out of our guides mouth and there are always enough samples, no mass tour groups here.

9. HISTORIC SIGHTS - The Big Foody Food Tours is more than just a food tour - we take you to and point out the iconic buildings and architecture of Auckland. We talk about New Zealand’s and Auckland’s culture and what we have to offer on the entertainment scene.


10. TRUSTED AND EXPERIENCED Food Tour company. We have been touring around Auckland and tasting with our guests since 2009. We know what we are doing and work in the industry. We run food tours throughout New Zealand and in Portland, Oregon in the United States. We work with many large travel agencies and get referred to many private and media tours, as well as picking up many of the pre-arranged day excursions from the Cruise liners. Trust us to take you on a a food tour that is small and personalized, friendly and laid back but professional and in-the-know. We know how to create an unforgettable experience for you.


11. REVIEWS We love our guests and we treat them like family and the bestest friend. We thank every single one of them for the FANTASTIC reviews that they leave us. We are so thankful to them all for our Overall Traveller rating on Tripadvisor of 5.0. THANK YOU. Read some of the reviews here.


Come away with a new friend, a smile, a full tummy (puku in maori) and history and stories about places you’ve been and people that you have met, The Big Foody Food Tours is the Ultimate way to taste Auckland (and the rest of New Zealand and Portland, Oregon).


Sampling the City of Sails Smorgasbord

Posted by on August 14, 2018

Sampling the "City of Sails Smorgasbord"

We love showing off our city and it's hidden treasures.

A couple of weeks ago, we were honoured to host a group from the Otago Daily Times.

Check out the fantastic article that they wrote up about visiting Auckland and sampling the "City of Sails Smorgasbord"

To Biddy

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on July 18, 2018

When I started The Big Foody, one of the most exiting things that I knew would happen was meeting the people behind the foods that we talked about. I have travelled the length and breadth of the country meeting people over the last 8 years and each and everyone of them has been fabulous. But it was Biddy Fraser-Davies who I wanted to meet the most.

From the first time Calum at Sabato gave me her cheese to try, to watching her on Country Calendar, hearing her plight against the monsters at MPI and speaking to her on the phone, she was a character I just wanted to spend some time with.

As much as we loved Biddy at The Big Foody, we loved her cows too. Biddy didn’t start making cheese until she was given her first house cow Gwendoline 15 years ago. Now Patsy, Dizzy, Holly, Isabel, Nellie, Nora and Lilly were all names of cows, I have photos of on my phone. In 2014 Biddy’s cheese won a super gold award at the World Cheese Awards in London! From the social metropolis of Eketahuna, in New Zealand, that cheese rocked the awards.

Earlier this year we had our fab group of 20, on a tour passing through Eketahuna and last minute I called Biddy to ask whether we could pop in. In true Biddy style she told me off for arranging our tour on a Monday when she was making cheese and couldn’t talk to us, but there she was at the end of the path waiting to welcome us to Cwmglynn and tell us her story.

We met the cows that have been part of our tours for years, saw the infamous model railway, chatted with Colin and Biddy and of course tried the cheese. When I got back on the bus with the group, a big part of me wanted to just jump off again and go and hang out some more. But driving away there was a very special feeling of “that was awesome!”

Biddy died last Friday unexpectedly and when Calum told me on Saturday I sat down and cried. Why? Because in the 4 or so years I have talked about Cwmglynn farmhouse cheese to our guests, I have learnt what tenacity, determination and standing up for your cause really meant. Because of Biddy, I have learnt more about making cheese, storing cheese, maturing cheese, Eketahuna (!) and keeping it real and authentic, than I have from anyone else.

God bless you Biddy, thank you for everything, I will miss you greatly.




Top Spots to take your Valentine

Posted by on February 08, 2018

The Big Foody’s Top Romantic places to take your Valentine



Elle Armon- Jones top pick for the most romantic restaurant in Auckland is Casita Miro on Waiheke Island. With spectacular views of the vineyards, village and ocean, it specialises in Spanish and Mediterranean fare with the freshest and finest produce and as much locally sourced as possible. Bookings are essential.

