Brimming with, and surrounded by, artisanal producers of gourmet goodies at the top of their game, Christchurch is a heaven-sent gastronomic smorgasbord for foodies and culinary connoisseurs alike.
And with some of the best produce in the world right on our doorstep (seriously – a lot of these producers just need to poke their heads out the door to source ingredients!), it’s a given that the region’s small food producers are killing it on the national (and international) scene. Why opt for bland and mass-produced when high-quality ingredients, traditional methods and plenty of love are fuelling the rise of ‘artisan eating’ both here and the world over? Join Cityscape for the good (hand-pressed virgin olive) oil on the local scene.
FROM THE OVEN …
There’s nothing better than the smell of freshly-baked bread and sin-sational cakes – add ol’ skool techniques, natural ingredients including, gasp, butter to the mix and make a beeline for the following bodacious baked beauts. Devoted to using traditional bread-making techniques, the team at Vic’s Bakehouse (pictured above) steer clear of excessive yeast and focus on maturing dough to just the right point for optimal results, resulting in a primo range of European breads that are not only healthy to eat, but also taste sensational (FYI their parmesan bagels are phenom!). Proudly Canterbury owned and operated, Divine Cakes & Desserts seamlessly blend traditional techniques and outside-the-box-nous in the creation of their righteous home-baked cakes, desserts and fudges, all made with real ingredients (natch), and handmade cake decorations. Not so good on gluten? You’re not the only one. Totally Gluten Free Bakery arose out of a growing need for a specifically gluten-free bakery. From the bangin’ bacon, cheese and cracked pepper loaf to pain au chocolat and Kiwi favourite lamingtons, their creations more than hold their own against their gluten counterparts.
Also keep an eye out for: the award-winning traditional breads of Tanner Street Bakery, specialty scone-maker Gretchen’s Kitchen, small-batch, hand-rolled bagels in the US tradition from Grizzly Bagel, spectacular cake creations from By Anna, brownies to die for from Chocolate Fix, and more traditional breads from Breads of Europe.
For fresh and cured meats and meat products, set your tastebuds on a course for adventure on an international gastronomic odyssey without leaving the city. Authentic Spanish flavours reign supreme at Chorizos Garcia, a fave on the Curator’s House Restaurant menu, where fresh pimentón (paprika) from Spain meets New Zealand’s finest pork and traditional methods to create moreish morsels in mild and hot – guaranteed to add a deliciously smoky punch to any savoury dish. A desire to produce the food he loved, but couldn’t buy, (sound familiar?) saw Tim Morrison kick off the French-infused Morrison & Co Charcuterie in 2013 – his three core products smoked eel paté, pork and pistachio terrine, and, in particular, the duck liver parfait have been known to incite market rage and regularly sell out at farmers’ markets around town. To create their mouth-watering hot-smoked salmon the crew at Terra Viva Café and Deli lightly cure premium Nelson-farmed salmon with a selection of spices and hot smoke to perfection with manuka woodchips, offering it up alongside fierce homemade chicken liver paté and aioli. Game for game? Over at Main Divide Meats, prime cuts of wild venison join a Kiwi-exotic range of gluten-free smallgoods including four flavours of wild venison, goat and tahr(!) salami and a range of wild patties, sausages and biersticks – you’ll find them all down at the Christchurch Farmers’ Market. Perfectly-aged in store beef (they simply won’t sell it until it’s at its peak) is the cornerstone of the wildly popular premium butcher, deli and wine combo that is Cashmere Cuisine (pictured above). Among their award-winning sausages (think bangin’ pork, sage and apple gluten free bangers), smoked bacon (via an onsite smokehouse) and venison, garlic and pepperoni salami you’ll also find a primo selection of wines and cheeses.
Other meaty morsels for the radar include for the award-winning Moko Smoked Eel, the authentic South African taste of Canterbury Biltong, happy meat raised right from Rockford Pork and Westwood Organics chicken, and the coveted marbled wagyu beef of Holly Farm.
DRINK IT IN
With some of the world’s purest water literally on tap, local beverages are launching Kiwi-centric flavours to appreciative palates around the country. Made from 100% New Zealand hand-picked elderflowers, the laborious and delicious Addmore (pictured above) range of beverages are crafted by experienced winemakers and hand-blended with traditional methods to produce their light, refreshing cordials and sparking drops (try the Sparkling Ginger, White Tea & Elderflower – you won’t regret it!). They also make good use of elderflower at Selwyn-based Aroha Drinks too, having started with the tasty blooms (still a mainstay of the range) before expanding into the likes of blackcurrant, feijoa and the intriguing sparkling rhubarb, which is proving so popular they’ve had to expand their rhubarb patch! Keeping things real, raw and organic, The Nutmylk Co.’s locally handpressed small batch almond mylks epitomise nutritious purity and come sans dairy, gluten, soy, refined sugar, preservatives and pesticides. Naturally high in vitamins and minerals it’s rich, creamy and satisfying. If you’re looking for something a bit harder, the Three Boys Brewery lads are still smashing it at their Ferry Road operation, turning out special edition brews such as the pineapple lump porter on the regular and growing a burgeoning international reputation – they’re part of a thriving CHCH craft beer scene that includes Golden Eagle, Raindogs, Wigram Brewing Co, Fiasco, Two Thumbs, Pomeroy’s, Lyttelton’s Eruption Brewing, and more besides … (find an excellent local round-up at The Beer Library!).
