It Takes a Village: A guide to Matakana and its surrounding districts by Lauraine Jacobs
It Takes a Village: A guide to Matakana and its surrounding districts by Lauraine Jacobs, known to many New Zealanders for her excellent food writing and recipes, is a very informative and enjoyable read. Her passion and enthusiam shine through and as an Omaha local she is able to share her valuable insider knowledge.
She writes, 'This book is not intended to be an all encompassing guide to the region, but rather to share my own taste of the food, wine and pleasures of the area and provide insights into the community’s many sustainable businesses.'
Lauraine is passionate about putting local, fresh seasonal produce on her family table and takes great delight in sourcing these daily from the numerous farm stands with honesty boxes close to her home, and from the Matakana Market on Saturdays.
She has included a handful of recipes using these which look mouthwatering! The ingredients include not only vegetables and fruit, but also oysters, local honey, olive oils, kelp , smoked salmon and lamb.
Much of the credit for making Matakana such a very popular destination for both visitors and locals must go to Richard and Christine Didsbury, two locals who established not only the stylish Matakana Market complex, but also Brick Bay, one of New Zealand’s leading destinations for art and sculpture.
I love visiting markets and have been to many, both here and overseas. The Matakana Saturday market is one of the best! It was voted the most popular one in the country in the 2021 Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Awards.
One of the pleasures of visiting a market is being able to chat to the stallholders. But on a brief visit it is only possible to talk to a few. So I especially enjoyed her stories about the many local heroes, the pioneering couples who upped sticks and followed their dreams to start sustainable and ethical businesses in the area. Many occupy a regular place in the market where they can sell their locally grown seasonal and artisanal produce. The accompanying full page photographs of them, taken at their properties, exude happiness.
Being Aucklanders we have made many daytrips to Matakana and its surrounding districts over the years. My husband still talks fondly about the tray of freshly chucked oysters which we brought home from the Saturday market. We loved the open sanctuary at Tāwharanui Regional Park, were entranced by the Brick Bay sculpture trail, have bought special gifts from the Morris and James’ Pottery, and ventured across to Kawau island. So this book brought back so many good memories.
As I read it I discovered that there are many more exciting places to visit and things to do. It has whetted our appetites to explore further. We can’t do it just yet because as I write we are still in level 4 lockdown in Auckland. But we are having fun planning our next journey. And we’ll be tempted to linger for longer! So it is useful that she has included a list of the best places to stay, eat and drink.
Especially at this time, while our borders are closed and overseas travel is not possible, I heartily recommend this book to all those who are keen to do some local travel to this region. It would help them to map out a fabulous trip.
Reviewer: Lyn Potter
Massey University Press