The Science of Tea

Having navigated Auckland traffic, traversing half way across the city and back again in the pouring rain, one would be forgiven for calling it a day and heading straight home, but a Dilmah Masterclass in Tea Gastronomy beckoned.

The Dilmah Story

Working in tea plantations during your school holidays was a way of life in Sri Lanka.  After decades of watching a small number of large corporates – traders not producers – exploit countries with tea plantations, and deceive innocent consumers with blended teas sold on the back of Ceylon’s reputation as the finest tea on earth, thirty years ago Merrill J Fernando launched his own brand of tea to stop the global commoditisation of tea in its tracks. 

Dilmah – named after Merrill’s two sons Dilhan and Malik – was the first producer-owned tea brand to offer single origin tea grown, picked, processed and packed at the source in Sri Lanka.  Not only did he want to provide consumers with a fresh, unblended, quality 100% Ceylon tea, Merrill wanted the workers, their families and local communities, and environment to benefit from the business too.  Respected for the freshest quality and the philosophy behind the brand, the Dilmah family have poured their heart and soul into showcasing Ceylon tea, with New Zealand and Australia their first markets.

To read more about the MJF Charitable Foundation click here.  For highlights from our Tea Gastronomy Masterclass keep reading.

Tea and Terroir

Not unlike the terroir of wine, climatic conditions – the saltiness of the air, the level of humidity, the intensity of the wind, and the temperature and type of soil – impact the flavour profile of tea.  And like food and wine matching, we’re now seeing the chef, or the mixologist, use tea as a creative ingredient; pairing different types of tea with components of a dish to push and pull flavours.

 Jasmine tea served with orange friands

Jasmine tea served with orange friands

We delighted in the aroma of earl grey tea blending with subtle smokiness of the salmon, bringing sharpness and zing to the warm notes from the salmon.  As the antioxidants in tea emulsify fat, the tea was used to remove the fatty oil in the salmon to balance the sweetness.

 Earl grey tea cured salmon on blinis

Earl grey tea cured salmon on blinis

Tea and Cheese

To truly experience tea one must indulge the senses – sight, then smell and finally taste – to fully appreciate the flavour, but getting a room full of food lovers to 'slurp’ spoonfuls of tea was quite a challenge. We tried a number of different types of tea, paired with cumin gouda and a mature cheddar cheese to understand how the flavours of both the tea and cheese change when tasted separately, then together.

Tea Infused Cocktails

The following evening a few lucky members of Foodwriters NZ were invited to a cocktail party at Giraffe Restaurant in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, where we were treated to tea infused cocktails and tea inspired canapes.

It was a pleasure to have met Merrill J Fernando and his son Dilhan and to hear their story.

 With members of Foodwriters NZ

With members of Foodwriters NZ

Tea is the second most popular beverage after water.  So with the Dilmah team of tasters tasting 11k samples of tea, week after week and the final tea tasted by Merrill himself, you owe it to them and yourself, to take time out to brew your tea and indulge in its intoxicating flavours.

Enjoy

Michelle

ps The invitation to attend a Dilmah Tea Masterclass was extended to members of Foodwriters NZ.  As with every The Foodie Inc post, the views expressed here are those of the writer.

Eat, Drink Craggy Range

Heading to Hawke’s Bay last November an invitation to explore the kitchen garden, chat with the new head chef and of course, eat and drink at Craggy Range Winery situated on the banks of the Tuki Tuki River, was an amazing way to kick off the NZ Foodwriters' conference and Summer F.A.W.C!.

 Craggy Range Winery from Te Mata Peak lookout

Craggy Range Winery from Te Mata Peak lookout

 Dine alfresco on Terroir's terrace

Dine alfresco on Terroir's terrace

Handing us a glass of 2015 Craggy Range Rosé, we embarked on a leisurely walk through the vines to the kitchen garden – one imagines kitchen hands easily clock up their steps each day, as they run back and forwards fulfilling last minute requests for freshly picked vegetables and handfuls of herbs – set within lush protective hedges.

 2015 Craggy Range Rosé

2015 Craggy Range Rosé

 A walk amongst the vines

A walk amongst the vines

 Te Mata Peak makes a dramatic backdrop

Te Mata Peak makes a dramatic backdrop

Aaron Drummond, General Manager and Casey McDonald Head Chef talked us through the change in direction for Terroir Restaurant – a more relaxed atmosphere and an increased focus on showcasing locally sourced produce – something we experienced firsthand as we enjoyed an array of tantalising dishes served as shared plates with Craggy Range wines to match.  The potato focaccia was such a hit, the recipe is included at the bottom of this post if you fancy making it yourself.

 The kitchen garden

The kitchen garden

 Stunning array of leafy greens and fresh herbs

Stunning array of leafy greens and fresh herbs

Sitting on the terrace we devoured dish after dish of locally sourced Hawke’s Bay produce, and enjoyed catching up with other members from around the country so much, that a planned visit to the wine cellars was something that would need to wait until next time.

 TukiTuki venison tartare with tarragon and fried anchovy

TukiTuki venison tartare with tarragon and fried anchovy

 Calamari and fennel salad

Calamari and fennel salad

 Hohepa haloumi with vine roasted beetroot & burnt honey

Hohepa haloumi with vine roasted beetroot & burnt honey

 Rauhine Ranges salt baked milk-fed lamb with herb pesto

Rauhine Ranges salt baked milk-fed lamb with herb pesto

 Poached meringue with rhubarb and sheep milk yoghurt

Poached meringue with rhubarb and sheep milk yoghurt

Ensure you visit Craggy Range Winery when you’re in Hawke’s Bay – if you’re keen to see the kitchen garden, ask if it possible when you book your table – you won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!

Michelle

ps Foodwriters NZ were guests of Craggy Range Winery, but as with every The Foodie Inc post, the views expressed here are those of the writer.

Recipe Resolution is back

New food books are always eagerly devoured cover to cover within days, with recipes keenly marked, but when the stack of books acquired in past 12 months are vying for attention with the towering magazine pile teetering precariously on the three legged coffee table – placement is absolutely critical, otherwise a magazine avalanche and an upended table results – the time has come to bring back My Food Magazine Resolution.

