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St Vincent's Cave goes to Napier

There are lots of great things happening down in the Hawke's Bay. Home to New Zealand's oldest wine region, its no surprise that the hospitality folk are highly knowledgeable and passionate about wine both from local growers and abroad. With the FAWC (Food And Wine Classic) Summer Series just around the corner, everyone is gearing up for a busy summer season. Despite the deluge of rain the week we visited, there was a warm buzz in town with new eateries opening nothing stops the locals from getting out and about. Tourists are swooning snap happy of local Art Deco buildings and old cars, conferences throughout the week converging on local eateries; a gang of 400 motorcyclists parade through the city for 24 hours making quite the sight.

Mister D's is a food institution in Napier and dearly loved by locals, renowned for their divine doughnuts. Take their Roast Duck risotto with wilted spinach, currants and pine nuts with a glass of the delicious Mestizaje Blanco White. From Valencia, this has ripe stone fruit, silky texture and lovely citrus to match. We recommend coming back for the Braised beef brisket with black pepper caramel, kimchi and roast parsnip, craftfully matched with Te Mata Bullnose Syrah.

Monica Loves Just down the alleyway is home to very clever cocktails and an eclectic wine list making any night out pre-dinner or post special. Join them on Sunday 8th November in The FAWC Classic between 4 and 7pm for "The Republic of Venice" a night of great wine and food from Italy's Northwest.

Meximama is home to the most authentic and delicious Mexican in the region, Try the Mortiz Lager with the ceviche, pescado or pulled pork tacos, or perhaps pair the Proximo Rioja Red spiced bistec (beef) or chorizo dishes. Based in the stunning oceanside dock area of Ahuriri, its the perfect joint to sit and watch the sun set on nice Spring day. Join them on their FAWC event on Wednesday 11th November for a five course gastronomic adventure across Latin America.

The Emporium is an epic venue, connected to the Art Deco Masonic Hotel it is part of the heart of Napier. They received the People's Choice in the Hawke's Bay Hospitality Awards, and there is no question why - between the great food and wine selection (both local and a "Showcase" of eight International wines by the glass) they are here to show you what great hospitality is all about. Join them for the 24th Hawke's Bay Wine Auction Saturday 14th of November, dine at Emporium and enjoy a bottle of premium wine for free.

Finally finishing up our time in the Bay we have to mention new restaurant Bistronomy. All about eating modern, sustainable food, everything we tasted was beautifully presented and technical master pieces in their own right. Fresh decor and intimate seating; this is one to watch, or taste...

Only 15 minutes south of Napier is Havelock North, home to the infamous Deliciosa Tapas and Wine Bar. Spanish inspired tapas and cuisine, the star of the show without a doubt we think are pork belly, crispy crackled skin with fennel and apple slaw - the tartness of the pomegranate jus, wonderfully balanced with the sticky rich meat. Sin Palarbas Albarino has just the right amount of fruit concentration and mouth watering acidity to clean the palate with each morsel.

Hosting over 60 wines on the detailed wine list, its no wonder Deliciosa is a popular destination for wine aficionados, and their FAWC event note on Tuesday 10th November is a Wine Quiz with Trinity Hill's John Hancock, with their very tasty platters.

Friday afternoon cleared just in time to host a tasting for the Public at Liquor King Napier. Manager Pip Harrison has been working with the local trade and helping with wine lists for over 20 years, so their knowledge and experience shows, whether you are planning a function or a special wine. Our spread included some of our flagship products, including Sangria in a Jug. Just add some sliced orange, lemon, and ice for a delicious summer afternoon treat.

The week in question saw the heaviest rainfall they have seen in 20 years. It cleared just in time for a Saturday walk to the Markets, next to the gardens we find beautiful spring poppies and enjoy a coffee and pastries at newest Café from Flight Coffee, Georgia. The trip home to Auckland was a sea of fluffy clouds, the snowy tips of Ruapehu and Tongariro peaking out, sadly leaving Hawke’s Bay behind, just as the weather subsides.

For more information on FAWC Summer Series 2015, please see

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