WELCOME

Top Tastes is designed to help you find the best places for food and drink; whether you want delicious fish chips, beautiful café food in a winery setting, or finely crafted formal dining food this is your guide. It also contains reviews of different food and beverage products.

Top Tastes was created by Neil Hodgson and managed by him, he will be inviting other professional writers to contribute to the site, this means more regional information will be added as time goes by. You will find a range of opinions from people who know their stuff when it comes to food and beverage.

Only reviews written by this select group will be published on the site (you are welcome to leave comments of course) so you will be able to trust the review – no fake reviews, no ranting, just good information to help you choose great things to eat and drink as well as the best places to eat out.

THE LATEST REVIEWS

Exploring Nelson Food & Beverage - Nelson Mail 03.01.17

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If you are a visitor to Nelson you will have been enjoying the…
Small Plate Dining

Small Plate Dining - Nelson Mail 20.12.16

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My last column for 2017 will be published next week and in it…

FEATURED ARTICLES

Kismet Cocktail and Whiskey Lounge

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Regular readers of this column will know about my love of wine…

Root to Tip cooking competition

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There is a very cool cooking competition happening right around…

TURBOT FILLET with CARAMELISED CAULIFLOWER, GRAPES & WALNUTS

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At Hopgood's & Co Turbot is one of our favourite fish varieties.…

Cloudy Bay & Oceano at The Rutherford

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Winter is finally starting to show up and that means hospitality…

New Zealand Raw Honey Company

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In recent years much has been said and learned about the health…

Doris and her German sausages

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If you have ever wandered around the Nelson Saturday Market and…

TOP WINES TASTINGS

CONTRIBUTORS

Joelle Thomson

Joelle Thomson

Joelle Thomson is a journalist, wine writer and author who lives in Wellington and is the author of 16 wine books (published by New Holland and HarperCollins). She has the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s highest qualification, the Level 4 Diploma and has taught levels 1, 2 and 3 for the NZ School of Food & Wine and judged at wine shows since 1995 in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. She loves the great outdoors. She trained in journalism at Wellington Polytech’ on an old fashioned typewriter in 1989. Her turangawaewae is the South Island.

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Neil Hodgson

Neil Hodgson

I consider myself a columnist with a particular specialty in wine and food, I have been writing about wine for The Nelson Mail since 2000 and about food and beverage since 2015. I write for several publications and taste many wines each week, some are sent as samples by wine companies, some are from our cellar, some we buy and others dinner guests bring along to share with us. I will publish tasting notes for most of them. I am a member of Wine Writers of New Zealand and devout lover of all styles of food, wine, beer and whiskey.

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Phil Parker

Phil Parker

Wine journalist and published author, Phil Parker has a wine career involving both writing and hosting Auckland region wine tours. He established Auckland’s original boutique wine tour business, Fine Wine Tours in 2001. Phil writes a regular monthly column for Auckland’s Ponsonby News, plus a quarterly medical industry glossy magazine wine column. He has also written freelance articles for the NZ Herald and Homestyle magazine, plus he regularly posts wine related stories on his blog.

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Aaron Ballantyne

Aaron Ballantyne

Aaron Ballantyne is the Head Chef at Hopgood’s & Co in Nelson. He has been crafting beautiful multi-award winning food at Hopgood’s since 2007 and along with Chef patron Kevin Hopgood, has elevated the restaurant to Cuisine Two Hat status. Aaron and Kevin also mentor young chefs ensuring anyone who works with them gains skills that will set them on a path to success somewhere in the world. Aaron is kindly supplying recipes for Top Tastes.

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Simon Wood

Simon Wood

Simon Wood, the son of the late NZ wine merchant and writer Hugh Wood, has been involved in the NZ wine and beers industries in retail, consultancy and writing on and off for 25 years. He lives in the idyllic small Waikato town of Te Aroha with his partner and their 2 rescue cats. His mother Bev is a children’s and travel writer who also used to write wine columns.

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Bev Wood

Bev Wood

In the early days in my hometown of Hamilton the dining experiences were limited to milk bars or tearooms.  Now we have a large array of excellent cafes and restaurants from fine dining to cheap and cheerful and everything in between.  Besides food and wine, reading, writing and talking, travel is a great passion and has led me to try many strange and wonderful dishes from one side of the world to the other.  And I love it all.

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Ray Toms

Ray Toms

Ray Toms has been a member of the Taupo Winetasters Club for what seems like decades, his passion for wine saw him become a member of the Scenic Cellars tasting panel that selected fine wines for the business under its previous ownership. Since he retired he has taken up travel and photography as hobbies to add to his love of wine. ray now reviews wines and tell stories for Top tastes too.

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About our Contributors

To ensure the integrity of reviews and comments made by contributors we adhere to:

  • Contributors to the website do not accept payment for reviews, all reviews are unbiased and the
    opinion of the contributor.
  • Contributors are not paid by Top Tastes but some of the reviews may have been published
    previously by the contributor in a publication that paid for the content.
  • Contributors don’t have a commercial interest in any of the producers/restaurants/bars/cafes they choose to review.
  • Contributors pay their own way for meals, travel and products unless they declare in the review ‘I was hosted by.…’
  • Samples are often sent to contributors without being sought, these are reviewed in a totally
    independent manner.
  • To keep this site free to all users we do accept advertising, however, any product, producer or
    place being reviewed can not advertise on this site for a period of six months after the publication date of any review that includes them.