Over the last several years, an increasingly important part of the River Valley experience has been the quality, taste and freshness of the food offered from our Lodge kitchen.

Or to sum it up, as our Chef, Miranda, would say, a story of deliciousness.

There are several reasons for this evolution.

In the past, our meals, while being generous, did not excite the taste buds as they now do. Cooking the same meal every night to large numbers of backpackers was not conducive to creative flair.

So what has changed?

Several things have changed, but there are probably two main factors.

First, there being no large numbers of backpackers now, nor will there be in the future, creative freedom is afforded to the chef to cook whatever they like each meal. This freedom comes with a couple of caveats. These caveats are, the ingredients should be seasonal, and if at all possible, based on what is presently being harvested from the lodge vegetable gardens. Second, the style of the meal needs to fit the group and time of day. Other than that, let the creative juices flow.

Miranda, our head chef, is growing a steadily larger group of fans for her food creations, with many rave reviews and testimonials.

The second factor is the, as mentioned above, lodge vegetable garden. This vegetable garden is now three times the size of what it was initially, just four short years ago. In conjunction with a smaller garden dedicated to herbs and salad plants, these gardens provide much of the lodge kitchen’s fresh produce. A notable exception to this range of produce is the staples, such as potatoes, grains and kumara – the latter we cannot grow because of climate conditions, while the others we choose not to grow. In addition, the gardens provide at least some of the fresh produce consumed by the families who work at River Valley.

The gardens are cared for using organic principles but are not certified organic. Melissa, who is the chief gardener, occasionally posts pictures on Instagram of nature’s bounty – https://www.instagram.com/rivervalleyacres/

There are also some new developments with meat. The Bostock brothers in Hawkes Bay organically raise the free-range chicken we use, but developments closer to home are becoming exciting. Tom, a family member and with his wife, Janey, River Valley shareholders, has, over the last few years, been honing his skills in making artisan sausages, bacon and salami. Taste sensations! Yum!

Sharing the Knowledge

In a new development for River Valley, we are preparing to share what we have learned via offering workshops based around food, under the title of “Journeys in Deliciousness”.

The first of these will be held on 30th March and will be hosted by Miranda. The day, which includes lunch and dinner, and some takeaways, will be a hands-on workshop covering delicious ways to preserve the bounty that comes from your vegetable garden in Autumn. The price is $195 per participant, limited to six people. You can register by sending an email to us – thelodge@rivervalley.co.nz

The second workshop will be hosted by Tom and will cover how to make delicious sausages at home. The date for this workshop is the 8th May. This workshop is also a full day and includes lunch and dinner and some takeaways. The price is $195 per participant, and again, numbers are limited to the first six people registering. You can register by sending an email to us – thelodge@rivervalley.co.nz

Accommodation is available at the Lodge as an extra on both the nights before the course starts and after each day’s conclusion. You can book this when you register.

At various times throughout the year, new workshops will be added.

We hope you can join our new journey, a Journey in Deliciousness.

Brian Megaw

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