Lauraine Jacobs

Food & Wine Writer

6 June 2017

FOOD AND WINE CELEBRATIONS AT CREATIVE MATAKANA

CREATIVE MATAKANA popped up on the arts and culinary calendar recently. Talented tutors arrived from around New Zealand in the rural town of Matakana, to stage Creative Matakana, a week of workshops and events that included textiles, fiction writing, glass kiln work, sculpture, harakeke weaving, walks and inevitably, parties and social gatherings.

Wine and food has been central to placing Matakana on the map so it was imperative a series of lunches to showcase local artisan products, wines, beer and cider were included on the programme. Four top chefs from around New Zealand were invited to cook with locally sourced and foraged food for an audience of foodies that journeyed from as far away as Wanaka, Wairarapa and Wellington.

Below you can see the menus from the four events, Vines, Sea, Fire and Earth with our four participating chefs, who cooked with fabulous local produce and offered a fabulous range of local beverages. I am so honoured to have curated this section of the Creative Matakana programme, and worked with so many helpful and generous people.

6 June 2017

DAY 1 VINES BEN BAYLY AT BRICK BAY AT CREATIVE MATAKANA

Everyone’s favourite chef, Ben Bayly of The Grove and The Grounds worked with produce from Brick Bay’s farm to create a very special menu to begin the four dasy of food and wine celebrations at Creative Matakana.

It was shared gig as local chocolate maker Nicolas Bonnaud and artist and sometime chef Morgan Haines assisted and played their part to create a fabulous interactive feast in the Didsbury’s home at Brick Bay. A lunch locals are still talking about!

TO START Chicken & Mushroom Leigh John Dory roe with cracker Freshly shucked Mahurangi oyster

Wine match: Brick Bay Rosé 2016

ENTRÉE Terrine of Whangaripo buffalo curd & wood fired piadina

Wine match: Brick Bay Pinot Gris 2015

MAIN Crépinette of Brick Bay Suffolk lamb Roasted Brick Bay Tamworth pork shoulder

Wine match: Martello Rock 2014 & Brick Bay Pharos 2013

Pre dessert Brick Bay Rose wine pops

DESSERT Honest Chocolat pave, Brick Bay honey roasted macadamias, Matakana satsuma, Whangaripo buffalo crème fraiche.

Wine match: Polish off that Brick Bay Pharos 2013

6 June 2017

DAY2 SEA WITH GIULIO STURLA OF ROOTS AT CREATIVE MATAKANA

All the way from his award winning Roots Restaurant in Lyttleton, Giulio Sturla arrived to create a stunning seafood feast with local seafood. The famous Hays of Mahurangi Oysters sucked their shellfish on the deck, overlooking Omaha Beach, before the fishy feast commenced.

Giulio had brought a few surprises from his kitchen, yet foraged for local produce too.

To start: Freshly shucked Mahurangi oyster, fermented capsicum sauce, watercress and verjuice dressing Jones Road Cider

Entrée: Fresh Lee Fish Kahawai Escabeche, broad bean miso, Lime cured Kahawai, Duck Breast Prosciutto With pickled radish, gooseberries, cherries and local Red Globe grapes Plume Bakery Bread with Salumeria Fontana new season’s unfiltered extra virgin olive oil Wine OBV Pinot Gris 2015

Main: Roasted and smoked hapuku, with hazelnut milk and black garlic. Local runner beans with almonds. Wine match OBV Montepulciano 2013

Dessert: Matakana Feijoas roasted on the bbq, goat cheese ice cream, buckwheat crumble with Matakana honey comb

6 June 2017

DAY 3 FIRE DARIUSH LOLAIY OF CAZADOR AT CREATIVE MATAKANA

Dariush Lolaiy, Metro Magazine’s Chef of the Year came from his restaurant Cazador in Dominion Road, Auckland to create a fabulous feast at the Sawmill Brewery Matakana. Dariush demonstrated how to deal with a duck, and presented all his courses matched to the Sawmill’s fabulous boutique beers, ably assisted by his wife Rebecca Smidt. Other local artisans were present, talking about sausages, bacon and buffalo milk. It was a fabulously casual and friendly lunch event with some of the tastiest food ever.

Pre Lunch Matakana Bacon Company Beer Match Sawmill IPA

First course Charcuterie plates to share – Salumeria Fontana pork and leek sausages, Cazador parfait & duck terrine with pickles & chutneys Beer Match Sawmill Pilsner

Main course Smoked duck breast salad, hummus, dukkah & pita Beer Match Sawmill Red IPA Wine Match The Gabion Matakana 2010 “Rachel’s Block Cabernet Franc/Merlot”

Dessert Dark Chocolate Mousse with Otaraia Omaha Flats Figs in Cognac Beer Match Sawmill Baltic Porter

6 June 2017

DAY 4 EARTH WITH MONIQUE FISO AT CREATIVE MATAKANA

Monique Fiso of Hiakai, a pop up venture she has created to develop modern Māori cuisine got up at 3am to get her hangi fired up.

