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Simple done beautifully


The philosophy at Culverden’s Red Post Café is all about simple food cooked beautifully.

 

Locals keep coming back to enjoy the quality coffee and delicious menu options, all set amongst the picturesque country villa surroundings.

For more than 12 years, a long-time favourite dish has been the Salmon Souffle, a secret recipe that contains only salmon, spinach, potato, cream cheese, eggs and lemon.

The gluten-free meal makes a light and tasty dish served with salad.

Another popular item is the coated and pan-fried Blue Cod, which is also presented alongside salad and either fries or mash.

Belgian Waffles – introduced to the breakfast menu last year – is also following the other items as a real fan favourite.

The waffles are delicately toasted and served with grilled bacon, blueberries and drizzled with maple syrup.

Red Post Café, located at 2 Highfield St, is open Monday to Thursday from 8am to 4:30pm, Fridays 8am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 5:30pm.

The menu caters for children and those with both vegetarian and gluten-free diets.

They can also host special occasions and functions, or provide catering platters so you can enjoy Red Post Café’s delicious fare at your venue of choice.

For more information, phone 03 315 8492.


 

Time for an autumn feast!


Die-hard fans of the Purple Weka Café & Bar know their fave dish is always on the menu, hence the beeline to the awesome central oasis at 48 Fitzgerald Avenue.

Owner Stu McDougall daren’t retire his creamy mushrooms on ciabatta from the menu.

There’s nothing nicer in autumn than a feast of juicy mushrooms piled high on the plate. Add an extra of egg and bacon and this fan favourite can’t be topped.

For a real comfort food fix, his grandma’s old-fashioned savoury mince on toast recipe brings back memories.

Traditional deliciousness. The special twist is the soft poached egg on top. “A poke with a fork and it drizzles through the mince – divine,” Stu says.

Corn fritters and bacon with the tangy house-made relish is simply delish any time of the day.

Accompanied by golden fries and fresh green salad, lunch icons include the beaut Battered Blue Cod or try the grand Gourmet Angus Burger – a massive mouthful with onion, Swiss cheese and bacon in a corn dusted bun.

“It’s a huge meal,” promises Stu, which means plenty to spare to toss a few crumbs to those pesky purple wekas.

Wash down with a house wine, beer, or a great coffee and the day couldn’t get better.

Be amongst the cheery banter inside or soak up the sun outdoors, from Monday to Friday 6am to 4pm and 8am to 3pm Saturdays and Sundays, with the kitchen closing up at 2pm daily for menu meals.

Phone the Purple Weka crew on 03 366 0258.


 

A sweet empire


Oonagh Browne’s love affair with chocolate has been more rich, intense and satisfying than for most. In fact, she says, it saved her life. We catch up with the queen of chocolate about why she believes eight cacao beans a day keeps the doctor away.

 

 

Irish-born Oonagh had been climbing the corporate ladder in London after completing a business degree when her boss gave her “the greatest gift”.

“He told me that I would get to the top rung of that corporate ladder,” she explains.

Already unhappy in the corporate world, the conversation provided a moment of clarity and she realised reaching the top wouldn’t bring her any satisfaction.

Within nine months she had packed it in to travel.

Eventually ending up in Australia, she began training to be a yoga teacher. It was during her time here that she met Suzanne Johnson and Bernie Prior who would later open She Universe, the idyllic café perched at the top of Governors Bay.

It was when Oonagh decided to make chocolate for a charity event that she discovered an innate gift for the confection.

“It’s like some people who have this innate talent for painting,” she says. “I found that in chocolate. I fell in love.”

When Oonagh’s then-husband Declan suggested they move to Christchurch to help Suzanne and Bernie run She Café, the couple made a new home here, but their work in the café wasn’t to be, with a fire destroying it just three weeks after they arrived. It would remain closed for nine months.

So instead they started selling Oonagh’s chocolate creations at the Lyttelton Farmers’ Market, her Decadent Date chocolate and hot chocolate were instant hits with the locals.

When the rebuilt café opened, it was Oonagh’s creative chocolate flair that helped She Universe become a local Canterbury icon.

With the chocolate winning numerous awards, it was soon being supplied to outlets throughout the country and is now celebrating a move from Governors Bay to the new She Chocolaterie at Riverside Markets this year.

