31 March 2012

Perfect Timing for a Fall Picnic

An opportunity to hang out with my good friend/look-a-like*, Nelly, is always a fabulous time. And when we were thinking about what to do on this upcoming Friday, she kindly suggested we do something off ‘my list’.
I scanned through and thought that maybe, just maybe, a picnic was in order.
What was the weather forecast? Who knows.
What would we eat? Unsure.
Where would we go? Not exactly confirmed.
Will we figure all this out and make it awesome. Absobloodylutely.

Friday arrived…the sun was shining…food was purchased…Long Bay was the place to be…and a real picnic basket was available for use.

For starters, we had the classic, and always fabulous, cheeseboard crackers with one fantastic brie.

We liked it so much we both gave it two thumbs up.

I was also able to tick another thing off my list…’buy a non-alcoholic beverage’…and a beautiful discovery was made – Apple and fejoa sparkling. I know. You are welcome.

We then we got stuck into the main course…a concoction of deli delights (3-layer dip, pork rilette, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, gherkin and mozzarella balls) with Turkish Pide and three different kinds of potato and kumara salad all mixed together in glorious confusion.

I tried to take a photo of us with our dinner, but clearly the beverage of choice was starting to take effect…

…thankfully Nelly has a steady hand and the clear knowledge that trying to get the food in said picture was, quite frankly, stupid.
[*lady in video shop told us we looked like sisters…ah yes…it must be because we both…smile?]

The sun then set. The wind picked up. And we headed back to the Mathieson Mansion to make some supper.
NELLY: “Do you know what I’ve figured out about baking? … a little extra butter is never a bad thing”
Too true Nello. Too true.

Alex arrived home just as the lemon cake came out of the oven and the glaze was being put on…
…so we were all able to enjoy just another example of a perfect Edmonds Cookbook recipe, with a cup of tea and with ‘Alex’s catch’ chilling in the kitchen.

With daylight savings now over, I’ve realized how perfectly timed our fall picnic was.
Thanks for a wonderful evening Mrs M.
Let’s do it again some time. 

25 March 2012

Raw Figs, Spreadable Liver and Canapes for all, with a side of justice

As previously stated, I was planning on doing a bit of a spread for when my Aunty came round for dinner on Friday night. Much to the ol’ sister’s horror, this meant no proper dinner but just a fairly substantial amount of canapés.
It’s hard to tell a hungry athlete to enjoy the small things.

The night consisted of ten foodie treats, AND I was able to cross off two items from my list (well done me. Thank you).

However, before any food was eaten there was a slight incident between my, once beautiful, left index finger and our gloriously sharp bread knife. There was blood. There was pain. And what some people call, watering of the eyes.
After some heroics from the extended family I had a band-aid on, yet was of the opinion there was some extra layer coming. After about 5 minutes I realised I was no longer receiving medical attention, so Katie found a glove in her first aid kit in her car (wicked) and I got back into the kitchen.
This is what we had…

Chicken liver parfait (bought from Farro) on baguette (bought from Farro). Easy as bro.

Caramelized onion and feta puff pastry tarts

Mozzarella, basil and tomato ‘burgers’ with balsamic vinegar

Smoked salmon and sour cream/aioli on pikelets

Pancetta wrapped figs drizzle with balsamic vinegar and cooked on the BBQ
I don’t usually like salty things…but let’s just say I was relatively pleased with the overpowering Pancetta in this case.
This is nothing to do with figs…
And this is definitely nothing to do with the quality of the amazing fig growers (you’re outstanding)…
It’s purely to do with my wanting something before nature was willing to give it to me.
You can’t outsmart nature.
It will laugh in your face.

Calamari with aioli

Toasted baguette with curry butter and shrimp

Nachos with mince, guacamole (99.9% avocado and 0.1% fresh lemon juice, thank you very much) and sour cream

And then for dessert…lemon meringue spoons

And ‘pavlovas’ with cream and blueberries

Now, where is this aforementioned ‘side of justice’?
Well…that came in the form of the Glenfield Night Market. After the abysmal event that wasn’t Takapuna Beach market, I was able to make perfectly amazing amends with a trip to my local market. On the bottom level of a fairly unappealing mall car park, my good friend Hannah (along with her man friend and his cousins) and I wandered the aisles of this bustling foodie experience. After bumping into my fig suppliers and having a wee natter, it was time to buy some kai.
But there are so many choices…and choosing one is too hard.
So we shared…and chose four.
We had…

A spicy chicken kebab with a delicious abundance of chicken and the perfect balance of herbs and spice

A very well oiled bready pancake thing filled with curried ground beef

Octopus…which…was…eaten…but not to be had again

A BBQ pork bun

And then I had a real strawberry soft serve ice cream for afters

So there.
Justice never tasted so good. 

