Tucked in behind The Strawberry Farm on the outskirts of Hamilton is The Country Providore. A wee gem with cottage-like charm, the gift shop and deli stocks spray-free seasonal treats like figs, chestnuts and persimmons dropped off by local gardeners as well as specialty meats, fresh vegetables, artisan bread and pasta. The ultimate treat is all-year-round real strawberry icecream. Being open until 6pm weekdays allows shoppers to drop by after work to pick up the essentials for dinner.
The proprietor is Emma McMahon. She developed a business plan for The Country Providore as part of her business degree course. With her parents’ help, she put the plan into action. One year on, her shop is a success story.
Also on the site is her parents’ sophisticated café Punnet. Gorgeously strawberry themed (and no, it’s not cutesy, but contemporary and stylish), Punnet has indoor and sheltered outdoor eating areas. The food is exceptional – and given the size of the crowd (we scored the last available table) we could tell that others think similarly. My open beef sandwich was good, honest food – the most tender serving of beef steak served with a mouth-watering vegetable accompaniment. My lunch-time companion hoovered up his risotto with equal enthusiasm. Last time I was there I had a memorable seasonal salad which included cheese, figs and pears. I’ll be back same time next year for a repeat of that one. Exceptional coffee rounded off a perfect meal. I took home rich and gooey brownie which won the admiration of my evening dinner guests.
An outdoor playground guarantees guests a lunch experience free of distraction from ankle biters. There’s lots of parking and there needs to be. Even in the middle of winter, Punnet and The Country Providore are a popular destination. Just wait until summer when the strawberries ripen!