Post-quake though, Oonagh experienced severe depression or a ‘mental breakdown’.

“I was in the darkest place and nothing could help me, not even the support of amazing, wise friends,” she says.

Willing to try just about anything, she started researching natural antidepressants when she discovered cacao; the purest form of the very chocolate she was already in love with.

She vowed to have a cacao smoothie every day, combining it with another superfood maca which, combined with cacao, create a powerful antidepressant.

“Within 10 days I started coming out of the darkness and I started to have hope. I started to ‘see’ the thoughts rather than ‘be’ the thoughts and I soon learnt to master them,” she says.

“I started to delve into the health side of cacao and spend time on a cacao farm owned by a friend in Samoa. It was a profound experience as I discovered my depth of connection with this food. Cacao is one of the oldest foods, with the ability to heal our bodies and support us on so many levels.”

Cacao’s health properties are well-supported by science, with the powerful little bean not only packed with nutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc, but also antioxidants for heart health and neurotransmitters which contribute to wellbeing and happiness. For Oonagh, it’s a daily medicine she swears by. “Eight cacao beans a day keeps the doctor away!”

Oonagh’s work in Samoa has expanded to Peru and the Solomon Islands, where she is endeavouring to reverse the damaging effect of global demand for chocolate for cacao farmers.

Since the commodification of chocolate, large companies have continued to drive the price of beans down, with the supply chain leaving many cacao farmers impoverished, despite hard labour.

The knowledge of cacao’s medicinal value has been lost, even to those who farm it and it’s no longer viable to be a cacao farmer, so young people are no longer staying on their farms.

Oonagh is putting heart and soul into getting infrastructure and training into these regions, enabling the farmers to earn more and encouraging young people to become cacao farmers.

One of the greatest impacts is teaching the farmers how to enjoy the bean themselves, creating cookbooks with recipes and teaching them how to make tea from cacao bean husks (known as Skinny Tea in the Solomons due to its ability to encourage weightloss) and even cacao face masks.

She’s passionately spearheading a cacao revolution.

“We want to connect the consumer and cacao farmer and close the gap, and for the cacao farmer, more than anything, to be empowered and proud of what they grow, but first they need to be earning a real income.

“Cacao was once honoured and revered, then we added sugar and it became something different; its time as a powerful medicine was forgotten, but now we’re experiencing a revolution; a cacao revolution.”

“I want people to know it’s the food of the gods.”


 

A lush garden retreat


Ashburton’s Lushington Garden Gifts and Café is a trove of pleasure. Delighting the senses, it’s the ideal break on a journey, the perfect destination itself for a few hours’ treat with friends, or a soul-restoring solo escape.

 

 

The garden centre is award-winning and you can see why, with its beautiful displays, and a range of plants that is guaranteed to inspire. There are lots of living gifts and a gorgeous selection of indoor plants.

 

The range of plants is huge, and you’ll be assisted in your selections by the knowledgeable and experienced team. Local and sustainable are watchwords, and the team pride themselves on the quality of the plants, many of which are grown in their nursery at Allenton, which also helps to keep the prices competitive.

Inside you’ll find the café, the gift and homewares shop. Worked around a ‘country comes to town theme’ you’ll find beautiful French and English inspired giftware, while in the café you’ll find delicious wholesome and homemade cakes and slices, plus full breakfast, lunch and sides menus, which cater for gluten free and vegetarian diners.

 

Co-owners and sisters Miranda Sinton and Sophie Duff are locals who grew up on a farm in Mayfield. They’ve brought their love of the wholesome and artisan to Lushingtons, where the plants, great food and gorgeous gifts have been nurtured for ten years. “It’s just a great place to revel in beautiful plants, meet with friends for lunch in a licensed cafe then browse the gifts and home-wares,” says Miranda.

 

 


 

 

Foodie Heaven: Craft Room Cafe


Found in the new Maltworks complex in the Heathcote Valley, Craft Room Café is locally owned and operated by Hannah, a hands-on food lover who makes sure no customer leaves hungry.

 

 

Craft Room Café is run by a small team who take the time to get to know their regular customers and strive to make every customer feel welcome.

Off the brunch menu, the Vege Stack is a must-try warm salad loaded with colour and flavour (can also be made vegan on request). Of course, if you can’t resist an Eggs Benny, they’ll fill your plate high. Meanwhile, the cabinet features homemade sweet and savoury favourites – ginger and pistachio slice (you’d never know it is gluten-free) and the oversized Pork Sausage Roll.