Thanks to Cathy Gould for fabulous hosting in her stunning garden and home and husband Roger Donald for assisting, digging and supporting Monique through the rain!

CREATIVE MATAKANA MENU EARTH | WHENUA

PARAOA Rewena Flatbread, Nasturtium Butter

KAI MOANA Mahurangi Bay Oyster, Horopito Mignonette, Apple Gelee Tuatua, Kawakawa Butter Wine Match: OBV Pinot Gris 2015

HĀNGI & PUNGAREHU Pork Belly, Puha, Urenika, Pork Jus Local Greens , Kawakawa Berry Dressing Kumara Wine match: OBV Syrah 2015

TIO Gould Garden Ice Pops

KAI REKA Burnt Sugar Hāngi Pudding, Kaanga Wai Ice Cream, Rhubarb and Apple

12 May 2017

NZ OUTSTANDING PRODUCERS AWARDS

Recently I was privileged to be the head judge for the inaugural Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2017. Even though my whole food writing career has been dedicated to and inspired by the fabulous food we produce in New Zealand, I was still stunned by the quality of the entrants. More than 150 products were represented in eight categories that spanned through horticulture, aquaculture, dairy, butchery and numerous creators of premium crafted products.

The Supreme winner Absolute Angus Porterhouse, raised by East Cape farmers Sean and Jodi Brosnahan developed for their pure NZ Angus stud that they sell online via www.absolutenzmeat.com was a standout, with our judges smitten by this delicious steak from the very first bite. The pair’s commitment to sustainable management of their East Cape farm and the online business they have created is worthy of this recognition. It is a joy to see the hard work of our farming sector being carried out in such an exemplary manner.

Other winners:

  • Jersey Girl Organics, Jersey Girl Organic Whole Milk - Outstanding Producer Dairy Primary

  • Whitestone Cheese Company, Vintage Windsor Blue - Outstanding Producer Dairy Crafted

  • Farm Eighty4, Heirloom Tomatoes
- Fresh.co.nz Outstanding Producer Earth Primary

  • Fix and Fogg, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter - Fresh.co.nz Outstanding Producer Earth Crafted

  • Absolute NZ Meat, Absolute Angus - Outstanding Producer Paddock Primary

  • The Prodigal Daughter, Spicy Sicilian Sausages - Outstanding Producer Paddock Crafted

  • Cloudy Bay Clams, Wild Harvested New Zealand Diamond Shell Surf Clams- Label & Litho Outstanding Producer Water Primary

  • Keewai New Zealand, Live Freshwater Crayfish - Spirit of New Zealand

  • Runners-Up recognised were Clevedon Valley Buffalo’s Buffalo Mozzarella, Wooden Spoon Boutique Freezery’s Movie Night Ice Cream and Paneton Bakery’s Flaky Puff Pastry.

People's Choice awards were: * Fix and Fogg peanut butter makers - L’affare Outstanding People's Choice Producer * Otago Farmers Market - Outstanding People's Choice Farmers’ Market * Farro Fresh Food - Outstanding People's Choice Specialty Food Store or Supermarket * Hawkes Bay T&G Global Outstanding People's Choice Food Region

You will know Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards winners and finalists, as they will carry a gold or black sticker that guarantee the promise of product quality and an acknowledgement that it is the best of the best that New Zealand offers.

We’re so lucky as Kiwis to have so much amazing local produce in all our regions. Kudos to Marvellous Marketing and NZ Life & Leisure for their organisation and support of the Awards.

31 March 2017

HAWAII THE BIG ISLAND

I hadn’t been to Hawaii for about fifteen years. Waikiki may have been a paradise in the past, but now it is a frenetically busy crowded beach and the best thing around is the Ala Moana shopping mall. I actually hate shopping so that is quite generous of me to say that. If you do go try the Kona Abalone on the edge of the food court there where I had a bowl of miso with three baby abalone for $2 on our way home this trip. Bargain of the year.

So the invitation to join good friends in their apartment for a week on the Big Island sounded great. We negotiated our way through US Customs, hopped over to the nearby interisland terminal and after a 40 minute flight arrived at Kona airport. Easy as, and I can thoroughly recommend Hawaiian Airlines – the service, food and beds were great, especially on the NZ/Honolulu sector.

The Big Island is spectacular. Successive eruptions of the active volcano have sent flows of lava across the island which makes for an intriguing and interesting landscape.

