Category Archives: Drank It

Mussel Your Way Inn

Onekaka, Golden Bay

I hadn’t been to the Nelson region since I was a child. So, before heading that way for a long weekend, I asked around for recommendations of ‘must do’ dining experiences. This was one of the suggestions that we explored.

The Mussel Inn

With a warm cosy wooden interior, and loads of memorabilia, the Mussel Inn has plenty of character. With outside tables, a huge deck and even a tree swing, it’s a laid back setting. The locals obviously have a sense of humour, and aren’t too keen on cellphones, given the tree covered in various models of mobile phones literally nailed to the trunk.

The food is honest, wholesome and filling. I was impressed that such a remote, rustic restaurant/bar could easily feed a hungry and pregnant vegetarian. I ordered a ‘small’ portion of their hearty nachos dish. It was huge, and very tasty. When in Rome … the husband ordered the Mussel Chowder. It was accompanied by the most scrumptious garlic bread, littered in mustard seeds.

Mussel Inn Nachos CelesteReviews

Mussel Inn Nachos

Mussel Inn Chowder CelesteReviews

Mussel Chowder and Garlic Bread

The Mussel Inn is also famous for their boutique brewed beer and cider. We ordered the tasting tray (5 x 200ml glasses for $15) to sample. The line up included; the Golden Goose (4% lager), the light and honey flavours of their hallmark ‘Captain Cooker’ Manuka Beer (4%), a Dark Horse Black Beer (4%), the smoky Red Herring Autumn Ale (5.8%), and finished on their Apple Roughy (4% apple cider). Given my limited tasting ability (the downfall of pregnancy), while the husband savoured the tasting tray, I took pleasure in a glass of Mussel Inn Ginger Beer ($3.50), which having a hint of mint was delightfully refreshing.

Tasting Tray Mussel Inn

The Tasty Tasting Tray

You have to visit the loo while visiting. The composting toilets can be a bit scary for first time users, but the unique decoration of the toilet complex is a must see experience.

Onekaka is a two hour leisurely drive from Nelson, over the stomach churning Takaka Hill towards Golden Bay. If you have the time, stop off at the Ngarua Caves at the top of the hill for a coffee and breathtaking views.

In a nutshell: A rewarding day trip destination for anyone visiting the Nelson region.


Hopping Good Beer


1171 Coatesville Riverhead Highway, Riverhead

Hallertau by CelesteReviews

Beer. It’s definitely a kiwi summer word, and boutique breweries are becoming very popular with the New Zealand public. So when a childhood friend of the husband’s recently visited, we decided to venture out west to New Zealand’s first brewbar and restaurant – Hallertau.

Riverhead is only 20 mins from the centre of the city, and the new SH16 Northwestern motorway extension makes getting there a breeze. Mid week, the place was surprisingly busy, with a fun and festive atmosphere.

Tasting Paddle

Tasting Paddle

There was only one choice for the blokes when ordering their beverage – the Tasting Paddle. This included a line up of five brews; the Luxe (Kolsch Beer) – 4.5%, Statesman (Pale Ale) – 5.3%, Copper Tart (Red Ale) – 4.2%, Granny Smith Apple Cider (5.1%) and Minimus (a guest beer) – 3.8%. Our very efficient waiter talked us through each of the beers, and answered our questions.

The wine list highlighted which beverages are produced and/or grown locally, as well as if the producer is family owned. This made the wine selection a far more interesting read. The girls decided on the delightfully refreshing Pukeko Grove Feijoa Sparkling Wine, which is also created on-site.

Our Cobb Bread arrived warm and tasty, with flavoursome spreads, including garlic and rocket pesto.

Our guests enjoyed a Free Range Chicken Schnitzel with chorizo casserole, and a wholesome dish of Snapper accompanied by a vibrant salad.

Hallertau Snapper


I received a huge bowl of pumpkin risotto, topped with and interesting combination of apple fritters, local pecorino, wild watercress and rocket salsa. The sweetness of the apple complimented the pumpkin and made for a very delicious meal. It was a large dish, but the men folk at the table were happy to assist me in finishing it.

Hallertau Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto

The husband’s BBQ Lamb Shank was massive. It was beautifully cooked, “thoroughly delicious”, and apparently a great match with his range of beers.

Hallertau Lamb Shank

BBQ Lamb Shank

Top Tip: The tasting paddles take up lots of room, so make sure you are seated at a large table if you are planning to order this to accompany your meal.

In a nutshell: A fun-filled food and beer (or wine) experience.

Hot Chocolate – On A Stick


Calling all chocolate lovers! I have discovered the ultimate indulgence for you.

Choc-o-lait is a block of mouth watering Belgium chocolate set on a wooden stick. You simply stir the stick into a mug of hot milk, the chocolate melts, and you are left with an amazing hot chocolate experience. Mmmmmmmm!

The husband was lucky enough to receive a few twin packs for his birthday, which was great for me, because the twin packs mean that he shares them with me.

There are several flavours available in NZ, including milk chocolate, dark chocolate (demonstrated here), hazelnut and cointreau, and you can buy them individually or in twin packs.


Our Choc-o-laits were purchased from Vine Café, Scenic Cellars in Taupo, however I have also seen them for sale in Auckland at Sabato and Farro for around $3.70 each.

The Belgians sure know how to make great chocolate!

Weingut Paulinshof

Braunenberger Juffer
Riesling Kabinett 2007

Germany is synonymous with fantastic Rieslings, and this Mosel wine from Weingut Paulinshof is no exception.

Flavours of honey, apricots and lime, can be found in this low alcohol wine (10% alc). It is medium-dry in style, well balanced, with a lingering finish, and at $20 per bottle it is great value for money.

Interestingly it has a glass closure instead of a cork, which makes it look very classy.

Paulinshof Riesling Kabinett 2007

A truly enjoyable wine, far too easy to drink, and a great match with our Thai Dinner.

I was lucky enough to meet Christa Jungling, owner of Weingut Paulinshof in 2009, where she shared some of her thoughts on the differences between New Zealand and German Rieslings with me.

‘QMP’ or Qualitatswein mit Pradikat, is the German equivalent of NZ’s ‘Reserve’ wines – the best wines in the country. These QmP wines are prohibited from adding any extra sugar in the wine making process. Kabinett is a QMP wine, made from normal ripe grapes that have attained a minimum sugar level, usually resulting in an off-dry style of wine.

In New Zealand, we can measure the sweetness of a wine (or sugar content of grapes) using the ‘Brix’ scale. In Germany, they use the ‘Oeschle’ scale. Kabinett is usually off-dry at the lower end of the scale, Spatlese are made from even riper (and therefore sweeter) grapes, with Auslese even riper/sweeter.

So, that’s your German wine lesson for today. Happy drinking!