The main reason I like Village Cafe is because it's our local. We're there most weekends for brunch. Often we'll go early on a Sunday and take the paper. They have nice big tables. They make everything themselves, which is fantastic. They have home- smoked salmon. They do all their own cakes and scones and biscuits and muffins and pasta. They have this amazing almond croissant. It is sooo good.
I'm gluten free and they have great gluten-free options. I like to have their scrambled eggs on gluten-free toast with spinach, roast tomato and mushroom. That's a nice way to start the day.
It's a good mix, made up of people who live in Martinborough and people who are there for the weekend, so it has a nice lively buzz, and we run into people we know. Bruce and Chris who run it are fantastic, really friendly hosts.
They also have the best chai latte on the planet. We have an ongoing joke about which of the staff makes it the best. The secret is that it's not syrup. They actually brew tea leaves in milk. They make it properly. And now it's spoiled me for chai lattes because if I have one made with syrup, I'm like, ugh, that's terrible.
They have local Martinborough wines by the glass, 10 to 12 different wines at a time. It's also a really great space, with high rafters, wine barrels and rustic picnic tables. It's just a really nice vibe. It's also connected to the Martinborough Wine Centre, which has a special place in my heart, because it was the first place to carry our olive oil.
I'm from Michigan, but we lived in Chicago for years. I always wanted to live overseas and I was 31 and had never done it. And I felt it was just going to get harder the older I got. So, 10 years ago, we left the States for one year. We went to Japan first. You're always a foreigner in Japan, because the culture is so different. We knew a lot of Kiwis in Japan who were fantastic. So we decided to apply for residency in New Zealand. We started out assuming we would live in Auckland, but loved Wellington so much we settled there for three years before moving out to the country.
It [moving to Martinborough] was an accident. My partner, Rick, was out in the Wairarapa, saw this property and came home and said, "It's amazing. Let's go live in the country". I said, "Are you crazy?" We've always lived in cities. I was reluctant, but I went out to look at the property and was amazed with how beautiful it was. I thought, fantastic, we can look after these 500 olive trees. The olive oil started out as a hobby, we never planned to sell it commercially. I didn't know anything about it. What possessed us? Ignorance. Thinking it was easy. Having no idea how much work was involved in eight hectares. How hard can it be?
We had one year where we waited too long to harvest and lost two-thirds of the crop to frost damage. That was a real setback, and we learnt.
I started writing on my blog [moonovermartinborough.com] about caring for the trees and about the harvest and people I didn't know started asking where they could buy our olive oil. And I thought, well, why not?
As much hard work as it's been, it's been incredible fun. It's all been managed chaos, just following opportunities as they come up. Which is I think a really important approach to life. We love it so much I can't imagine not doing it. But never say never.
As told to NIKKI MACDONALD
The Village Cafe, 6 Kitchener St, Martinborough, open Monday to Friday, 8am- 4pm.
Friday pizza and pasta, 6pm-9pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 8am-4.30pm.
- The Dominion Post
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