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.
A block of land north of Port Vila with a multitude of food-producing plants is now open to visitors. The brainchild of Jimmy Nipo and his wife Ledcha Nanuman, Fansa Farm Foodie Tours has been designed to showcase the best in Vanuatu’s food while also wanting to demonstrate new crop varieties and farming practices better suited to Vanuatu’s shifting weather patterns.
Crops you will see on the foodie tour include pineapple, mango, pawpaw, taro, drought resistant yam,kava, corn, tamarind, banana, breadfruit, sugarcane, pepper, chilli, kumala (kumara), coconut, nangai (an almond like nut ) and manioc (cassava) which Jimmy says represents continuity: “Manioc is always there, it just keep going, it feeds us and provides our energy throughout the seasons,” he says.
Jimmy Nipo and Ledcha Nanuman come from the island of Tanna in the south of Vanuatu.
Jimmy says Fansa Farm takes its name from the fansa bird (similar to a fantail ) which holds special significance as a leader in Tanna Island culture.
“The fansa leads all other birds to food. It is active, smart and creative, and never stops moving,” says Jimmy. “Fansa also means safe, and for us Ni-Vanuatu, that relates to food security
which is very important for our survival” he says.
Visitors to Fansa Farm can choose between three tours ranging from two to four hours on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.
The Food Path provides a guided tour through the farm with refreshments and produce on offer along the way.
Food Path and ‘aelan-style’ Cooking provides a guided tour through the farm with refreshments and produce along the way followed by an opportunity to cook local dishes ‘aelan style’.
The third tour, Food Path, Port Vila Market and brunch at Lapita Cafe is offered in partnership with Port Vila’s Lapita Café, well known suppliers of high quality aelan cuisine ( the Lapita Cafe food at the opening was delicious ). The tour includes a guided tour of the farm, then a tour of the Port Vila central market, followed by brunch.
What impressed me the most when I photographed TRENZ in Queenstown this year was the food and wine. Local caterer Flying Trestles was hired to feed 1100 exhibitors, media and buyers lunch and tea breaks throughout the four day international tourism showcase. Divine looking salad platters such as wild rice, fennel and hazelnut or tomato, bocconcini and eggplant were complemented by hot dishes of venison denver leg, kumara and lamb pies, blue cod, and more. All washed down by fine New Zealand wine (mostly from Central Otago). For dessert huge cake stands were festooned with tiny chocolate mousse cups, lemon tarts, lamingtons or miniature meringues. Lavish lunchboxes including Mediterranean salad, Turkish rolls, sushi, locally made Patagonia chocolates and Phoenix organic juice were provided one day when the vistors were taken on “famils” with the Queenstown tourism operators. Even the muffins at morning coffee provided a mouth full of excitement.
At a regular TRENZ social event the Regional Rendevous, the country’s regional marketing agencies put their best foot forward presenting wines by Quartz Reef (including the fab Methode Traditionelle), Peregrine, Akarua, Astrolabe, Gibbston Valley, Mt Difficulty and Two Paddocks (complete with Sam Neil), Te Kairanga and Te Whau. Among the many pass-around foods were whitebait fritters from the West Coast and shavings from whole rounds of Balfour cheese from Gibbston Valley Cheese.
On the exhibition floor the Prime Minister and his entourage were handed out Roxborough dried apricots by the Central Otago operators. There was a new exhibit from Zealong Tea, the Waikato organic tea operation and a move to the national stage for Zest Food Tours now touring in Auckland as well as Wellington. Bon apetite New Zealand!