Home Sea food Travel Bites: The small town that rivals Bluff as New Zealand’s seafood capital

Travel Bites: The small town that rivals Bluff as New Zealand’s seafood capital

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Natural wonders, man-made monuments, and cultural experiences are usually the main points of interest as you venture beyond borders and leap over oceans. For some, it’s the local specialties that pop up like Michelangelo’s David and are worth the trip.

France has its fries, Belgium has its cookies, and Australia has its dark brown yeast spread, but in this series we will be highlighting foods that are worth traveling to New Zealand. Stamp these culinary delights in your passport – don’t expect pineapple-flavored chunks.

The lower South Island has its prized oysters, but at the very top you’ll find another popular mollusk.

Havelock, a small town between Nelson and Blenheim at the head of the Marlborough Sounds, is the “green mussel capital of the world”. They even have a mascot, Matua Mussel, who you can see surfing in the city center.

Havelock is one of New Zealand's most specialized “capitals”.

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

Havelock is one of New Zealand’s most specialized “capitals”.

Although sometimes described as the poor man’s oyster, mussels are an important source of money in these areas. Marlborough produces about two-thirds of New Zealand’s green mussel crop, as its sheltered waters provide ideal conditions for growing them.

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But locals will tell you there are plenty more reasons to cry out about this humble seashell. Not only are mussels one of the most environmentally friendly sources of protein in the world, but they are also a super food for your health, loaded with iron, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, among others. nutrients.

Matua Mussel is the city's mascot.

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

Matua Mussel is the city’s mascot.

They don’t come any cooler than those found at Mills Bay Mussels, towards Havelock Marina.

Their tasting room is located right at the front of their packing plant, where live mussels are hand-sorted before being sent to supermarkets and restaurants across the country – Auckland’s Kingi and Wellington’s Shed 5 are among their clients.

Mills Bay Mussels is located near Havelock Marina.

Provided

Mills Bay Mussels is located near Havelock Marina.

Sit outside in the sun and decide how you want your mussels – beer breaded, breaded, toasted with garlic butter, or steamed in white wine with crusty bread to pat dry.

If you can’t decide, opt for the Tasting Tray for Two ($ 38), which offers a bit of everything.

A tasting platter for two is a great way to experience all that Mills Bay Mussels has to offer.

Provided

A tasting platter for two is a great way to experience all that Mills Bay Mussels has to offer.

Mussel chowder, mussel croquettes and even mussel pies are also on the menu.

But whatever you do, don’t leave without tasting a raw shelled mussel ($ 9 for three). If you’ve only ever seen mussels marinated in a pot, this could completely transform your opinion of them.

“The way most people cook mussels is by steaming them, garnishing and grilling them,” says Maegen Blom, operations manager of Mills Bay Mussels.

Could raw shelled mussels be the new oysters?

Brya Ingram / Stuff

Could raw shelled mussels be the new oysters?

“We treat them exactly like an oyster. We peel them to open them.

“A lot of people don’t like mussels because they are chewy, but when you shell them raw you get a really delicious and tender mussel. ”

Watch out, Bluff – looks like Havelock might be ready to flex his molds.

Information sheet

Where to eat: Mills Bay Mussels is located at 23a Inglis Street, Havelock. See: millsbaymussels.co.nz

When to visit: The annual Havelock Mussel & Seafood Festival takes place on March 12, 2022, featuring fresh seafood and live entertainment. See: havelockmusselfestival.co.nz

Stay Safe: New Zealand is currently subject to restrictions related to Covid-19. Face coverings are compulsory on all flights and public transport. Proof of vaccination may be required at some sites under the traffic light system. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.

Do you have a favorite snack worth traveling? Write to us at [email protected] or let us know in the comments.