Basil grown from seed in full sunshine, Isle of Capri tomatoes freshly plucked from the garden and fresh buffalo mozzarella - Insalata Caprese - It is quite simply one of the greatest pleasures of summer and is one of my favourite dishes . The flavours and textures work together brilliantly - here's to Italian food.
My image of life as a dairy cow reached new highs when I first sighted this delightful milking shed bathed in the early morning light. Owned by an American couple who left the US when George Bush was elected in 2000, the milking operation near Dunedin numbers between 16 and 20 cows.
With a backdrop of faded washing hanging from the roof of the milking shed, a yodel-like call brought the cows running. Once inside the milking shed each cow knew exactly which bay to head for. One cow, who left the property for two years, still remembers which bay was originally hers.
The cows are milked using a bucket system. Before the milk is taken from the cow each one receives individual grooming (to remove muddy patches) and the udders are hand washed with a cleansing solution.
The milk – straight from the cow - has less than 10% of the maximum allowed limit of bacteria found in milk (pasteurised and homogenised) sitting in your supermarket fridges.
With National Radio broadcasting, and a breakfast of local Harraway oats mixed and sweetly scented lucerne the cows looked very contented. As did the customers who could take away milk, cream, ghee, cottage cheese, quark or even a mango flavoured lassi.
I have even noticed a few much neglected asparagus spears popping up in our garden. However you will need more than a few spears to make the Toasted Asparagus and Swiss Cheese roll recipe from Ruth Pretty's latest book.
Ruth's book was a great project to work on as the food images were complemented by editorial photography, landscapes and photos of garden produce.
The inedible food at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party seemed very un-birthday partyish but after being served free tea and Kiwiana themed biscuits the mood became more festive. Although surrounded by tea cosies rather than mad hats this exhibition at the Kapiti Art Gallery resonated well with events on the other side of the world.
What impressed me the most when I photographed TRENZ in Queenstown this year was the food and wine. Local caterer Flying Trestles was hired to feed 1100 exhibitors, media and buyers lunch and tea breaks throughout the four day international tourism showcase. Divine looking salad platters such as wild rice, fennel and hazelnut or tomato, bocconcini and eggplant were complemented by hot dishes of venison denver leg, kumara and lamb pies, blue cod, and more. All washed down by fine New Zealand wine (mostly from Central Otago). For dessert huge cake stands were festooned with tiny chocolate mousse cups, lemon tarts, lamingtons or miniature meringues. Lavish lunchboxes including Mediterranean salad, Turkish rolls, sushi, locally made Patagonia chocolates and Phoenix organic juice were provided one day when the vistors were taken on "famils" with the Queenstown tourism operators. Even the muffins at morning coffee provided a mouth full of excitement.
At a regular TRENZ social event the Regional Rendevous, the country's regional marketing agencies put their best foot forward presenting wines by Quartz Reef (including the fab Methode Traditionelle), Peregrine, Akarua, Astrolabe, Gibbston Valley, Mt Difficulty and Two Paddocks (complete with Sam Neil), Te Kairanga and Te Whau. Among the many pass-around foods were whitebait fritters from the West Coast and shavings from whole rounds of Balfour cheese from Gibbston Valley Cheese.
At tea breaks professional chefs from luxury operators Touch of Spice, Millbrook, Fiordland Lodge, The Spire Hotel,Whare Kea Lodge, Sofitel Queenstown, Azur and Matakauri Lodge put on cooking demonstrations for eager viewers who then got to sample the meals. The menus included Dale Gartlands' (Matakauri Lodge) Aoraki salmon, crayfish tortellini, scampi and chervil dressing and a Kiwiana intepretation of NZ by Sadie Richens (Millbrook) with the dessert called Hokey Pokey pavalova islands.
On the exhibition floor the Prime Minister and his entourage were handed out Roxborough dried apricots by the Central Otago operators. There was a new exhibit from Zealong Tea, the Waikato organic tea operation and a move to the national stage for Zest Food Tours now touring in Auckland as well as Wellington. Bon apetite New Zealand!
Having only eaten walnuts sporadically I was intrigued to find although the nut has culinary use, the shells are used for making dynamite, oil paint, plastics and helping to drill oil wells. I am sure the dynamite discovery must have come from some lateral thinker watching the walnuts 'explode' from their husks before falling to the ground.
The walnuts (roasted) go well with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Champagne...
...but if you desire something tasty on a smaller budget try this salad from Ruth Pretty
Multiple awards in the Cuisine cheese awards establish Hohepa as one of New Zealand's preeminent boutique cheese making operations. The staff at Hohepa could not have been more generous with their time while I photographed the cheese making operation in Hawkes Bay. [envira-gallery id="5344"]