A long weekend in Hawkes Bay

This autumn we got away for a few days to beautiful Hawkes Bay – the first time we’ve done that drive with Amelie! I was nervous but it was totally fine. Two stops on the way down and two on the way back, one planned and one unplanned each way. Oh and one somersault into the back seat by me while we were stopped in traffic! Amelie does not like being caught in traffic, but as I keep saying to her, she lives in Auckland and she’s just going to have to get used to it.

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Hawkes Bay was absolutely lovely. The weather was perfect, and we got some decent friend time in. The whole reason we were there, actually, was because some of our friends who live in Australia, and have their own little bébé two months younger than Amelie, were over for a holiday and asked if we could make it down – so happy we did! Another of our friends came up from Wellington, and we all caught up over wine and platters at Elephant Hill – fitting, as we worked out it was the first time we had all been together since our wedding, over six years ago. Obviously I’m a bit biased, it being our wedding venue and all, but Elephant Hill is just so amazing. Such fantastic views, food, and wine.

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Hayden and I also got out for not one, but two little adventures on our own – cycling some of Hawkes Bay’s trails and dinner at Bistronomy. Amelie’s aunt and grandma looked after her while she napped one day, leaving Hayden and me free to cycle out to Puketapu Pub for a late lunch. It felt so great to be back on the bike, especially as I got to ride my gorgeous yellow behemoth (the Hawkes Bay bike, as it currently is known – it lives with the in-laws as it just makes no sense in Auckland, but it’s such a beautiful bike and I do miss it.)

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The following evening, Hayden and I put Amelie to bed as normal and then left her under the watchful eye of her grandparents while we went out for dinner at Bistronomy. Another strong recommendation for any Hawkes Bay travellers or inhabitants! We shared plates (of course – is there any other way to eat now?), starting with chicken wings with Sriracha mayo and pork skin with mushrooms and mushroom mousse. The chicken was the winner here – super full of flavour and not heavy, even though it was deep-fried. The mushrooms were amazing, so I was very happy to see them pop up again in a side dish with butternut squash and feta. We also had snapper – light, fresh, delicious – and a beef short rib that had so much going on it tasted almost dirty. In a good way…but there was no way I could have had a whole plate of it. Sharing was wise.

Then dessert. Even though I have a sweet tooth, dessert is rarely my favourite part of a meal, but this came close. We ordered the simplest thing on the menu (chocolate ganache) which came out as five perfectly round little balls. On the outside, they had extremely light pastry dusted in sugar – almost like an incredibly narrow surrounding of doughnut. On the inside was the promised ganache, which was dark and sweet and slightly spicy. So, SO good.

So yes, in short, go to Bistronomy.

We also took Amelie swimming with her cousins – so much fun for everyone! – and Hayden got in some proper cycling, while Amelie and I went for a walk in the sun to pick up coffee from Bay Espresso (best coffee in Napier, and it’s always nice drinking local coffee when away on holiday). On that walk I even got a fleeting feeling that I could live in Hawkes Bay. I actually couldn’t of course – I need the city! – but I’m very glad I’m lucky enough to have family there so I can visit regularly.

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