Ginger Dynamite Café, Riwaka

After a morning checking out wood chopping, sheep shearing and floral arranging at the annual Takaka A&P show,* my family needed some sustenance. The prize-winning bacon and egg pie in the baking section had piqued my appetite, and as our holiday came to an end I thought we could probably fit in one final pie-stop.

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Knowing it needed to be a good one, we headed to Ginger Dynamite Go Go Food and Coffee in Riwaka, a place I’ve passed a hundred times without stopping. In 2015 a fire burned the original and highly popular Ginger Dynamite café to the ground. The community rallied to help the owners get back on their feet. A local business that was shut for the winter offered the temporary use of their premises, and another gifted a new coffee machine. Ginger Dynamite now operates out of two repurposed red shipping containers off the Main Road, next to the Thomas Bros fruit store.

We arrived at 1pm and the steady queue of customers didn’t let up once while we sat eating our pies. Working on his own, the owner Brad made quick work of each order, whipping up coffees and bagging pies so that no one waited for long.

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We had to try the fish pie, which won the café boutique section in the New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards in 2016. It didn’t disappoint. A mix of Mapua smoked terakihi and warehou, carrots, celery and parsley are wrapped up in a white sauce that is both well-seasoned and not too creamy and rich. Worthy of its prize without a doubt.

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Our next pie was equally good.  I’m always a little suspicious of pies simply labelled ‘vegetarian’, as though the non-meat eaters amongst us don’t have preferences, and should simply be content with whatever is on offer. So the lentil and potato curry option sounded like my kind of pie.

This is a pie bursting with good flavours. I‘m a sucker for lentils. They are one of my top comfort foods. Yet they need to be paired well, usually with sweet and acidy flavours. And to avoid becoming gluey, brown lentils work best in a decent amount of sauce. This is exactly what you get in this pie, lentils and potatoes slow cooked with juicy tomatoes, spices and parsley.

Finally, we tried the chilli beef pie. With a good kick of heat, this pie was filled with one of the best chilli con carne I’ve tasted. It was earthy and sweet, and tasted like the mince, kidney beans, carrots, and tomatoes had been cooked slowly for hours. By this point I really didn’t know which pie I liked best.

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To top it off, they make their own ginger beer, served on tap, a zingy, refreshing brew that is perfect for a scorching summer day. My father also vouched for the coffee, the best in the area he assured me. With pies at $6, and freshly brewed ginger beer at $4, it’s also a real bargain of a place for lunch.

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Since beginning this blog, these Riwaka-made pies have been my favourite. Ginger Dynamite, we’ll be back.


*Meaning the agricultural and pastoral fair.

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