• Owner Jo and barista Chanelle at Madame Jojo's.

Meals to melt your heart

“I can honestly say, I think I’ve just had the best bran muffin I’ve ever tasted,” declared Christine as she entered the Channel office. “You’ve got to try them!” So I did. And I left Madame Jojo’s extolling the place way beyond the beauty of the bran muffins.

Truffled mushroom risotto slice – what an idea! For most people I know, mushroom risotto is a winner, but making it into a slice and topping it with spinach, parmesan and more mushrooms for lunch on the go or as an easy dinner accompaniment, is genius.  Talking of easy dinners, their selection of ready made meals is Madame Jojo’s bread and butter. 

“It’s batch cooking of wholesome, nutritious home-made dinners,” says Jo Williams, owner and chef. The handwritten meal menu for the week ahead on display in their Kitchener Road window is quaint; a perfectly apt, homespun way to show locals what’s cooking. 

Jo has received many offers of wholesaling the ready meals elsewhere. Her decision not to widen the business in this way indicates Jo’s refusal to lose the authentic, home-cooked reputation she has built over the past year in Milford, and which she has finely honed in Remuera at the store she created 12 years ago with her partner, Paris. “We don’t want to lose what makes our meals special. We want people to come back to us and say, ‘That was delicious!’ We want customers to be able to enjoy something wholesome with the ease of not having to make it themselves.”

With the support of her super-friendly store assistants, Shore locals Cathe and Channelle, whom she describes as ‘gold’, Jo is running a thriving business. When I visited, Chanelle whipped up some of the frothiest, best made coffee I’ve tasted on the Shore, with beans from Atomic Coffee. 

Hams for Christmas and the summer ahead are at the front of Jo’s mind this season. Pre-orders ideally need to be in this month – early December at the latest, as Jo can’t guarantee to have any available for order come the start of next month. 

“We like to say yes to everything! But we have to say it’s ‘first come, first served’ on the hams. And it’s not your average piece of ham; she’s talking SPCA-approved, New Zealand ham, glazed to perfection. “It’s the same ham supply we have used over in Remuera for 12 years. We’ve tried many, but we absolutely like this one the best.” No deposit or pre-pay required, Jo just asks that people go into the store to order their Christmas ham during November. 

Intriguing, multi-coloured salads, savoury crepes – it was a mushroom, lentil and spinach version topped with feta when I was in store; tantalising homemade sweet treats including delightful marshmallow cubes and so much more is here at Madame Jojo’s. Up-spec your beach picnic, impress your dinner party friends, make an enviable buffet spread – eat really well this summer.

And the bran muffin? I have no more words.

Madame Jojo’s, 89 Kitchener Road, Milford 09 486 5711 www.madamejojo.co.nz 

@milfordmadamejojos on Instagram