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Christmas is full of Northern Hemisphere traditions, but a few home-grown ingredients can help transform your festive banquet into a truly Kiwi celebration of our unique food and culture this year.
Destination Rotorua Marketing has compiled the following suggestions to help you add local flair to your Christmas menu.
“These tips and products from New Zealand’s heartland, Rotorua, will make a big impression on your guests this Christmas and inspire you to form new traditions of your own,” says Tania Bui, Destination Rotorua marketing’s interim general manager.
1. Shop local and in season – Rotorua’s Hamurana Lodge source all their ingredients from within a 100 mile radius and source special Christmas chocolates from local artisan chocolate maker Kerry Creavy. Creavy infuses the chocolates with native herbs and spices like miro berries and harakeke, which are found in the lodge’s garden. These gorgeous treats are also sold at the Rotorua Night Market on Thursdays.
2. Add some Kiwi flavour, such as kawakawa herb, to favourite recipes – the leaves of the kawakawa herb simply chewed or made into infusions, can be widely used as treatments for stomach pains and indigestion if you over-indulge this Christmas! Mokoia Restaurant adds kawakawa herbs to avocado ice-cream and Rotorua chef Charles Royal uses them for his own take on meringues and shortbread. The Wai Ora Group also creates its own blend of Manuka tea, which is traditionally known for its cleansing and calming properties.
3. Substitute asparagus with pikopiko ferns – they can be used as a signature garnish or as a vegetable. Pikopiko ferns are high in vitamin E, add extra spice and now appear on the menus of many top New Zealand restaurants.
4. Corporate Christmas functions – opt for a non-traditional Christmas function and visit Rotorua’s ultimate adventure and adrenaline activity park, Offroad NZ, for an off-road safari and raceline karting, or enjoy the serenity of Lake Rotoiti with Pure Cruise, Rotorua’s luxury yacht charter.
5. Refresh with some of New Zealand’s boutique beers – Croucher’s New Zealand Pale Ale is bursting with caramel malts and lashings of New Zealand Cascade hops, making it a thirst-quenching summer beer to enjoy around the Christmas Day barbeque. This big flavoured ale was named Champion NZ Beer in the Capital Times Beer Necessities Survey (December 2010).
6. Add a little indulgence with seasonal fruits – Mamaku Blue’s Blueberry Liqueur can be substituted for rum in rum balls or drizzled over Christmas trifles. The liqueur also acts as a perfect gift for Christmas. Available online, from La Cigale French Market (69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell) and Parnell Farmers Market (Jubliee Carpark, 545 Parnell Road, Auckland), or from Mamaku Blue itself in Rotorua.