What a warm and relaxing way to begin 2012. My holiday consisted of the usual tourist undertakings like staying at a resort and sightseeing tours. Therefore I cannot claim I saw the real Rarotonga. However an island with a 32km circumference cannot hide much.
Riding along the main road on scooters, there are a number of stalls with fruit produced on local families’ plantations. Also apparent are the many trees with fruit ready to be picked as you glide past.
My favourite find were the bags of passionfruit for around $NZ3. You would probably find them in a New Zealand supermarket for that price each. This abundance resulted in a number of homemade fruit salads.
What appeals to me about Rarotonga is that there is no pretence and it is just simple. A lot of the food served to you is local; with tell tale signs like green tomatoes. If you want to sample local flavours I would suggest the Salsa antipasto platter from Cafe Salsa, which includes smoked octopus, tomato with rukau (cooked taro leaves) and homemade chicken liver pate.
Another restaurant favourite was Sails at Muri beach. With a more European feel to the menu, the food is easy and delicious. I would highly recommend the Prawn Waldof salad. I cannot help mentioning the amazing setting overlooking Muri lagoon. There’s no better way to start and /or finish a lunch than with a dip in the crystal clear waters.
A must see for any foodie is the Punanga Nui Market on Saturday mornings. This heaving market has countless stalls with traditional foods to try. From fruit and vegetables to coconut ice cream to Raro burgers.
The thing to remember in Rarotonga is everyone is on ‘island time’- so it’s best to slowly make your way around the island and the food it has to offer. There’s no rush.