Before coming to New Zealand I really only had two intentions, to eat at Fleur’s Place and to eat at Nin’s Bin. Let’s just say I have a pretty one track mind when it comes to food! I knew that NZ had a good reputation for seafood and after seeing Not Quite Nigella’s post on Nin’s Bin, I immediately put it down as a stop on our epic road trip.
Finding the address for Nin’s Bin was no easy task, in fact the most precise instructions we got were to head up the highway for 20-30 minutes and it would be on the side of the road. We’d just come from the west coast of NZ where we’d seen some pretty amazing things, from Glaciers to snow and generally some pretty gorgeous scenery.The weather has taken us by surprise as it seems totally opposite to Australia, and a local we speak to tells us that October cold snaps resulting in snow aren’t uncommon, but it’s the heaviest snowfall he’s ever seen this late in the year, mind you it’s also the middle of spring at this time in the year!
Things are gloomy along the highway as we drive up north looking around for Nin’s Bin. The rain has been following us for the last 100km or so but amazingly clears up just as we see the sign for Nin’s Bin, it’s almost like it’s a sign (the weather that is). Nin’s comes up pretty suddenly on the right side of the road and just like in all of the photos we’ve seen, is a rather nondescript looking caravan perched along the shore.
Rather curious at this point we tumble into the small caravan, Nin’s was established back in the 1970’s and by looking at the décor not much has changed since then! According to Lorraine’s last visit Nin’s only offered Mussels and Crayfish, but their menu now has a new addition of whitebait patties. While we ponder what to order, the lady behind the counter tells us that the Green Lip Mussels have just come in fresh. Decided we order the entire menu, 2 Crayfish, a serving of mussels and a whitebait patty to finish it all off.
We’re allowed to pick our own Crayfish and inspect each carefully, the prices for each are written on the tails and range from the high $20’s to one monster looking one clocking in $55. Eventually we settle on two priced at $42 and $45 respectively and are given the option of served as is with sauce, or warmed and cooked in garlic butter. I’m traveling with butter fiends so this is not even a question that needs to be pondered. Each of the Crayfish are sliced opened with what seems like the largest hatchet in history and in no time everything is sizzling and filling the caravan with the smell of awesome.
Although the skies have cleared and given us some sunshine, the wind chill is still going strong and we huddle inside the caravan as we wait. The caravan windows open directly to the shore and easily has one of the most picturesque views I’ve ever enjoyed while eating. Astroboy wanders outside to get some photos while we wait inside wondering at her insanity. While Astroboy is wandering around taking photos of the local flora I look out to the ocean and realise that one of the rocks is MOVING and is actually a SEAL! I race out to get some photos like a mad-woman and to this day… wonder just what that lady behind the counter must have thought.
The Crayfish looks amazing when it comes out, they’re so fresh off the hot plate that the steam actually gets in the way of my first few photos! Even though having the Crayfish warmed and cooked in butter is essentially cooking the Crayfish twice the quality of the produce is so good that the texture has not suffered in the least. Suddenly there’s silence in the caravan only interupted with the occasional, ‘This is so GOOD’ and licking of fingers.
I’ve never had Crayfish before, but I have had Lobster which is a cousin. The texture and taste are relatively similar with the primary difference being size. The meat is easily pulled out of the tail and I soon find myself with a Crayfish lollipop on the end of my fork which I consume with glee. With the chilly weather I can’t really imagine eating it any other way, but another couple comes in while we are eating and seem to be enjoying their cold crayfish eaten simply with lemon and vinegar.
The servings of mussels are more than generous and there are easily two dozen mussels in total on all of our platters. Eaten simply with a generous squeeze of lemon I actually find myself enjoying the mussels more than the Crayfish! The body of the mussels are big and juicy and despite just coming out of the ocean have a very clean flavour.
After having an amazing Whitebait omelet at Fleur’s only a few days prior there’s no way I can resist ordering the Whitebait patty. The patty is cooked simply, a few eggs scrambled with a generous serving of Whitebait and is a great way to end off the meal each of us wolfing down our triangles.
Or so I thought. Astroboy and rin take one look at each other and end up ordering another Crayfish for themselves! Determined not to be outdone I order another batch of mussels and find myself quite possessive of them, I end up sharing with oldguy when it’s obvious that there’s no way I’m finishing this batch off on my own.
Stuffed to the brim at this point we roll our way on our back into the car and head down the highway towards Christchurch and the last few days of our stay. Almost like a reflection of our moods, the weather turns a few hundred meters down the road and the car is engulfed in rain again! It’s almost enough to make you turn around and contemplate just one more Crayfish…