We didn’t get to see the actual fire as it would have been an twelve hour round trip from our base at Mauna Lani but I loved the feel of the ‘new’ land. There is an amazingly diverse eco system too, as there are numerous pockets of differing micro climates, many of which host horticulture and agriculture.

Mauna Lani is about thirty minutes’ drive from Kona and is one of several resorts on the drier side of the island. The land has been built up so three storey apartment complexes, private homes and the lovely Mauna Lani Bay hotel sit amongst palms and tropical gardens, complete with swimming pools and grassy spaces. There are sandy beaches and two amazing golf courses. Every morning we sat on the lanai (terrace) and ate fresh pineapples and papaya from the market in Kona and watched the whales cavorting off the coast in front of us.

Mauna Lani has historic traditional fishing ponds where for centuries the locals have captured fish to sustain them. There are wonderful coastal walks and a very good shopping centre with a superb little supermarket and a Tommy Bahamas bar. And the two golf courses, although pricey by NZ standards (US$175 per round) were groomed to within an inch of their life and had some spectacular holes. The Japanese restaurant at the golf club was fantastic with fresh sashimi, fish and best of all, an amazing seafood salad.

You need a car and the driving is easy for sightseeing and adventures. Not to be missed:

• A day trip to historic Kona with lunch at the Coffee Shack a few miles further south and a windey trip down to Captain Cook Bay where that great adventurer met an untimely death, and there’s a farmers’ cooperative store and coffee factory.

• A road trip to Hawi, an arty hilltop town with old wooden buildings and lunch at the legendary Sushi Rock where they have truly reinvented sushi with every flavour under the sun, and creamy coconut icecream at a parlour over the other side of the road. Enroute the landscape changes dramatically as you leave the lava flows and climb through the grassy hills to find a tropical jungle.

• A round of golf at Big Island Country Club, high in the hills, where on a clear day you can see forever.

• Waimea Farmers Market on Saturday morning where all sorts or fantastic produce and treats can be purchased.

• Also in the area, ‘world famous’ doughy malasadas at Tex Drive Inn, and the spectacular Waipi’o Valley which is well worth driving 20 minutes to view.

• 20 minutes north from Mauna Lani is Da Fish Shack where we bought fresh fish carried in by local fishermen and there’s a great little food truck in the rough and ready carpark.

• If you have time the new highway takes you up and over a saddle in the mountains to the other side of the island to visit the lush but often wet town of Hilo, the most populated town on the Big Island with easier access to the active volcano.

9 December 2016

A ROAD TRIP - AUSTRALIA'S GREAT OCEAN ROAD

We flew into Adelaide and out of Melbourne, leaving no footprints in either city on what was a rural road trip to explore vines and coast. We planned accommodation ahead (late November is a busy holiday time in Ostraya) and we booked a few terrific restaurants well ahead too. 1000km is a lot of driving, there were two ferries involved and the thing I noticed most as we buzzed along was there is a lot of sky. An awful lot. Because the clouds sit much higher above the land, Australia’s skies seem to stretch forever, and can be almost daunting when there’s not a hill or mountain in sight. We planned a route that took us through wine country and spent the obligatory two days driving the stretch between Mt Gambier and Queenscliffe that is known as the world famous Great Ocean Road.

Our first two days were spent in the McLarenVale and Fleurieu south of Adelaide, where wine and food tourism is paramount. We tasted wonderful wines at Molly Dooker - hefty reds, Coriole - outstanding gardens, Kay Brothers - a piece of history, and ate at D’Arenberg where the food is top notch modern Australian fare and there’s a challenging new building The Cube standing behind the charming original Federation style house and restaurant. We headed down through the Fleurieu next day, gathering great produce, olives and oils and lunched in the historic hotel on Flinders St at Victor Harbour and headed back via Goolwa and the mouth of the Murray.

The outstanding meal in this region was at Star of Greece (pictured above.) The fish was fresh as fresh, the oysters delicious, the food beautifully styled, and the restaurant had that casual ambience where suits from Adelaide can fly in by helicopter as they do to mingle with locals who had their babies in pushchairs.

It was then on to Coonawarra via Langhorne Creek where there are probably more vines cultivated than the whole of New Zealand can produce. It was interesting to see the landscape change. Hilly rainforest gives way to lush green pastures and dairy country, then it’s the miles and miles of vines, straight roads through arid almost desert like country before reaching Coonawarra. It is a tiny town where grapes rule. So far from any main centre, this is where Australia’s finest cabernet is grown but the township itself has just a post office and a hall. That’s all. But we stopped in the historic Wynns and delighted in their range of wines from riesling to reds.