22 March 2012

False(ish) Start

So I thought I was having a blinder of a start. I got myself kicked off one day earlier than first thought. On my way to a very muddy game of frizbee, I stopped by at the Honore’s house to gratefully accept their offer of figs. They have a fig tree in which they never pick from, as they aren’t sure what a ripe fig should actually be like.

Clearly, I am the bearer of all knowledge, specifically when it comes to figs.
And I definitely knew what I was looking for.
*I had zero idea what I was looking for, and at this very moment I am staring at the tree wondering how I was going to break the new that is was, in fact, fruitless.
This was until I realised that the figs on this tree were green, therefore camouflaged ridiculously well*

Anyway, I got me some figs. I don’t know if they’re ripe. And Hugo doesn’t want to touch them. But I’m sure when I cook them tomorrow night they’ll be, at least partially, edible.
Thanks R&J. You guys are sweet as.
“Sweet as what?”
Just sweet as.

Then, just one day later (which is today), I soldiered on and made my way to Farro where I bought:
The pancetta to be wrapped around the figs and;
The chicken liver/duck parfait to be spread on some crusty baguette. 

But that’s where it all came to an abrupt end. Despite the NZ Herald ‘list of foodie things to do’ including the Takapuna Beach Night Market (which is on “every Thursday until March 29th”), and checking on the website as to the exact details…when Mother and I turned up this here fine evening, we were greeted with a resounding nothing. After a bit of a drive around I eventually asked somewhere where the market was to which the response was, “it finished in November…I’ve actually heard a lot of people saying that they haven’t updated their website”.

Despite this clearly traumatic event, we decided to move on with our lives by digging into some greasy goodness at Sal’s New York Pizza. We shared a veggie slice, a cheese slice and a pepperoni pinwheel. It’s not quite up to actual NEW YORK pizza…but hey, it beats that b!@*$y Takapuna Beach Night Market.

So tomorrow I’ll be putting on a bit of a spread when me Aunty Chris comes round (surprise!?) and it will include the figs and the chicken parfait (please still come).
And then on Sunday I’ll be going to the Glenfield Night Market which will, not only be an incredibly enjoying evening with my good friend Hannah, but it will help me move on from ‘the incident’ (that is tonight).
Therefore, my list of things to do will have three ticks.
And that will make me happy.
Like that pizza.
And cute smiling babies who never cry. 

16 March 2012

It’s gotta start somewhere

So this year of foodie-ness has to begin. At this stage it looks like the beginning date will be March 22nd, when I go to the Takapuna Beach Night Market.
Please, join me.

Hence forth, the list will need to be completed by March 21st 2013.
On a reasonably coincidental note…my dad’s birthday is March 20th…..
“Hey Dad, wanna celebrate your birthday at Meredith’s next year? Possibly with a few people whom you may not know but who would like to come cause they think you're fabulous/Meredith's is kind of spectacular? Awesome.”

I made a calendar.

It’s called my 50 Foodie things to-do calendar.
And I need to fill in the gaps.

Let me know if you want to go out for breakfast/lunch/dinner with me and we’ll make a date.
And let me know if there is anything else you want to be a part of. I’m reasonably comfortable I can make it happen.

Let’s do this thing.

11 March 2012

The List

Ok, so here is the list of everything to be completed over the course of 1 year.
Read it at your leisure. It is very long...so you can just skip to the bottom where there is a list of what it is I could do with your help with…so if you want to comment, email, txt, whatever and let me know if you can help/what you want to join me on then please do so.

