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Other Tauranga Stuff

Catch Tauranga Chef Peter Blakeway on the ‘Taste’ TV Show
England has the likes of seafood guru Rick Stein. New Zealand cooks who’ve made it big on TV range from flamboyant Peta Mathias to ‘Logan and Brown’ of Hunger for the Wild fame. But look out for a Tauranga chef on the telly, and his trademark broad smile.

Peter Blakeway will showcase some of the best food the Bay of Plenty has to offer in a Sky television show called NZ on a Plate, due to screen on the Sky Food channel in May. It’s a second in the successful series filmed by Destination TV, Christchurch, where a regional chef takes viewers out on a tour, preparing some of their specialties.

NZ on a Plate was developed to highlight New Zealand cooking talent as well as New Zealand produce. And well known local chef Peter Blakeway was an obvious choice to front the local show: the extroverted English expat runs Deli on Devonport with his wife Anne, along with their own cooking school and catering business. He not only hosts the local episode, he also cooks – using the best of local produce, including kiwifruit, avocados, prime beef and seafood.

Peter was filmed at spots including Waihi Beach, Te Puna and the top of the Minden. On the first day, he visited “ suppliers,” a kiwifruit orchard near Katikati, an avocado orchard on an island in Tauranga Harbour, and Distillerie Deinlein in the hills behind Welcome Bay, known for its fruit brandies and liqueurs.

Next day Peter Blakeway visited Heilala Vanilla, at Te Puna. The company founded by John Ross began growing vanilla beans as an aid project to assist a village in Tonga. Along with his daughter Jen and husband Garth, they designed and built a computer-controlled “plastic house” in Te Puna that emulates the Tongan environment. “Vanilla is a tropical plant, an orchid, and technically shouldn’t be able to grow in New Zealand,” says Peter. But they’ve produced their first crop of commercial-grade vanilla beans, the first in the country.

The Tauranga chef cooked a three-course meal at the only local winery that produces its own grapes – Emeny Road – owned by Richard and Andrea Cashmore. The menu he put together included an entrée of freshly caught snapper, infused with lemongrass and kiwifruit, beef sirloin from Waihi on polenta with a kiwifruit salsa as the main, coupled with a chardonnay and classic lemoncello lemon tart and sorbet.

On the third day, Peter Blakeway cooked a barbecue on the beach at Waihi, with “beautiful fish” supplied by the Bay of Plenty Polytech’s marine course boat. “We got some great shots of me wandering out into the surf to get a chilli bin full of fish.”

“We want everyone to understand what the Bay’s about – being outdoors and enjoying the environment that’s around us,” he says.

Peter Blakeway has been angling for TV work for some time, doing what he modestly describes as bits and pieces, here and there. Earlier, he joined English actor Robson Green – star of Wire in the Blood – who visited the Western Bay for his TV program Extreme Fishing, and dived for crayfish off Motiti Island.

Given the task of cooking the catch, Peter describes heading out to the island with a little flotilla of boats. “You don’t travel light when you’re with serious television people,” he says. They motored to the far side of Motiti Island where Robson Green was made to snorkel for his crays. He succeeded and Peter barbecued them at the back of the boat. The actor was “pretty tough,” getting his crayfish in spite of the crew timing things wrong for the low tide, and high water adding an extra five feet to the dive.

For a “little Bay of Plenty chef” it was daunting to work alongside a TV heavyweight, but Green was extremely kind and gentle, Peter recalls. The show is currently screening in the U.K. but will only be shown here if New Zealand networks pick it up.

It wasn’t Peter Blakeway’s first TV piece on seafood either. Back home where the Blakeway lived in Scotland, Peter had earlier filmed a television piece on salmon farms, showing viewers how to cook fresh salmon. But TV’s hard to break into in the U.K. he says, “but New Zealand gives you opportunities…”

Local tourism and economic development heads have hailed his latest efforts on NZ on a Plate. Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Tim Burgess says the exposure is invaluable. “Linking our scenic beauty with the quality local produce is a powerful combination of the city and region’s strongest assets,” he says.

And Andrew Coker, chief executive of Western Bay of Plenty’s economic development group Priority One, says the programme will be beneficial to the area, as an opportunity to show off the best of the Bay.