December provided the perfect opportunity to use some of those marked recipes.  With meringues simple to make, easy to transport and a crowd pleaser every time, Fiona Hugues’ cappuccino meringues from the November / December 2017 Taste Magazine #126 made an appearance no less than three times during Christmas festivities.

 Made 70 for a Christmas party

Made 70 for a Christmas party

 Sandwiched together with Cathedral Cove cacoa bean coconut yoghurt

Sandwiched together with Cathedral Cove cacoa bean coconut yoghurt

Christmas Day this year was a simple affair – salads and seafood – and possibly meringues for dessert! The peach, mozzarella and Israeli couscous (swapped out the fregola) salad from #126 Taste Magazine and Yael Shochat’s (Ima Cuisine book released mid 2017) Mediterranean slaw were perfect partners for a smorgasbord of baby octopuses, prawns and scallops.

 Peach mozzarella and Israeli couscous salad

Peach mozzarella and Israeli couscous salad

 Baby octopuses dancing in the wok

Baby octopuses dancing in the wok

With the humidity proving a challenge over January, the less time spent in a hot kitchen the better.  Clare Aldous’ buffalo sauce online or in Dish magazine #76 – a firm favourite on chicken wings – made the perfect sauce for fresh sweetcorn or drizzled over leftover sweetcorn, crispy bacon and salty feta.

 Sweetcorn, bacon and feta topped with buffalo sauce

Sweetcorn, bacon and feta topped with buffalo sauce

Finally, for this recipe roundup a variation on Dish magazine #64 Fresh Cherry Crumble Tart (note shown as individual tarts in magazine).  After a false start earlier in the week when the pastry (round one) collapsed in the humidity – resulting in a boysenberry and chocolate parfait (forgot the photo) – friends would have been none the wiser had the kitchen bench not been covered in flour! Round two – attempted to re-roll the refrigerated pastry – an epic fail so round three was a quick trip to the local supermarket for pastry sheets! Voila one Fresh Cherry and Chocolate Tart to share with family visiting from Australia.

 Fresh cherry and chocolate tart

Fresh cherry and chocolate tart

Of course there were plenty of other dishes made, and shared with family and friends over the past couple of months, with lots of local market visits, but that pile of books and magazines are calling out to be used.  It’s time to broaden our everyday menus and use more of those marked recipes.

Watch this space and please help keep the recipe resolution on track throughout 2018.

Michelle

Wesley Market, a hidden gem

Most produce and farmers markets in Auckland run at weekends, but in a cosmopolitan city where not everyone works Monday to Friday, and sport and kids' activities bite into the weekend, it’s great to discover local markets open on weekdays.

A few weeks back, Wick Nixon from Wicked Wellbeing posted a video for Healthy Puketapapa Community Kai, cooking pad thai in the Wesley Market, using ingredients sourced from the market stallholders, which inspired an overdue visit to this long running – established 1994 – local produce market.

Friday morning – in between the showers and after the worst of rush hour traffic – it was a quick trip across town.  Finding a carpark in the surrounding residential streets was a breeze.

Stalls stretched lengthways along a paved enclave surrounded with trees.  Gazebos flapped in the gusty wind, tightly strapped to the trucks and vans to form a much needed wind break. 

 Wandering up to the market entrance

Wandering up to the market entrance

 Joining the crowds

Joining the crowds

Vegetables, salad greens, peppers, tomatoes and pungent bunches of herbs jostled for attention across a number of stalls.  Stone fruit, bananas, citrus, melons and cherries on offer; you had the perfect ingredients for a summer fruit salad right in front of you.  Wesley Market focuses on fresh produce, grown by the stallholders themselves, with only one food truck and one seafood vendor – selling an amazing array of whole fish – the only other vendors at the market this week.  The variety and number of stallholders varies from week to week; this week's weather having an impact on produce availability.   

A melting pot of cultures, it was interesting how many stallholders spoke limited English.  This was a real communication challenge when you wanted to know what an unusual vegetable was and how best to cook it.  Your sign language skills will come in handy!

 These ladies spoke no English, which proved quite a challenge

These ladies spoke no English, which proved quite a challenge

A group of men seemed more intent on playing a board game than selling the produce on their table; their noisy banter attracting a curious onlooker.

 More interested in their board game

More interested in their board game

On the way out stopped for a quick chat with Yael Shochat, who looked quite perplexed when it was mentioned this was The Foodie Inc’s first visit to Wesley Market.  Yael is a market regular and shops twice weekly at Wesley Market (and Sundays at Avondale Market), for fresh produce for her restaurant Ima Cuisine.  If you’ve eaten at Ima Cuisine, then you know how just good the local produce here must be.

 Summer fruit bowl

Summer fruit bowl

The Wesley Market is working towards a bigger community zero waste initiative by reducing the use of plastic bags, encouraging people to buy local and recycling so don’t forget your recyclable shopping bag and say no if a plastic bag is offered (which seemed to happen a little too often).  Don’t forget to take cash, as stallholders didn’t appear to accept eftpos, and small cash transactions are so much quicker for everyone too.

Wesley Market – 740 Sandringham Road Extension, Mt Roskill, Auckland

Open Tuesdays and Fridays 7:30am – 1pm

If you take a visit, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Michelle

Winery Lunches, Hawke’s Bay

With more than 70 wineries in Hawke’s Bay – New Zealand’s oldest and second largest wine growing region – deciding where to sit back, relax and enjoy a leisurely lunch takes almost as long as the lunch itself. Heading to Hawke’s Bay to catch up with friends before F.A.W.C. there was no shortage of opportunities to indulge.

Friends who had relocated to Waiohiki were keen to go somewhere local. Church Road Winery was a short drive from their new home and bed and breakfast, Omaranui Garden View.  Hawke’s Bay turned on a stunner of a day so we grabbed a table on the terrace overlooking the picnic area.  It wasn’t hard to envisage the domain dotted with people enjoying wine and platters on summer weekends, but given it was a Tuesday we had the serene backdrop to ourselves.

 The grand entrance

The grand entrance

 The dining hall and tasting room

The dining hall and tasting room

 Perfect picnic spot

Perfect picnic spot

With nowhere else to be, we meandered our way through an impressive menu – punctuated with local artisan produce, each dish was perfectly paired with a Church Road wine – after all we had several months of catching up to do. It was the perfect excuse for being last to leave.

