I try to make a trip home to Wellington every year, with most of the time spent rushing around, catching up with family and friends. I always like to have an afternoon or evening in the city which usually involves visiting various bars – and not much else! So I was totally blown away on our last visit – in particular with Eva Street, which has become an amazing little artisan food and drink quarter right in the heart of the CBD.
Coffee is always first on the agenda (along with a bit of Wellington v Melbourne banter!) I read an interesting article on Broadsheet Sydney about Wellington’s Coffee Culture so made a note of a couple of places I had never heard of – Red Rabbit Coffee Co and Flight Coffee Hanger to try this visit, instead of the usual tried and true spots I usually frequent.
Flight Coffee describe themselves on their website as “a family of coffee nerds existing to develop excellent people and outstanding coffee” and are part of a coffee farming team called Helena in Columbia. We only had coffee this time but the food menu looked great, and since visiting, I have seen on their website that they are doing coffee flights – either A Flight of Flat Whites, Flight of Espressos (three little flat whites or espressos made with three different coffee bean varieties) or Coffee Three Way – the same coffee but served three different ways – so cool! I have not seen that anywhere I have ever visited, a great opportunity to actually taste the variance in flavours between different beans. A definite on the list for my next trip home in the new year.
I had read about Six Barrel Soda Co in a Cuisine magazine article earlier in the year so headed up to Eva Street to check it out. I had no idea that I had fallen onto a culinary extravaganza in the space of about 20 metres! Old fashioned soda, chocolate, peanut butter, pizza, beer…
Six Barrel make old fashion-styled sodas and syrups from natural ingredients. The independent company was established in 2012 and started out with three flavours – Raspberry & Lemon, Celery Tonic and Sarsaparilla. The sodas are used in many cafes, restaurants and bars around New Zealand, as well as some venues in Australia (most of them in Melbourne) and a few in Singapore.
The Sarsaparilla is made in the style of a classic root beer using actual sarsaparilla root, star anise, juniper berries, ginger, caramelised sugar and molasses. Incomparable to the sweet, mass-produced commercial sarsaparillas – refreshing and light, with a slightly spicy licorice taste.
The Celery Tonic is based on a classic soda flavour which was popular in New York delicatessens back in the 1930’s. It is made with cucumber, green apple, celery, celery seeds and ginger – a fresh, crisp flavour which would be great with vodka or gin.
Only the three original flavours are available to buy as takeaway bottles. The syrups come in a wider variety of flavours and can be used at home by mixing 1 part syrup to 5 parts soda or sparkling water. They are produced at Six Barrel HQ in small seasonal batches in exciting flavours such as cherry & pomegranate, vanilla cream, hibiscus, grapefruit & hops, pine & lemon peel.
We were lucky enough to have a quick peek in the kitchen and be shown a brew on in huge pots, bubbling away on the stove top, smelling of ginger.
If you want a bit more kick to your soda there are a number of alcoholic iced sodas available, I liked the sound of Mulberry Street raspberry & lemon soda with Aperol and rhubarb bitters and Maria la Blanca which is made with chilli vodka, celery tonic and DIY spices.
Wellington Chocolate Factory is New Zealand’s first bean-to-bar chocolate factory, which means the cocoa beans are made into chocolate under the one roof using traditional chocolate making methods and minimal processing. They make high quality, ethically traded organic chocolate bars using single origin beans.
WFC source their cocoa beans from Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, Madagascar and the Dominican Republic. The flavour of the chocolate is influenced by where the cocoa beans are from. Beans from Peru are supposed to have apricot and honey characteristics, whilst beans from Madagasgar have a berry or plum flavour.
The place feels more like a cafe than a chocolate factory, with a great industrial fit out. The shelves are adorned with beautifully wrapped, colourful chocolate bars – the designs are all original artwork by local New Zealand artists.
There are regular tours of the factory or you can book a private tour which takes you through the entire chocolate-making process before tasting their complete range.
The last surprise down the laneway was jars of peanut butter being sold out of a window at Fix & Fogg! Named after Phileas Fogg and Detective Fix from the novel Around the World in Eighty Days, Fix & Fogg make two types of peanut butter; smooth and super crunchy, using peanuts from Queensland and a small amount of Marlborough sea salt. No preservatives, emulsifiers are sugar are added.
It is not often you find such a small destination packed with such a diverse range of products and it surprised me that a number of people I talked to had not yet visited the area – it is so special and unique – go there!
28 July 2014