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Spotlight on Canterbury food and drink producers

20 March 2018

We travelled to the North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival and met half a dozen local producers who are passionate about trying new things – from New Zealand’s only ‘kvas’ brewer to a company serving up deep-fried locust skewers and ant mayo.

Anteater

Anteater is entirely serious about bugs as food.

For the North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival, in collaboration with Jacob McKerrow from The Bespoke Chef, it served up deep fried seasoned locust skewers, lemongrass chicken roulade with ant mayo, cricket flour crispy squid with chili reduction and locust and charred corn salad with coriander, tomatoes and smoked paprika aioli.

Anteater launched in 2016 to “help curb the imminent crisis surrounding global food security and food sustainability”, says director Bex De Prospo.

"We believe [insects] will play a major role in the future of protein production. But we know that they also have to taste amazing," Bex says. 

With this in mind, the company works exclusively with the country's top chefs at places and food producers.

Anteater's products are found on restaurant menus all over the country, including Roots and Super in Lyttelton.

Wellington brewers Garage Project have even produced a sour ale, Aardvark, flavoured with lemongrass ants harvested in Canterbury.

“We are so fortunate to have such an amazing natural landscape here where we can get out and get our hands dirty to find this incredible local ingredient,” Bex says.

Black Estate

Black Estate sells organic and biodynamically grown wines from its three organic hillside vineyards established between 1986 and 1999.

Its owners, Penelope Naish and Nicholas Brown, purchased the original Black Estate vineyard in Waipara in 2007.

“We were motivated to grow and make original wines that were unique to the place they grow,” Penelope says.

“We love the land and cool climate for grape growing, and we love the community we have found ourselves in – all in love with real food and wines and doing things well.”

Black Estate wine is available at its Tasting Room and Restaurant, at local fine wine stores and online.

Utopia Ice

The couple behind Utopia Ice had always dreamed of a little ice cream shop by the sea.

First, Mandy Klapschuweit and Sebastian Koburg launched their ice cream business with a cart at the Christchurch Farmers' Market.

“It all began with the simple idea of bringing ice cream back to the basics,” says Mandy.

That was in 2014 and a couple of years later, they fully realised their dream.

“We have a cute, little ice cream shop with an amazing lush edible garden in Sumner not far from the beach,” Mandy says.

“It's great to see all sorts of people sitting crammed together in our courtyard under the passionfruit vines and chatting about the ice cream they are enjoying.”

Utopia Ice creates unique and unusual natural ice cream and sorbet flavors using traditional methods – that means no powders, gums or stabilisers.

At the North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival, it offered seasonal flavors such as strawberry and elderflower sorbet and homegrown fig and Black Estate pinot noir ice cream.

“As ice cream makers we love the abundance of fresh seasonal produce available in the [Canterbury] region,” Mandy says.

“The network and support between small food businesses in Canterbury is very special.”

The Kvas Company

Russian woman Sabina Sabirova-Bristow and her British husband Jack Bristow set up The Kvas Company in 2016 after settling in Christchurch with their children.

Kvas is a traditional Slavic drink brewed by a lactic fermentation process using a starter made from rye bread.

“We love kvas and couldn’t believe the most popular drink from Poland to Vladivostok hadn’t crossed over into the rest of the world,” Sabina says.

She and Jack enjoy living and doing business in Christchurch due to its “friendly community of food producers and closeness to outstanding ingredients”

The Kvas Company’s products include a brew made with cold brewed coffee, cinnamon and cloves (Brod Brown), another made with sun-dried wild rose buds and cardamom (Brod Rose), a beetroot kvas with ginger and turmeric (Brod Ruby) and a “classic style” Original Rye flavour.

The products are available in organic food shops, cafes, restaurants, craft beer bars, supermarkets and online.

Grizzly

Grizzly owner Sam Ellis has been turning out breads and bagels from his bakery since 2014 – and more recently, donuts and pastries too.

Sam says his company started, quite simply, because he and his family “love a good bagel for breakfast”.

For the North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival, the Grizzly bakers whipped up some awesome donut flavours.

“Passionfruit and chardonnay and blackberry and pinot noir were both big hits on the day,” Sam says.

“Canterbury has such amazing produce available. We source all our flour from North and South Canterbury; it's great to build relationships with the farmers and millers.”

Apart from festivals, Grizzly products can also be found at the Christchurch Farmers’ Market every Saturday and online with a shop opening soon.

The Boneline

The Boneline was set up as a family partnership between Vic Tutton, her brother Paul Tutton and viticulturist Lindsay Hill in 1989.

They all had different, but equally compelling, motivations.

“Lindsay, our viticulturist, was a rhododendron specialist and landscaper. He wanted to get out and work on a massive scale … to grow grapes but not in a monocultural situation, to integrate native plantings throughout what we do and provide habitats,” says Vic.

“My brother was a wine merchant in London and wanted to produce our own wines to sell there.”

Vic had a background in arts management, “wandered off into wine”, completed an MBA and found herself responsible for sales and administration and basically anything office related.

The Tutton family had previously grown grain and been millers in North Canterbury, Vic says, “so we loved this part of the region knowing it had the climate and soils to grow intensely ripe and flavoured produce”.

“We live, grow and make wine on an upriver, inland site, winding along the south bank of the Waipara River. We are deep in a valley of our own, wedged between big hills to the south and north of us.

“We can grow a surprisingly large range from our tiny site due to all the river terraces and natural amphitheaters, all of which have their own microclimate and soils.”

Each wine label features fossils discovered in the Waipara River dating back as far as 65 million years.

Wine from The Boneline can be found at the winery cellar door and vineyard walkway, Lyttelton Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings, at fine wine stores and online.

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