Tanya March – Apple Cafe

Back gardens are full of surprises.  The delightful one tucked behind Apple Café in Main Street Howick, is well known to Midlands folk who enjoy fresh, healthy food. It should come as no surprise to discover that proprietor Tanya March’s husband, Alex, grows many of the fresh ingredients used in the restaurant, in their home backyard just down the road. Of course, he landscaped the Cafe garden using all indigenous plants too.

Tanya trained as a chef after leaving school and later completed a post-grad degree in Dietetics. Alex is a horticulturalist – together a perfect foodie combination.   While practicing as a dietician, Tanya realised that people found it hard to put her advice into practice, so began producing ready-made meals and sharing simple cooking tips using pesto, fresh herbs and spices to liven things up.

“Healthy should not mean boring, simplicity is delicious. Everyone has got used to eating badly.” The Café is an extension of this and in response to the awful salads served in many restaurants.

“I lavish lots of love and attention on my food, at home and in the restaurant” says Tanya. “There is always a story behind the dish. All meals are nutritionally balanced.” 

With food intolerances on the rise, Tanya’s menu features many wheat and dairy-free options. She makes a range of preserves and biscuits and other interesting treats which cater to these needs.

Everything is prepared a la minute, so no vitamins are lost while cut tomatoes sit for hours waiting to be used (as is the case in most restaurants). 

Ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible and include really free range eggs, stoneground flour, pasta, cheese and chicken.

Tanya’s apple and rhubarb (home-grown, of course) muffins are legendary, freshly picked lettuce makes interesting salads (“I can hardly keep up” quips Alex, sowing seed busily). The abundant back yard garden provides all their family’s greens, masses of potatoes, lima beans, artichokes and berries too. 

“I do find inspiration for dishes when I am harvesting,” says Tanya “the leeks are amazing at the moment so I turned them into soup with mung beans. There is also lots of spinach growing right now, full of iron, zinc and vitamin B.” Seasonal eating makes so much sense, from a taste, health and environmental perspective.

Glowing with wellbeing and obviously having a lot of fun, Tanya dashes off to prepare something special for a customer who prefers low GI vegetarian meals. “I honestly believe you are what you eat” she concludes.

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