1.    Progressive dinner.
2.    Make chocolate éclairs from scratch.
“The frantic beating of the choux pastry, the way they puff up in the oven, the piping in of the creme patisserie and finally the careful drizzling of the icing. Perfect with a cup of tea.”
3.    Go to the local library and “spend a lazy Saturday morning perusing cookery books and get some inspiration for free before hitting the shops.”
4.    Wrap summer figs in salty pancetta, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and grill them on the barbeque – “unbelievable”.
“Raid the neighbours’ tree for summer figs”
5.    Buy (from Nosh or Farro Fresh) L’Authentique chicken liver parfait and “smear it on warm toast or French bread”.
6.    Have a picnic in each season:
a.     One Tree Hill in spring “to see the lambs and daffodils”
b.    Auckland Domain in winter “for the gardens and tree climbing”
c.     Muriwai in summer “for the swooping flight of the gannets”
d.    ________ in the autumn.
7.    Eat fish and chips on Pt Chev beach “as the sun slowly sinks and the lights of West Auckland come up.”
8.    Order coffee beans or espresso grind online from eightthirty.co.nz.
9.    Pick my own tomatoes at Mr & Mrs Young’s (Pukaki Rd, Mangere).
“Eat them fresh, freeze them, sauce them, pulp them, bottle them.”
10.  Go to the Franklin market (Massey Ave carpark, Pukekohe) on a Saturday morning and buy “fresh flounder and kina, still-warm baked rewena bread, mussel fritters and pork buns and amazing local fruit and vegetable produce”.
11.  Buy a three-litre or five-litre can of quality olive oil from Sabato (57 Normandy Rd, Mt Eden).
12.  Buy some of the new non-alcoholic beverages – sparkling elderflower, pomegranate juice, hand-made boutique ginger bear.
13.  Go to the Auckland Art Gallery and try the café on level 1 and the espresso bar on level 2. Also [try to] enjoy the art.
14.  Have a honey tasting party. Order the “honey collection” packs from J. Friend & Co. (nzartisanhoney.co.nz). Guests bring the cheeses.
15.  Get a home-smoker and experiment with smoking:
a.     salmon
b.    chicken
c.     mussels
d.    “wickedly flavoured” vegetables.
16.  Go to the Clevedon Village Farmers Market (Clevedon Showgrounds, Monument Rd, Clevedon) on a Sunday morning between 8:30am-12pm. Try the Clevedon Valley Buffalo Mozzarella if nothing else – “soft, fresh balls of deliciousness”.
17.  Go to E-pacs (12 Nandina Ave, East Tamaki) to “stock up on vegetarian and Asian ingredients and make sure you pick up some frozen Lazat Roti – they are sensational; re-heated they’re soft, flaky, perfect every time.”
18.  Order Amrita Grape Juice from Millton Vineyards & Winery in Gisbourne…it’s only $10 per case to ship.
“A glass of this sweet and fragrant juice, packed full of antioxidants, each morning and you’ll think you’ve discovered the elixir of life.”
19.  Go the some night markets. Try:
a.     Pakuranga (Carpark of Westfield in Aylesbury St) on a Saturday year-round.
b.    Takapuna Beach (Hurstmere Green) on a Thursday before March 29th.
20.  Make my own spice pastes using a big, stone mortar and pestle.
21.  Buy some saffron and add it to:
a.     Tagines
b.    Rice dishes
c.     Sorbet
“Those tiny threads are worth more than gold per gram”
22.  Get some real vanilla from Heilala Vanilla and do some baking and cooking with their “syrups, pastes, beans and more.”
23.  Grow my own vegetables “and taste the difference.”
24.  Buy cheeses from Pyrenees Deli (756 New North Rd).
“Indulge in some beautiful, stinky French cheeses…Roquefort…gooey brie and tangy fresh cheeses.”

25.  Federal & Wolfe (Cnr Federal & Wolfe St, City Ph. 3599113): Kedgeree
“Soft flakes of smoked fish, slender grains of basmati rice, boiled egg and lemon all spiced up with a hint of curry. Glorious.”
26.  The French Café (210 Symonds St, Newton Ph. 3771911): Crispy roast duckling.
27.  Refreshment Room (233 Scenic Dr, Titirangi): Zucchini, mint and ricotta ravioli.
28.  Kohu Road (44 Portage Rd, New Lynn Ph. 8279990): Ice cream.
29.  Smith & Caughey – Bite Café (Queen St, City): Macaroni cheese, melting moment and a pot of tea.
“Don’t expect snappy service or even particularly outstanding fare, just go with the flow.”
30.  Pukeko Bakery (1 Ayr St, Parnell Ph. 4755068): Homemade artisan bread.
31.  Vinnies (166 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay Ph. 3765597): Spiced wild hare confit.
32.  Ken Yakitori (89 K Rd, City): Fried squid tentacles.
“Perfect for taking care of the hunger while your skewers are being cooked over coals”.
33.  Sidart (Three Lamps Plaza, 283 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby): Roquefort cheesecake.
“…has to be one of the most sublime ways to finish a meal – a small sphere of Roquefort-infused ice cream, served with a chilled dessert wine. May it remain on the menu forever.”
34.  Depot Eatery (Depot 86 Federal St, City): Crisp pork hock and lamb ribs.
“They don’t take bookings, so go early.”
35.  Up market Thai and Vietnamese flavours:
a.     Moochowchow (23 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby Ph. 3606262) – Thai
b.    Café Hanoi (Cnr Galway & Commerce Sts, Britomart Ph. 3023478) - Vietnamese
36.  Richmond Rd Café (318 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn): Crumpets with whipped blackberry butter, beech wood honey and a piccolo.
37.  Auckland Fish Market (22 Jellicoe St, Downtown): Thursday Night Live - $15 for a seafood main course, a glass of wine and live entertainment (5-9pm every Thursday).
38.  SPQR (150 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby Ph. 3601710): Caprese salad.
“They use the freshest buffalo mozzarella from Clevedon and generously drape it in lashings of wonderfully pink, sweet and salty prosciutto.”
39.  “Start the day by going all international…”
a.     Ima (Fort St, City): Middle Eastern eggs
b.    Queenies Lunchroom (Spring St, Freemans Bay): Egyptian kosheri
c.     Little Algiers (K Rd): Merguez baked bean cassoulet
40.  Nadu Espresso & Juice bar (99 Nuffield St, Newmarket Ph. 5244065): One of the fresh juices.
41.  Pah Café (72 Hillsborough Rd, Hillsborough Ph. 6241215): Green pea and feta fritters…
“…excellent coffee and a fun day out.”
42.  Wise Cicada (23 Crowhurt St, Newmarket Ph. 6241215): Anything off menu.
“wickedly god vegetarian and vegan food.”
43.  Albert’s Kitchen (West St, Pukekohe): Fig and walnut bread and baklava.
44.  Eat doughnuts at:
a.     Little & Fridays (12 Melrose St, New Market)
b.    Little & Fridays (43 Eversleigh Rd, Takapuna)
c.     Salvation Café (1843 Great North Rd, Avondale)
45.  Hulu Cat Tea-house (28 Anzac Ave, City Ph. 3771868): Lemon-lime jelly tea.
46.  Ripe Deli (172 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn Ph. 3606159): Lamb, spinach and bechamel cottage pie.
“…can make any bad day good. We like it cold.”
47.  Everybody’s (Fort Lane, City): Cocktails.
48.  Rabbithole Café (203 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay): Chicken club sandwich.
“Packed full of creamy mayo, poached chicken and celery.”
49.  Coco’s Cantina (376-378 K Rd Ph. 3007582): Anything from the menu.
“…fab casual dining…the food reflects the honest flavours of all that is good about rustic Italian fare.”
50.  Meredith’s (365 Dominion Rd Ph.  6233140): Tasting menu – beetroot meringue.
“…the finest of the finest, give yourself the ultimate dining treat…Michael Meredith’s food personifies what it means to create glorious dishes using ingredients and inspiration solely from your surroundings.”

