Sustainable conversations: Summer lovers
The summer menu at Coco’s is always colourful and full of our favourite signature dishes. It’s a time of year where everything is bright and plentiful, where the dishes are full of reds, yellows and greens. You will always find the Coco classics, like meatballs and spaghetti or the summer seasonal ravioli; there will always be roasted pork belly with some sort of deliciousness sitting under it (Italian slaw with hazelnuts at the moment) and there will be scotch and fries covered with salsa verde. But at this time of the year the real star of the menu is the summer caprese salad. Coco’s caprese is made up of bursting roasted tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and basil pesto, locally made mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction, sea salt and chargrilled sourdough. It’s simple, classic Italian made with local artisan produce.
We use Curious Croppers heirloom tomatoes and Italian Cheeses mozzarella — from two passionate producers who deliver the highest quality product and we think matched together they make a super couple, they may even be soul mates! We also think that if you are super-good at something then you’re probably a bit geeky about it.
Let’s take a closer look...
What cheeses do you make?
Mozzarella (fiordilatte), ricotta, burrata, faggotini, scamorza and affumicate, provolone dolce, provolone piccante, caciocavallo, gorgonzola dolce, cacioricotta (goat), buffalo mozzarella, pecorino.
How many people make up the Italian Cheeses staff?
Massimo — head cheese maker, Ettore — cheese maker, Marina — quality control/compliance and ricotta production, Anton — accounts, sales, marketing and apprentice cheese maker. The team of the year!
Where does your milk come from?
It’s picked up every morning straight from the cows on a local farm and produced on the day.
Can you give us a brief run-through of how many steps it takes to make mozzarella?
Milk pasteurization > adding starter > waiting a few hours > moulding mozzarella into balls > cooling down in cold water > packaging.
Where can we buy your cheeses from?
Italian Cheeses are only available for sale to restaurants and through the Produce Company in Auckland or come and say hi to us at the Matakana Farmers' Market.
What is Curious Croppers?
We are growers of cranky but gorgeous vegetables.
Describe your typical day as an artisan tomato producer.
Get up — get kids off to school while discussing tomatoes. Walk through the crops and discuss how the toms are growing and what we need to change. Sort out and despatch restaurant tomato orders. Discuss new tomato ideas and improve on developing ones. Taste random variety of tomatoes versus bought ones to check that our flavour is as it should be. Kids home from school — so normal after school drama. Post kids bed — discuss tomatoes over a glass (or two) of chardonnay.
How many types of tomatoes are there and how many do you grow?
Thousands more than you would ever believe. We grow 27 varieties at present, an amount we are trying to whittle down, but it just seems to keep growing.
What makes Curious Croppers tomatoes different?
Short answer: We grow heirlooms. We grow low-yielding cranky but tasty varieties. We limit water which decreases yield but increases sweetness (same as you do for grapes). We pick extremely ripe — as any home gardener knows, it is the last few days before picking that the fruit gets it ultimate flavour.
If you were a tomato which tomato would you be?
Goodness! Anthony says “Angela is a Spanish Green, as she is tarty, often unpredictable and yet I find her rather desirable.” Angela says “Anthony is an Oxheart — gentle on the inside, crinkly on the outside and as subtle as a squirt of tomato in the eye.”
Can you draw a tomato?
Tell us an interesting fact about tomatoes.
The tomato has long been known as the love apple, largely due to its colour and sensuous sweet flesh. But it was referred to as the devil’s fruit by the Roman Catholic Church as they believed it to be the fruit that was used by the serpent to tempt Adam and Eve.
Where can we buy your tomatoes?
Clevedon Farmers Market (this is where you can meet us) every Sunday 8.30am-12pm. Farro Fresh in Auckland, Moore Wilsons in Wellington. Or at a number of good restaurants (obviously we would suggest Coco’s}. Now that’s a story!