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A 29-Hour Foodie Adventure in Hawkes Bay

Last weekend, we were lucky enough to venture to the beautiful Hawkes Bay for a wedding. The region well and truly stole my foodie heart. The great thing about wedding season is that you not only witness a glorious union of love but you’re also given the opportunity to explore new and wonderful places.

Here are my favourite eateries and foodie spots that we managed to fit into our short 29 hour stay in the Bay…Oh and did I mention this included a mad dash to town to hurriedly buy wedding outfits because at 12pm on the dot, three hours prior to the wedding we realised we had left all of our ‘wedding clothes’ in Bunnythorpe - no less than a two hour drive away. Bugger alright. On the up side, the husband got a new suit and I now have a continued reason to always over pack!

A light and inspirational space is home to this popular eating establishment in Tennyson Street. It aptly features a giant D on the wall behind the perfect bar and efficient and knowledgeable staff that potter about the floor tending to every need.

We arrived on a busy Saturday afternoon to find delectable plates of donuts and beautiful cups of Coffee Supreme being skilfully delivered to the tables of hungry diners. We ducked in for a quick bite to eat en route to our wedding but had we had more time, I would have lingered around a table for hours trying both the savoury and sweet offerings. I had heard truly delicious things about the pork dish so I opted for the Pulled Pork on White Polenta with Fennel and Walnuts while the hubby went for the Crispy Skin Duck Risotto. Both were perfectly sized, full of flavour and absolutely plate-lick worthy. Don’t worry we didn’t! If only Mister D was slightly closer to home…

Monica Loves

The sister of Mister D, Monica Loves is a hidden gem down a small lane but dare to walk into the unknown and you will be rewarded. This soulful bar offers a lovely wine list and beautifully presented and tasty snacks. Oh and it has and the best darn gin around – Rogue Society. The perfect little bar to linger over a glass and plate or two.

Two words – In Love (with this place). Okay that was five but wowsers. I could have sat here all day and tried every single thing on the menu. Not to mention the great stack of reading material at the shared table.

Once we found this humming little café in the industrial port area of Napier, we didn’t want to leave. It seems as though half of Napier had the same idea as it was super busy with locals and visitors alike seeking out the deliciousness.

To start we ordered coffee, perfect coffee. Of course, men are always super hungry in the morning so Jonny tried a caramelised onion muffin as a breakfast entrée if there is such a thing, followed by the pulled pork on toast topped with a perfectly poached egg - their famous take on eggs benedict. I opted for the beetroot and carrot juice and the raw gluten-free muesli with Greek yoghurt and summer fruits. Just delicious and exactly what I needed after a late night in heels! I would highly recommend Smiths Eatery for the food, coffee and the beautiful people watching. I wish we had a local JUST. LIKE.THIS.

I know what you’re all thinking…That we quite literally ate our way around the Hawkes Bay. That we did indeed and it was wonderful. One of the highlights for me was the Farmers Market - an inspiring and seasonal display of all things nutritious and delicious. The beauty of the rainbow produce simply took my breath away. Baby squash, fresh blueberries, figs, stone fruits and apples. A fruit plate made from here would just be incredible. Colourful radishes, peppers and the brightest orange pumpkins I have ever seen - I wish I could have bought everything and carried it on the plane home with me. Instead I managed to fit in corn, avocados, squash, blueberries and my first ever Peacharine. Oh my! This market is an absolutely must. Trust me.

In between perusing the market and lunch, we ventured towards Cape Kidnappers for a glass of Hawkes Bay wine at the renowned Elephant Hill Winery. We were greeted by sun, crisp white couches and studious diners feasting on plates of freshly shucked Oysters. Borrowing the hats and sunscreen on offer, we settled into one of the couches on the deck and lazed and dreamt out to sea over a lovely glass of the Rosé. A beautiful spot for a glass of wine and lunch in the sun overlooking wines that stretch out to sea.

Greeted by a fig tree lined path, I already knew this lunch would be magical. Sitting beneath a canopy of grapes, we dined on delicate scallops followed fresh Groper adorning a bed of the creamiest mashed potato you will ever eat. The dish was served with sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, capers and wilted spinach and I can still taste each and every mouthful. Enjoyed with a glass of their famous barrel fermented Chardonnay, I was quite literally in lunch heaven. Of course, we had to buy a few bottles of their Chardonnay to bring home so we can try and re-create this perfect pairing ourselves. Perhaps even the grape canopy too? I’ll get the builder husband onto that bit!

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