The Food Show

First things first, if you’re wondering if you can get inebriated for free at The Food Show, then let me reassure you that, yes, you can. Although the ‘for free’ part of that statement is technically debatable because you will pay $20 (at the door, or online) to get inside its sprawling metropolis of free samples.

It will also get you access to the Electro-Lux Cooking Theatre and the Kenwood Kitchen, however if you want to attend any of its Masterclass workshops, be prepared to pay extra. I contented myself with wandering from stall to stall, chatting to developers, finding new products… and, of course, getting my fill of free samples.   For some, these are probably the main draw card, and are alone well worth spending an afternoon at the show.

My favourite stalls were the Consulate of the Republic of Korea, Miss Melicious Cupcakes and Tokyo Food, but there are hundreds of stalls from which you can sample. Whether you want to try the Korean Campbell Early grapes (the sweetest, juiciest ever) or perhaps some of Alchemy Beverage’s Honey Liquor, The Food Show has you covered. In the space of three hours, I sampled food from more than ten countries, and tried everything from Fry’s (surprisingly good) meat-free meat pops to a Japanese sake that was so smooth I could have been drinking water.

It was, in fact, about the time I was trying my third brand of sake that I realised that after three shots of sake, two kinds of whiskey, several flavoured vodkas and a particularly enjoyable plum wine (I now bitterly regret not buying) that I was experiencing a good, solid, afternoon drunk for the first time in years. Fortunately, alongside all those free samples, you can also buy a few more substantial bites if, like me, you accidentally find yourself drunk at 1.30 in the afternoon.

A block of intensely savory marinated tofu with a surprisingly spicy dipping sauce from Vege Tofu for $2 soon set me back on the right path and I was ready to continue on my merry way. 
If I had another chance, I think I’d commit the extra $50 to attend some of the Masterclass workshops. While it seemed a little exorbitant to me and my diminishing bank account, to most others that would be fairly reasonable, especially considering that tickets came with gift bags valued at $40.

Although The Food Show has now closed in Auckland, you can still catch it in Wellington or Christchurch. There are definitely worse ways to spend a free afternoon than eating delicious food, chatting to vendors, and watching chefs try to outdo each other with increasingly complicated demonstrations.



Eat It: Holy Moly Do-Nuts Ice Cream

This ice cream might as well be called “So – I See You’re Stoned.” On a grey and rainy Sunday I was browsing the aisles in my latest host city, Auckland, when my eyes suddenly fell upon the freezer. Shining at me from the depths was a bright and whimsical little tub (these containers are made by the team at Lemonade design and I have a serious graphics boners for the packaging), practically begging me ‘Hey Sarah, come on girl, take me home. I’ll treat you right.’ And once I started looking at the ingredient’s it was sitting in my trolley before I really knew what was happening. Seriously, the team at Holy Moly ice cream have got their head in the game when it comes to making ice cream for stoners or people who have been to Ms G’s and enjoyed their signature dessert, ‘Stoner’s Delight.’

Let’s say you take some vanilla ice cream. Yeah vanilla ice cream is delicious, but really… it’s not that exciting. So maybe you think, I’ll add a rich, creamy swirl of caramel throughout that bad boy. And you know what? Maybe some roasted peanuts. And hey while I’m at it, I’ll just shove some delicious cinnamon donuts in the mix as well. Is your mouth watering yet? Because honestly, it really should be.

In a country where Ben and Jerry’s is impossible to find, this is the best we can do. But I don’t want to damn it with faint praise because this ice cream is seriously good. It’s smooth and creamy, the flavours are well balanced so that one flavour never dominates and despite the fact that there is a lot going on here in terms of richness and sweetness, it still manages to seem quite light. Let it be a measure of its deliciousness that one my first scoop I didn’t even manage to get a picture. I just had a tiny spoonful to test things out and then a red haze descended and suddenly the bowl was empty.

