Lauraine Jacobs

Food & Wine Writer

Lauraine’s blog

4 April 2020

IT’S NOT THE END…

Big shoes to fill, they were. The food writers who preceded me on the NZ Listener pages were my heroes. Lois Daish and Martin Bosley. Both were chefs first and developed into clever writers who informed and entertained and hopefully lured Kiwis into the kitchen. I can still recall with absolute clarity food I ate in their respective Wellington restaurants.

NZ Food Writers (at the time called the NZ Guild of Foodwriters) held a conference in late spring more than 25 years ago in Wellington. Lois Daish cooked the farewell brunch at her restaurant Brooklyn Café and Grill. It was stunning in its simplicity – freshest of fresh seasonal produce; completely unadorned. Asparagus, baby new potatoes, spring butter with bread, followed by rich ruby red strawberries with thick cream. Perfect like her Listener writings.

A few years later, as judge of Cuisine’s Best Restaurant Awards, I ate with Australian food critic and guest judge John Lethlean in Martin Bosley’s, an immaculate simple long dining room where diners at every table could watch the boats bobbing up and down in the shelter of the inner Wellington harbour. He started our meal with one perfect oyster – (he’s still crazy about oysters) – which was spilling out of a tiny kete. There are few chefs in NZ who were imaginative or skilled enough to bring tears to my eyes but this dish did. Genius. That dish alone made Lethlean wonder out loud if he should move to the capital city!

I took over the Listener food nine years ago at Easter. Perhaps it is befitting or merely fate that my last column, an Easter Special, was supposed to be in this weekend’s issue – the one that Bauer in all their wisdom or callous disregard let the axe fall on.

The good news I am still here, I am safe and I am still as passionate as ever about food. Not any food – the really good stuff. To me it must be seasonal, preferably local and always, always fresh and cooked from scratch. I am a champion of our farmers, our food producers and especially the small struggling artisans of the food and beverage industry who have a tough road even in good times.

Right now these people, all of them, are struggling and we are in danger of losing many of them. Farmers’ markets have closed, door sales have stopped and the duopoly of supermarkets means the little guys can’t get a foot in the door. Really fine produce and products are being dumped or ploughed back into the fields and little operators like butchers, greengrocers and specialty retailers are being denied the chance to feed us with what many of us consider “essentials.”

When this is over we are all going to have make a monumental effort to support local, artisan, innovative growers and producers. I love the line from Best Marigold Hotel, “It will be all alright in the end, and if it’s not all alright, it’s not the end.”

To that end, the cake above was supposed to be in your Listener this week if Bauer and the Government had allowed publishing. It’s a stunning seasonal cake with local apples and macadamias. You can find the recipe in the Recipe Section of this blog. Enjoy!!!

pic by Rebekah Robinson