Penola, at the southern end of that incredibly important stretch of vines, is the township was where we slept, and we ate a hearty but sophisticated dinner at the lovely Pipers of Penola, in a converted old wooden church. It seemed half the local wine industry were eating there.

It was then straight out to the coast and onto the Great Ocean Road, via Mt Gambier, a surprisingly large coastal city that has a spectacular blue volcanic lake sitting far above the suburbs. The minute we left South Australia and headed into Victoria we were surprised how much the quality of the road deteriorated. It did not improve until we got much closer to Melbourne, but don’t let that put you off. The views along the route far outweigh the bumps and dips!

Spectacular coast, craggy rocky outcrops, well organised tourist centres and beautiful sandy stretches of beach make this drive a must. We spent a night at Port Fairy and another at Apollo Bay. I would love to have stayed at Lorne but there was not a room to be found, even a month out. Port Fairy is another must on this trip. It is historic, it is quaint, it has a ton of interesting walks, and best of all we had our most luxurious accommodation there at Oscars Boutique Hotel and the most outstanding meal of our entire road trip at Fen.

Fen represents coastal lowland and that is where the menu inspiration is drawn from. Ryan and Kirsten Sessions have a deserved Two Hat rating. We enjoyed oyster with sea parsley and blood lime first, then a scallop with lemon and aniseed myrtle before launching into a five course menu at $110 which was worth every Australian cent. Gorgeous fresh sea food from the region, innovative dishes (the surf and turf which was teasingly fashioned from vegetables was outstanding) and clever use of fascinating accompaniments made this a meal to remember. fenportfairy.com.au

After the GOR finished we took a car ferry from Queenscliffe where I would have loved to have Australia’s best pie but the parking was completely choked due to a jazz festival. We sailed in to Sorrento on the Mornington peninsular for our final two days with friends and two more superb wine country lunches at Petit Tracteur and Yabby Lakes. Petit Tracteur has the best edible garden I have seen in a winery with food and service that is slightly French and very good. Yabby Lakes make superb award winning wines, and their lovely winery restaurant absolutely screams “Australia.” Do not miss either place.

14 November 2016

ERFURT GERMANY

Erfurt. This student city of 200,000 people is a little more than two hours by ICE train direct from Frankfurt airport, and attracts more than 3 million visitors each year. Right now it will be heating up as it holds one of Germany’s most famous Christmas Markets, in a vast plaza in front of the city’s magnificent cathedral. In the summer months an outdoor opera is staged on the same precinct, so it is these two events that most of the visitors head for.

I was there to cover the IKA, the Culinary Olympics, as the city also boasts the Messe, a vast modern exhibition hall where that extraordinary event was held. Because Erfurt is strategically placed in the centre of Germany and almost equidistant from Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich the conference centre is busy year round.

But what about the rest of the city? There are many lovely old buildings and churches in the centre, an excellent bus and tram network to get visitors and locals everywhere for less than two euros and some excellent shopping including a modern mall that is cleverly disguised behind a quaint old façade. My favourite place was the Kramer Brucke, a 1000 year old bridge that has houses built above classy little handcraft and specialist shops. Pic above.

As for food destinations, Goldhelm Chocolates is the not to be missed place – a little shop on the bridge alongside their own ice cream store, but also a superb store and chocolate cooking school in the square behind the bridge where the philosophy is bean-to-bar. Near there is a hand craft baker, Backstube where the owner allows visitors to bring their own condiments to go on his amazing bread. And in another nearby square look for mustard maker Born which has been in operation since 1820.

Everywhere in almost every restaurant the regional specialty Thuringer dumplings and bratwurst are served. You won’t get away without eating this hearty meal, but luckily the city is also known for broad beans and watercress. I visited Ralf and Karolyna Frisch who cultivate watercress on a family site that dates back to 1630. Impressive and vital as it is an antidote to the rich fare served in the city.

27 October 2016

AND SILVER!

The logistics are almost overwhelming and certainly our New Zealand Anchor Food Professionals Culinary Olympic team probably had not only come the furthest to Erfurt, Germany, but had to cope with all sorts of hurdles like transport from their base 70 minutes away, access to kitchens and an absolutely bare bones number of helpers. Some countries had brought a veritable army of support.

But the Kiwis put their heads down, cooked their hearts out and proved their worth. The dinner that came from the hot kitchen was delicious. Salmon starter, lamb main and a dessert that was inspired by Pacific flavours. The judges and lucky diners obviously were very impressed. The team won Silver.

They also won the hearts of many, and attracted television crews and much other media attention. And they're bringing home two bronze medals and a very worthy and admired silver.

Congratulations to each and every member of the tiny team, and also to the sponsors whose faith has been rewarded.