Gathan Beaga

eat this, Wellington

The hills of Central are uncharacteristicly green at the moment. It’s been a wet spring. Farmers complain, only half-jokingly, of having too much grass.

Through the rocks and hills we drive to Alexandra. It’s a pretty fantastic day – blue skies, a northerly breeze, and nigh on 30°C. Hardly the sort of November weather we would have had in Wellington.

This is one of the reasons why Alexandra is on my list of Places I’d Like To Live In, At Least For A While. It’s at the southern end of one of those long Central Otago valleys; large hills on three sides and smaller hills to the north where the high plains of the Maniototo eventually start.

Once upon a time it was a fairly dull farming and orcharding service centre, with a bit of excitement over the summer with an influx of holidaymakers and itinerant fruitpickers. But like many rural towns in those parts of the country that have attracted a wine industry (like the Wairarapa, Hawkes Bay, and Central Otago), it’s getting a lot more interesting. Better food choices, for a start.

For lunch we went to Nuno’s. Nuno Vilela is a larger than life chap, originally from Portugal but settled here with his New Zealand family. We first met him making lunch at Black Ridge Vineyard last summer, and thought it would be good to try his bar / restaurant next time we were down. Turns out it’s pretty good, and there was an interesting selection of stuff on the menu.

Nuno loves kids, and kept Bella and Rosa well entertained to the point where Rosa could not take her eyes off him, watching out for the next time he emerged from his kitchen. Meanwhile Bella scoffed her lunch, eventually running out of steam three quarters of the way through her rather substantial icecream sundae.

So there it is. If you’re passing though Alex and you are looking for some decent kai and coffee (solid, unpretentious, but nicely done), do have a look at Nuno’s. Especially if you like fish and have a couple of grumpy kids in the back.

And back on the farm I need to find a pair of shorts. It’s getting bloody hot here.