Auckland Food Show: Highlight

What a super day at the Auckland Food Show. David, Melissa and I were up bright and early (I was late and they were patient) to make sure we made the most of our Sunday at the Auckland Show Grounds.

We started in the Electrolux Theatre where I experienced Annabelle White for the first time. What a zany dynamo! She was followed by the irrepressible Nici Wickes from World Kitchen tv show fame. Annabelle and her trusty assistant Mark Gregory brought new life to the idea of 'cooked chook' while Nici took us to Morrocco and the beautifully flavoured world of the tagine. Both great chefs who charmed the pants off all of us.

Then it was a mad dash through the ever increasing throngs of people to the Masterclass we had booked: No Ordinary High Tea with Annabelle White - apparently we can't get enough of this woman! I highly recommend getting into any of the Masterclasses at the food shows if you can - they're well worth the money and, besides all that, they're loads of fun.

With all that out of the way we attacked the aisles of food producers. From artisan producers to zany sauces - there was something there for all of us. We tasted and talked, photographed and collected our way around the expansive venue. Thank goodness I didn't take very much money or I would have had to buy a trolley just to haul all my purchases around with me!

I had a great day, and can't list all the goodness but,check out some of my show highlights:

J.Friend and Co.

These collectors of fine honey were both a highlight at the show for their produce, and for their personable nature. What delightful people bee people are. Beckoned over with the promise of clean popsicle sticks, I tried some honey. I like honey, but I rarely stray from my clover honey. To my education, I found that not all honeys are created equal, and the clover honey from J.Friend and Co was markedly better than my usual supermarket-fare.

Nici Wickes from an earlier cooking session had suggested we have a 'honey tasting' and seeing these gorgeous, glass jars of varying shades of biege, I too have been sold on the idea. I walked away with three flavours: the aforementioned Clover, one Wild honey and thyme and a Pohutukawa. Nothing wrong with these products - beautifully packaged, delightfully sold and deliciously flavoured.


Lewis Road Creamery

I love butter. Good, cold, creamy butter is so delicious. It's more than a thin smear on a piece of bread, it needs to show your teeth marks after you've bitten into whatever it is spread on and if it doesn't, it's layered too thinly. You don't have to eat tons of butter, by you owe it to yourself to eat really good butter. Meeting the Lewis Road Creamery guys was a real treat.

They explained their butter was a very hand made process. Their cream is from Jersey cows and so different from the cream we are used to. It's a 'pleasing yellow' and is vintaged for about a week before they start making the butter. The taste is there; the texture is there; the melt is there. So wonderful that this fine butter is available and will change from Lurpak (and Lord knows I've been a devoted fan for quite some time now) so I can, again, enjoy a velvety New Zealand butter made with all the love I have of consuming it.


Take One Chook with Annabelle White

"No poking; no pricking; and only turn once."

Annabelle White and Mark Gregory are better than cafenine for getting your alert and awake of a Sunday morning. They hit the ground running, she with her wit and banter and he with his flare and chicken!

It was hard to keep an eye on what Gregory was doing all the time with White's high-energy antics, but the whole session was a delightful way to kick the food show off for us. The recipes were great, the smells coming from the stage were amazing - roast chicken, really, second only to baked bread, I reckon.

I got lots of great tips and meal ideas. Surprised by the idea of roasted teriyaki chicken and peanut butter sandwiches but hey, the idea has grown on me since first hearing it and I want to give it a go.

Let's Do Dinner with Nici Wickes

Oh man I love a good tagine. All those delicious, syrupy, meaty juices and aromatic spices - so comforting and so easy to make. As the smells wafted from the stage, my mouth watered and my stomach growled. Onions, spices, sizzling chicken thighs - oh what a way to remind me I didn't have breakfast!

Nici's session was sparkling with stories and advice. She's so 'girl next door who can cook' it's wonderful. She showed a few clips of when things didn't go strictly to plan on her tv series World Traveler.

She was just delightful and her recipes really accessible. Upon arriving home tonight David set about recreating her caramalised banana, custard and meringue dessert - it was easy and spectacular. I certainly plan to be making at least one tagine this week, that's for sure.

Masterclass workshop: No Ordinary High Tea with Annabelle White and Mark Gregory

After cleaving a path through the every increasing multitudes outside, we finally made it to Hall 1 and the Masterclass we'd choosen for the day. No Ordinary High Tea with the incomparible Annabelle White.

The lovely tables were covered in linen tablecloths and sported teacups, sliced lemon, sugar cubes and mineral water. Starting promptly, Ms White and Mark Gregory set to giving great advice, hints and tips, on creating memorable afternoon tea fare. While they talked and chatted, told stories and demonstrated techniques, we were served with wine, tea and afternoon tea.

The 2011 Halo Pinot Noir went down a treat. A refreshing drop of good New Zealand wine, with Annabelle's hilarious tips on how to be the perfect wine snob. 

Our cups of tea with lemon (or milk if you preferred it) was perfectly brewed under the supervision of Master Tea Maker Matt Greenwood.

Three top tips for a perfect cup of tea:

  1. Use freshly boiled water
  2. Warm the tea pot
  3. Brew for 3 minutes

Annabelle and Mark bantered and worked their magic on stage. Never missing a beat or taking a breath it seemed at times. 

High Tea Etiquette: 

  • napkin on knee to dab the corners of one's mouth (no nose-blowing on the napkin)
  • eat savoury (sandwiches, quiches) first then to sweet food - with cream topped food (such as scones) last (eat slowly, no gutsing)
  • don't stay too long (never later than 5pm)
  • keep topics of conversation light

Whoopie: sweet and unique

I'd never had a whoopie pie before. David assured me they were *delicious*. They looked really great and the people from Whoopie were really nice and fun. I loved how they had had to make a sign on their teired display of mini-whoopie pies that they were DISPLAY ONLY! I wonder how many they lost before the sign went up.

So my description of a woopie pie is that it is an inside-out cupcake - or a cupcake sandwich. We tried the red velvet and it was lovely. Even more so than a cupcake as the whoopie to cream ration was better, and easier to manage being inside the pie.

Have you tried a whoopie pie before?

Atomic Coffee

Trying to get coffee this morning at the show was problematic. First I tried the Sunbeam stall where they had a coffee machine set up, loads of paper cups and two guys making coffee - but apparently they were just making it for themselves and told me to go somewhere else. So I went to the 'somewhere else' - some coffee roaster dudes who were so disorganised I couldn't get a hot beverage there, either. So I went most of the day without my coffee until I met up with the every reliable Atomic Coffee crew.

Man that coffee was good - as was the conversation. Really don't know why I bother going anywhere else.




Baking Makes Things Better (Melissa's website)

Auckland Food Show

J.Friend and Co, New Zealand artisan honey

Lewis Road Creamery, Premium and Artisan New Zealand butters

Annabelle White, chef and author

Nici Wickes, chef and author

Atomic Coffee

Whoopie: sweet and unique