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A café collaboration: Purple Weka Cafe


Friends helping out friends, and businesses building each other up, is what Cantabrians do best.

Ben and Hayley at Purple Weka Café

 

Café and bar owner Stu McDougall was eternally grateful to have his entrepreneurial buddy, Ben Hogg, weave some infamous Purple Weka magic online during lockdown.

He kept loyal customers entertained, as nothing was coming out of the kitchen for four long weeks.

With a communications degree from Massey and a ten year stint as a marketing executive in Christchurch, the 31-year-old launched his own enterprise in January – www.marketable.nz – helping the “small guys” engage closely with customers.

Ben has always enjoyed helping others to harness creative ways to grow their business.

“It’s something I’ve been doing for years anyway, helping out friends like Stu.

We met when I moved down from Palmy. I stayed with him and he showed me the ropes of local life.

Helping with Stu’s social media, I wanted to capture the thing that makes his café such a special place for customers, so I spent a whole day at the café to get a feel for the banter I’d come to associate with knowing Stu.”

When reading Stu’s hilarious 10 commandments for level 2 on Facebook, no one would suspect that Ben was the social media guru behind the scenes.

“We also felt it was important to support Stu’s team by sharing their side-hustles too, such as Cassidy’s photography, Hayley’s nail business and Jacinta’s keto-friendly cooking.

“Businesses succeed when they collaborate and we all need to look at ways to complement, rather than compete, with each other.”


 

The new ‘abnormal’: Belle Cafe


COVID-19 has been a massive hit to the café industry. We caught up with owner of Belle Café, Bink Bowler, on his thoughts around this new (not so) normal.

 

PHOTOS TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19

 

Bink has owned cafés for 10 years, founding Black & White Coffee Cartel before selling last year and starting his first solo project – Belle.

He preaches that, “Being social is in our DNA, cafés have been around for over 350 years, we won’t change our human instinct over this”.

He expresses frustration that, “There’s been ignorant talk in the media about the ‘new normal’ in hospitality of ‘click and collect’ when in fact, that is abnormal.

Takeaway delivery has been around for decades; it serves a different purpose to what we do, that being hosting people.

Click and collect has basically phased out at the start of level 2, as expected!

“It’s devastating for business,” he continues. “But we look at the pre-COVID economy with rose-tinted glasses. We need to remember it was hard before all of this happened.”

While Bink has strong thoughts on the general response to the virus, he is optimistic for the future.

“What COVID-19 has done is collapse our broken economy – we have a really unique opportunity to rebuild this differently.

“This will pass and sooner than we think. I’ll be here alongside many when it does; we just need to manage this short-term shock – it is what it is,” he concludes.


 

Time for a revival: Urban Revival


Urban Revival’s mission has always been to use food to create community and to have a good time. During these times of uncertainty, they are excited to be able to welcome guests again to provide both!

 

 

Hankering for a taste of good quality food prepared by someone else?

Then visit Urban Revival for some post-quarantine indulgence and support local while satisfying your cravings for yummy baking, Switch coffee and hearty meals.

Fully licensed serving local beverages, this loveable light-filled eatery is a crowd favourite with its repurposed furniture and log fire ambiance.

Events such as wine tastings and quiz nights have been held pre-lock down which the team is eager to have more of once it is safe to do so.

They are also open for private events. Like Urban Revival on Facebook to be advised of upcoming events.

Do yourself and your taste buds a favour – take the Northern Motorway’s Ohoka Road turn-off to Silverstream and you are virtually there. Go ahead – revive yourself.


 

How & why you should support local


It’s time for us all to band together and help Canterbury get back on its feet. That means buying, eating and traveling local. We’ve put together a few ways you can get behind the cause.

 

 

SOS Café is a not-for-profit initiative set up for local businesses in New Zealand during the pandemic.

You can support your favourite bars, restaurants, cafés and services by purchasing a voucher to redeem once everyone is back up and running normally.

Check it out at www.sosbusiness.nz.

You might have seen Air New Zealand showcasing some of New Zealand’s greatest scenery in their safety videos on your way to some exotic location.

Maybe it’s time to experience some of that scenery for yourself? It’s easy to forget what we have in our backyard because we’re so used to it always being there.

Now is the time, more than ever, to travel around the North or South Island or even take that weekend away to Queenstown.

So why not get planning? It’ll give you something to look forward to for the rest of the year.

Finally, one of the best ways you can #supportlocal and show you really care is by supporting them online.

Some local businesses are used to having customers physically come into their stores and even having a chat with you while you’re browsing.

Remind them that you’re there, that you care and that you’re excited for their return.

Follow them, like and comment on their updates, maybe even flick them a message. Something so small can make the world of difference to someone.


 

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.