Catalina Bay Farmers' Market

Last Sunday we headed for Catalina Bay Farmers' Market.  Housed in an old Airforce hangar at Hobsonville Point, it’s been three years since the last visit.  It may have moved hangars, changed its name and now operates Friday-Sunday, but it was disappointing to discover that the ferries still don’t operate on weekends.  Thankfully, with ample parking onsite, it’s less than 30 minutes’ drive (off-peak) from Auckland’s CBD.

 Tackle the stairs or follow the path down the road; there is limited parking on the wharf

Tackle the stairs or follow the path down the road; there is limited parking on the wharf

 Join the throngs of people enjoying the weekend market

Join the throngs of people enjoying the weekend market

Ready for a coffee we wandered towards the water and grabbed an outside table at Fabric. With views of the water, ferry wharf and soon to be opened coastal walkway, it was a pleasant way to kick things off and loved by locals and visitors alike.

 Enjoying coffee outside at Fabric

Enjoying coffee outside at Fabric

 Newly built boardwalk

Newly built boardwalk

 Hobsonville Point ferry wharf

Hobsonville Point ferry wharf

It was then time to explore the farmers’ market. With a variety of stallholders from: fresh produce from Salty River Farm; an amazing array of Whitestone Cheese; delicious Lalele Organic gelato and freshly squeezed juices; rice, beans and grains; cakes, chocolate and coffee; to artisan breads – Gourmet Gannet are soon to start building an on site artisan bakery which opens in early 2019 – it would be easy to simply grab fresh meat or chicken, chorizo sausages and lunch would be ready in no time. But if you’d prefer something ready to eat think bagels, burgers, pastries, crepes, fritters and more.

 Walking inside, it’s a hive of activity

Walking inside, it’s a hive of activity

 Beautiful salad greens and herbs from Salty River Farms

Beautiful salad greens and herbs from Salty River Farms

 A cabinet full of Whitestone Cheese

A cabinet full of Whitestone Cheese

 Smiling faces at Lalele Organic, while Mulan (background) keeps the juice machine going

Smiling faces at Lalele Organic, while Mulan (background) keeps the juice machine going

 Gourmet Gannet, artisan bakers

Gourmet Gannet, artisan bakers

Show your support and visit Catalina Bay Farmers' Market soon. You’ll find them on Hobsonville Point wharf: Friday 11am - 7pm and Saturday and Sunday 8:30am - 2pm.

With glimpses of blue skies, longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures, that should be all the encouragement we need to explore further than our own backyards. 

Enjoy

Michelle

Two Black Dogs Olive Oil

With the romantic notion of escaping the city at weekends and one day relocating permanently, Nicky and Graham went looking for a bare block of land not far from where Graham grew up.  What they hadn’t anticipated was a canny real estate agency showing them an established, 15-year-old olive grove in Mangawhai.

 The grove at Mangawhai

The grove at Mangawhai

Knee-high grass shrouded the trunks and the overgrown trees needed a good prune, but the pull of the land – Graham’s a farm boy at heart – decided their fate.  Buying the property in late 2014, the first Two Black Dogs E.V.O.O. (extra virgin olive oil) release – named after their loveable black labradors, Joey and Jett – was in May 2015.  The learning curve was fast and steep – the original owner was on hand for advice – and they’ve been winning Olives NZ awards since 2015.

 The Two Black Dogs - Joey and Jett

The Two Black Dogs - Joey and Jett

During the week they both hold down day jobs, and while Graham oversees the olive grove and production, and Nicky focuses on sales and marketing, at weekends you’ll find them up at the property sharing the mowing – Nicky bought her first pair of gumboots and had to learn to drive the tractor – and maintenance duties.

 Graham looks pretty happy with the harvest

Graham looks pretty happy with the harvest

 Nicky has her hands full at harvest time

Nicky has her hands full at harvest time

With their 10 acre grove now home to around 800 trees, it’s fortunate that Two Black Dogs’ five varieties of olive trees – Leccino, Ascolano, Koroneiki, Frantoio and Pendolino – all with very distinct flavours, don’t all fruit every year.  With a sloping property it’s quite a challenge to manoeuvre machinery, including the infamous ‘tree shaker’ around.  The biennial pick and pack takes place – for two or three of the varieties each year – in early autumn.  The olives are harvested when blush in colour to get maximum flavour; as olives ripen from green to purple the flavour slowly decreases.