Travelling solo the next day, I drove the short distance from Havelock North to Clifton – the gateway to Cape Kidnappers and the gannet colony – and the Te Awanga wine growing area; home amongst others to Elephant Hill, Rod McDonald Wines and Clearview Estate wineries.

 Looking out to Cape Kidnappers

Looking out to Cape Kidnappers

Today’s remit was a casual lunch, somewhere a lone diner wouldn’t look out of place.  Turning into Clearview Estate a group of cyclists moved aside; the uneven gravel under their wheels revealing the unmistakable clinking of wine bottles hidden in their backpacks nestled in the woven baskets.  Suddenly, memories of a hilariously funny afternoon biking through the vineyards more than 10 years ago came flooding back, but that’s a story for another day!

Umbrella shaded tables in the courtyard were in high demand.  The cyclists headed for a wine-tasting – undoubtedly not the first of the day – before settling in for what looked like the beginning of an all afternoon lunch; the Takaro Trails car was in the carpark so this may have been their final stop.  With so much more to see and do, crab sliders with a lightly chilled Pinot Gris were the perfect combination, before heading to my next stop.

 Indulge in a wine tasting at Clearview Estate

Indulge in a wine tasting at Clearview Estate

 Crab sliders and a cheeky Pinot Gris

Crab sliders and a cheeky Pinot Gris

If you’re staying in Havelock North, Black Barn Vineyards is just around the corner. Take your pick from wine tastings, a leisurely lunch or simply grab some provisions from their store.  Their growers market, set amongst the trees, is a great way to kick off a Saturday (9am-noon) during summer.

Friday afternoon to kick off the Foodwriters NZ conference, we were guests of Craggy Range Winery, where we were treated to a smorgasbord of dishes created by the new head chef Casey Mc Donald, so keep your eyes open for an upcoming post.

Some handy links:

Hawke’s Bay Trails - Napier and Hastings | NZ Cycle Trail

Hire bikes:

Hawke’s Bay Wines – great source on information and maps etc

Grab a food and wine map from the local information office, it’s far easier than using your mobile.

Enjoy!

Michelle

2017 in Review

The Foodie Inc had ambitious plans for 2017 – a foodie bucket list of sorts – but really an excuse to explore more of New Zealand’s food and wine scene.  The goal was something new each month, but one couldn’t resist indulging in some old favourites too.  Admittedly, blogposts were infrequent – studying for Le Cordon Bleu Master of Gastronomic Tourism took up every spare moment – so please enjoy a few photographic highlights from last year, with more foodie adventures to be shared very soon.

A 35 minutes ferry ride delivered us to Waiheke Island for headland Sculpture on the Gulf.  Thought provoking sculptures, stunningly spectacular views and if the trip wasn’t field research for a university assignment due three days later, a leisurely winery lunch would definitely have followed. 

Volunteering at the New Zealand Cheese Awards, learning how to make pasta with Stephania at Pasta Cuore and blending our own wine (got our names on the bottle) with The Hunting Lodge’s crown blend rose challenge were more hands-on experiences.

Persistent rain and mud underfoot didn’t detract from the captivating experience and fabulous company at Monique Fiso’s intimate dinner party – Hiakai – the photos simply don’t do the evening justice, but then the lighting wasn’t designed to be camera friendly.

Exploring outside Auckland saw The Foodie Inc Go Wild in the Waikato (NZ Foodwriters trip and photo credit), attend The Seriously Good Food Show in Tauranga in July and finally made it to F.A.W.C. Hawkes Bay in November. 

In early August “a truffle hunt” in Canterbury’s Limestone Hills with Rosie the Beagle and a decadent five course truffle-infused lunch at Black Estate, 2017 winery restaurant of the year really did knock one off the bucket list!

And when you live in Auckland you can’t ignore: Auckland Restaurant Month from Street Eats to restaurant takeovers and simply an excuse to indulge in special menus and catch up with friends; The Food Show in Auckland in July; and let’s not forget Taste of Auckland in November.

So what is The Foodie Inc planning for 2018?  Ticking a few more things off the ever-expanding foodie bucket list and aiming to share four new posts each month:

  • More stories about local food producers like Hauraki Salt Company and Tea Tree Orchard
  • Must see / do destinations or experiences, like the once in a lifetime night at Hiakai
  • An event, a cooking class, a farmers' market or a food truck like The Rolling Pin for you to check out for yourself
  • Sharing recipes cooked or created in the previous month in Recipe Resolution

Thanks for supporting The Foodie Inc – your feedback is very much appreciated.   Look forward to sharing more memorable food and wine experiences and places to explore in 2018.

Enjoy!

Michelle

2017 Auckland Food Show

Let’s face it, people often inadvertently move in circles. The day at The Food Show, started and ended with donuts. 

 Donuts from  The Pie Piper  and  Doornuts

Donuts from The Pie Piper and Doornuts

The leisurely meander through the halls of The Food Show with foodlovers Genie, Bunny Eats Design and Bri Dimattina Food Adventures entailed many looped routes as we strolled from the Fresh Market to the Healthy Hub to the Artisan Village and everything in between. 

 Hot and cold smoked  Aoraki Salmon

Hot and cold smoked Aoraki Salmon

  Leaderbrand  living wall

Leaderbrand living wall

  The Olive Lady 's green pickled peppers

The Olive Lady's green pickled peppers

We tasted and then tasted some more, talking to fellow foodies and producers along the way.  Cameras were always at the ready, stallholders became accustomed to displays being rearranged, and products being lined up, always obliging with a smile or friendly banter.

 Cameras at the ready for  Good Buzz Kombucha

Cameras at the ready for Good Buzz Kombucha

 Spotted Morgan from Bonnie Oatcakes helping out at  Fix & Fogg  stand

Spotted Morgan from Bonnie Oatcakes helping out at Fix & Fogg stand

 Rubs from  Wild Fennel Co

Rubs from Wild Fennel Co

  Thomson Whisky  tastings while we wait for our cooking class to start

Thomson Whisky tastings while we wait for our cooking class to start

We even made ourselves lunch at the Casa BarillaCooking School which was heaps of fun – free but pays to book.