And while you’re there, why not make a weekend of it (or even just a night away) on Waiheke Island, with visits to beautiful vineyards and breathtaking beaches.


Casita Miro's Vineyards

Your favourite local beach - take a picnic rug and a delicious selection of your Valentine's favourite treats and enjoy an evening out watching the sun go down.

Our staff’s top pick is Muriwai Beach where the sunsets are absolutely stunning. Pick a spot in the black sanded dunes and feast on a picnic of The Big Foody Food Tours favourite's including cheeses like - Mt Eliza Blue Monkey, Mahoe Very Old Edam and Tenara Goats Cheese. Add some antipasto and selection of cold meats and make sure you grab yourself a loaf of fresh sourdough on your way down to Muriwai from the Gourmet Gannet in Huapai. Don’t forget your Valentines favourite bottle of wine and finish the evening off with some decadent chocolates. Need help creating a perfect picnic basket with some delicious New Zealand products? Make sure you join us on one of our Big Foody Food Tours and we can let you in on all the secrets.

Muriwai's sand dunes


Looking to do something completely different? And have an adventurous palate? Auckland Zoo is hosting LoveBugs in conjunction with their blockbuster Te Papa and Weta Workshop exhibition Bug Lab on Valentines Day. LoveBugs will be a fun and memorable evening with entertainment by Te Papa’s irresistible ‘bugman’ Dr Phil Sirvid, live acoustic music and a 5 course degustation menu featuring the world's greatest and most sustainable superfood - bugs and bug derived ingredients. You will be tempted by Bug crumb parmesan wafers, Cricket bread croute, Locust lavosh, Ant meringue puffs and more. It will be a night not to be missed, especially with Dr Phil Sirvids stories of the love lives of some of the world's most extraordinary bugs. Bookings Essential.


If you want something really adventurous and bugs aren’t really your thing, consider the limited ‘Dinner in the Sky’ experience. Suspended 50 meters above ground, with fantastic views of the Auckland Harbour and city, you have the opportunity to enjoy  Brunch, Lunch, Wine Tastings, Cocktail hour or Dinner. Bookings are essential and are sure to be booked out for Valentines Day, so get in quick.


Ok, so bugs aren’t quite your things, nor heights? How about dinner in the pitch black, where all your senses will be infused? How about the Dinner in the Dark, at the Rydges Hotel in the Auckland CBD. Sound interesting? Dinner in the Dark is a unique sensory, social dining experience. 2- 5 course menu option are available with Trust the Chef, Seafood and Vegan options available. Bookings are essential.


Take your loved one to Brick Bay in Matakana, a most romantic setting and most beautiful sculpture park trail. The trail will take you a casual one hour walk through beautiful scenery, past a pond, some typical New Zealand bush and even a Kauri patch. Either walk the trail before or after your lunch, but be sure to enjoy a glass of one of their Rose’s.

Part of the Sculpture park trail at Brick Bay


For something a bit more ‘mushy’, check out the Auckland Stardome Observatory Valentines Evening, complete with a drink on arrival, canapes and a gorgeous gift box filled with goodies for Valentines couples including a bottle of Villa Maria Rose and even an ‘Adopt a Star’ pack.



If it were summer time over here, I would say go to Steve Jones’ other spot, Cheese Bar, in the Mt Tabor neighborhood. While there, you and your special someone would share a cheese board and a bottle of wine, and then take a walk up the wooded hill to the top of Mt. Tabor where you could catch the sunset and beautiful views of the city looking west.

However, it is winter, so we instead suggest Chizu which is sandwiched in between Shalom Y’all and Multnomah Whiskey Library downtown. At Chizu order a bottle of cold, unfiltered sake and sit down for an omakase-style cheese experience. You’ll talk to the person at the counter about your preferences and interests and they will create a (name-your-price) cheese board, leading you through a tasting of Chizu’s artisan, small batch cheese selection.