Traditionally-made dairy includes the bounty of Barrys Bay Cheese on the peninsula; Mt Grey Cheese and Karikaas traditionally-made Dutch-style cheeses, butter and culture in Rangiora, and Emilio’s Cheese near Kirwee.
Liven up your pantry with a few special jars of somethin’-somethin’! White Heart Specialty Nut Butters blend batch-roasted Tai Tapu-grown hazelnuts with premium, organic and fair-trade ingredients to create a range of premium spreads such as hazelnut and cocoa, and coconut and honey, and also sell delicious spiced nut sprinkles and snacks. Mandy’s Horseradish (pictured above) needs no introduction to local foodies; their authentic, old-fashioned and creamy horseradish sauce (with a kick!) has won awards and fans up and down the country, and is still produced with traditional methods – plus they’ve now also added a delicious horseradish and apricot mustard. Shirley’s Kitchen remains an at-home operation for Shirley Bradstock, who started selling her own version of delicious Italian confection panforte and continues to grow her business, the latest addition being her fig and walnut loaf. And pop into Taste@Twenty to pick something up from their pesto range, which changes weekly – depending on when you drop in, you could end up with parsley and walnut, sundried tomato and almond, or something else again … you’ll want to tap their homemade hummus and aioli too (trust us!).
For the shopping list: try acclaimed pickles and preserves from Jen’s Kitchen, artisan honey from J. Friend and Co. and Bell Trees, spices, pastes, pestos and more from Lyttleton-based Ground, olives, dips, sauces and other goodies from Volcano Market, small batch spreads, dips and more from Cannonhill Gourmet Foods, smoked garlic and condiments from The Original Smoke and Spice Co., olive oil that’s a cut-above from Robinson’s Bay Olive Oil and Old French Road, and city-favourite sweet treats from Fudge Cottage.
Cocoa fanciers are well served: De Spa Chocolatier rocks traditional Belgian treats (since 1991), Trade Aid brings altruism to the mix with its organic Fair Trade chocolate factory, She Universe tempts with their exotic creations, while Van Heiningen chocolates have been weaving their handmade European-style magic since 1985.
Where to track down all this goodness? Two words: farmers’ markets. Buy directly from the creators, pick their brains and sample their wares – soulless supermarkets will never look the same again! Here’s where it’s at. Christchurch Farmers’ Market (pictured above) The Mac Daddy of markets, this Saturday institution showcases the region’s growers, bakers, winemakers, brewers, producers and butchers en masse including Main Divide Meats and Morrison & Co Charcuterie. As an added bonus there’s also heaps of great ready-to-eat artisan fare available for breakfast or brunch like Baodown’s seriously addictive (seriously, we’re addicted) modern take on the classic Taiwanese burger. Lyttelton Farmer’s Market A regular stop for city foodies who make the trip through the tunnel especially, the port’s farmers’ market specialises in gourmet foods including fresh fruit and vegetables, free range eggs, fresh fish, artisanal bread courtesy of Vic’s Bakehouse, meat and cheeses, juices and herbs. Opawa/St Martin’s Farmers’ Market Head down to Fifield Terrace on a Sunday morning to get the veggies in for the week and then supplement them with fresh bread, French style pastries, free-range eggs, locally made Italian cheeses, ready-to-eat salads, and more. Lincoln Farmers’ Market Filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables, German baking, pizzas and pastries, sweet treats, and gourmet delicacies and treats including wine, pesto, honey, fruit cordials, cheese, olive oil, hazelnut products, fudge, and other gourmet foods. Downtown Farmers’ Market New on the scene, the Sunday arvo market at The Commons has a strong focus on fresh, local (where possible) produce, smallgoods, fish, bread, cheese, deli, eggs, coffee and juices, and offers food stalls and trucks selling great ready-to-eat food. Riccarton Market Held every Sunday from 9am until 2pm at its dedicated marketground at Riccarton Park Racecourse, the grand-pappy of Christchurch markets is the biggest of its kind in the country. Amongst its 300-plus stalls you’ll find a decent sprinkling of artisan food and beverages, including local beers and wine.