 Casa Barilla Cooking School

Casa Barilla Cooking School

 Ready to cook...

Ready to cook...

 Italian sausage & mushroom penne

Italian sausage & mushroom penne

Thanks to The Food Show for the complimentary ticket to Thursday’s opening day. The Food Show runs until Sunday 30 July.  For tickets and information go to www.thefoodshow.co.nz

This photo journal shows just a handful of the amazing food and wine producers so we hope you choose to travel The Food Show in circles – you might be surprised what you notice the second time around! Enjoy the show.

Michelle

ps caught up with the girls at Mamas Donuts on the way out... lucky to be gifted a bag of mix on last week's 'Go Wild in Waikato' foodwriters trip 

  Mamas Donuts ... looking forward to making these at home

Mamas Donuts... looking forward to making these at home

Dumplings and more

Anticipation grew waiting for a friend to arrive, as did the queue of people who meandered from local commercial businesses to The Rolling Pin's regular Friday lunchtime gig in Ellerslie.  In fact anticipation had been growing since the Vegan Food Fair back in April when spoiled for choice – friends devoured Buddha's Delight dumplings and slaw with squeals of delight – while we stood side by side eating something equally divine from a different food truck.

 Lucky locals queue for Friday lunch

Lucky locals queue for Friday lunch

 Join the queue

Join the queue

 The Rolling Pin team in action

The Rolling Pin team in action

Thanks to The Rolling Pin for the opportunity to take a friend to lunch.  A passionate vegan who lives locally, she was excited by the flavour combination of the Buddha's Delight dumplings – bean curd, shitake mushroom, pumpkin, bok choy and cabbage, and especially that spicy sauce – so much so she's convinced her teenage children would love them too.  Although between us, they might not be able to go past the Penang Pulled Beef dumplings.

 Buddha's Delight and that slaw

Buddha's Delight and that slaw

 Buddha's Delight

Buddha's Delight

And the "more"... yes that slaw!  Asian slaw topped with crunchy fried shallots and crushed peanuts and a secret spicy sauce – that slaw was a sensory sensation on its own.

To find out where The Rolling Pin will be each week check the The Rolling Pin - Facebook page. Available for private and fundraising events too.

So close to home, dumpling Fridays could become a regular rendevous!

Michelle

Our Abundant Hauraki Gulf

It’s incredible that in a country surrounded by sea that New Zealanders, from home cooks to restaurant chefs, need to reach for imported sea salt.

 Imported salt and pepper in The Foodie Inc's pantry

Imported salt and pepper in The Foodie Inc's pantry

One Sunday morning Greg Beattie from Hauraki Salt Company was at a farmers market watching a chef showcase fresh local produce.  Surprised to see the chef season dishes with sea salt from England, Greg caught himself wondering... what if a local artisan sea salt was available. 

 Auckland's Hauraki Gulf at sunset (photo supplied)

Auckland's Hauraki Gulf at sunset (photo supplied)

With a background in horticulture and landscape design Greg has always felt a close connection with nature, insisting from a young age that he have a patch of the family garden to call his own.  At seventeen, his very first garden maintenance job was for a successful entrepreneur and his wife who owned a large home and garden in the country. One morning over coffee his client said, “Greg it’s fantastic what you do for us in the garden but working in the service industry you will be forever trading hours for dollars, what you really need is a product. It’s the only way you can really leverage your time.” Thanking him for his advice, Greg said he would keep it in mind.

Four years ago Greg suddenly fell very ill and was off work for almost a month.  Being a self employed landscape gardener trading hours for dollars, his financial health suffered, alongside his own. During his recovery Greg had plenty of time to think and remembered the advice from 20 years earlier – what he really needed was a business he could grow and generate income from, that didn’t require hands on involvement.   Scribbling ideas and searching the internet for inspiration, nothing really took his fancy.  Frustrated he put it aside until that day at the farmers market.

 Greg wading to sea water (photo supplied)

Greg wading to sea water (photo supplied)

Hauraki Flake Sea Salt is the first artisan salt product in New Zealand; with no additives it’s nature at its best. Hand-harvested and made it small batches, it takes 4.7 litres of salt water to make 100g of flaky sea salt.  After the water is collected from the Hauraki Gulf, the salt making process takes around 24 hours. Five hours of boiling, then a further 19-20 hours in the salt pan on a low heat – the long slow evaporation helps form larger salt crystals. Given it’s a 24 hour process, with things happening at the same time every day, it’s an easy process to follow to maximise production efficiencies.

 Available in 100g bags for your home pantry

Available in 100g bags for your home pantry

To get your hands on this new product go to Hauraki Salt Company's website  – you can purchase online or from one of retailers listed.  If you want to see you local food store stock Hauraki Sea Salt, send Greg an email and put them in touch.

What's not to love about a local product that's made from an abundant and sustainable natural resource.

Michelle

Eggs, flour and lots of love

On a blustery autumn afternoon, faces peer through the glass captivated by the rhythmic movement of the soft dough under her palm.  Gathering inside, stories are shared of pasta machines still in boxes; some unopened, others used once or maybe twice.  One classmate admits her first attempt at pasta was so inedible that her family gave her the workshop voucher for Christmas. Two ladies had simply been told by their respective daughters to turn up at 409 Mt Eden Rd and to remember to take an apron – early Mother’s Day presents. 

Stefania Ugolini from Pasta & Cuore punctuated the two hour hands-on workshop with a brief history of pasta and tales from her upbringing in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. We were delighted (relieved) to hear pasta requires two pantry staples – eggs and flour, but must always be made with love.

 Stefania outlining the workshop

Stefania outlining the workshop

 Our workstations... ready to go

Our workstations... ready to go

 Eggs and flour in exact proportions

Eggs and flour in exact proportions

Stefania shared her techniques for the best way to mix dough with a precisely weighed flour to egg ratio.  Kneading required a 90 degree turn, fold, then gentle knead until smooth – never flip the dough.  Roll from the middle to the edge making an oval – never a circle – as this fits neatly in the pasta machine. She also explained the best knife action for cutting the final dough into basic shapes such as tagliatelle, pappardelle and taglioline; with tips on the best way to store and cook the pasta.

