Travelling in New Zealand – Kiwi Food by Rob Shackleford
Other Travelling NZ Blogs
|1 – Christchurch to Oamaru||2 – To Dunedin||3 – To Bluff||4 – To Milford Sound||5 – Queenstown and the Wild West Coast|
|6 – Arthur’s Pass to Lake Tekapo||7 – Mt Cook||8 – Kiwi Food||9 – Faces of NZ – 1||10 – Faces of NZ – 2|
On this blog entry I’ll comment on New Zealand food – especially food for travellers. We like to sample as much local food as possible, while I believe travel can be typified by the food. Why travel is you are too scared to eat the local cuisine? A large part of the travel experience is through food and drink.
Australians are coffee snobs.
In our travels, we make no secret of when the coffee is great – or not. It isn’t an insult, I hope, to declare American percolated coffee as some of the worst you will ever let past your lips. It is pretty well undrinkable. Granted, California and parts of Canada now have cafes that make a decent cup and fits the cafe culture we accept as the norm in Australia. Scotland’s coffee is also great, while southern England, Singapore and Hong Kong, not so. Vietnam – superb! India – well – let’s not go there. Drink chai and be done with it.
But New Zealand coffee is, over all, better than Australia. I know, it takes a lot to admit that, but there it is. While cafes in Australia can be great or exceptional depending on the barista, the coffee, the day of the week and how they hold their tongue when making the brew, New Zealand’s coffee is always exceptional – regardless of where you buy it.
It is very odd, but true. If you love a decent coffee, New Zealand is the place.
Scones and cafe food
As you can tell, we like a morning stop at a cafe and, when travelling, that can also include food.
New Zealand cafe food is insanely good.
In the coffee snob capital of Melbourne, Australia, coffee is great and food often purchased off site and wrapped in plastic or served so be agreeable. You know, nice croissant, pretty good almond croissant, scones smaller than my fist. Pretty well the same in most places, with cakes and other foods thrown in.
New Zealand takes the scone situation to the extreme. I saw a news item on the local TV where they were trying to determine the country’s best cheese scone. Who ever heard of such a thing. And the size! Oh my God! It would stop my heart! We can share similar cafe experiences relating to vanilla slice, any biscuit, sandwiches and lamingtons at a size, quality and, best of all, price that would blow any Australian cafe out of the water. Best of all, they are made in-house.
Bakeries also include pies, soups and other lunch items that are all home made and excellent. What can I say? When travelling New Zealand in winter, when hunger strikes, beware, or you will be loosening your belt to accommodate expansion in no time.
New Zealand’s restaurants vary in standard and sophistication. Generally we found the food to be great, servings generous and, to take a broad generalisation from our experiences, satisfactory.
I recall excellent lamb shanks and local fish in Oamaru, great ethnic food at Mount Cook and Wanaka. Maybe it was our taste and budget, but the restaurant experiences were basic, good food and good budget. I know there will be exceptional foods and restaurants. There always are, but our experiences were satisfactory.
There are some cases, though, when you will find food that is out of the ordinary. We ate whitebait fritters in Haas, a food, I believe, that is becoming rare. We (actually it was I) ate Bluff oysters, though they cost about $3 each because of demand. Yes, there was venison and, of course, lots of lamb.
Deb’s uncle Rex is a freshwater fisherman of note and when we finally returned to Dunedin we were treated to a fabulous feed of fresh Salmon. He usually fishes for trout in the bitter cold by the canals near Lake Tekapo and he catches some that are just too big to eat. His joy comes in catching the giants on flimsy line and then letting them go.
He and a couple of his mates started catching 8lb salmon, which meant one of the nearby salmon farms had a break out, as happens. They ended up catching almost 20. We heard about the breakout as farmers, who normally would talk about the weather or football, spoke of the breakout in an Oamaru cafe. Rex later told us that within a day, half of Christchurch were lined up along the canals in a hope to catch these prized, and costly if purchased, eating fish.
Rob and Deb live at Burleigh Heads, on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Deb is a yoga teacher and administrator par excellence.
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