Chizu's personalised cheeseboard experience

Coquine (Mt Tabor neighborhood in SE) is perfect for a quiet, cozy, romantic evening. Chef Katy Millard just won James Beard’s 2017 Best Chef Northwest for her work at her excellent little neighborhood restaurant. I would recommend going to Coquine any time of day (they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner), but it’s an especially nice place to spend a date night or special occasion with your significant other, working your way through the four or seven course Chef’s tasting menus.


Noble Rot (E. Burnside – inner eastside) is great for getting a taste of all Portland has to offer. For out-of-towners, Noble Rot has it all: good food, good wine, a great view, and even rooftop vegetable gardens. The food is intensely seasonal and much of it nipped right out of the rooftop gardens directly above you. The only way to enhance the beauty of your loved one is with the twinkling lights of your evening view looking out over the fair City of Roses



The Big Foody's Tips on matching Cheese and Beer

Posted by on October 26, 2017

The Big Foody’s Tips on matching Cheese & Beer

Characteristics in beer and cheese are surprisingly similar; nutty, floral, earthy, dry, sharp, smooth and creamy are just a few of the words that can describe both.

Matching cheeses and beers can be a challenging task, but not only can they complement each other, they can also have contrasting flavours and textures which work well together too.

Here are The Big Foody Food Tours top tips in matching Beers with Cheese.

Hard Cheeses with poignant, aromatic and milky undertones are generally very beer friendly. We like Gouda and Pilsner matches or if are feeling adventurous try with a malty stout.

Traditional Cheddars with sharp, distinct flavours pair perfectly with fruity, grassy, aromatic pale ales. Our favourite Cheddar pairing is with an IPA or a Double IPA.

Sheep and Goats milk cheeses have a huge breadth of flavours and often match well with malty beers and amber ales.

Washed rind cheeses complement certain beers very well. Their pungent flavours can match equally strong beer.

Blue milky cheese’s with pungent, spicy tones are well-suited to aromatic and floral hop beers. The classic blue cheese and barley wine is hard to beat.

Feta and Pilsner are a great match. The saltiness in the cheese compliments the slightly sweeter pilsners.

Soft-ripened cheeses such as beautiful creamy and delicate Bries and Camemberts go best with light bubbly beers, such as pilsner and fruit beers but can match well with saisons and farmhouse ales.

So beer and cheese is definitely a thing. It is possibly one of the greatest things too!

Join us on one of our Big Foody Beer or Food tours for cheese tasting, beer tasting, local history and knowledgeable guides who will answer any of your questions.

Book now



The Big Foody's Tips on matching Cheese and Wine

Posted by on October 24, 2017

The Big Foody Food Tours Tips on matching Cheese with Wine


There are actually no strict rules in what wine goes best with which cheese, to be honest, it all depends on an individual's personal likes and dislikes, so don’t worry too much about what you are serving up!


The goal however is to create harmony and balance between the flavours of the wine and cheese and not to overpower one or the other.


If you don’t know where to start, follow Elle Armon-Jones from The Big Foody’s Food Tours  general guidelines below;


Harder mature cheeses such as Cheddar, Manchego, Gruyere, Red Leicester are cheeses best to accompany white wines with some depth of flavour and real body. It’s not often an easy match, but a lightly oaked chardonnay or a viognier are often good matched. Personally I like a nutty cheese with a drier older gewurztraminer. And don’t forget about the fortifieds! Dry sherries or slightly chilled tawny ports are often the best match to these styles of cheese.


Fresh goat's cheese’s team up beautifully with a Sauvignon Blanc or Dry Riesling. The crispness of the wines goes well with the mild and somewhat acid, lemony flavour profiles and creamy texture of fresh goats cheese.