 My dough going through the pasta machine

My dough going through the pasta machine

 Drying the pasta... time for a quick coffee downstairs

Drying the pasta... time for a quick coffee downstairs

 Stefania explaining knife technique

Stefania explaining knife technique

 A proud moment with my tagliatelle

A proud moment with my tagliatelle

 My tagliatelle

My tagliatelle

 Making pasta nests

Making pasta nests

 Stefania's tagliatelle nest is the one on the right

Stefania's tagliatelle nest is the one on the right

Delighted with my tagliatelle, a simple lemon, chilli and caper sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan was the perfect partner for a delightful dinner the next day.

 Saturday night dinner

Saturday night dinner

Pasta & Cuore run two pasta workshops – basic and filled pasta – for up to eight people.  For more information and details of the next workshop dates, click on the website link below:

Pasta & Cuore – Handmade Heartmade

409 Mt Eden Road
Mt Eden, Auckland

Before this novice attempts to make pasta at home, the pasta machine, still in its box, needs to be collected from a friend.

Enjoy!

Michelle

Crunchy Piccolos Potatoes

If you like crunchy roast potatoes... you’ll love this simple recipe using delicious ‘Piccolos’ potatoes.  Thanks to Potatoes NZ who gave them to us at the NZ Guild of Foodwriters market day last week.

Cutting hasselback potatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 20 small potatoes (piccolos are perfect size)
  • 20 grams butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt, generous sprinkle
  • 4 Tbsp finely grated fresh parmesan
parmesan cheese

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Put each potato in the bowl of a wooden spoon (this means you don’t accidentally cut through the potato) and cut at 3mm intervals.
  3. Melt butter and olive oil together in small fry pan and heat until it sizzles.  Add the potatoes cut side down, then turn and coat with the butter oil mixture.
  4. Transfer to oven proof roasting dish and sprinkle generously with salt and rosemary.
  5. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, then check flesh is soft.
  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fan bake for a further 10 minutes to melt cheese and for a lovely crunchy skin.
  7. Serve hot with pan fried crispy skin salmon and sautéed greens (or your choice of meat or chicken).

Note: cooking time will vary depending on size of potatoes. 

 Crunchy piccolos potatoes

Crunchy piccolos potatoes

Enjoy

Michelle

The Chef and the Foodlovers

Twenty foodlovers, one chef and some trusty side-kicks cooked up a storm in the Electrolux Chef’s Secrets tent at last week’s Taste of Auckland 2016.  Marc Soper from Wharekauhau Lodge shared the recipe for one of his signature dishes – Manuka bark smoked Ora King Salmon, goat’s cheese, gin, local garden fruits and vegetables – for us to recreate.

 Ora King Salmon three ways

Ora King Salmon three ways

Welcomed by Julie Biuso and a punchy, passionfruit vodka cocktail this hands-on class kicked into action.  Divided into small groups – knife technique, smoking expertise, presentation and plating skills came to the fore, with the end result looking and tasting pretty impressive.

 Vodka cocktails to get things underway...

Vodka cocktails to get things underway...

 Our delightful host, Julie Biuso with Michelle from The Foodie Inc

Our delightful host, Julie Biuso with Michelle from The Foodie Inc

 Smoker in action (lid lifted for photo)

Smoker in action (lid lifted for photo)

 Mastering the plating technique

Mastering the plating technique

 Getting the plates perfect

Getting the plates perfect

 Finishing touches

Finishing touches

Our shared lunch was enjoyed with a glass of Single Estate Pinot Gris from Ara Wine, and to finish a sweet surprise from Miann

 Our shared table

Our shared table

 Miann provided the most mouth-watering dessert

Miann provided the most mouth-watering dessert

The Electrolux Chef’s Secrets are a fabulous way to interact with chefs at Taste of Auckland. and brilliant value for money, only $15 each.  It will be interesting to see who heads the line-up next year – can’t wait!

Michelle

Sunshine, Seafood and Taste of Auckland

When you head off to a food and wine festival with someone as passionate about New Zealand food, wine and local produce as you, you know there's going to be lots of food talk and even more eating!  What wasn't anticipated was just how much seafood would feature on our Taste of Auckland line-up. 

As 10am ticked over, the gates opened and everyone turned left to grab their 'crowns and wine glass' but with a fear of missing out on a seat at the table with Marc Soper from Wharekauhau Lodge, we headed straight for Electrolux Chef's Secrets tent to secure our spot for a late lunch (more on this event in another post).

 Manuka bark smoked Ora King Salmon, goats cheese, gin, local garden fruits and vegetables

Manuka bark smoked Ora King Salmon, goats cheese, gin, local garden fruits and vegetables

But before lunch there was time to drop in on the guys at Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar where we were delighted to be their 'testers' for the first oyster fritters off the grill for the day... chased down with fresh tuatuas.

 Oyster fritters

Oyster fritters

 Freshly shucked Mahurangi oysters

Freshly shucked Mahurangi oysters

 Fresh New Zealand tuatuas

Fresh New Zealand tuatuas

Te Kouma Bay oysters at Fish Restaurant looked oh so tempting.... but how many oysters can one eat in one day.

 Fish's Ora King salmon & Te Kouma oysters with dashi whip and coriander

Fish's Ora King salmon & Te Kouma oysters with dashi whip and coriander

But with clams escargot on our minds we wandered to ParisButter.  Thankfully we wanted clams... one person had bought ALL the Dulce de leche creme brulee just after opening!

 ParisButter Boys

ParisButter Boys

 Clams Escargot,,, clams escargot butter

Clams Escargot,,, clams escargot butter

Of course there is so much more on offer than seafood including cooking demonstrations with Yael from Ima Cuisine in action Friday afternoon...

 Yael plating up tasters of her Israeli chicken and rice

Yael plating up tasters of her Israeli chicken and rice

 Israeli chicken, rice and salad 

Israeli chicken, rice and salad 

...local food producers, wineries and more...