So what I need from you is:
1.    A few people to take on a course for the progressive dinner (pre-dinner snacks and dessert have already been sorted - thanks Shann).
2.    The best profiterole recipe you have.
3.    Someone who has a neighbour with a fig tree in which I can steal from.
4.      An idea for the best autumn picnic (spot due to it being forgetten that there are four seasons).
5.      Where to buy the best fish and chips near Pt Chev.
6.      Support when drinking a coffee from the beans I purchase online, as coffee is not even close to my drink of choice.
7.      Recipes for the tomatoes I’m going to be picking.
8.    Someone to lend me a home-smoker.
9.      Someone to also lend me their mortar & pestle? I’ll make you curry.
10.  People to have breakfasts/lunches/dinners with me at all those restaurants/cafes.
11.  Extra paid work in order to buy all these things. 

09 March 2012

How delightful

In the past few months I have lost all blogging desire and ambition.
I didn't care...there was never a feeling of guilt for my lack of writing.
I'm not a world-renowned genius of awesomeness.
No one has contacted me, begging for another post due to the incredible difference I have made to their life.

However, there is a part of me that has wanted to find the inspiration to start up again. Then, like a beautiful lightning bolt of edible joy, our free NZ Herald supplied me with a goal.
A 365 day journey of delicious.

On Wednesday March 7th, the Viva had a list of '50 foodie things to try before you die'. I would suggest that it is more a list of wonderful foodie things to try, if you can, while in Auckland (although some can be done outside of this here fine city). 
I think this is the inspiration I've been needing.

50 things in one year doesn’t sound too difficult really…but I would suggest there are actually more than 50 things on this list (eg. #10 – they give 3 different locations to eat doughnuts, and I don’t mean to be greedy, but I’m gonna try them all). Plus life gets busy and there will be times where weeks could pass without a single box getting ticked.

So what I need is this: Friends.
They/you will provide me with (not only exceptional company and remarkably intelligent conversation) accountability.
“Eaten at Sidart yet?”
“Made those profiteroles?”
“Smoked your own mussels?”
“So, wanna make me some saffron scented sorbet?”
These are all good things to say to me. These are all things which will keep me motivated.

And then at the end of it all I’ll write a book…
…which will be made into a movie…
…with Emma Stone playing ‘Jo’. 
It’ll be epic.
It’ll be fascinating.
But most of all…
It’ll be absolutely delightful.

Here’s the link to the list. I’ll work on my own version of it so that I can actually see how much I need to do and post that soon. If you would like to join me on one, two or fifty of these occasions then please do. Until the blockbuster is released my wallet won’t be able to pay for your side of the bill, but at least we can enrich each other’s lives in highly intellectual banter.

The year will start counting down from the moment I do whatever it is I decide the first thing on the list I want to do is.