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

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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.

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