 Lalele's vegan gourmet popsicles

Lalele's vegan gourmet popsicles

 'Summer' offers us Beekist tomatoes and haloumi

'Summer' offers us Beekist tomatoes and haloumi

 Puhoi Valley's Kawau Blue Cheese

Puhoi Valley's Kawau Blue Cheese

 A little sweet indulgence from Scratch Bakers

A little sweet indulgence from Scratch Bakers

But you'll need to discover that for yourself... Taste of Auckland runs until Sunday 20 November 2016 with two sessions Saturday, and one Sunday afternoon. 

And if you scroll down you'll see a priceless photo of Bri DiMattina Food Adventures.. the moment Bri realised how ridiculous checking her steps was, considering where we had walked and how much we had eaten!

 Bri checking  her steps

Bri checking  her steps

Enjoy your weekend.

Michelle

 

 

 

The Local: Rosebank Coffee and Kitchen

Industrial estates and arterial routes, the domain of lunch bars, high vis vests and work boots are not where you would expect to find the most divine french toast ever – it was almost too beautiful to eat!

 French toast, banana toffee, mandarin, grand marnier and salted cocoa crumble

French toast, banana toffee, mandarin, grand marnier and salted cocoa crumble

Unassuming from the outside, the tinted glass sliding doors open to reveal a cavernous light-filled space – a high stud with black acoustic panels juxtaposed with concrete walls, beams, lots of glass and feature lighting.  Clever seating zones create spaces for work (plugs galore) and business meetings; communal tables encourage conversation, and there is table service for those who have time to sit back and relax.

Rosebank Cafe 1
Rosebank Cafe 2
Rosebank Cafe 3

One of the owners, Carlos said their focus was on creating a welcoming neighbourhood cafe – for local people and businesses alike.  Friends and families meet for coffee, or indulge in a leisurely breakfast, brunch or lunch. Somewhere local businesses can take clients out for a lunch, without the hassle of driving into the city and finding parking; they're licensed too.

Open for breakfast and lunch Monday – Saturday and dinner Thursday and Friday nights, it’s a beautiful space with a truly inventive menu created by Johannes Carroux – the dishes below were captured on their way from the kitchen to eagerly waiting customers. The counter food looked pretty spectacular, and there’s a dinner degustation-style menu launching soon so a return visit is definitely on the cards.

 Line caught fish with broccoli and quinoa fritters with sunflower and miso butter

Line caught fish with broccoli and quinoa fritters with sunflower and miso butter

 Scampi with garden vegetables and greens, crushed potato with nut butter vinaigrette

Scampi with garden vegetables and greens, crushed potato with nut butter vinaigrette

If you live or work anywhere near Avondale then Rosebank Coffee and Kitchen on the corner of Rosebank Rd and Jomac Place should definitely become your local.  Open Monday - Saturday, for more information phone 828 6110 or www.rosebankkitchen.co.nz.

If you think your local deserves some glory, comment below and tell us why it’s worth going out of our way to check it out.

Michelle

ps don’t forget to put those clocks forward on Saturday night!

 

 

Day Trips: Waiheke Island

With summer nipping at spring’s heels – it’s less than two weeks (25 September) until daylight saving commences in New Zealand – a day trip to Waiheke Island before the holiday crush is the perfect initiation.  Thirty five minutes from Auckland’s ferry terminal to the wharf at Matiatia Bay, you arrive in less time than it takes most Aucklanders to drive home at the end of a working day.  Jump on board and relax; grab a coffee or even a beer.  Wonder at the sanity of fishermen who rhythmically bob up and down in their aluminium tinnies, patiently waiting to snare their dinner, as the city skyline disappears.

 The headland at Matiatia

The headland at Matiatia

Buses meet all ferries and their routes take in the villages and key points of interest dotted throughout the island.  But if you can convince someone to be the nominated sober driver, hiring a car at Matiaita wharf (book ahead for weekends and summer holidays) gives you the flexibility to get off the main roads, take in breathtaking vantage points and explore at your own pace.

 Cactus Bay

Cactus Bay

 Cowes Bay

Cowes Bay

Undeniably, a sojourn to Waiheke Island would not be complete without a visit to a winery or two. With more than 24 wineries dotted throughout the island (vineyards map) you are spoilt for choice: from wine tastings and cellar doors, to vineyard restaurants, long lunches, shared platters and picnics on the grass. Late last summer with UK visitors in tow, we took in the breathtaking views and a glass of chardonnay from Te Whau Vineyard’s veranda before meandering to the other end of the island to Passage Rock Wines for a leisurely lunch.

 Te Whau's verandah

Te Whau's verandah

 View from Te Whau's verandah

View from Te Whau's verandah

 Friends at Passage Rock Wines Cellar Door

Friends at Passage Rock Wines Cellar Door

 Lunch amongst the vines at Passage Rock

Lunch amongst the vines at Passage Rock

 Te Maketu oysters

Te Maketu oysters

 Passage Rock's blue cheese and pear woodfired pizza

Passage Rock's blue cheese and pear woodfired pizza

There are countless ways to fill a day, a weekend or a week on Waiheke Island from beaches, watersports and golf to cafes and restaurants, artisan producers, local artists and galleries and more. But if you fancy a day trip, Waiheke is accessible and simple to navigate, and there’s always a little more sunshine than the mainland – well, so we are lead to believe!

 Sunshine, sand and swimming at Sandy Bay

Sunshine, sand and swimming at Sandy Bay

Shoot your cake!

One of the things to love about “foodie people” is their willingness to share – recipes, where to source great produce and specialist ingredients, favourite places to eat, drink and visit – and more importantly a willingness to share their story and knowledge at events and workshops.

On Tuesday night at Vanessa Baxter: Kitchens without Boundaries’ Foodie Network Event, three speakers shared their passion for their business:  Lisa King from Eat My Lunch, Joe Swatland from Rebel Food and Vicky Te Puni from The Workshop.

Vicky from The Workshop (Facebook & Instagram) spoke about creating your own mini studio at home, and how to use ‘key’ and ‘fill’ light when taking food or product images.  This inspired me to share my cake photos (raw and untouched by photoshop) from the ‘Shoot Your Cake!’ workshop Julia and Vicky ran a couple of months back.  Funnily enough, this workshop was where I first met Vanessa! 

 Julia and Vicky from The Workshop.

Julia and Vicky from The Workshop.

