|Beautiful Matakana Countryside|
Woke up to the most beautiful of NZ Winter mornings last Saturday & the perfect day for a road trip. Headed off early with a quick stop to fuel up with a good strong coffee, the only way to start the day .The first stop en route was the Honey Centre just out of Warkworth, about 40 minutes north of Auckland. They have an amazing array of different natural honeys and honey products. Even better you can sample most of the honeys. They also have NZ's largest display of live bees,,,quite a sight! This time I came away with some Multi-Flora Honey and some Manuka Honey - delicious.
Next stop Matakana and the farmers market but side tracked by a delightful looking little place - The Dragonfly Cafe and Gallery - and what a wee find. A beautiful gift shop and seriously delicious food - a good selection of gluten free fare as well. However,I couldn't go past the sausage roll which was divine! Cruised past Ascension Vineyard as a little early for wine tasting, but time permitting it is worth a stop as some very good vino. Being winter the vines looked very sparse having given up their beautiful bounty.
Arrived Matakana Village, bustling as always on market day. The village has certainly changed over the years with a number of boutiques type shops and even a Nosh. The Farmers Market was busy as ever & they do have some great produce and artisan cheeses, olive oils, smoked salmon, mustard, chutneys, preserves and breads. My haul included a huge bag of freshly picked clementines, walnut bread and some Puriri Flat Olive Oil - spicy and tasty. The piece de resistance though was the discovery of the Whangaripo Buffalo Cheese Co. What amazing cheese. So tasty, but fresh and tart and clean all at the same time. A truly great find! Took home some of the cream cheese, more ricotta like in texture and just a great clean, tangy fresh taste. I couldn't possible go past either of the blues - a true blue and a blue cheddar - both equally delicious. Thought one for me and one for Anna and Alex, friends in Whangarei and the destination of this wee road trip.
I continued north out of Matakana to Kaiwaka. If you are passing through the little village of Kaiwaka it is always worth a stop. Kaiwaka is located on an ancient Maori portage between the East and West Coasts, the narrowest point between the Auckland Isthmus and the far North. What I love is Cafe Eutopia.
Allpress organic coffee and fantastic food and fresh organic fruit juices. It is also worth a stop to just check out the building itself,,,a little bit of a wonderland and certainly unexpected! Today is was refuelling with a good, strong long black and a gingernut spelt cookie,,,yum! My second must see is the Kaiwaka Cheese Shop which has the largest range of Gouda cheeses I have ever seen. They have more than 52 cheeses altogether, so if you are a cheese lover you must check it out!
Finally arrived in Whangarei and had a great evening with a veritable feast accompanied by good wine and good company! My homemade pate and Anna's homemade bread followed by a scallop, bacon and pear salad, roast lamb racks (from the farm) with decadent potato dauphinois, spinach and carrot, all freshly picked. And we still managed to find a little room for some Whangaripo Blue and some aged Gouda and all topped off with Anna's chocolate marmalade tart.
And yes as delicious as it all looks!