They take food seriously and strive to provide their customers with delicious and wholesome food to suit any dietary requirement (some upon request).

While they know the perfect brew is essential, they also don’t mind bending the rules, so you get the perfect cup of coffee to fit your taste. Running the machine with a few familiar faces makes getting to know your barista that much easier. With a few decades of coffee knowledge between them all, the crew at Craft Room Café know their stuff.

Craft Room Café is open from 7:30am weekdays, 8am weekends, until 4pm daily. Support your local laid-back café, enjoy the sunshine out on the terrace and let Craft Room Café prove that delicious food and coffee doesn’t have to be too serious.

 

 


 

Iconic cafe the place to be: Brigitte’s


Nestled in the heart of Merivale for over 45 years, Brigitte’s is an iconic and well-loved café.

 

 

 

 

With loyal customers visiting from all over the city and distant shores, many of their regulars include generations from the same families. “We have people who came in as children with their parents and grandparents, now bringing in their own children – it’s really cool to see, but slightly ageing!” says owner Ange.

The front-of-house team is well-known for creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, going out of their way to ensure customers feel special and valued. Brigitte’s is renowned for its amazing brunches and delicious lunches, with all the traditional favourites made by their talented kitchen team, adding the special Brigitte’s touch. Some popular favourites include the Warm Lamb Salad, Salt and Pepper Squid, Eggs Benedict, burgers and pancakes, as well as a selection of house-made slices and cakes. “We sometimes try to sneak in a few changes to the menu, but our regulars just won’t let us!”

There’s definitely an option for everyone at Brigitte’s. Whether you’re having a business meeting, celebrating a special event or heading to the races, the courtyard is an idyllic place to enjoy a glass of wine in the sun. The adjacent garden room is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main restaurant. “It’s a bit quieter, for those wanting a more peaceful setting to dine or chat.”

Brigitte’s is now open at 7:30am on weekdays.

 

 


 

Culverden’s culinary oasis: Red Post Cafe


With the days getting longer and the nights shorter, now is as good a time as any to enjoy some spring dining and quality eats with your nearest and dearest at Culverden’s Red Post Café.

 

Situated on Highfield Street and facing onto SH7, Red Post Café, in its beautiful restored villa, has been the cornerstone of Culverden’s culinary community for many a moon. Red Post Café is a fully licensed family eatery, able to offer you a stunning selection of delectable delights including muffins and scones, cakes and slices.

You and yours can also relax in Red Post Café’s garden dining area. Here you can soak up the sun while feasting on either a light lunch or an evening meal. Vegetarian, gluten-free options and a children’s menu are also available.

Plus, the addition of West Coast Whitebait to Red Post Café’s new menu really gets the taste-buds excited. Red Post Café also has a wide range of hot and cold beverages on hand to quench your thirst.

Open from 8am–4:30pm Monday to Thursday, Friday until 8pm and weekends until 5:30pm, what are you waiting for? Red Post Café is waiting.

 

 


 

Takahe Takes Off


One of Christchurch’s historic masterpieces has reopened its doors as a friendly and welcoming café, bar and community hub, with Cashmere couple Andrew and Kay Male at the helm.

 

 

The building, inside and out, is really something special. The Sign of the Takahe was founded by naturalist Harry Ell and was one of four rest houses built to provide refreshments for travellers on their route from Akaroa to Christchurch via the Summit Road. The building became Christchurch’s finest ‘silver service’ dining experience in the late 1900s and was eventually closed for repair and strengthening after the recent earthquakes. Eight years on, it has opened to the public once again, thanks to the enthusiastic local couple.

They immigrated to New Zealand in 2005 from Windsor, home to the famous Windsor Castle, with their first four-month old baby boy. Fourteen years on and now with two teenage sons, they have taken pride in giving this Christchurch ‘castle’ a new lease of life. “We’re very passionate about the building,” Kay says.

The couple are also passionate about honouring Harry Ell and his philosophy of nurturing the Port Hills environment and community. Community is at the heart of the business – there’s a significant focus on supporting local businesses, groups, schools and causes. Sections of the building are able to be hired and used as a space for community groups to hold events like meetings, fundraisers and classes.

