Food, coffee and wine fiends are hopelessly spoilt in Wellington.
The “land of the long flat white” (always a double shot) has more bars and restaurants per capita than New York.
Hearing how food-centric Wellington is prior to my arrival, and with only two days to explore, I opt to orientate myself in this new city on day one via my tastebuds.
Out of the crowd I quickly pick Stephanie Cutfield, my guide from Zest Food Tours – she’s the one walking up to strangers at the Wellington visitor’s centre and asking their name.
Founded in 2003, Zest’s owner, Catherine Cordwell, believes the best ways to discover any new place and its culture is through its food and by meeting the producers behind it.
Three of us meet on a blow-the-milk-out-of-your-tea kind of morning, and walk to our first stop – Mojo Coffee Central, situated in the historic Shed 13 on Wellington’s Waterfront.
The overwhelming smell of freshly roasted coffee at this boutique roastery brings a smile to all our faces.
Here we discover the intricacies of coffee roasting, from crop to cup, while sipping a flat white decorated with a silver fern pattern and tasting a homemade kalouria (Greek wine biscuit).
“Coffee is like wine,” says master roaster Lambros Gianoutsos.
“It differs significantly from region to region and crop to crop.”
During our chat I learn from Gianoutsos that freshly ground coffee should be kept for three or four days before it’s ready to be used, after four weeks it starts to loose its flavour and the best way to store it is in an air tight container at room temperature.
“Don’t put the coffee in the freezer. You’ll shock the poor coffee,” says Gianoutsos, as we buzz off to sample some gelato, a little further along the waterfront.
There’s so many awards on the walls at Gelissimo Gelato there’s barely room to display the menu.
Gelissimo’s core focus is the creation of fancy gelato and sorbetto using organic milk and combining the best local ingredients.
Gelato master Graham Joe serves us samples of the ginger beer gelato, blood orange sorbet, made from 65 per cent fruit, and cucumber gelato.
“Give Wellingtonians enough caffeine and expose them to wild wind and they get very creative,” says Cutfield, as we shuffle out of the gelateria.
As we lick our takeaway ice-creams, we move from the waterfront and shuffle towards inner-city Eva Street.
In a transformed old warehouse space we discover WCF, as it’s known to locals (the Wellington Chocolate Factory), New Zealand’s first open to the public bean-to-bar chocolate factory.
Chocolatier Rochelle Harrison and business partner Gabriel Davidson make handmade pure chocolate that is 70 per cent cocoa and 30 per cent sugar and it’s all fairtrade and organic.
“We roast, crack, winnow, conch and temper small batches of chocolate,” says Harrison, as she hands out some delectable dark square, including a vegan chocolate made from coconut milk and coconut sugar.
Next stop is a gourmet supermarket, Moore Wilson Fresh, where Wellington foodies and chefs shop.
At this store, with its eclectic mix of wild meats, organic fruit and vegetables, seafood and specialty jams and oils, we try elderberry soda, award winning Kapiti cheeses and Ruth Pretty brand crab apple jelly.
After the coffee, cookies, gelato, chocolate, cheese and an array of sodas it was finally time for our last port of call.
“Now who is ready for some lunch? asks Cutfield.
“I’d like to take you to Floriditas Cafe and Restaurant for our next stop.”
The three of us look confused.
“Is she serious?” asks one of the American tourists in the group.
I’m very afraid that she’s not joking.
IF YOU GO:
GETTING THERE: Air New Zealand (airnewzealand广西桑拿,广西桑拿网,) has direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Wellington. It has flights from Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast to Wellington via Auckland.
STAYING THERE: The writer stayed at Novotel Wellington, 133-137 The Terrace, Wellington (novotel广西桑拿,).
TOURING THERE: Zest Food Tours (zestfoodtours.co.nz) offers a range of food and wine tours, including tours of Greytown and Martinborough, one hour’s drive from Wellington. The writer took the Capital Tastes tour, which runs Monday to Saturday from 9:30am – 12:30pm, cost is $169 per person.
MORE: Positively Wellington Tourism (wellingtonnz广西桑拿,)
*The writer was a guest of Positively Wellington Tourism