Walking in Hawke’s Bay

During New Zealander summer, a region shines thanks to it excellent wines and good food

A view of Hawke's Bay, one of New Zealand’s 16 r

A view of Hawke's Bay, one of New Zealand’s 16 regions, on the East Coast of North Island. In this area, wine orders around and restaurants aren’t joking either. The region’s capital is Napier (photo credits www.capesouth.co.nz)

We like Hawke’s Bay, we like it a lot. It is hot, here, very hot especially now, when summer is in full and people start to speak of weekend trips more often. Wine is one of the leading sectors here, with around seventy producers and about 4,700 hectares of vineyards (source Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Inc.). There’s a lot to say about the producers in this area and their wines, and we will speak about them, but the most appetizing thing are the fantastic restaurants and bistros that many wineries have created and which contribute to the prestige of the area; in general, anyway, almost every winery offers the possibility of nibbling something, starting from selected cheese and cold cuts, to enjoy while sitting on artisanal benches or in the middle of the vineyards.

Craggy Range

Craggy Range

Many chefs have moved here from the cities in which they worked successfully in order to open a place of their own or co-opted by the wineries. As usual, lamb orders around and it’s always to be found in the menu, but the choice of styles and ingredients is impressive for such a small area (around 50x30 km). Of course the wine lists are focused on the winery’s products, matched with the dishes: the range, however, is often wide, and monotony is not a risk.

Among those that are most often mentioned, there’s Craggy Range’s bistro. This is one of the most renowned wineries, even abroad; the building is extremely modern and huge when compared to the local average, and its restaurant is no less, in terms of flamboyance and elegance. The cuisine is strongly inspired by French classics but without feeling heavy afterwards. The Provençal fish soup is a must.

Mission Estate

Mission Estate

Black Barn, not too far from the previous one, and again in Havelock North, offers a lovely bistro with a unique terrace-cum-gazebo. Dishes look simpler when compared to the previous one but are extremely well-finished and creative, more courageous and in perfect harmony with the setting. Moving towards Taradale, Mission Estate is not to be missed: one of the first wineries established here, it has a true mission-architecture and a retro aesthetic style, and its restaurant offers a unique view of Hawke’s bay; dishes are simple and unpretentious, the tea smoked venison carpaccio is fantastic.

Clearview is in front of the ocean, in Te Awanga, and has established itself thanks to its extremely convincing wines produced in a sustainable way. Its restaurant, surrounded by the garden, is totally rustic, the food served is a New Zealander interpretation of European cuisine, yet it is enjoyable and the service is well organised. The opposite, with regards to the offer, but very close to the previous one, is stylish and modern Elephant Hill, with a very metropolitan, substantial and measured yet absolutely not to be missed menu. Desserts are impeccable.


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