Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One year at the Dinner Table


2010 is almost over and being the last column in the year it is truly fitting to look back and see the highlights that have happened.  Slow Food Marlborough celebrated regional Marlborough with monthly visits to local food producers and we did everything from Milking cows, collecting honey, sharpening knives to cooking over vines.  We tasted the sweetest strawberries freshly picked, drunk Italian wine with local foods, and lifted the humble but satisfying  Globe Artichoke out of the garden and into the pot.  What started off three years ago as just a group of people sharing at the dinner table has now grown into one of the largest conviviums in in NZ – good things take time this group is  all about taking the time to appreciate them.  We are a bunch of unlikely foodies, oldish, youngish, familyish  and from all around the world but choosing Marlborough to be our home, humble and modest but most of all hungry for knowledge

Farmers Markets around NZ have gone from strength to strength and a highlight for me was visiting the Gisborne Farmers Market and also the Hamilton Farmers Market, both not regions normally associated with culinary aspirations but certainly proving to me that the real food producers of NZ are standing up for themselves.  Hosting visitors from England and America only strengthened the resolve to ensure that Farmers Markets are Authentic and transparent to all, for this is the only thing that differentiates us from everybody else.   As the Chair of a Executive group located right around NZ it was a real pleasure to be working with some of the best foodies in the county

I found the time (in the middle of night) to write a new cookbook which is a step by step guide to smoking food and the Kiwi Sizzler Smoking book is now available in all good bookstores nationwide.  I look forward to promoting this in 2011 as it will give me a good excuse to go fishing with the father in law to catch some Moki or Maori Chiefs at Marfels beach this summer. 
My first book, Pick, Preserve Serve is now into its second print and it was satisfying to be told by the publisher that even I had to wait for more to be printed when I ordered earlier in the year.

The Marlborough Convention Centre and Heartland Hotel provide me with the heart of what I do, cooking – Christina, Helen and Abby are the backbone of the kitchens that I oversee and this is where the real ground work is done, day after day, night after night.   With meals in the tens of thousands having been served over the last 12 months it is a great pleasure to work with a great team.   

The Marlborough Community Gardens have gone from strength to strength, and has solid foundations for stage 2 that will be started this year – another great group of people that truly do make a difference in the Marlborough region and as a Trustee member it is with great satisfaction that I see the garden not only flourish but bear all of the fruits of the hard work put in

The Marlborough Farmers’ Market is now celebrating its 10 th year and hats off to Jennie Crum and the rest of the committee  who put in the hard work behind the scenes and I look forward to working with them to continue making it a venue for local food producers to sell from.    This formula that Hawkes Bay and Marlborough started 10 years ago is now emulated right around NZ and we seeing the difference that supporting local can make in regional communities.

Enjoy the rest of 2010 and I trust that 2011 is just as satisfying at the dinner table


Marfels Beach Smoked Fish
By gently curing and then smoking the fillets of white fish, you create a satisfying and tasty snack or meal that can be enjoyed any time of the day with crusty bread. 

3kg Fish fillets, skin on
600 ml Water
¼ Cup sea salt
2 T Sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups Wood chips soaked for 30 mins and drained

Mix the water, salt, sugar and zest together and submerge the fish pieces in the brine and refrigerate overnight.  Remove from the brine and pat dry, place on smoking rack and smoke over a low heat for 40-60 mins or until cooked and translucent

Thursday, December 23, 2010

HELP, HELP, HELP - MY MUM AND DAD WANT ME TO EAT PORRIDGE !

Dear Mr Fortune, HELP!

