The Bay on display

The Bay of Plenty is aptly named, really – plenty of sunshine, plenty of cheer, plenty of produce – and Tauranga chef Peter Blakeway will be proudly showing off the Bay’s plentifulness to the nation.

“Any time we get to showcase the Bay of Plenty is time well spent.”

And showcase the Bay it will. TV One’s ‘NZ on a Plate’ will be back again for its sixth season next year, and Peter Blakeway will be presenting Bay produce to New Zealand on a silver platter.

Touring around some of the Bay’s finest producers, Peter uses locally grown avocados from Aongatete and kiwifruit from Te Puke, honey sourced from Comvita, and tops the meal off with cider produced in the Bay’s own cidery, O Cider in Te Puna.

He starts the taste tour at Comvita, using their honey to create a delicious and health-packed starter.

“So the starter was a beetroot and honey cured smoked salmon,” says Peter, and it sounds pretty good to us here at Life + Style.

“Comvita are known as a health and wellness business and the Omega 3 in the salmon is fantastically healthy. The garnish was a honey-gar jelly – a combination of honey and apple cider vinegar which is very good for your stomach health.”

From there, Peter travels to an avocado orchard, to create a chicken and avocado main using locally-grown avocados.

“We were out under the trees with a lovely family [who owned the orchard]. The dish was really homely and quite rustic in how it looked.

“We served it on a wooden board with fennel and orange and avocado and avocado oil. It was just a really rustic family dish.”

Dessert is served as a very organic, ‘do-it-yourself’ dish, says Peter,

“With the dessert I got quite funky and modern, but really quite organic. It was a deconstructed kiwifruit frangipani.

“I deconstructed it all, but it was organic in that things were ripped instead of cut, and the chocolate shard was shattered, and things like that.”

Peter crafts a gold kiwifruit and ginger ice-cream to accompany the kiwifruit frangipani, which he calls “a little bit mad scientist”.

“We made it with dry ice that’s so easy and so quick, and a little bit mad scientist and all the rest, but when you saw the finished dish it just had a really organic, ultra-modern restaurant-y flow to it.”

The whole meal is accompanied by ciders created right here in the Bay by O Cider in Te Puna.

Peter says he used a pear cider and an apple cider to complement the locally-grown food.

“They’re complex and deep and absolutely bloody marvellous. The pear cider is like a dessert wine – absolutely stunning – where the apple cider is so crisp and complex.

“How many people realise that we have a fantastic cider company in Te Puna? Most people don’t realise, and too often in this modern world we par one product with the brush of other products.”

Peter says cider can be done “very badly”, by adding industrial-strength alcohol to synthetic fruit juices and selling it in two litre bottles.

“But actually, the original idea of cider is a beautiful product that to a large extent can and does replace wine.

“If you go to a restaurant in Normandy, France, chances are if you don’t specify what you want to drink they will serve you cider in a wine glass. It’s a beautiful thing.

“The O Cider ciders reminded me of those Normandy ciders, and we’ve got it in the Bay – who knew?”

The fifth season of NZ on a Plate is currently airing on TV One, with season six to come next year.