Plenty to Celebrate

The inaugural Flavours of Plenty Festival (7–10 April) is a celebration of our area’s world-class food scene, with tours, pop-ups and special menus. Check out these key events, plus the full festival listings.

The inaugural Flavours of Plenty Festival (7–10 April) is a celebration of our area’s world-class food scene, with tours, pop-ups and special menus. Check out these key events, plus the full festival listings.

Kitchen Takeover Presents Hāngī with Kārena & Kasey

If you love food, dining out and a bit of adventure, you’ve no doubt heard about, if not experienced, Stacey Jones’ Kitchen Takeover pop-up events.

The sell-out series of Tauranga dinners are staged at secret locations (you get a text an hour before), randomly seated and fully styled to theme, and the menus are creative as they are delicious.
Past events have included Christmas in the Caribbean, the Arabic-themed East of the Middle,
and Taiao: Food Of The Gods designed by Kārena and Kasey Bird, which celebrated the Māori
deities of the natural world through an innovative degustation.

For Flavours of Plenty, Kitchen Takeover has again joined forces with the food stars from Maketū,
to present Hāngī with Kārena & Kasey.

They’ve found a gem of a venue — Persimmon Lane, a characterful villa tucked away in Te Puna.
The lovely grounds include rose gardens and fruit trees, but luckily they’re also happy for the girls
to dig a 2x2m hole onsite for the hāngī, so guests will feel like they’re right in on the action.

The sisters will heat the rocks for three hours, lay down the hāngī and cook the food for three
hours, then once guests arrive at 3pm, it will be unearthed. “Even if you’ve been to hāngī before,
it’s always exciting being there to see the food coming out,” says Kasey. “Especially to see what different things have been cooked.”

“In a traditional hāngī, there’s always kūmara, potato, pumpkin, cabbage and two different types
of meat,” explains Kārena. “We’ll be doing some of that but elevating it a bit.”

The sisters preparing the innovative food for the pop-up event, Taiao: Food of the Gods.

The exact menu for the afternoon is still being mulled over, but one element that’s confirmed in
the lineup is their take on the classic pairing of anchovy and lamb. “We make this delicious mussel vinaigrette out of smoky mussel meat that’s been cooked in the hāngī,” says Kasey. “We’ll pair that with the deboned lamb shoulder.”

The women say they learned about this method of adding seafood to a hangi when they were in Chile, where it’s known as curanto. “In Chile, they’ll use a whole bag of shellfish, and as they cook, they release juices that sizzle on the hot rocks, which creates the steam to cook the food,” says Kārena. They laugh about the fact that it raised a few eyebrows when they first tried it for the whānau, upon returning home.

Inspired by the venue, they are also hoping that the persimmons growing on site will be ripe enough to add to the hāngī to create a smokey persimmon sauce to sit alongside the deboned pork belly.
“If the persimmons aren’t ready, even apples would be great in the hāngī,” explains Kārena. “You could make an absolutely amazing puree.”

The feast will be served whānau-style, so you can help yourself from platters of food, and the
three courses will all have an element that’s been cooked in the hāngī. On the day, Kārena and
Kasey will speak of their experience of hāngī overseas, in different cultures, and share news of
their ever-evolving food journey and connection with te ao Māori (they’re currently working on
a cookbook in te reo).

Kitchen Takeover presents Hāngī with Kārena & Kasey will run 3–6pm, 8–10 April.
Tickets will be sold in tables of 10 and go on sale 3 March.
Register for tickets, kitchentakeover.co.nz/kk

Vegan Vibes

Vegan Vibes has been an annual highlight for food lovers for many years now, and this year it’s
part of the Flavours of Festival weekend.

Looking for plant-based inspiration in the kitchen? Want to sit in the sun, listen to live music and
graze on delicious vegan delights? Interested in hearing a range of experts speak about plant-based eating? Vegan Vibes has it all on offer, whether you’re vegan, flexitarian or just love eating good kai.

This year’s festival is on 9 April in the Mount and the line-up is getting bigger as we write, but here
are some of the superb things already confirmed...
Two locals will be there in force: Rice Rice Baby will serve its faves, plus Real Rad Food will bring super-popular Rad Ball Mixes, Rad Protein and Rad Slices. Charlie Mia will have a range of allergy-friendly treats. Doughnut flavours will include a special of lemon meringue, along with classic versions, cakes and tarts, plus a new range of sweet and savoury gluten-free pastries, such as pain au chocolat, almond croissant, mushroom & tofu ‘sausage’ roll. Langos Fried Bread Puffs will have a new offering of cashew nut, fresh lime and beetroot with a tamari sprinkle — to add salty to the sweet, and sour; its usual favourites of watercress and walnut pesto, and something sweet, to boot.

Come and be inspired and educated by the people behind some great vegan food products. Good Vibes Fungi will be sharing its passion for fungi and the amazing health and environmental benefits. Hear more about the organically grown mushies, mini mushroom farms and grow kits. Angel Cheese will showcase its dairy-free cheese alternatives. Founder Alice Shoplan (also a speaker on the day) says many people want to reduce dairy consumption but find cheese is a tricky food to give up, and their products make that transition easier. You can also chat to the teams from Uncle Dunkle’s wood-fired chilli sauces, Plant Projects and Otis Oat Milk.

Amazing vegan food offerings is always a highlight at Vegan Vibes

Aside from the delicious food offerings, there’ll be a range of like-minded brands there too, such
as Ethically So with its homewares and body products.

Bring an appetite and a big shopping bag, as well as your friends and whānau, and be ready
for a fun filled day.

Follow @veganvibesnz to hear when more speakers and vendors are announced.

10am–3pm, Saturday, 9 April, Soper Reserve, Mt Maunganui. Tickets, ticketfairy.com ($15 early bird, which are limited!), $20 pre-purchased GA or $25 on the gate, kids (under 12) free.

Profiles by Sarah Nicholson