As a young actor, Patrick Griffiths probably never imagined baking lavash on Waiheke Island for a living. After 15 years in theatre and TV he decided it was time to find a job where he could actually work on the island where he lived, so he did a course and tried his hand at chefing.
Turns out he was pretty good at it - he had always been interested in food - and while working as the head chef of one of the island's restaurants, he came up with the idea of producing his lavash - a thin cracker-type bread, popular in Turkey and Iran - commercially.
"I had it on the menu at the restaurant and people loved it, so I thought why not?" says Patrick. "It sold well on the island and then Jones the Grocer and Farro took it on. It's just gone from there." In fact in 2010 they had to build a bakery to cope with demand for Ringawera's product.
All varieties have a perfectly delicate composition which makes them far too easy to eat in large quantities.
My favourites were the sea salt and the chilli and olive. The sea salt is simple perfection made from flour, bran, local olive oil and generous amounts of sea salt. Thinner than wafer thin, it packs a good crunchy salt hit but not so much as to detract from the almost creamy flavour of the cracker itself.
The chilli and olive flavour has Telegraph Hill's Olive Zing and a hint of chilli powder running through it - enough to make it interesting but not so much as to be overpowering, a delicate balance to achieve with a product that's so thin.
The sesame is also excellent, and with sesame oil and seeds, gives you a good strong flavour. The spiced version is not chilli-spiced but rather fragrantly boosted with fennel and caraway seeds and dill tips. It's quite addictive with a multi-layered hit: sea salt first then fennel as you crunch through the aniseedy flavoured seeds.
The herb flavour contains local Waiheke Herb's spread as well as mixed dry herbs and has a strong rosemary scent. I liked it but not as much as the others. All would be excellent with cheese or a spread but they are also lovely on their own.
Ringawera also does some pretty amazing breads (mainly for sale on Waiheke). The pide and ciabatta are particularly good with their super-soft texture and the almond croissant is worth taking the ferry for.
Only one warning with these products. Open just before serving or they may never make it to the nibbles platter.
Where to buy
Farro Fresh and Nosh, selected New Worlds, Sabato, Pukeko's, Wild Poppies and Boxit; Waiheke Fruit and Vege, Wine Centre, Te Matuku Bay Oysters and the Goldie Room; Vetro Hamilton and Napier; The Country Providore, Hamilton; Kaimai Cheese Matamata; Bellatinos Havelock North; Okere Falls Store Rotorua.By Alexia Santamaria