TTWWD – New Zealand Nosh

To be fair to Australian Gourmets, I really need to talk about some of my eating experiences in New Zealand. Somewhat different, but no less extraordinary, I ate out several times with friends and family. But, and I reiterate, there is nothing to compare with making and sharing a meal that you have cooked together, especially where little children are involved with learning the processes; and again when there is an element of ‘strutt your stuff’, always a draw. In these wonderful moments, I taught two little girls to make a frittata for a picnic, made four (what a cheek, you are English) New Zealand Pavlovas, with eggs fresh out of the chickens – what a difference that makes! The whites practically whip themselves. And fed a darts team so well that they thought I should be come an Honorary Life Member of the club!
We went to a lot of cafes, what a shock! I would look along the cabinets in a vain hope that there would be at least one thing I could imagine eating. Cafes (or Bakeries as many of them are called and do not imagine Valerie Patisserie, Konditor & Cook or Maison Blanc here) serve a uniformly uninviting array of cakes, especially Lamingtons (a sponge cake of vanilla or chocolate flavour, coated in jam or chocolate icing and rolled in desiccated coconut, an Antipodean speciality), assorted biscuits, slabs of lasagne, pies and even fudge! But be warned, they reached your stomach with a thud and rest there unhappily for a long, long time! That said, there are exceptions and Robert Harris is definitely one. Absolutely delicious coffee, served hot and lovely date scones (the only really delicious scone I ate in three weeks). Hot chocolate turned out to be a better option, and it is always served with two marshmallows, sometimes hot but quite often only warm, but strongly chocolatey which epithet cannot always be applied to the coffee.
There were visits to restaurants, with varying successes. New Zealand doesn’t seem to set itself up as a gourmet capital of anything, and obviously in limited time, I didn’t go to that many places. Ones that stand out in North Island are Poppies in Tirau, at which we all had really nice food. One friend had the best burger he had ever had, and it really did look as though it had been made on the premises, and the other friend had a apple and custard muffin which she also pronounced as deliciously home made, I had a date scone which was slightly dry, but it had a lovely flavour and also Slow-Fish in Tauranga, where the fishcakes were chunky with flavoursome fish with a lovely sweet chilli sauce. There was also a startling success at Relish in Rotorua, see an earlier blog. Our last meal in a restaurant was in Volare, which also hit all the right notes with lovely duck ravioli for my friends and a delicious fettucine in a creamy sauce.
Sadly, I fear that New Zealand is following America down the road over over-providing food, plates arrived piled high with meat and vegetables, at Monteith’s in Geraldine, both of us had more than we could eat of an excellent Beef Korma and the day’s roast which was a succulent honey roasted ham – but I cannot eat five thick slices of ham, five potatoes, a whole roasted parsnip, and roasted carrots and sweet potato, and I don’t know many people who can; and to be honest a huge plate of food turns my stomach and my appetite suddenly vanishes. Whereas in another Monteith’s in Timaru I had a most excellent plain omelette, my nephew’s wife had a filled omelette and they both came hot, buttery and well turned out, to our table. The great-nephew had chicken nuggets and some lovely hand cut chips, with tomato ketchup in a little bowl. His mother and I both helped with the chips, and the nuggets were solid pieces of chicken, not chicken paste.
In case you are interested here is my recipe for Frittata:
8 eggs
1 white onion chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded
2 tomatoes
28g/2ozs grated cheese
3 tablespoons of oil/butter
[for carnivores – 2 rashers of cooked bacon, or slices or ham or pancetta chopped]
Seasoning & herbs
Any assortment of cooked vegetable, cut into smallish pieces (peas, potatoes, carrot, leek… )
Chop the onions and peppers and put them in a heavy frying pan that will also go into the oven or under the grill, fry gently
Beat the eggs with the seasoning and pour over the onions, stir once and lower the heat, shake the pan occasionally
When it starts to crisp at the edges add the cooked vegetables, [and bacon] and using a spoon or a fork press them into the raw egg
Cook for a few more minutes and then sprinkle over the cheese
Put the whole pan under the grill or into a hot oven until the egg is fully set.
Cool slightly and turn out on to a plate, cut up when completely cold for a picnic, or serve warm with salad.

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