Full flavoured cheeses such as ‘The Cheese with No Name’, ‘Pink and White terraces’, and other creamy washed rind cheeses go best with full-bodied wines such as Merlots and Syrahs. Whereas the cheeses that tend to stick to your mouth such as a brie or camembert compliment lighter reds such as pinot noir and the fruity gamay noir which doesn’t have the same tannin structure.


I won’t be popular for saying this, but Blue cheeses are best served and go very well with dessert wines such as a Riesling or a Muscat. The belief that blue cheese and red wine are a great match is not true. Wait until you have tried the alternative and you’ll believe us! Mt Eliza Blue Monkey and Tohu Noble Riesling is a great match!


Creamy cheeses complement and pair well with sparkling wines and champagne. The bubbles tend to cleanse and refresh the palate. There is a reason Champagne goes well with cream cheese on bagels!


Want to try a selection of beautiful local cheese’s? Want to find out more about pairing cheese and wines? Make sure that you come join us on one of our Big Foody Food tours!


Shopping for the Perfect Cheese Platter on a Big Foody Food Tour

Posted by on October 24, 2017

Cheese platters - what is better than a plate of cheese put in front of you decorated with additional edible delights? The answer is very simply nothing! But how do you choose cheeses that complement each other and how do you pick from such a huge variety?

Growing up at home, at the end of the Sunday roast there was always a call for cheese. A beautiful old wooden cheese board was pulled out of the bottom draw and room temperature cheese unwrapped to finish off our meal. Inevitably there was a farmhouse cheddar or piece of Red Leicester, some brie ready to run off the plate and potentially something Dutch like Maasdam or Edam. So what makes the perfect cheese board? It all comes down to the people you are serving it to. If you know that people don’t like blue or strong cheeses, don’t bother putting it on the plate. Similarly if you have had a rich meal, super rich cheeses like camembert will not be a great fit to finish the meal.

Put together cheeses that will complement each other but with contrasting textures. The rule of thumb is one hard, one soft and one blue. Personally I love an aged Dutch style (the addictive Mahoe Very Old Edam is the perfect example), something soft like a goats cheese or runny french brie and a strong piece of blue (Mt Eliza’s Blue Monkey or English Stilton).

You could take it to the extreme and leave cow's milk cheeses off the board all together. A classic sheep's milk pecorino, like the stunning Tenara goats cheese from Kaikoura Cheeses or another ash rolled goats cheese, and if you’re lucky enough to have good buffalo cheese around you add that! In New Zealand we have the fabulous Whangaripo Buffalo cheese company and their Marin Blue is simply delicious.

Personally, I love cheese with very fresh bread, but after a heavy meal, that’s just too much. There are so many varieties of crackers on offer but don’t go with anything overly powerful as it will change the flavours of the cheese. A couple of simple pieces of fruit to go with the cheese and you’re sorted.

If your platter is for a group of friends before a meal or with some drinks, bulk it out with up to 5 cheeses, some delicious fruit pastes or a simple jar of plum jam, some grapes and both fresh bread and crackers.

Time to pour that glass of wine and enjoy your platter!

If you want to curate your own perfect cheese platter, be sure to join us on one of our Big Foody Food tours.


Cheese and Onion Muffins

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on October 19, 2017

One of our favourite muffin recipes at The Big Foody is the most simple to do and almost fool proof.



4 cups of self raising flour

4 eggs

1 ½ cups of milk

½ cup of sunflower oil or canola oil

1 packet of onion soup mix

2 tbsp of onion marmalade or onion jam

1 spring onion finely chopped.

1 cup grated cheddar (preferably strong cheddar)

1 cup of brie or mozzarella chopped into squares

Pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 180

Very simply mix the ingredients until combined. Spoon into lined muffin tins. Cook for 20-25 mins. The muffins will be cooked when you can pierce them with a skewer / knife and it comes out clean.

Any cheese will work with this recipe and you can play around adding other ingredients too. We love roast pepper and pesto muffins and parmesan and spinach.