Subsequent bowls suffered the same fate as that first one, and now I’ve been forced to use a stock photo because, shamefully, I have eaten it all. I’m sorry guys but my god it’s good. I should note that while I’d deem this a ‘luxury’ ice cream, it’s not along the same lines as Kohu Road ice cream and sorbets more classic flavours (although they do enjoy a similar price point per serving – which in my mind is needlessly expensive). Holy Moly’s range of ice creams are a lot more whimsical, including a lemon curd and pavlova , one based on toffee pops, and one flavour that the creators apparently just decided ‘fuck you guys, you want chocolate? You’re getting brownie bits, biscuit chunks, chocolate drops, chocolate ice cream and a fudge swirl.’ Though it is expensive, I’d definitely encourage you to give Holy Moly a try, because they are worth every delicious bite.

five things


1. Apple Tarte Tatain. I don’t know how I went 23 years without realising how amazing apple tarte tatain was. Perhaps because working with sugar has always seemed daunting, or the fear that it wouldn’t turn out? But with the help of my shiny new tarte tatain pan it turns out that it was actually one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made and oh sweet jesus it was delicious. Caramalised sugars, sweet short crust pastry and soft, burnished apples? More please.

2. Cambridge Satchel Company. I’ve recently been lucky enough to visit Melbourne, my first visit back since I moved away at the end of last year, and while I was there I picked up this gorgeous bag. I’ve coveted this neon pink satchel bag for at least two years and finally have made it my own. For someone who’s a little afraid of wearing colour this is an easy way to take a big step out of black. Also just wearing it makes me happy – so that must make it worth the… admittedly slightly steep (possibly not to most people but I’m cheap) pricetag.

3.Tiny Protesters. You have not seen cute until you have heard a two year old in a princess dress say ‘suv-bert the pat-rickardy’ (translation: subvert the patriarchy) as she marches with her momma in the Christchurch chapter of the Slutwalk.

4. Chloe Moretz and Hick. Possibly the only good thing about being sick – at this point I’m still on the urgent waiting list for surgery, but am getting increasingly sick; thus my lack of motivation to post and/or cook lately) – is getting to watch all the movies I want without feeling guilty. Hick is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, I’ve heard complaints of a slow moving plot or a plot that just doesn’t make sense; but personally I love it and have watched it three times in as many days.

5. Orange Lipstick. I’ve always loved a bold lip when doing my makeup and this Stila Long Wear Lip Colour  is a fantastic combination of long-lasting and not-too-harsh on my lips… and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but it’s neon orange. The Stila long wear colour range is hands down my favourite brand of lipstick, as long as you plan to be wearing lips that colour for at least four or five hours. The colour works well with pale, winter skin and is fantastic if you don’t want to do anything elaborate with your make up. A swathe of lip colour, a little mascara and a top-knot and you’re good to go.

Mulled Wine Spiced Quinces

I can admit it, I’m not ashamed. I used to be scared of quinces. Not scared as in I’d cross to the other side of the street if I saw them walking up to me in a darkened street – but definitely scared of cooking them. They always seemed like so much work to take them from a beautiful but inedible fruit to something that you can actually eat. However, like most people I tend to shop with my eyes. So when I saw a kilo bag of quinces all yellow and bashful, shining prettily at me from their bags… well I was done. Three dollars later and I there I was walking through the farmers market thinking ‘oh jesus why did I do this? What am I going to do with these?’ A week later and they were still sitting in my fridge, balefully staring at me and silently asking ‘why haven’t you cooked us yet?’ I didn’t know how to tell them that I was scared of them, unsure about how to cook them and whether they’d be worth the effort.

They are totally worth the effort. After some research I decided that the best way to cook them would be a long, slow cooking filled with warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and anise. My options seemed to be fairly limited methodwise, most people seemed to advocate either roasting or poaching it. But I needed both my stove and my oven for other things, and couldn’t devote six hours to just tending to quince, no matter how lovely they might be.

A slow cooker was the answer. My favourite thing in winter is to throw some meat and vegetables in the slow cooker in the morning and then to come home from a cold, dark day to a room stewing in the juices of a delicious meal requiring approximately no effort from me. I figured that surely it would work in a similar way with the quince. And my god did it work. The quinces were transformed from hard and intensely sour flesh coloured fruit to a deep, flirtatious pink that tastes like the best mulled wine and sweet roses, with a texture that is indescribable but feels something like velvet in your mouth in the best possible way. You can use the quinces in so many different ways, whether on your morning oatmeal or as a dessert by themselves; you can cut the cooked fruit into tiny pieces and use to make a membrillo cake or make a clafoutis.

I ate them mostly as part of my breakfast, either with yoghurt and granola or porridge, but I’ve also used the syrup to make a quince cocktail with gin, lemon and soda water. Once you’ve tasted them, trust me – you’ll find ways to sneak them into everything. And just as a side bonus, your house will smell amazing for the next few days after you cook them.