 

 

The locally sourced café and bar offerings are all part of the story. A brand-new menu features favourites like pasta, fish and chips, pizza and steak. “It’s not going to be the fine dining that it was before – it’s more fresh, local produce; family friendly, affordable and casual,” Andrew says.

Fine local wines, spirits and craft beers are available at the bar – take note of their locally brewed house beer, Takahe. For every pint sold, 50 cents will go to a separate fund set up to invest in the conservation of the Port HIlls, again honouring Harry Ell’s legacy.

Their tea and coffee also have great causes at their roots; Charity Tea, a loose-leaf organic, fairtrade and biodegradable tea range donates its profits to feeding programmes in New Zealand and Haiti; for each 1kg of tea purchased, five children are fed. Their one-of-a-kind coffee, Ha Kawhe, also puts their profits back into the community, with money going to Matapopore Charitable Trust.

 

 

Sustainability is also an integral focus of the business, and they have plans to become B Corp Certified by following a sustainable social and environmental ethos. The couple are already passionate about recycling and reusing; so much so they have introduced a KeepCup swap system. “Just things like that, we want to be able to leave as little impact on the planet as possible,” Kay says.

Revamped, refurbished and taking off into a bright new future, Sign of the Takahe is open for bookings, just in time for your Cup Day celebration. Phone 03 925 8766, visit Sign of the Takahe on Facebook or the website, www.signofthetakahe.co.nz.

 

 


 

Business giving back: Flora Cafe


Owning a café was never the plan for Wil and Kim Sze. Wil was finishing his master’s degree, and Kim was pregnant with their first child and going to be a stay-at-home mum. But in August 2016, at 41 weeks pregnant, they had the worst news possible – ‘there’s no heartbeat’. Their son Oliver was born at 7.5lbs, 56cm long and no cry, just a deafening silence that would change the Szes’ lives forever.

 

 

They had an outpouring of support and one in particular was from an organisation called Heartfelt. Heartfelt came to the hospital and took photos with Oliver, as they are able to do for any family who loses a baby or has a serious illness, providing the Szes the gift of photographic memories at no cost.

From their loss came a desire to give back. They decided to start a business that would enable them to pass on the kindness they had received and on 1 July, 2019, Flora Café opened.

Located in the ground floor of the Manawa building, across from Christchurch Hospital, there’s flamingo wallpaper, plants, Unknown Chapter coffee, homemade food and smiling faces that will welcome you with a warmth that feels like home. They are worth the visit, especially for the oaty caramel slice!

In October, Flora Café is donating a portion of their profits to Heartfelt. There will also be a memory wall, so anyone who has lost a child can write their name on a heart to put on the wall. For every heart, an additional $1 will go to Heartfelt.

 

 


 

Spring brunch delights: Red Eight Cafe


Popular Kaiapoi eatery Red Eight Café has now introduced its delicious brunch menu every day.

 

 

Pastry chef Stephanie Reeves, owner of Red Eight, has spruced up the brunch menu for spring, and extended the hours it’s available. From 8am ‘til 2pm daily, except Sunday when it’s closed, the new brunch offerings are up for grabs.

The avocado on rye or rosti is always popular, Stephanie says. So, too, are the pancakes served with fresh fruit, butterscotch sauce, ice cream and gingernut crumble. Headlining the new menu, however, is the eggs benedict. It’s served on a crispy agria potato rosti with mushrooms and spinach, or bacon, or smoked salmon, and the hollandaise sauce is house-made.

 

In fact, everything at Red Eight is house-made. Stephanie and the team prepare everything right there, every day, including the sauces, aiolis and vinaigrettes. Even the milkshakes (very popular!) are made with sauces from real ingredients. Real bananas, real strawberries. No generic syrups.

That’s how it is at Red Eight. “It’s simple food, done well,” Stephanie says. “Tastes delicious and looks good on the plate.”

 

In addition to the new brunch menu, there’s a cabinet full of scrumptious delights, all, of course, freshly made in house each day. “To me, that’s the sign of a good café – if there’s so much choice that you can’t decide what you want.”
Open 7am ‘til 4pm Monday to Friday and 8am ‘til 4pm on Saturday, Red Eight also offers catering and venue hire.

To contact, phone 03 327 0136. Visit 143 Williams Street, Kaiapoi, or check out the Facebook page.