An adventure in Niue with Peter Gordon
Haven’t heard much about Niue? Neither had Taste editor Kristina Rapley, until she joined Peter Gordon on a foodie adventure to discover all the culinary delights this picturesque and peaceful island has to offer
There are some amazing things happening in food production in Niue and who better to promote them than Pacific Rim fusion expert Peter Gordon? In a recent collaboration with Niue Tourism, Peter hosted an epic foodie event on the island, which Taste was lucky enough to attend. Staying at the beautiful Scenic Matavai Resort, we began a fiveday food bender with a selection of Invivo wines and canapés, followed by a huge traditional-style feast. This fuelled us up for a foraging mission across the island the following day, which began at Niue Fresh Hydroponics. Former mayor of Wellington Mark Blumsky and his Niuean wife, Pauline, co-own Niue Fresh, in partnership with local fisherman James Douglas. The company was their solution to the near-impossible task of finding fresh produce on the island and is the largest hydroponic farm in Niue.
Next up was a tour of Niue Vanilla, an organic vanilla plantation which exports its beautiful product all over the world (you can get it from niuevanilla.co.nz, too). Niue Honey was next on the list with honey made by the world’s last remaining disease-free Italian honey bees. The last stop was to a traditional garden in the forest at Vaipouli growing all sorts of produce: lemongrass, chillies, kaffir lime, coconut, pawpaw and banana to name a few. Owners John and Doris Ranfurly, both in their seventies, tend to the three hectares themselves and it really was a feast for the senses.
The rest of the trip was a blur of long lunches cooked by Peter and his team from The Sugar Club in Auckland, along with traditional feasts prepared at local villages and swims in Niue’s crystal-clear waters. Tough gig, huh?
Peter and his team worked with local talent on the island to prepare many of the meals for guests, which ensured a Niuean flavour running throughout the entire event.
Andy Cory, pictured right, shows Peter some of his famous Niue Honey. Andy is esteemed on the island for saving the rare population of Italian bees after a cyclone nearly wiped them out in 2004.
The uga (pronounced oonga) crab (right) is native to Niue and lives in the trees instead of the sea. It eats coconut, which gives the flesh a delicate coconut flavour. It’s only cooked for special occasions as each crab requires a lot of preparation for a small amount of meat.
Our leaving brunch included Peter’s Turkish eggs, a cult classic straight from the menu of his London restaurant The Providores. It’s made with poached eggs, whipped garlic yoghurt, chilli oil and herbs.
Fresh produce has historically been hard to find on the island but both Niue Fresh
Hydroponics (above) and the Ranfurlys’ maala (traditional garden) in Vaipouli (below) are changing that to the benefit of the locals and Niue’s tourism industry.