If Waikato is the food bowl of New Zealand as Lianne Dalziel said in justifying the appointment of former MP Dianne Yates to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Board, then the province needs to improve its marketing.
I’d have accepted the cream can or horse racing capital, but Waitako wouldn’t immediately come to mind if I was asked which province is the nation’s food bowl.
If we’re going for North Island entrants for the title Hawkes Bay with its wonderful fruit, vegetables, sea food and wine would be a finalist. The Bay of Plenty, Poverty Bay and Northland have a delicious range of fruit and vegetables too; and Wairarapa has wine and olives.
In the South Island, Central Otago can claim the country’s best stone fruit, it has pip fruit and wine too. Nelson and Malborough also grow tasty fruit and have delicious sea food and wine. Canterbury produces tasty fruit and good wine too.
Oysters put Southland on the list, though I’m not sure if swedes would be counted for or against them 🙂
Lamb is legend in Hawkes Bay, Canterbury and Southland, though just about anywhere in New Zealand grows it just as well, and the same can be said for beef.
North Otago may not spring to everyone’s mind as the culinary capital but we have a growing appreciation of our primary produce. There’s a fledging viticulture industry, and Fleurs Place at Moeraki has woken our taste buds to the delights of local fish and sea food. Just as the cold winters add intensity of flavour to Central’s stone fruit, the colder water enhances the flavour of fish, particularly blue cod.
Riverstone Kitchen , a finalist in the Cuisine restaurant of the Year, uses as much local produce as possible – including fruit, vegetables and herbs, from its own orchard and garden.
Wasabi is grown in the Waitaki Valley and it also produces very sweet strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, tayberries and boysenberries.
Whitestone Cheese has an array of national awards to back up my ever so slightly biased view that they produce the country’s best cheese.
Totara Lowlands sells the most succulent cherries I have ever eaten – they don’t export so the pick of the crop is sold locally. Their hazelnuts and honey are also top quality.
While we’re in that part of the the district, Totara and nearby Kakanui are renowned for the vegetables from their market gardens and there are simply no better new potatoes in the world than those which grow here. They are no ordinary spuds, they’re more like underground strawberries.
If you don’t understand how proud North Otago would be if we were called the nation’s potato patch then you obviously haven’t tasted the Jersey Bennies which grow here.