Breakfast time at our family has turned into a nightmare and I would rather stay in bed than face another morning at the table with our seven-year-old son.
We are trying to eat healthily and so breakfast consists of porridge and local Sherrington honey on toast. We have Marlborough Windsong organic blueberries from the freezer and even local apples and pears from the farmers' market I use as part of our weekly shop.
The problem is that Mr Seven-Year-Old won't eat his porridge, even with all this goodness in it. He refuses to even taste it, saying it is horrible, yucky, gross, vomit and a number of other things that I can't print. We have sent him to his room for four hours, we have kept him at the table and we have taken away his privileges, but he still refuses to eat it.
Desperate Porridge Mother Enforcer
Gidday Chris Fortune, HELP!
My mother and father are trying to make me eat something I don't like, PORRIDGE! They have sent me to my room, they have taken away my toys and TV time and even made me sit at the table until I have had a teaspoon full of it. YUCK – I wanted to spit it out and I did once, but mummy and daddy told me off. I have tried yelling at them that it is gross. Please help me as I don't understand why they are making me eat something that I don't want to! Can I sue my parents? Are there porridge police?
Porridge Hater Number One
Dear Desperate Porridge Mother enforcer and Porridge Hater Number One
It sounds like your breakfast table is the battleground and the battle is over not the porridge, but that you have a young independent boy who is growing up and making decisions for himself about what he likes and dislikes. Encourage his independence, but you do need to be firm and not allow bad behaviour and temper tantrums to rule at the table.
I don't think that one teaspoon of porridge is asking too much, although if you were using imported, out-of-season fruits then I would be concerned. As for Mr Porridge Hater Number One, your mummy and daddy are not asking you to eat tripe or liver (yet) so I would just eat the porridge and leave the battles for something a little more serious.
POACHED PEARS FOR THE BREAKFAST TABLE
300ml water or white wine
55g (2oz) caster sugar
2 Tbsp clear honey
1 cinnamon stick
8 Winter Cole pears, peeled and quartered
Place the water, sugar, honey, and cinnamon in a deep saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer and add the pears. Poach the pears over a low heat for 10-20 minutes or until translucent, turning occasionally. Chill and serve with porridge.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making Headlines

 Farmers market under fire – Bay Chronicle - Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market 
·         Need for second farmers market questioned – Otago Daily times, Otago Farmers Market

·         Farmers Market moving to fresh fields – Otago Daily Times, Queenstown Farmers Market

·         Market day changes – Nelson Mail, Nelson Farmers’ Market

·         Stalls hit sticking point - Papakura Courier – Clevedon Farmers market

·         Easter blow for market - Waikato Times – Hamilton Farmers Market

·         Farmers market price fixing row settled – Gisborne Farmers market

·         Need for second farmers market questioned – Otago Daily times, Otago Farmers Market

 

 

One could be forgiven for thinking that it is only in Marlborough that the local Farmers Market is making the headlines, but if you have a look around NZ you will notice that every single market is making changes in the way people not only eat but how they think – when the pick up that asparagus or apricot they are asking themselves, where did that come from?  how did that get to me ?  how fresh is it really ?

 

So what’s up with all of the headlines and attention grabbing details of so called rifts and rivalry,  the blurring of lines of local vs imported and grown by the producer or sold by middlemen.  It is really very simple -  the real food producers of New Zealand are standing up and claiming what belongs to them, the name Farmers Market.   A Farmers’ Market is a venue for the sale of regional produce, just like when you go to a rugby game you expect to see a group of people running with a oval ball and passing it between themselves using their hands.  When I go to and see a game of soccer I expect to see a group of people with a round  ball passing it between themselves using their feet.   I am yet to see a successful game or Rugosoccer where you can do both.  This is why we have umpires that define the rules of the games and ensures that everybody respects each others codes of practise.  As a consumer or a producer you get to choose which code of practise you want to either participate in or support

 

 A real Farmers’ Market does not allow onsellers or resellers to sell goods that that have not been involved in .  A real Farmers’ Market does not allow non-edible goods (there are a couple of exceptions like worm farms and flowers).  A real farmers market is all about local and regional food, not imported food

 

While Marlborough is leading New Zealand Farmers Markets as one of the oldest and most established behind Hawkes Bay we are certainly not alone in changing the way we look at the food on our dinner table, or how we debate about how the food got to our table,  this food is either tasteless and wrapped in plastic and full of life giving preservatives or it is fresh and regional.  I know what I would prefer on my Christmas table this year and judging by the amount of headlines around NZ I would say that Farmers Markets are the flavour of the year.  I am so excited about being involved in the changes we are making at the dinner tables and in the kitchens of NZ, these changes will influence all generations and communities to ask questions and celebrate our regional differences.  The only  real headline story is the  fact that the real food producers are standing up for the one thing that they themselves can really own, the two words Farmers Markets