Like-minded foodies and cake bakers gathered at Studio One Toi Tu one Saturday morning in May, with a single goal in mind – to take better cake photos.  There were so many things to consider:

  • The story you want your image(s) to convey
  • Building the audience's rapport through content and images
  • The best use of backgrounds and colours to evoke an emotion
  • How to maximise the use of natural light
  • Varying the camera angle to make an impact
  • Getting the props and styling right
    • and many more...
 Overhead shot... no props

Overhead shot... no props

 Playing with props and camera angle

Playing with props and camera angle

 The impact of a black background... my favourite shot

The impact of a black background... my favourite shot

 Who ate the missing cupcake? (taken with iPhone)

Who ate the missing cupcake? (taken with iPhone)

 Creating negative space and focusing on one hero cupcake

Creating negative space and focusing on one hero cupcake

 A simple flat lay (taken with iPhone)

A simple flat lay (taken with iPhone)

 Playing with props and angles

Playing with props and angles

We got to ‘eat our cake’ too.  Thanks to Jackie from Cake & Co who provided beautifully decorated cakes for the shoot, and for us to take home too.  A big thank you to Fossick and Forage for the props, without them our images would have been a little bare.

For information on the next ‘Shoot Your Cake!’ workshop click here: The Workshop.

Michelle

 

 

Eating Nelson

With friends heading off on holiday to Nelson in the next few weeks, this was the gentle nudge needed to share a few favourite eating places from our May trip to Nelson and Marlborough.  Whether you plan to eat out every night or simply grab provisions from the local farmers’ market or farm shop for a relaxing night in, there is no shortage of outstanding cafes, restaurants, wineries and local food producers to tantalise your taste buds.

Flying in early evening, we were delighted to discover Harrys on our first night out in Nelson; a short stroll from the Consulate Apartments, our home for the next 9 days.   A little chilly to be sitting outdoors in May, we grabbed a table inside.  The casual eatery had a convivial relaxed atmosphere with its Asian-style fare, and a drinks list jam-packed with local wines, boutique beers, and a very tempting cocktail list.

 Harrys' fusion fare

Harrys' fusion fare

Later in the week we enjoyed lunch with a view, quayside at The Boat Shed Cafe.  Seated outside on the covered balcony, it was a tough decision choosing from their all day dining menu.  It’s a great place to watch the sun set too.

 The outside bar at Boat Shed Cafe

The outside bar at Boat Shed Cafe

 View from the port along to Boat Shed Cafe in distance

View from the port along to Boat Shed Cafe in distance

 You can't go past New Zealand whitebait

You can't go past New Zealand whitebait

On our only wet day away – Nelson is after all the sunniest place in New Zealand – we walked into the city for lunch at Urban Eatery.   Shared plates, a glass or two of wine and a chat with the chef made for a relaxed and laid-back vibe.

 Miso cured angus beef

Miso cured angus beef

 Striking graffiti wall in Urban Eatery

Striking graffiti wall in Urban Eatery

But if after a few days out and about you fancy a night in, then mark Wednesdays in your calendar, as that’s when Nelson Farmers Market kicks into action in Morrison Square (10:30am – 3:30pm).  Be delighted with the freshest fruit, vegetables and eggs to Neudorf Mushrooms saffron milkcaps – they keep their amazing form and colour when cooked – to macadamias and walnuts, fresh sourdough breads and pastries, and so much more seasonal produce. 

 Neudorf saffron milkcaps... retain shape and colour when cooked

Neudorf saffron milkcaps... retain shape and colour when cooked

If you've hired a car, take a 30 minutes scenic drive north from Nelson to Mapua Wharf, where you’ll find an array of restaurants, cafes and a microbrewery,  arts and crafts and The Smokehouse – delicious hot-smoked seafood and pates perfect for your sharing platter if you fancy a night in.

 Mapua Wharf

Mapua Wharf

 The Smokehouse at Mapua Wharf

The Smokehouse at Mapua Wharf

Don’t forget to stop off at Mapua Country Store for local produce and Wangapeka Family Dairy for delicious award winning artisan cheeses on the way back.

 Wangapeka Family Dairy

Wangapeka Family Dairy

 Enjoying a night in... hot-smoked warehou from The Smokehouse

Enjoying a night in... hot-smoked warehou from The Smokehouse

And if you simply fancy a takeaway, the seafood pizza at Milton Street Takeaway is absolutely scrumptious, and you can grab a cheeky beer or wine at the Sprig & Fern pub next door while you wait – it’s a popular takeaway but the wait is worth it especially when you can grab a quick drink too.

Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for more posts on wineries, events and taking the scenic route around the Nelson and Marlborough region.

Enjoy your week.

Michelle

 

Avocado Abundance

“Fill the boot!”  Heading back after a long weekend staying with friends at Tea Tree Orchard, Rangiuru the car boot was laden with avocados and other produce.  Family, friends and fellow foodies were lucky recipients of fallen bounty – little did we know the avocado famine would be over so quickly!

 Fallen bounty ready to fill the boot

Fallen bounty ready to fill the boot

Wintry weather played havoc with this year’s avocado harvest.  Fallen fruit littered orchard floors with the picking season still a few weeks away (mid-late August onwards). Orchardists waited patiently for moisture tests to confirm their crop was ready to be picked, and prayed the weather would be kinder too.

 Avocados litter the orchard floor

Avocados litter the orchard floor

Friends at Tea Tree Orchard, Rangiuru last week handpicked their first crop since purchasing the seven acre property in late 2015.  Trays and trays, 2600kgs of bright green shiny avocados – that’s a whopping 13,000 (approx) avocados – were delivered to the wholesale distributor.  Graded and combined with crops from other small producers into a pool, growers receive a percentage of the take, based on the volume supplied. The avocados are then on-sold and distributed to retailers, ready for consumers to purchase.

 One day's pick - 300kgs avocados

One day's pick - 300kgs avocados

Grown all year round, Hass is the main avocado variety produced in New Zealand.  Exported from late August through until the end of March, they are in plentiful supply for the local market over summer too.  Avocados are unique in that while they are harvested mature (9-12 months), they don’t ripen while attached to the tree.  Rarely do you see long stalks on the avocados in retail shops.  Once picked for the domestic market and de-stalked, the avocados take 8- 10 days to ripen, ensuring they are perfect to eat when you purchase them.

