Flying home from Brisbane, in May for Mother's Day weekend, I was planning to surprise my eldest son Joseph, as 20 years ago he was my ultimate MD gift! However, mum was not so cool, and I leave him to party with his friends at the iconic Ponsonby restaurant SPQR and catch my regular cheap early bird flight with Air NZ's grabaseat to my new spiritual home Napier.
My dear friend, and ultra chic designer Sandi Reefman, who is normally still in bed at this hour, greets me, so excited, and we whiz off in her trusty wee Peugeot in pursuit of pastries. Napier may be small, but there's an amazing array of European trained patisserie chefs everywhere. However, they all open at 9am on weekends! We head into the main part of town, and thankfully we see Chantal Organics is open, Tino Pai! This wholesale grocer is stocked with an incredible range of organic treats, fresh vegetables, and a wonderful selection of natural products. In addition, their warm friendly staff make this little stop a #nzmustdo on your next visit. As my trip is about helping Sandi load her new "shop" into Koru Enterprises, we take our goodies and head up to her cute apartment overlooking the Bay.
Sandi has designed a range of retro vintage hot water bottle covers, aptly named, "A Time Gone By". After spending a few hours in front of her Mac, we pop down Hospital Hill, to Sandi's local eatery, F.G. Smith, where we shared a super fresh tempura Fish and Chips, and an Asian infused salmon salad. With a warm stream of sunshine shooting through the window, we felt complete! Adjacent to the cafe, is Aroha + Friends, so while Sandi chatted to our lovely maître d', I jumped next door and spotted a perfect black dress from New Zealand designer Kowtow. Sandi couldn't believe how quick I was, and wearing my new purchase, we bid ka kite ano (see you again very soon).
We head over to Heretaunga (Hastings) to pick up Sandi's mum Lois, before we leave to take her on a surprise Mother’s Day outing, she finishes some final touches to Sandi's covers, only in her late 80's and has been sewing her whole life. It is so beautiful seeing mother and daughter in action together, making magic on an old craft!
We drive out to Waimarama Beach, stopping briefly at Ocean Beach, as Lois spent her whole married life here. As we pass the foreboding Te Mata peaks, you can feel them guiding us, they almost speak to you! Sandi is a natural tour guide, showing us all the stunning organic orchards, and vineyards! As we speed along, a lonely hawke follows us, dipping and diving, another sign my mum is around me. You can enjoy a private two-hour Waimarama Māori tour from atop the lofty Te Mata Peak, throughout summer and winter months. After a beautiful walk along the beach, enjoying the late afternoon autumn sun, we drive to Sandi's sister’s whare (home) in Haumoana.
Haumoana is a small, coastal village, just south of the Tukituki river, and close to popular surfing spot, Te Awanga. It feels old worldly, as if you are entering from another era; many of my Hawkes Bay whānau lived here years ago, and I feel their presence immensely. We arrive at Di's bearing luscious local delicacies from Chalk n Cheese, & Te Mata Figs.
Di shows us around her cosy property that she also rents out to groups and families, as it’s ideal for a spiritual or group retreat all year round, and can be booked here. After bubbles and kai, we bid haere ra, however after a short 20 minute drive back to Napier, our puku (tummy) rumbles, and we check out newbie fish restaurant Hunger Monger located on Marine Parade. Super fresh ika (fish) tacos and perfect chips, plus our lovely hosts who have recently escaped the rat race from Auckland, made us feel right at home. Heartily satiated, we will definitely be back!
I hop off the bus at Lyttleton, walk a few paces, stare at the super sexy frontage, and sure enough it's 8 London St! Walking inside, I feel a strong compelling energy, which guides me to their intimate and explosive open plan kitchen. I say "Kia Ora" to the team, and big smiles appear with a platter of scrumptious morsels, even though I'm too early for their dinner serving. Christy's sister, Katie greets me warmly as if we are old friends and offers me a Waipara Pinot Gris classic from one of my favourite Vineyards, Black Estate.
Roots Restaurant is part of ConversatioNZ, a movement set up by chefs and people in the food industry with the aim of highlighting the quality and vast array of edible resources available here in Aotearoa, NZ. It involves harnessing both the traditional and innovative forms of knowledge (mātauranga) drawn from the entire community of people (tangata), who gather, grow, raise, prepare and work with the gifts of the land (whenua), and the sea (moana). This initiative seeks to provide a forum to encourage and enable collaboration between all levels of the culinary chain and move towards more sustainable food systems.
"Nā tō rourou nā taku rourou-ka ora ai te iwi."
"With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive."
Koru Enterprises would love to hear from eco-friendly Kiwi tour operators and artists/artisan producers, who are keen to join our happy online whānau. Feel free to email us here. We love hearing all your special comments and thoughts, so please follow us on all your favourite social media channels today: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram and Pinterest.
Safe Travels Louise