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Autumn Food Festival

I try to get to the Christchurch Farmer’s Market most weekends, and it’s always one of the things I most enjoy taking any visitors to Christchurch to when I play tour guide. It’s a bit of a ritual for my Saturdays to drag myself out of bed when the sun is barely hot yet, pull on the clothes closest to me and head out to Riccarton. As you can possibly tell from below… though I may appear fully dressed and physically awake: it’s mostly a combination of luck and semi-coherant mumbling that gets me out of the house fully decent in the mornings.

I always get my breakfast and usually a coffee there – whether that breakfast comes in the form of fresh juice, pancakes, a intensely decadent hot chocolate… or… more usually just from nibbling at free samples, depends on the week. This weekend I was lucky enough to catch the Autumn Food Festival, which meant that the market was even more packed than usual and full of cooking demonstrations, candy apples and a whole crop of new stalls.

My favourite new addition was Gretchen’s Bakery. Among other things, she was selling the most delicious array of scones my eyes have ever set upon. While I eventually settled on a sundried tomato and feta and a cinnamon chip; I know I’d have been equally satisfied with the pumpkin pie, tripple chocolate, maple walnut or blueberry flavours. These scones were a revelation: both incredibly decadent and strong on flavour (who knew that cinnamon chips were a thing? Where can I get a hundred bags or them to stuff in my mouth?), but also light enough that you don’t hate yourself afterwards. And it must be said that Gretchen herself is incredibly lovely, she told me she started cooking when she moved to New Zealand and realised you couldn’t buy pumpkin pie in a can, so she just learnt to make them herself. I was totally won over by her and her baking, definitely a new favourite.

Equally exciting was the long awaited return of Posh Porridge! In the summer months, Posh Porridge transforms into Posh Pancakes, and while I’m sure that their pancakes would be delicious, it’s the creamy bite of the slow cooked, steel cut oats that I crave.

Look at that! The combination of fresh banana, toasted almonds and toffee sauce is completely mind-blowing. It might seem like they would be too rich and overwhelm the porridge, but the girls seem to know exactly how much of to give you so you’ll get a mouthfull of flavour in each bite but not get a sugar headache. The only bad thing about Posh Porridge is that it tends to sell out fast, the Farmers Market opens at nine and last weekend they were sold out by eleven. For the record, the porridge doesn’t come drowning in soy milk as the picture might lead you to believe – that’s just my personal preference.

You can take your pick of fresh vegetable stands. I don’t have one particular favourite stand, I tend to pick and choose from what looks good to me each week. But looking at those purple cauliflowers and bright orange carrots I can’t help thinking about roasted cauliflowers and carrots with honey and dukkah rub… I have a feeling I know what I’ll be getting next weekend. It’s all really reasonably priced as well, so poor students have no excuse. when a butternut squash costs 50 cents, you are almost obligated to buy it. And as for the abundance of late season berries? Forget about it. I found myself walking away with a punnet of raspberries before I’d even really realised what I was doing. Sweet, juicy and amazing.

Nikau Breads are far and away the most delicious bread at the market. I have been known to fight people for the last slice of honey and flaxseed bread, and their brioche’s are perfect for raspberry and lemon brioche pudding.

Sugar Baby Cakery has been around for awhile now, but I’ve only recently noticed how just plain cute their baking is. I also love that they move away from standards such as vanilla and chocolate and instead make flavours like “Tutti Frutti.” As well as cupcakes they’re your ladies for cake pops, spice biscuits and cakes-in-jars, and as if keeping me fantasising about buttercream wasn’t enough they also cater parties, weddings and are opening a shop later this year. If you’re looking for fun, beautiful baking – definitely go to Sugar Baby.

As part of the Autumn Food Festival Mr Johnny Schwass himself was in attendance with his Gorilla Go Go – Charcoal Relief Unit, serving up what was agreed were the best charcoal lamb and rocket tacos in the business. A little bit of a Christchurch legend, Johnny owns Gorilla, among other projects, which is one of my favourite restaurants in town. It’s menu is always changing, I don’t think I’ve ever been there yet and seen the menu in exactly the same incarnation as it was the last time. However staples such as the Dripping Potatoes, Mushroom Arancini balls and anything from their charcoal menu are always worth ordering. And by worth ordering – I mean that those potatoes will change your life. If it were possible, I would make those potatoes my wife.

The best cake fullstop.