 Hard to believe this is how a bunch of avocados start out

Hard to believe this is how a bunch of avocados start out

 Ready to be picked

Ready to be picked

With their avocado trees needing a significant prune – cut back by a third to half their height – Tracey and Martin have made a call to sacrifice next year’s crop to maximise growth in future seasons, and pruning was underway as soon as the pick was over.

 Pink marks where the trees will be pruned

Pink marks where the trees will be pruned

 Trees hard pruned back, once avocados were picked

Trees hard pruned back, once avocados were picked

So while last month even die-hard avocado fans struggled to justify the cost of a single avocado; today avocados are back in abundance – even if they do look a little worse for wear.  Enjoy them while you can as next year’s crop will be smaller, with 2018 forecast to be another bumper year.

Michelle

Spicy Tangelo Jam-a-lade

Earlier in the year, Fiona Hughes and Jani Shepherd from Gatherum Collectif hosted a wonderfully relaxed gathering of fellow foodies under the trees in Fiona’s garden.  With Kylee Newton of Newton and Pott back in New Zealand on holiday, and a recently launched book – The Modern Preserver – we were delighted with tales of her passion for turning seasonal produce into something that will last; while we enjoyed endless cups of tea accompanied by freshly baked scones topped with Kylee’s preserves and softly whipped cream.

 Under the trees
The Modern Preserver

So when gifted a large bag of the sweetest tangelos by my fabulous friends, Tracey and Martin from Tea Tree Orchard, Rangiuru I took my inspiration from Kylee’s book and with a little bit of trepidation, experimented with herbs and spices to add flavour.

tangelos
  • 8 cups thinly sliced tangelos
  • 3 cm piece fresh ginger grated
  • 1 large lemon zest & juice
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups jam (preserving) sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves plus extra sprigs for decoration
spices
  1. Cut the ends off the tangelos and then cut in half.  Slice into thin (3mm) semi-circles.  Discard any pips.
  2. Put slices into a large heavy-based pot with the grated ginger, lemon zest, lemon juice and water, then boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and then cook for 30-40 minutes until the peel has softened.
  4. Split the vanilla pod lengthways and remove the seeds.  Stir the seeds through the sugar then add the sugar and vanilla pod to the pot, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  5. Boil, stirring continuously for 20 minutes until the mixture has thickened and darkened in colour.
  6. Use the wrinkle test to check if the mixture has set to your desired consistency.  When ready, take off heat, remove vanilla pod and skim off any surface scum.  Stir through thyme leaves and let sit 5-6 minutes.
  7. Ladle into warm and dry sterilised jars, add small sprig of thyme to each jar and then seal with lid. Wipe jars to remove any residue, and label.  Refrigerate once opened; unopened jars will last 6 months.
Spicy tangelo jam-a-lade
Spicy tangelo jam-a-lade 2

Why jam-a-lade... it turned out thicker than marmalade, with a jam-like consistency! Enjoy your weekend.

Michelle

 

 

Eat Sandringham

Skittery rain and gusty south westerlies prevailed.  A wintry Auckland day one would rather spend indoors than out, but it had taken some serious diary juggling to get all three of us together that Sunday afternoon.

An unremarkable strip of shops line the junction of Sandringham and Kitchener Roads but as we discovered on our three hour walking tour, looks can be deceptive.  As we descended on the local community centre with a dozen or so fellow foodies, our guide Lisa Loveday from Eat Auckland served up a delightful mango lassi – a refreshing palate cleanser of natural yogurt, cardamom and pureed mango.

First stop on the Sandringham Food and Spice Tour was Mumbai Chaat, a regular feature in Metro magazine’s top 100 cheap eats.  This vegetarian Indian restaurant’s extensive menu with scant descriptions was a deliberate ploy to get diners to engage with the staff, our host’s family and ask questions about the food and its origin.  The feather light puffs of Sev Puri, and the crispy Dahi Puri topped with yoghurt signalled the start of an afternoon of tingling taste buds. 

 Dahi Puri

Dahi Puri

 Sev Puri

Sev Puri

A short walk to Bawarchi we indulged in Sandringham Village Festival 2015’s best chicken biryani, before heading to the Village’s best kept secret, Satya Spice Market

 Sandringham's best chicken biryani

Sandringham's best chicken biryani

 Spice, chai and organic shop

Spice, chai and organic shop

Not only does Satya Spice Market have an amazing array of more than 80 spices – single or blends ground and roasted to order, a peek behind the curtain revealed the perfect place to relax and indulge in a cup of chai.

 Curious... take a sneak peek

Curious... take a sneak peek

 Relax with a chai tea

Relax with a chai tea

Excited to find baby aubergines, red turmeric and inexpensive bags of fresh coriander at Valley Fruit & Vege Market – Fiji grown produce in abundance.  Highly recommend Top in Town Market  for dry and fresh ethnic ingredients at amazing prices too.

 Fijian grown produce at Valley Fruit & Veges

Fijian grown produce at Valley Fruit & Veges

A stunning array of pungent curries at Shuhb was followed by mouth-watering vegetarian nibbles, flavoured with coriander and coconut at SaattveekTaste of Sri Lanka’s Idi Appa Kottu was a hit, with the vegetarian rice noodles made by pushing the mixture through a stringhopper mould / ural. 

 Alu wadi (spiral) & sabudana vada at Saattveek

Alu wadi (spiral) & sabudana vada at Saattveek

 A stringhopper mould / ural used to make rice noodles

A stringhopper mould / ural used to make rice noodles

 Idi Appa Kottu

Idi Appa Kottu

The Afghan kebab at Paradise, our final destination for the day, ensured there was no need any dinner.

 Our final stop at Paradise

Our final stop at Paradise

Meeting the passionate and enthusiastic people behind the restaurants and food markets, tasting authentic specialities, and hearing their story really brought to life the amazing ethnic diversity of Sandringham Village.

If you fancy spending a Sunday afternoon in food heaven, click here for more information.  Lisa and her team really know how to create a fabulous foodie adventure.

Michelle

ps Eat Auckland latest offering – Balmoral Dumplings and More Tour