The saying photography is 90% “moving furniture” and 10% photography was proved when I was asked to photograph one pulled pork bagel for Wholly Bagels in Wellington. On location, at night, saw three lights, one background, two diffusers, two bounce boards and seven light stands in action. Pulled pork originated in the southern states of the US but seems to be everywhere now.
After two years of planning the big day has arrived and Andrew Stroonbergen and Peter Hedgecock load up Waikanae Butchery’s brand new Fiat Ducato Maxi van. The van was built in Holland and shipped to NZ so Andrew can supply his great produce to Wellington’s Chaffers Market on Sundays. Now, following an invitation from Joanne Welch at Summerset Retirement Village, Andrew drives his van around four retirement villages on the Kapiti Coast each Friday supplying the good folk with lovely fresh meat and his famous smallgoods.
A graphic design exhibit titled Food for Thought caught my eye at Massey’s Exposure exhibition in Wellington. Created by Grga Calic, the posters were a refreshing take on the existing campaign which uses Olympic sports women from New Zealand to encourage young women to eat more red meat. He says the campaign aims at putting glamour back into red meat and focusing on the physiological rather than the physical – brains over brawn.
Although aimed at young women I am sure a wider demographic can identify with improved decision-making and not losing the car keys
The Exposure (now called Blow) exhibition is well worth looking around and is on each year in November . These images have been published with permission from Grga Calic and he can be contacted on 027 3084320 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Following my blog in July celebrating the best ham we and our guests have ever eaten it was a pleasure last week to visit Canterbury’s Murellen Pork, birth place of the 21st Birthday ham.
Expecting the high pitched squeal of pigs on arrival I was surprised not to hear a peep from the grunters. Located in the lee of Mount Torlesse just out of Sheffield, this resplendent piggery sits on 20 acres of mostly glossy green grass.
Murrellen Pork was set up in 1999 by Murray and Helen Battersby (hence the name - Murr-ellen). After farming pigs in the area for 40 years the couple realised to upsize the operation they could either focus on quantity or quality – and chose the latter. Now managed by son Colin and wife Karen, Murrellen Pork farms around 1500 pigs at any one time. Colin says this number means they can keep the ‘owner operator’ feel of the business.
Like a Wellington team management text, the farming practice is built around reducing stress. Some techniques follow the research of Temple Grandin , famous for her extraordinary knowledge of animal behavior. The entire supply line has been analysed and set up to avoid stressing the animals unnecessarily. For example the pigs are trucked to Timaru for processing via State Highway 50, instead of State Highway 1. This is not for the scenery but because the truck only needs to stop twice on the way. Every stop on a journey arouses the pigs and they get stressed! On the farm round feeders are used instead of straight designs. Pigs have narrow vision and being able to keep an eye on the pigs on each side while eating allows for a more relaxed mealtime and improves nutrition intake. Other measures include PH analysis of the meat and temperature control of the pig enclosures – you can read more here.
While being fattened up at the Murrellen premises the pigs are initially housed in mobile pens (the piglets arrive from a free range supplier) before shifting to a larger facility for the final five weeks. In a similar manner to Joel Salatin’s mobile chook houses (as described in the book The Omnivores Dilemma) these pens are regularly dragged onto a fresh patch of grass with the resulting rich effluent spread to fertilise new grass and enormous worm farms. The pigs are fed a locally produced vegetarian diet which supports the mobile self-fertilising system.
The effect of the Canterbury earthquakes on Murrellen has been twofold. Restaurant closures in Christchurch meant a substantial drop off in demand and Murrellen’s office, and the historic house where Colin and Karen live will probably be demolished.
If you are after New Zealand pork, charcuterie or other piggy offcuts, Murrellen’s produce can be sourced via discerning Christchurch and Wellington butchers (a full list is available here). They include Ashby’s in Christchurch which won the best bacon award in 2011 with Ashby’s Murrellen dry cured bacon, and Waikanae Butchery who was the Gold Medal Winner (Pork category) in The Great New Zealand Sausage Competition 2009.
Venison Carpaccio, sirloin steak and lamb pie were all on the menu at Wellington’s City Market on Sunday morning. Chef Rex Morgan of Boulcott Street Bistro presented the "Meat your Maker” class in front of 20 eager participants who paid $50 for the one and a half hour cooking demonstration. Slamming the venison flat with both pot and hammer seemed to alleviate Morgan’s frustration of the early morning wake up due to the introduction of daylight saving.
The venison came from Premium Game Meats in Blenheim ( Morgan thinks "the shooter" might have come from near Picton). After stressing how scale is important to food presentation, Morgan married the venison with a red pepper mayonnaise, micro greens, olive oil and parmigiano reggiano.
Next to hit the gleaming Gaggenau bench top was a large slab of beef sirloin.
Looking to Italy for inspiration, Florentine steak was next item on the menu. Marinated with lemon and herbs for three days, the finished steak arrived juicy, flavoursome and with mouth filling texture. The sirloin was supplied by Silver Fern Farms in Hawkes Bay.
Rex Morgan is one of New Zealand’s Beef and Lamb Platinum Ambassadors, and it was appropriate for the next dish to feature New Zealand’s woolly food hero. Watched by the class and numerous unofficial market goers, Morgan combined an Alain Ducasse styled pastry top with a very tasty and colourful lamb, tomato and pea filling.
The pies baked, and guests sipped on the wine of the day, a 2009 Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir from Marlborough while Morgan assembled his knife sharpening kit. Use of oilstone and steel was demonstrated including the useful tip – replace the steel with the bottom of a ceramic bowl if this tool is absent.
The class ended on a poignant note when one of the guests praised Morgan’s recipes for being ideal for one person – her kids had long left home and her husband had passed away recently - soul food indeed.
Located in Hastings, the Organic Farm Butchery processes and distributes beef and lamb from Ti Kouka an organic farm near Waimarama (they also have some pigs). After photographing at the farm last year I thought it would would good to see another side of the operation. The mainstream media have published large quantities of material about farmers markets, local produce and consumers wanting to know where their food comes from.
However thinking more about images of beef carcasses and slabs of meat I wonder if the public is ready for an even closer viewpoint. While I was photographing, numerous boxes of organic meat went out the door. Nothing was wasted as the bones seen in the trolley were destined for the beef stock at a gourmet food supplier.
Please click on any photo to view slide show.