I know you’re probably thinking “hmph, that cake looks good , but I’ve seen better.” To which I say… you don’t know! And that this cake is very, very good. Out of everything I bake, this is the one cake my family always asks for again and again; it is the standard by which other cakes are all held. It’s deliciously moist, morish and for all of you who worry about that sort of thing, yes it’s gluten free. And have I mentioned that you can pull the batter together in less time than it takes to preheat the oven to bake it? As I type, I can almost hear the pieces of it that have survived the night, sitting in the cake stand, calling my name. They want me to eat them… but I cannot. Sadly, food has turned against me in the last few days and eating anything other than steamed vegetables, wholegrain rice and steamed fish leads to horrible, crippling pain that makes me want to have a little cry. So while I wait for an ultrasound, I just make cake for others and watch them eat them. Which is sort of my idea of hell?

At this point… I suppose you are wondering what flavour it is, right? Well… imagine nutella in cake form. Hazelnut cake with dark chocolate frangelico ganache. Just typing that makes my mouth water a little bit. This cake is so rich and moist that you only need a very small slice (though lets be honest… you’re welcome to have a big slice if you want one. And with this cake; you want one), and there’s no need for cream or anything along those lines. As a bonus this little baby will stay moist and morish for days, unlike a lot of cakes that I find tend to dry out overnight.

The ganache as well is a bit of a miracle. I don’t know why I had never before considered adding frangelico to dark chocolate ganache – it all makes sense. Grown up, alcoholic nutella that you can put on top of a cake? It’s all there, smugly grinning at you as if to say ‘girl, what took you so long? I am delicious and I have been waiting for you.’ If… for some reason you don’t like the idea of chocolate and frangelico on your hazelnut cake, you could instead top the cake with cinnamon poached apples (which by the way make a delicious accompaniment in any fashion to almost all foods), but I think if you’re going to eat what is basically nutella cake… well then really commit to it.

As a wee bonus for you all, here is what my life has become all about. Steamed eggplant and mushrooms with wholegrain rice. Theoretically tasty… but in all honesty it turns out that steamed vegetables rely pretty heavily on an ability to season them with salt, pepper, garlic… really anything.

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five things

1. Dark Purple Lipstick. Mac is still my favourite makeup, no matter how many of their products I buy, I’m always happy with them. My favourite time to wear this dark puple, almost black lipstick is in the middle of a bright, sunny day with a button up chambrey shirt and high waisted skirt. I always love contrast, and goth lipstick + preppy outfit just makes me happy. It’s also really long lasting which I love, and is almost completely matt. If you’re interested it can be found here, the colour is ‘faithfully yours.’

2. j’aime les macarons. The best (and okay only to my knowledge) macaron shop in all of christchurch, j’aime les macarons are unfailingly delicious, moreish and come in such adorable packaging it’s almost worth it to buy a 12 pack just for the box. My favourite is always salted buttercream (top), but their seasonal treats such as the milk chocolate and mandarin (below) are always worth a try as well. My favourite indulgence on a Saturday afternoon.

3. Smoking Slippers. These shoes… I am obsessed with these shoes. More fun than your standard ballet flats, smoking slippers are apparently the new big thing. And as always, I am obsessed with anything even vaguely leopard print. Mostly I wear fairly plain shoes, preferring to make my fashion statements in the rest of my outfit, but these somehow go with nearly everything I own. I’ve already had them resoled twice, and I’m pretty sure I will just keep wearing them until they fall completely apart.

4. Cherry Blossom Tea. I don’t know who Mr Harney or his sons are, but they make a damn fine cup of tea. Even if we ignore that Harney & Sons tea comes in gorgeous, classic tins that are worth display on any kitchen table – the tea itself is delicious. I love cherry blossom, a green tea with a faint cherry flavour and strong cherry scent; but every single one of the unusual and uncommon flavours of tea looks amazing. I’ll next be trying ‘Paris’, or maybe ‘Rose Scented’. Added bonus, for anyone new to tea, Harney & Sons tea all comes with a flavour profile, brewing instructions and the proper water temperature on the side of the tin.

5. Sunflowers. I inherited my love for flowers from my mother who most prefers white lillies, but I am a girl who loves colour. Sunflowers are some of my favourites, whenever I see them they just seem to glow at me, sunnily begging me to take them home and put them in a pretty vase and love them. So… I do. I am powerless against sunflowers, there is no other excuse.