I love food - and especially organic, locally produced stuff. So today we decided to do some of the Katikati Cuisine Trail and although we only managed to get to two of the nine on the route, it was well worth it. Katikati is about 45 minutes from here, along a two-lane winding road that wends its way through beautiful farming land. Miles and miles of hills with cattle grazing, vast kiwi fruit and avocado plantations.
We missed out first turn off to Basecamp Country Shop and Smokery and when we found the right turn off, the long single lane road kept going and going and going... until we were almost at the end and saw the sign for KaiMai Yoga and the Shop. You couldn't see the shop but it did say open, so we turned down the drive and arrived! Not really knowing what to expect, we walked into the store through an arch of antlers! Masses of them! The venison they had provided was long gone!
What they did have in there were a lot of pictures of them hunting wild pig in Australia (all their meat is hunted in Aus and brought into NZ for processing.) And then out came the salamis and sausages and venizon bacon - a new one on me! It all smelled wonderfully garlicky so we couldn't resist and bought a 2kg garlic venison smoked salami and a pack of smoked sausages. And some biersticks for snacking on our way to BreadNZ.
Once again, we overshot the driveway, this time to the bakery - we should have spotted the small, wood-fired pizza oven letterbox. Up the long driveway we went, verges full of white daisies and various other creepers and plants. Very jungly and beautiful.
Henri Saurat, the baker heard us coming and was there to meet us in a flour-dusted t-shirt and jeans as Megan, his partner came down the stairs from the house. Their first words were, "We have no electricity." Immediately I thought, "Now what? We've come out here to see how they make the breads and now there is no power!"
But undaunted, Megan said, "I just finished grinding the coffee," noting she was doing this in a mortar and pestle and then said, "We don't worry, because the stoves are wood-fired!" We were in business!
What a wonderful visit we had! Both of them had spent a lot of time in South Africa, in Durban, my old stomping ground, and they had built a boat there and sailed off to cruise for years! We found we had a lot in common, so besides learning all about the sourdough starters and the fine breads and pizza they make, we talked about South Africa and cruising and kids and a whole variety of subjects. It felt so comfortable, sitting in their living room, drinking coffee and eating croissants and hot pita bread right from oven. Megan broke out a bottle of South African wine and we feasted on olive-oil dipped bread and a delicious pesto she had made.
I spent some time with Henri while he was tending the breads to see how they were made and find out what makes them so special. The long fermentation times break down the gluten in the organic flour he buys from either Australia or from a few small wheat farmers on the South Island. He doesn't use "regular" flour as it has been bred (pun intended) for use in ordinary white bread. Their breads only use three ingredients - this flour, pure unprocessed sea salt, also from the South Island and their pure water from their 11 hectares.
Henri has several sourdough types, all which produce a different textured bread. The pita bread we had right out of the oven was raised with the Italian starter. He is very particular about his business, as it is just the two of them. So although he builds and sells the ovens, just anyone can't get one. The buyer is usually a friend, or a friend of a friend, or someone who knows the value of this way of baking.
They are also preparing a class to teach children about traditional breadmaking - something they feel is supremely important; a basic food knowledge they hope will expand to include other fresh, organic, natural foods.
It felt like we were leaving a friend's house as we headed out - only to find that we had an "almost" flat tire! Zoze had put air in it yesterday when she saw it was a bit low, but now...almost a pancake. So we hurried out of there (I forgot to get a pix of the mailbox) and made it into Katikati (8.7km) to a Bridgestone Tyre shop.
"Help, help," I called to the young, very good-looking young man, "We have an almost flat." he looked at the tire and said, "Yes, a very flat tire!" He took the keys from Zoze, backed the car into the bay and went to work while we went across the street to the Indian spice store. Yes, I am making chai! What a fun shop - everything Indian! And Evelyn, a friend of Zoze who joined us on our outing, found the curry she wanted and a variety of other goodies.
Back at the tire shop, the car was done, and Zoze had her purse out and he just smiled and said, "Happy Christmas!" What a doll! So Evelyn chimed in, "Now we all have to give you a kiss!" Poor guy ran for his life. Do you blame him? THREE gray-haired ladies threatening to plant smooches!