Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to avoid the Swine Flue

What a really interesting week I have had, I am not sure if it was good or bad but it certainly had its highs and its lows and by the end I felt like a  free range chicken gently roasting in a hot oven with salt and lemon.   Now how does a free range chicken feel I hear you ask, well it has led a happy and fulfilled life on the farm and now that it is in my oven it will be loved and cared for by the lemon and salt!    I  have meet some of most interesting and sincere people  and also dealt with people and things that I would normally avoid like the swine flue (sorry to the pigs , I mean the Influenza H1N1)


Lets  rewind the clock  -  it all started with a meeting with the Senior advisor for the Equal Employment Opportunities and Crown Entities and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner on Monday or to be more precise the Kaihautu Oritenga Mahi.    No I have not done a Gordon Ramsey and abused my staff (humm now there's a idea!) but rather we discussed the bigger picture of what is happening in NZ in regards to the opportunities in Hospitality and the fact that I have had more people applying for cooking positions in the last two months than I have in the last two years.    Moving along to a meeting  with a local butcher talking about Beef and the quality of what we export versus what we can purchase as consumers, a wild foods tasting competition using four different parts of Goat from Premium Game, hosting a tour group and serving lamb racks and local seafood, serving up Crayfish and Kai Moana (thanks Ted you are the real star ! ) to 330 guests at the Stars in Your eyes  Competition  for the Spring Creek and District Lions Club to raise funds for distribution amongst Marlborough youth and youth Groups. 


To finish off the week it was my great privilege to be involved with Brayshaw park and the Marlborough Community Gardens,  everyone  has to put on there list of once In a lifetime experiences of running around town with a vintage tractor collecting tools and Donations followed by a sausage sizzle (thanks mike from Meaters) and a cup of tea. 

Now the swine flue things and people  that distracted me during the week,   I think that I will leave the that Chapter for my new book as I would rather remember the good things in the week rather than the negative!


How to avoid the H1N1 flue


1 Free range Chicken

Marlborough Flaky Salt

Marlborough olive oil

3 Lemons

12 tea bags

A mixture of Community Groups

A handful of Children and laughter

8 Vintage Tractors

3 Flat white Lattes at Raupo Riverside Café

Sausages from Meaters (they are the best!)

White toast bread and tomato sauce (wheat bread if you  must)

Ted and his Kai Moana

Wild food from Premium Game

A Flock of great Kitchen staff


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, sprinkle the salt over the chicken and squeeze the lemon over the top,  drizzle with olive oil and put the lemons inside the chicken, place in the oven for 45-60 mins or until the juices run clear ( The secret is to leave it to rest for as long as you have cooked it, and this is the hardest part).  Take the remaining ingredients and scatter them around your week allowing enough between each so that you can spend time with your family and friends, if you do not scatter them evenly then repeat the following week ensuring  that you get a even spread of all.  You can add different ingredients into the recipe but ensure that you leave the negative stuff to the side otherwise it will taint all of the good stuff.   Once the chicken has rested serve with roasted winter vegetables gathered from local food producers and enjoy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Cook or the Garden

Have a look in the back of your tool shed, in the corner of the garage or at the back of the house and see if there are any tools you would like to donate to the annual tool drive

Everybody thought that the spiced pumpkin soup Marcel served up at the opening of the twilight farmers' market last week was great.

Comments like "Tastes like my mother's" and "Interesting and flavoursome," and "Nearly as good as my wife's" were all testament to Marcel's cooking or were they?

The pumpkins he used for the soup came from the the Marlborough Community Gardens, located at the end of Ralph Ballinger Drive off Budge St. The garlic came from Springbrook in Riverlands and was grown over a long Marlborough spring on the fertile Wairau Plains. The olive oil came from last year's batch of local olives, and pickers are frantically harvesting the new season's variety as we speak.

Thymebank supplied the herbs that topped off the soup, and Marcel used some coconut cream and soy sauce to help develop the body of the soup. Is it the cook who makes food taste so good (yes it is, Marcel) or is it also the quality of the ingredients?

From a winemaker's point of view, all the work is done in the vineyard before the fruit reaches the winery. The winemakers are then the caretakers of the grapes, carefully extracting and building layers of flavour. Of course, some grapes need more attention than others, and this is where the winemaker's experience and knowledge come into play.

It's the same in the kitchen, where a cook takes good-quality products and nurtures them. Or do we need to work hard with different ingredients to produce tasty results?

We would love to hear your feedback. The question is: how much of a role does the cook play in producing a meal, compared with the ingredients 30 per cent, 50 per cent, or more?

While you are thinking of this, why not have a look in the back of your tool shed, in the corner of the garage or at the back of the house and see if there are any tools you would like to donate to the annual tool drive supporting the Marlborough Community Gardens. For more information, go to This is a way we can encourage more people to grow a diverse range of food products in the Marlborough region.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Omaka Marae - Marlborough

The Real Local Experience

The Real Local Experience

Once again I have been very pleasantly surprised, yes it does happen now and again, that I find something that I believe is a real asset to the Marlborough community
Slow food Marlborough was hosted by Kiley Nepia at our the Local Omaka Marae’s, and while I have been on many Marae’s before in the North Island this was my first experience in the South Island and what a great experience it was. Hosting our group of 32 Marlborough and international guests, Kylie and his family welcomed us with open arms and I urge all restaurateurs and hospitality people to take a leaf from their book. It is not about the food, or about the wine, it was not about the furnishings, or the heat (or lack of as it was about 2 degrees C) but it was about the welcoming and respect that we learnt for the meeting house and there customs and culture of the Maori people of Marlborough. If this could be emulated into our own restaurants and staff then we would tbe the Official Gourmet region on NZ If only we could all take a little of this back to our own houses and families then I believe that our community would be a stronger place. We paid respect to the ancestors, to the woman and children, to the food and land where we sourced our meal from and more importantly there was the respect to other cultures and people around us who shared the food.
There are two paths we can take, the Americanised path of preserved and processed with little regard to the sustainability or long term harms of the fuel we call food. Or there is the other path which we can take which follows the European and Maori cultures where food is a part of your culture and life, that we sit at the table and communicate, laugh, cry, get angry, be happy, network, negate and love as a family and friends.
It is about balance, about ensuring that people live enriched and fulfilling lives and if we can do that around our breakfast, lunch and dinner tables then we are sure to be building healthy and strong individuals and communities
Thank you to all those people that emailed and phoned in with regards to last weeks photo of the Buddhas Hand. You can buy them from the Devon Nursery in Marlborough. The fruit has a thick peel and only a small amount of acidic flesh (if any) and is juiceless and sometimes seedless. It is very fragrant and is used predominantly by the Chinese and Japanese for perfuming rooms and personal items, such as clothing. The peel of the fruit can be candied into succade. Once again I was pleasantly surprised

Succade of Buddhas Hand
Recipes vary from region to region, but the general principle is to boil the fruit, steep it in increasingly strong sugar solutions for a number of weeks, and then dry off any remaining water.
The high sugar content of finished glace fruits inhibits the growth of microorganisms, and glace fruits will keep for a number of years without any additional methods of preservation.
Fruits that hold up well to being preserved in this manner include buddhas hands, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, pears, starfruit, pineapple, apples, oranges, lemons, limes and clementines