Eat like a Local in Hawke's Bay
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by Sally Hammond

The locals call it 'wine country', and fine wine demands great food - that's why New Zealand's Hawke's Bay is a winner.

The land of the long white cloud is becoming the land of the long relaxed lunch with its fabulous fresh produce and smart operators. Hawke's Bay's twin cities of Napier and Havelock North on the north island's east coast harvest seafood from their Pacific doorstep (think succulent oysters and green-lipped mussels) and the area raises almost anything in the volcanic soil that's so rich you could eat it. That's if there weren't so many other choices around!

Olives, cherries, pheasant, farmhouse cheeses, beef and lamb - and of course those prize-winning wines. It all makes it so hard to decide what to try next. Harder still to tear yourself away.

TASTES OF THE BAY

  • Hohepa Farm Shop and Cheesery, Main Road, Clive, +64 6 870 0426. Organic cheese and organic vegetables - sparkling fresh and so healthy.
  • Bolderson's Urban Food Store, 4 Donnelly Street,?Havelock North +64 6 877 7198. Packed with fabulous food finds you'll want to bring home. Friendly, food-focussed - and great coffee.
  • Chantal Foods, 45 Hastings St, Napier, 64 6 835 8036. In the heart of Napier's rebuilt art deco CBD, this gem has a wealth of organic food and health foods and an amazing range of local and imported cheeses.
  • Te Mata Cheese, 393 Te Mata Road, Havelock North, +64 6 875 8282. This artisan cheese factory supplies cheese to the point-end of one international airline. You'll soon see why when you try it at lunch in the cheesery cafe.
  • Telegraph Hill Olives, 1279 Howard Street, Hastings, Ph: +64 6 878 4460. First to grow olives in the area, now winning awards. Tour the grove or taste the olives and be amazed by the range of olive-products. Try the olive salt! 

SUNDAY TREAT

The Farmers' Market - 8:30am-12:30pm Hawke's Bay Showgrounds Kenilworth Road, Hastings, http://www.foodhawkesbay.co.nz/index.cfm/our_activities/farmers_market  Rain or shine, they're here each week, those hardy local growers celebrating Bay's super seasonal showcase.

DIARY NOTE

Join the locals in January each year at Harvest Hawke's Bay - New Zealand's iconic Wine and Food Festival - held at locations throughout Napier and Hastings.

PLACES TO STAY (Under A$200 per night)

  • Driftwood Cottages, 44 Grey St, East Clive, +64 6 870 0013. Two delightful self-contained cottages named Periwinkle and Starfish, and maybe the most generous gourmet breakfast in town.
  • Hawk Hill Cottage, 148 Ballantyne Road, Poraiti, Napier, +64 6 844 6461. Fancy a wide-angle view of Napier and the ocean? Wake to birdsong at this cottage high on a bluff where you're up with the eagles - and all the other local birds.
  • The Winemaker's Retreat at Unison Vineyard, 2163 Highway 50, RD 5, Hastings, Hawke's Bay, +64 6 879 7913. Move in and feel right at home in the wine-maker's former home on this small estate. It's almost like being part of the family!
  • Villa Vista, 22a  France Road, Bluff Hill, Napier, +64  6  835 8770. Views come with free with the tariff, high above the city and bay. Enjoy them from the Edwardian villa's wrap-around verandahs - with a glass of local wine, of course!
  • Wallingford, R D 4, Waipukurau, ?Hawke's Bay, + 64 6 855 4701. Welcoming visitors for 150 years, this warm and dignified historic home is surrounded by sweeping lawns, oaks and rose gardens.

VINE and DINE - five of the best

What's better than a day of wine-tasting? Easy. A day when you get to match great food with top drops as well. These places have the combo perfected.

  • Black Barn Vineyards, Black Barn Road, RD12 Havelock North, +64 6 877 7985. Small vineyard but beautiful wines and an airy dining room and vine-shaded terrace to enjoy them in.
  • Vidal Estate, 913 St Aubyn Street, East?Hastings, +64-6-876 8105. Over a century old, the first local winery has added 21st-century food to match its lovely wines.
  • Clearview Estate Winery, 194 Clifton Rd, Te Awanga, RD2 Hastings, Ph: +64 6 875 0150. Casual and friendly, the ideal place to share a sumptuous lunch tasting platter.
  • Church Road Winery, 150 Church Road,?Taradale, +64 6 844 2053. Here's the only wine museum in Hawke's Bay. So schedule a luscious long lunch afterwards.
  • Mission Estate Winery, 198 Church Road, Taradale, Napier,? Ph: +64 6 845 9350. New Zealand's oldest winery doesn't turn water into wine, but it is housed in an elegantly restored historic seminary.

SPEND AN AFTERNOON

A wild-card concept pays off at this brand-new Napier attraction. Prepare yourself for a unique wine experience in the two Aroma Rooms and their auditoriums. Interactive Travellers (that's you) take part in a film which flies them 'virtually' through Hawke's Bay's famous vineyards sampling wines when the film 'lands' at each winery to meet the winemaker. Big Picture Wine, Iconic AMP Building, 1 Shakespeare Road, Napier, +64 6 835 7846 

OR

Offload some cash and take on some carbs and coffee, shopping among the classy boutiques in the village of Havelock North, where the cafe culture's on fire, as is the art scene, with several galleries and studios. Recharge at Deliciosa Tapas Bar, 21 Napier Road, Havelock North; Diva Bar & Bistro, Village Court Shop, 1 Napier Rd, Havelock North; Pipi's Cafe, 16 Joll Rd, Havelock North.

OR

Pick up a Food Trail map and drive yourself on well-marked routes to discover some of the fifty-plus growers, artisans, or restaurants. 

NOTE TO SELF: you may need much more than an afternoon!

 

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