Last night, Mrs Wilderness and I celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a few friends in Orewa, a beach side town just north of Auckland. For some time now, we have been returning here to enjoy a great little Mexican food restaurant named Hola.
An American couple (she was born in New Zealand) named Vicki and Jon Mathers opened the restaurant over a year ago and have been steadily building their business ever since. They seem to have found the right blend of tastes and spices to serve their Kiwi and American clientèle.
A small group of people from a club we belong to decided to use the Mexican holiday as an excuse to eat Mexican food and maybe try an imported Mexican beer or one their special margaritas.
One of the people at our table related how they had told their New Zealand friends they were going to dinner to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and the Kiwis seemed a little confused. Some asking; "Why are you celebrating a Mexican holiday?" A few others sitting at the table said they had the same reaction. That's a darn good question actually. After thinking about it, the only answer I could come up with is 'because we always have!' In my case, I like Mexican food so much I suspect there is a south-of-the-border skeleton in the Wilderness family closet.
I was really pleased to see how Jon and Vicki's business has grown and how diverse their customers were. It seems Kiwis young and old are now enjoying the special tastes of Mexican food. When we first arrived in New Zealand, twenty-one years ago, most evening dining took just that, all evening. I was never sure whether that was because people tended to eat slowly and talk a lot or because the staff took that long to get the food out. It may have been a combination of both, something I really didn't mind but, last night I noticed some tables were 'turning over' two and three times. I suspect that is how one makes enough money to keep improving the food and the service.
At any rate we had a good time, ate some good food and enjoyed a margarita or two. To top off the evening, one of our friends gave us a large can of 'real' dill pickles! Of course that has nothing to do with Mexican food but it was the perfect end to the evening. You see, real dill pickles are one of the things so much missed by us "Yanks" in New Zealand. Take a look at the Wilderness Spud Cellar (General Store) to see more information on food items.
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