 

Marlborough Plum Salsa Recipe, great with Christmas ham or left over cold cuts

6 fresh Marlborough Plums, diced – firm and not to soft, but not to firm,  freshly picked

1/2 Red onion thinly Sliced

1 tablespoon sliced green garlic or 2  spring onions

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice or lemon juice and zest

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1/2 finely chopped small seeded jalapeno pepper (optional)

 

2 T Marlborough Olive oil

 

Marlborough Flaky Sea Salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper

 

Mix all ingredients together and serve to the table.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Need for second farmers market questioned (page 1) | Otago Daily Times Online News Keep Up to Date Local, National New Zealand & International News

Need for second farmers market questioned (page 1) | Otago Daily Times Online News Keep Up to Date Local, National New Zealand & International News

concern the proposed Wednesday farmers market could take customers away from Saturday's established railway station market has been raised by vendors.

The Otago Farmers Market Trust wants to establish a market in the car park of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, in South Dunedin, operating on a Wednesday between 3pm and 7pm, initially during the summer months, although consent was sought for a year-round operation if needed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Marlborough – Taste Local Produce | Marlborough in New Zealand | Travel information for New Zealand

Marlborough – Taste Local Produce | Marlborough in New Zealand | Travel information for New Zealand

If you like good food and think that fresh is best then look no further than Marlborough. Havelock nestled at the head of the Pelorus Sound is the Greenshell™ Mussel Capital of the World and there are a number of fine establishments where you can sample these plump, flavorsome beauties. If mussels are not your thing do not despair, salmon, cod, crayfish (or rock lobster), clams and oysters are also readily available.

Forage for fresh garlic, asparagus and other seasonal specialties from the gate, pick your own stone fruit, apples and berries or find boutique award winning olive oils at local olive groves. I’m loving the new season potatoes and nothing beats fresh Marlborough cherries for a healthy but deliciously decadent treat. Local honey is another winner and Flaky Marlborough Sea Salt harvested at Lake Grasmere transports any meal out of this world. Award winning walnut oil, wild game, artisan cheeses, hazelnuts and saffron, the list just goes on and on.

A great place to start and get connected with the local food scene is the Marlborough Farmer’s Market. Its aim is to provide a venue for local food producers to sell edible goods directly to the consumer. It’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning and has a friendly relaxed atmosphere. Otherwise just get out amongst it, whether it be on a cruise in the Marlborough Sounds, a specialised food tour or one of the many restaurants and cafes. Just like wine in a glass, it just tastes better in Marlborough!

Marlborough Farmer’s Market – October to June, every Sunday 9am to 12 Noon at the A&P Showgrounds – rain or shine!

www.mfm.co.nz

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So what is a Localvore then

the perfect localvore setting



sounds like some sort of posh nosh fancy wancy uppty name for somebody who has too much time on their hands – well you can be a herbivore or a omnivore so why not somebody  who pays attention to where their food comes from and commits to eating local food as much as possible. This is not some nutcase religion, it is just about  eating local.  It is not an all-or-nothing venture, you cannot really fail the test as it is all about taking how  many small steps you take, it all  helps the environment, protects your family's health and supports small farmers and food producers in your region

The first bite to being a localvore is to determine what local means to yourself and your family, it could be 100 km, if could be the south island or even the whole of NZ – it  is an individual decision that you need to be comfortable  with.  The key  thing is that by creating a boundary or a limit, no matter how large or small, you are becoming conscious of food's origin. You can even go one step further and draw a  circle around your home or region and this will help you with your food choices.

