An Italian 'Made in NZ', and a lot of Green Lips.
The day looked to be bright and sunny, and it was only 8.00am. Gathered our beach-gear, sunhat, sunglasses, suncream, books and we were off. We'd decided to have brunch at Clevedon and late lunch somewhere in Coromandel town.
Why Clevedon? It's a new place, we hadn't stopped there before for a snack, and, urban legend has it that Clevedon is where the 'buffalos roam' ... oh ha ha please, stop it. No it's true, although they are actually water buffalos rather than the American bison, and are the local origin of milk for NZ-made buffalo mozzarella. Buffalos... in NZ. Mozzarella in NZ, from buffalos milk. Pure white buffalo milk contains much more protein and calcium than cows milk, and it is higher in fat but has roughly half the cholesterol of cows milk.
Tasty, creamy, more fat, less cholesterol. That fits our food profile: it happens to be one of our favourite cheeses... Buffalo mozzarella in NZ; I wouldn't mind seeing how it's produced, if there was a factory on site.
Onwards to Clevedon, which is out of Auckland suburban environment, to the west. Soon we arrived, verdant green fields after the sprawl of suburbia, just a few miles before. No sign of buffalos grazing though... We missed breakfast, so were famished.
Up and down, we scanned the shops. Aha! The next block had a delicatessen, more a olde-worlde cafe with wooden floors. Cafe with farm-fresh eggs, cheeses and produce? Got to give it a try. We had pies, they were delicious, chock-a-bloc full of steak, bacon and cheese. Fruit flan next – yum, and huge. As we were about to leave, after enjoying the biggest pies ever, ...a memory: the sign said... cheeses, hmmm. Perhaps they sold buffalo mozzarella there? And sure they did – we bought some to try at home. Clevedon is home to buffalo-mozzarella apparently, but as yet they don't do factory visits. Maybe next time...
Next up, Kawakawa Bay – a beautiful spot. The car climbed and climbed, quite sharply and steep after Kawakawa Bay, the views of ground and grassland, dropping away, near vertical slopes. We drove inland, providing us with amazing vistas, before heading to the coast again.
There were signs saying 50 km/h was the limit... as we dipped towards the beachy communities. For what? .. did the signs say? Oh, as we passed two more signs, we saw groups of people, out on the ocean beach – walking, a mile or more out, stooping, collecting something in buckets...
Cockles – the shells littered the beach, bleached so white to be almost pearlescent in the bright sun. Further on towards Miranda, we could drive our car onto the beach for quite a way, again cockle-y shell-y beach, so bleached white it was almost blinding. Many people were already parked further along. Campervans, enjoying the freedom of being there; the sun, the sand, the sea. Just you and peace and tranquility for miles around. Miranda also has a mineral hot springs. I must make a note of that. (Memory – see stroke).
On the route to Coromandel township, we drove past little coves and inlets, boats, BnBs by the beach, superettes, fish'n'chips shops, little cafes. On the outskirts of Coromandel town, we passed a Mussel restaurant/cafe. Of all the decisions that are made regarding where to eat out, we've found over the years that it's the spur of the moment based on gut reaction rather than too much thinking that has given us outstanding results; it beats scanning for reviews online through a smartphone.
It took all of a heartbeat for us to glance at each other, and we both said 'yup' at the same time. Mussels, did you say? – that's the place. Slowed down and turned around.
The Coromandel Mussel Kitchen and MK Brewing Company tickled the interest. Suits the feel of the surroundings, a little bit out of the way but trendy, yet casual. It reminds me of Belgium, of 'moules frites', ie. mussels and fries, with copious amounts of Belgian beer. Over in Coromandel – this eaterie collects, cultivates, harvests, cook and serve their own green lipped mussels. They also brew their own beer. We missed a recent mussel-festival, where their best brew was drunk dry even before the festival really got under way. Oh, this was too good to be true, yes please.
Too warm to be inside although the aromas from the open kitchen made us hesitate..... no, outside is better. We chose a suitable picnic table with large umbrella out on the lawn and enjoyed the ambience with a few drinks before the food arrived. Murray chose an alternative brew that went down a treat with the mussels.
Our meal was surprising large and just sensational. Thank goodness we only ordered a mussel pot and a salad. The biggest mussels I had ever seen; plump, tender, moist, juicy, so delicious – bliss! Many of the other customers were part of an extended group celebrating the 80th birthday of a beautiful lady; grand-kids, friends and family were all there. Photos and speeches, while we watched on. It's a delightful place. Can't wait for our next visit...