from one generation to the next
I am a self confessed foodie. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that my interest isn’t limited to cooking and cookbooks, but I love to eat good food that has been grown, produced or raised organically, sustainably and ethically. Sound nutrition and flavour are equal partners in my kitchen, strongly bonded together by pleasure.
New Zealand has a global reputation for it’s high quality lamb and dairy products, but beautiful produce is grown in this clean green environment too. As an Australian tourist in New Zealand’s north island I’m keenly aware of the autumn, and local produce destined for the table.
Not surprisingly, Kiwi fruit are grown in abundance, the trellised plants protected by tall hedges. I tried a kiwi berry yesterday, a mini version of the familiar hairy skinned fruit. This new species is smooth skinned and grown to eat without peeling. The taste difference is indiscernible.
Sweet corn is grown in huge volumes. It’s common to see farm gate stalls selling 10 cobs for $NZ5, but sadly sweet corn doesn’t feature highly on NZ cafe menus. Why is that? If I had a kitchen we’d be eating sweet corn fritters and frittatas, barbequed corn on the cob, chicken and sweet corn soup, creamed corn, corn and bacon muffins, charred corn and coriander leaf salad.
Pumpkins are synonymous with the cooling of the seasons. Acre after acre of bright yellow flowers bob over the dinner plate sized leaves in fields of wandering pumpkins
Precious figs have been netted against marauding birds and the trees in the apple orchards are weighed down with their new season’s crops, red,green, striped and golden. The wine grapes will soon be ready to harvest too. Air guns, hooters and horns are used with gay abandon in the daylight hours to deter any feathered friends from feeding.
For foragers, ripening blackberries on the road sides are in healthy abundance. Like Australia, the blackberries are classified as a noxious weed, but there is little evidence that they have been sprayed with herbicide. Delicious blackberry jam on hot buttered toast keeps playing across my mind and I think too of sweet, crystal clear, pink tinged quince jelly dripping through a muslin cloth when I see isolated older style farmsteads, many with an ancient, single, vigorous quince tree laden with large unripe fruit.
Citrus trees are in abundance, the fruit of mandarins, limes, lemons and grapefruits beginning to show their changing colours as they ripen. Local mandarins bought from the farm gate are sweet and juicy while Kiwi grapefruit is quite unlike the varieties I’m familiar with.The flesh is sweet with just a tinge of bitterness, the flesh pale orange in colour with spicy notes on the orange tinged flavour. It is fresh and deliciously moreish.
Gelato coloured bee hives dot the landscape. They have a special place of honour near stands of flowering Manuka trees strategically placed for the busy bees to collect the honey dew for the famed New Zealand Manuka honey.
Dairy tankers and livestock transport trucks are as common as tourists in camper vans on the roads. You are never far from the sea either and shacks selling mussels, oysters, fish and chips are common.
One wonderful B&B we stayed in near Hawkes Bay served us cheese made from the milk of a single cow named Dizzy, and we thanked the late Peppa Pig for our breakfast bacon. We are assured she led a happy and fulfilling life.
We are in foodie heaven in New Zealand. Our conversation centres around the meals we have enjoyed and what we should eat next.
New Zealand’s food dominates the landscape and our thoughts.