Cooking from Scratch
Bridal Falls provides a spectacular setting, and outdoor market, for chef Charles Royal’s Maori feast made with bush asparagus-flavoured pikopiko fern, horopito and supple jack vine. On Royal’s food tour, which he offers from the Treetops Lodge & Wilderness Estate near Rotorua, we are lead into a different world. He stops at a tawa tree and explains that its wood is excellent for hangi, because it imparts a wonderful flavour. He points out the keikei plant, which once a year produces the tawhara fruit: “A delicacy with a flavour rather like a nashi pear,” he says. On arrival at the Falls, he creates a banquet with the freshly harvested ingredients including: three-pepper spice (horopito, kawakawa and cayenne pepper), served with harore wild bush mushrooms and meringues infused with kawakawa. Royal trained as a chef in the New Zealand army. He has won awards for food innovation and runs Kinaki Wild Herbs which supplies the domestic and international market with indigenous herbs.