It surprised me to see three brands of Vanuatu grown coffee for sale in Luganville. Alongside the well-known Tanna coffee there was a selection from Aore Island and a haphazard collection of different bags branded as Cafe de Vanuatu. I found the origins of this coffee at VARTC ( Vanuatu Agricultural Research Technical Centre ),10km north of Luganville.
The VARTC farm is quite compact and it did not take long to find children on school holidays picking the arabica beans (30 Vatu for 1kg or about 40c NZ ). From picking to roasting, the whole operation is done by hand.
With a new wharf being built in Luganville and more cruise ships visiting it would be an ideal time to package the operation for tourists in a similar way to Tanna Coffee in Efate.
In the meantime you will have to buy the very good quality arabica beans at LCM ( the best supermarket in Luganville ), I just hope the branding gets some love.
Kombucha, booch and SCOBY are new words in my vocab after a visit to photograph the GoodBuzz soft drink factory in Wainuiomata.
The GoodBuzz process combines sugar, tea and water (from the Te Puna Wai Ora artesian aquifer in Petone) with the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and turns into an effervescent, healthy, non-alcoholic drink.
In the short time GoodBuzz has been operating they already have five kombucha brews in more than 60 cafes in Wellington, Christchurch, Hawkes Bay, New Plymouth and Nelson, and recently have been included in Auckland’s Nosh outlets.
The drinks come in five flavours – Origins, Green Jasmin, Lemon and Ginger, Jade Dew and Feijoia. A new brew made with coffee cherry (the outer red skin of discarded coffee beans from Go Bang in Petone) with an amazing light apple flavour is coming soon.
Each brew takes 8-10 days to ferment and another 7-10 days of bottle conditioning before heading out the door. The best before date is four months unchilled (a bonus when there is space restrictions in the fridge), and can be extended to nine months if refrigerated.
Another buzz emanating from the factory came from discovering owner Alex Campbell and I grew up in the same small Northland town – Kaikohe. This is where Alex’s first memories of kombucha came from – his grandmother Amy made what she called Manchurian Mushroom tea in the 1970’s. Kaikohe Kombucha – who would have thought?
It is no surprise Maketu produced the latest MasterChef winners, the town has food in its bones. Maketu was named after the origonal kumara growing fields in Hawaiki by Te Arawa when their canoe landed at the mouth of the Kaituna River in 1340.
The river and estuary have been historically referred to as the “food bowl” of the Te Arawa. 400 years later the Robin White painting Fish and Chips, Maketu immortalised the local fish and chip shop. Not sure why the shop has not been given the Robin White treatment.
Maketu Pies carry on the food vibe. They distribute pies all over the North Island and have recently introduced a gourmet range called Sunday’s Best. Their standard range is well regarded and includes a highly rated mussel pie.
Historically the estuary provided a diverse range of seafood including pipi, koterotero (sea-anenome), tuangi (cockles), flounder, titiko (mud snail), mussels, pāua, pūpū, scallops, kukuroa (horse mussels) and fish. It seems appropriate the winners of MasterChef Karena and Kasey Bird are described as “seafood loving sisters” and their signature dish is paua ravioli.
Working every day of the year, the team at Dunedin’s Southern Clams can have an average of 4.5 tonnes of clams ready for market in six hours. In winter the team in the water harvest by torchlight and even have waves crashing over them on occasions.
Director Roger Belton started Southern Clams in the early 1980’s after his French girlfriend took him to experience the French food culture. Eighty percent of the clams are exported, particulary to the east coast of the USA where the large Italian poplulation need them for Spagetti alle Vonglole. The remaining clams are sold domestically at restaurants, wholesalers and the New World and Pak n Save supermarkets.
Southern Clams take sustainability very seriously even investing in forestry in order to be carbon accountable. They have never harvested their full quota of clams and are contantly looking for new ways to reduce bycatch. You can read more here
After two years of planning the big day has arrived and Andrew Stroonbergen and Peter Hedgecock load up Waikanae Butchery’s brand new Fiat Ducato Maxi van. The van was built in Holland and shipped to NZ so Andrew can supply his great produce to Wellington’s Chaffers Market on Sundays. Now, following an invitation from Joanne Welch at Summerset Retirement Village, Andrew drives his van around four retirement villages on the Kapiti Coast each Friday supplying the good folk with lovely fresh meat and his famous smallgoods.
The bus came from Kahuna in Taranaki and Kirsty Green came from the café scene in Wellington – they are now united in the front yard of a Te Horo property she owns.
Opened in May 2012 the beachy Bus Stop Café was buzzing the morning I visited. The delicious food is all homemade and the superb coffee would make you think you were in Wellington – at least 30 disappeared out the door in the short time I was photographing – along with all of the jam donuts and a pile of cheese puffs.
The message clearly is – arrive early.
Open from 9-4 Fri-Sun the café even has eftpos however you don’t need to pay for the very convivial atmosphere Kirsty and her sidekick Sarah conjure up.
One visitor whispered to me “since she arrived she’s really brought the community together you know”.
The not so secret Bus Stop Café is at 50 Dixon St, Te Horo Beach. The latest news is the cafe has reopened somewher close by. I will update as soon as I can.
Gleaming olive-green Italian made machines greeted me as I was introduced to the factory by Nathan Casey, Operations Manager of Hawkes Bay’s Village Press Olive Oil.
500 – 600 tonnes of olives delivered to the factory each season come from 60,000 Hawkes Bay trees and are processed according to the variety of cultivar – Barnea, Frantoio, and Manzanillo are the three I am most familiar with.
12 years ago, Wayne and Maureen Startup started making olive oil under the brand Village Press. Today they are New Zealand’s largest producers of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, processing enough olives to make more than 100,000 litres of the golden liquid each year.
Once the oil is extracted the remaining finely ground by-product is destined for kitty litter and is also being trialled as dairy cow feed (mixed in with other things).
Al Brown, Ruth Pretty and Peta Mathias get their own branded oil from Village Press who bottle, label and pack the oil at the factory. Nathan also showed me newly labelled bottles with a big red heart destined for collaboration with the Returned Services Association.
You can find bottles and boxes of Village Press oil in New Zealand easily enough and the distinctive oils can also be purchased internationally via Amazon and Shopping Moa.