 It takes around 7kgs of olives to make one litre of oil

It takes around 7kgs of olives to make one litre of oil

The press house is only 30 minutes from the property and it’s processed into oil within hours of the harvest.  The oil is stored in stainless steel for six weeks to allow the sediment to separate and sink to the bottom.  The oil is then bottled, before sending to Australia for certification.

Creating an award-winning artisan product is truly a labour of love.  Given it takes around 7kgs of olives to make one litre of oil, it makes sense that extra virgin olive oil is priced at a premium.  But don’t save extra virgin olive oil for a special occasion – the fresher the oil, the better the taste – just think about what you’re cooking and the method so that you can savour the flavour.

Nicky and Graham plan to extend their range of oils and vinaigrettes and are keen to press their own oil in the future.  One day they might even realise their dream of building a house and living at the property too; a 20 foot caravan and workman’s shed are the perfect interim solution.

Two Black Dogs award-winning certified extra virgin olive oils are available online – twoblackdogsnz.com or follow them on Facebook or Instagram to find out which local markets you’ll find them at next.

Two Black Dogs 2018 release is available from 22 July 2018.

Enjoy!

Michelle

Photos: All images supplied by Two Black Dogs E.V.O.O.

Ima Cuisine X Sawmill Brewing

Heading away to Matakana for a few days and escaping the day-to-day, the plan was to slow down – relax, read, write, walk etc. – do as little as possible after a hectic few months.  Excited to discover Sawmill Brewing’s head chef Will Michell was hosting a dinner with Yael Shochat from Ima’s Cuisine, and knowing the five course dinner was in collaboration with Leigh Fisheries, a night out was too enticing, even if flying solo.

North of Matakana village, the Sawmill Brewery – independent and New Zealand owned – is set back from the road with the countryside its backdrop.  With its relaxed vibe, the Smoko Room and family-friendly external courtyard, where you can enjoy their extensive range of handcrafted beers and shared plates, are housed adjacent to the custom-built brewery, the entrance and bar providing a birds-eye view of the working brewery.

 Sawmill Brewery and Smoko Room

Sawmill Brewery and Smoko Room

 The working brewery is immediately beyond the bar

The working brewery is immediately beyond the bar

Handed a Vienna Lager on arrival, it matched perfectly with the pan fried snapper in falafel crumb served with tabuleh and labneh in baby cos and the fried oysters with samphire and lime dressing.

Welcomed into the Smoko Room, two long communal tables were set for the night’s festivities.  Our place cards the perfect talking point for getting to know fellow guests.  One diner will definitely remember that next time he books under “Zephyr & co”, that it is exactly what the card will say, much to the amusement of his wife!

 The Smoko Room

The Smoko Room

What followed was a delicious pairing of seafood and beers (or wine for the non-beer drinkers) with chefs and producers speaking; the dishes and beers introduced between courses.  Convivial company and generous pours (for the non-drivers) meant conversation flowed easily with lots of friendly banter and laughter.

 Will (head chef Sawmill) and Yael (Ima Cuisine) explain the menu

Will (head chef Sawmill) and Yael (Ima Cuisine) explain the menu

Courses two to four, from left to to right: Smoked kahawai & kawakawa dolmades with mackerel & a pickled clam salsa; Haraimeh with baby Challa; Scorpion (grandaddy hapuka) with vine leaves, apple, capers and fennel.

The evening finished with a delightfully light orange blossom crème caramel topped with sesame crunch and accompanied by a fresh orange salad with orange ricotta Katayif.

 To finish... creme caramel

To finish... creme caramel

When people choose to collaborate to produce something really special and are generous with what they bring to the table, our expectations are always exceeded.  We were not disappointed – a fabulously entertaining and hospitable evening all around.

Dining in Smoko Room

Sawmill’s next collaboration dinner is at the end of July, when a group of culinary students will take over the kitchen and together with local secondary school students running front of house the Smoko Room will become their restaurant for a night. 

But if you simply fancy a few beers and shared plates, check out their website for opening hours and menus here – Sawmill Brewery.

Enjoy!

Michelle

ps excuse the grainy photos, the lighting was set for dining and we were all too eager to indulge than capture the plates!

 

 

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