Sawaddi ! New Thai Restaurant to Tempt You
For six years, Samorn Sanyayont and her husband Steve Watson owned and managed what became one of Auckland’s favourite Thai restaurants, in Birkenhead on Auckland’s North Shore. Auckland’s loss has become our gain, with the opening of their new Thai @ Tauranga Restaurant. The couple decided to open it after moving here from Auckland in December 2008, to enjoy the region’s lifestyle.

In Auckland, their restaurant Thai Isaan won various awards, including the annual best gourmet takeout award in the Thai category in 2002 and 2003, from the New Zealand Herald’s lifestyle magazine Viva. In 2004, the restaurant was also ranked among the best in that category. Thai @ Tauranga is located at 15 Wharf Street, across the street from Sierra Cafe, Sunrise Cafe and Shiraz.

Samorn is from the Isaan province in the north-east of Thailand, which borders Laos, and she says they will offer top-quality, authentic Thai cuisine at an affordable price. Thai dishes such as Larb Phet, made from duck, and Waterfall Beef are some of the delectable offerings on the menu. Also popular, is Gang Massaman Neua, a traditional Thai Muslim beef curry, the recipe from the southern part of Thailand, and Phat Priew-waan pla. This dish is one of Samorn’s own special recipes, a fish dish cooked with medium Thai sweet and sour sauce, lychees and pineapple.

Steve and Samorn believe the reason their previous restaurant became one of Auckland’s Thai restaurants was because of tantalising Thai dishes that stayed true to authentic Thai recipes, while providing an outstanding service and dining experience.

Thai @ Tauranga is open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner. There’s a 10% discount on takeaways, and no less than 73 dishes on the take out menu – from appetisers, to soups like the popular Tom Yum, through main courses of chicken, beef, pork, lamb & seafood – and vegetarian options. The restaurant is fully licensed.

(courtesy The Weekend Sun – www.thesun.co.nz)

Seafood Festival ‘First’ 
The flavours of the coastal Bay of Plenty will be the stars of the inaugural Tauranga Moana Seafood Festival, set for Saturday 29 November. The new festival will be held along the historic Dive Crescent area in central Tauranga. The festival will feature seafood and performances by local musicians, and the majority of the food is being sourced locally, including the wine.

Some of the food on the day includes mussel and whitebait fritters, seafood kebabs, smoked fish and wild foods such as pig and venison. The entertainment will include musicians, fire dancers and cultural performances. Dive Crescent will be closed off to traffic for the event, and the area will include three stages for entertainment, marae-style tables to dine on plus multiple exhibitors selling food and drinks.

Corporate ticket holders will be given a locally-made kete basket, which they will use throughout the festival to hold the food they choose from a range of stalls. The baskets will also be available for purchase. The event will be held from 5:30-10:30pm. Tickets are now on sale through Ticket Direct, and each costs $20. All ticket holders receive a free mussel fritter and wine glass with their ticket purchase. 


Get Yer Boots Out …for the ECHO Festival
Discover what’s on our back doorstep with the ECHO walking Festival in April. This annual series of guided walks promises to be bigger than ever in 2008, showcasing walks in and around local towns of Katikati, Waihi, Paeroa, along with Te Aroha and Thames.

The 23 great walks offer something for everyone, from a full day rugged tramp to a fun children’s night walk and stunning coastal walks. The festival opens on April 19th with the adventurous Pinnacles Challenge ascending to 759m in the Coromandel Ranges – or a leisurely lunch and stroll in the Karangahake Gorge north of Waihi. At least two walks are held each day until the end of the festival on Sunday April 27th.

The Festival team is excited about the variety of walking opportunities on offer this year- but add that people should realise that most of these walks are open to the public year round. ‘Hopefully this event will inspire people to explore other tracks and walkways after the festival’ says spokesperson Julie Stephenson.

A highlight of the Festival will be the inaugural Whiritoa-Mataora Coastal walk. Much of this walk crosses private land, but the landowners have kindly offered to open up the track to the public on Saturday 26th as part of the ECHO Festival. Participants will go in the draw to win spot prizes such as a night’s accommodation at Warm Earth Cottage, near Katikati.
These walks are all run free of charge by local volunteer guides in conjunction with Sport Waikato, local councils, business groups and the Department of Conservation. The aim behind the ECHO festival is to encourage people to ‘Enjoy Connecting Hills and Oceans.’ What a great way to get active during the April school holidays!
Check out www.echowalkfest.org.nz for more information, or visit your local information centre for a brochure. Photos courtesy www.doc.govt.nz