We are all born localvores, it is just that sometimes we forget just exactly what is in our backyard and what is in season – the free range chooks, the trading with neighbours and the sharing of resources both over the back yards and at the dinner table, we may not be able to tackle the worlds biggest issues but we are able to help build sustainable and connected communities by supporting each other

5 Ways to Become a Localvore in New Zealand
1) Visit a farmers' market, there are now over 50 located from Invercargill to Bay of Islands – some are big, some are small but the key is that they represent their regional seasons and producers. Farmers' markets keep small farms in business through direct sales. Rather than going through a middleman, the farmer or producer will take home nearly all of the money you spend on regional produce – there are no on sellers, resellers or people that just buy in at the cheapest price and try to move it as fast as they can, regardless of the quality or where it has come from
2 Ask your supermarket manager where your meat, produce and dairy is coming from. Remember that supermarket managers are influenced by what you say and do. Let the super market managers know what's important to you!
3) Preserve a local food of the season.  By freezing, bottling, preserving you get to eat and enjoy flavours all year
4) Have a look for restaurants in your area that support local farmers and producers. Ask the re restaurants and chefs about their ingredients directly, or by asking your favourite farmers what restaurant accounts they have. Frequent the businesses that support your farmers in your region, fresh from the farm gate to the dinner plate
5) Ask about origins. Not locally grown or caught? Then where is it from?  What you may have taken for granted as NZ produced may come as a surprise.  Share this with family and friends

Honey-spiced apricots
Serve these with dollops of yoghurt for breakfast or dinner, or add a crumble topping and bake in the oven for a quick and easy dessert. If all else fails, just eat them straight from the jar.

2 kg whole Marlborough apricots
cinnamon sticks and cloves for each jar
4 cups white wine vinegar
500 g Marlborough honey

With a fork, prick the apricots all over and place them into cold sterilised jars. Place 2 cloves and 1 cinnamon stick in each jar. Bring the vinegar and honey to the boil in a saucepan for 5 minutes until it just starts to thicken, then pour over the apricots. Leave to cool before sealing the jars. To achieve the best flavour, leave for 1 month and use within 12 months

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Taste Marlborough Cherries



The pick of the bunch is now available in Marlborough, cherries that is.  With early crops getting off to a good start, the sunshine hours up and settled weather it could very well be a good year for the notorious fickle cherry season.   So what’s up mother nature?  – the 1 st of December is the official start of summer, we have not have the winds buffering us (yet), the rain has stayed away and the daily temperatures have been some of the best in NZ. 
The key is not to overpromise and end up under delivering,  there is fine line to walk with growing and producing from the land and Farmers’ Markets NZ is about to celebrate the real food producers of NZ by patting those people on the back that walk the walk.    The awareness (or concern) of what’s in our food and growing demand for regional, unadulterated food and  produce, and the investment into local resources, combined with good old nostalgia and supporting community ideals are just a few of the influences causing Farmers’ Markets to flourish in New Zealand.
Taste Magazine, Website provider Marketground and FMNZ have teamed up to shine the spotlight on the very best that is growing in our back yard  - Taste magazine is a great-value monthly food magazine for New Zealanders who love to cook. Every issue is packed with recipes and food ideas that are fresh, seasonal and easy to follow.  Farmers’ Markets are the weekly shopping destination that allows us as consumers to support and purchase local foods from our regions.
Marlborough Cherries are still the best, even through Otago and Hawkes Bay seem to think that it is all about them, however you just cannot compete with the Marlborough Sunshine and growing conditions that have made our region world famours for not only wine but also our fruits and vegetables that we celebrate on the dinner table every week

Cherry Clafoutis is an easy, delicious, traditional French dessert made at the height of cherry season. As perfect as this treat is with cherries, feel free to use another fruit – berries, sauteed apples or pears, sliced peaches – in place of the cherries if you're so inclined.
Ingredients:
500g cherries
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
1/8 tsp. salt
Icing Sugar (optional)
Preparation: Heat oven to 180 degrees cC. Butter a baking pan that's about 9x13 and rinse the cherries. Pit the cherries; as you pit them, put the pitted cherries in the buttered pan.
Put the eggs and milk in a blender and whirl to combine. Add flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whizz until well combined. Pour mixture over cherries.  Bake clafoutis until puffed and browned, about 30-45 mins. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with icing sugar, if you like.