Grant Allen meets herbivores, carnivores and locavores at a three-day festival in Hawke's Bay

Herbivores nibble on greens, carnivores eat meat; locavores eat local, and this is the intent of the Hawke's Bay's Food and Wine Classic, or FAWC for short. As a FAWC visitor to the Hawke's Bay, you are encouraged to graze on local foods and imbibe the best of the bay's wine. I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural show last spring, and now there is a winter event on the horizon.

Imaginative events running throughout the three-day festival present many ways to experience this region's hospitality and produce.

We stayed at Millar Road in one of its stylish villas. Contemporary in design, private and well appointed, the villas sit above a vineyard and have sweeping views to the coast. This is a great place to retreat to for a long weekend, or be your home base while you explore the area. It proved a calm retreat as we took time out between the many events on offer.

My favourite was the Locavore Lunch. Tables of 10 were seated under canvas in the middle of the famous Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market. Hosted by Ray McVinnie, each table had a chef assigned, armed with an Electrolux En:V barbecue. As diners, we were sent shopping around the market to buy ingredients to be cooked. Our chef was Paolo Pancotti of Milk & Honey restaurant at Ahuriri, near Napier, who created a big, fabulous Italian lunch. It was all very spontaneous, the best way to cook.


This year Paolo will create more magic at Holy Smoke Sunday, a dinner event at Milk & Honey on Sunday, June 23. He has kindly shared a couple of his seasonal recipes to try at home.


Grilled fish, red wine and mushroom ragout
Fennel soup with garlic
Brussels sprouts
Winter panzanella salad

Grant was hosted at the inaugural FAWC by Electrolux. The winter FAWC is on from June 20-23. See for details.