Words Vicki Ravlich-Horan
The Bay of Plenty got its name for a great reason. While many may believe this simply means plenty of avocados and kiwifruit, a quick chat to some of the region’s foodies, chefs and producers and it is clear there’s plenty more on offer, and we’re living up to that name more than ever.
Cherie from Pepper and Me says, “I love Tony’s mushrooms from Alice’s Restaurant. He grows the most stunning oyster mushrooms. I love them crispy tempura fried. He also does a mushroom powder that we have been using in risottos and mixed with our salts for a great umami flavour.”
Hamish from Tay Street Café also loves locally grown mushrooms. His pick – Marama’s Mushrooms based in Whakamarama, which he serves at Tay Street lightly sautéed with crème fraîche and truffle oil on grainy toast.
Probably just as delicious on sautéed mushrooms is Mark from Websters Tea’s pick, Lucky Lucky’s Chilli Oil. “It’s made here in the Bay by my friends and my personal food hero Jesse Jackson, who also runs No Biggie Catering with wife Sarah Chase,” Mark says. “I’ll literally put it on anything, but my favourite is incorporating it into breakfast however I can – on top of avo on toast, in the pan while frying eggs etc.”
Renne from The Avo Tree can help with Mark’s chilli sauce laced avo toast. Her pick for great local finds though is Te Puna Deli. Renee says, “It is like stepping into a deli in Europe and is such a gem in the Bay of Plenty. They stock an amazing variety of European delights, fresh food including homemade pastries, sandwiches and cakes, local organic produce and also deli style cheese and Hungarian cured meats with a large selection being made in house. They are true artisans!”
Only too aware of the great variety of food produced in the region is Lynn and Paul from Tauranga Tasting Tours. “We think we are really lucky to have beautiful, quality wines produced right on our door-step,” says Lynn. “The Wine Portfolio’s Leveret and Mills Reef wines have won innumerable awards. We visit the winery at Aongatete (near Katikati) on our Local Tasting Tour and will be doing several tours to the venue during Flavours of Plenty 2023.”
Mel from Wildflower says, “We love Solomons Gold Chocolate. It’s made here in Mount Maunganui using organic cacao beans, and we love their products because they only use simple, good quality, well sourced natural ingredients. We use their chocolate within our raw bars, brownie and banana bread.”
Liz from Vetro in Tauranga concurs with Mel, saying, “One product we absolutely love is Solomons Gold chocolate. Glen is not only a great guy to deal with but very serious about what he does. He has been working on a new product called Dark Milk, which is absolutely incredible – making a darker milk that is incredibly creamy with pure essences giving fab flavours. It is not officially launched yet, but we have it here at Vetro Tauranga, and it is going really well, as anyone who tries it finds it absolutely delicious.”
On Liz’s list of great local products is Nicki’s Eggs, which you can get at Tauranga Farmers Market or a number of other local stores, including Vetro.
Alchemy Tonics are made in Greerton, and Liz says, “They come in a great 250ml can that is easily recyclable and doesn’t take up all your glass recycling. Flavours are fabulous and make for the best G&Ts.”
The Professional Grazer Macarons are another pick. “Kristy makes these the proper way with only the best ingredients,” says Liz. “Sold frozen, you just take them out two hours prior to wanting and they are perfect.”
Heidi from Nana Dunn and Ashley Place says, “We love donuts and Angel Slice from The Ginger Beard Man. We first met him and his lovely wife Maddy as our ‘stall next door’ when we started at the Tauranga Farmers selling our pickled onions and relishes. That was over a year ago. Since then, we have purchased a lunch bar/café in industrial Papamoa – and Andy delivers his bread, donuts and Angel Slice to us every Tuesday morning. Our regulars know exactly when it arrives and pop down at morning teatime for their fix. You will find Andy at the Tauranga Farmers Market on Saturdays, and the Papamoa Farmers Market on Sundays.”
Armed with some great fresh bread (take your pick from the many great local bakers: Mount Sourdough, Flaveur, Breadhead, and Bread Asylum to name a few) and some delicious, pickled onions or relish from Nana Dunn’s, you’ll be needing some cheese.
Nick from the Mount’s Solera’s choice is Mt Eliza. “We just love Mt Eliza Cheese, particularly their Blue Monkey. It is one of the best blues I have had. We love to use it in dishes on our menu, as well as a cheese board.”
Nick also enjoys the Macadamia Liqueur from Harbourside Macadamias, which he says “can be a good substitute for anything that uses Frangelico, or even in an espresso martini it adds another element”.
For tickets to the Flavours of Plenty Festival, head to https://www.flavoursofplentyfestival.com/