There are so many things that you can’t go near when you’re trying to Eat Local. I had written this piece about Spanakopita ever before I started this challenge but, pressed for choice on Saturday night, it was something I happily turned to. I had spinach and onions from Canterbury, feta from Karikaas, ricotta from Zany Zeus (North Island but still New Zealand!), nutmeg (and couscous for the accompanying salad) from Piko, our brilliant local wholefoods/organic shop but I must admit failure with the pastry, which was Australian. If I had been a bit more organised ahead of time I could have made my own but still, it didn’t turn out too badly!
I think that my interest in the Mexican combination of chocolate and chilli may have been originally sparked from watching the film adaptation of Laura Esquivel’s Like Water For Chocolate in college. The fire of chilli and the dark richness of chocolate seems, to me, to be a rather good combination. The Chocolate and Chilli Biscotti I picked up recently to accompany my flat white (coffee) at the Underground Coffee Company Café in Christchurch was a good example of this and put my mind musing over other ways I could use chocolate and chilli together.
It’s been years since I ate porridge regularly for breakfast. Lumpy and overboiled, it was always a one of the foods that I hated as a child – unless it was made in the Aga at Oldcastletown by my grandfather. Put into the bottom oven the previous night, his porridge was one of the highlights if we stayed overnight.
My mother makes the best scones. There’s always a carton of cream souring in the fridge to add lightness to the eventual product, which, when I come home, are often piled high on the wire rack to cool, large, golden and flecked with sultanas. They’re the kind of scones that you can’t resist eating warm from the oven, with plenty of melting butter…
When I was a kid, Bread and Butter Pudding was the desert that we all loved. I wasn’t too impressed with other traditional milk puddings like Farola or semolina and often would walk away from the dinner table with my pockets full of secreted spoonfuls rather than actually eat a bowl of the insipid stuff.
As I’m still buying about two kilos of apples a week – I never can resist those markets – I decided, after my success with the French Apple Cake, that it was time to chance an Irish version. I turned to Clare Connery’s Irish Cooking for inspiration and took her version of White Soda Bread as my base.
Ginger is big business in New Zealand. Whether it’s the pieces of ginger slice available in every café and bakery, gingernut biscuits beloved by the boyfriend’s parents, the many brands of commonly available ginger beer (not in the least bit like the insipid ginger ale mixer common in Irish bars) – the best of which is always a hotly debated topic of contention in the boyfriend’s household – or Ginger Bear sweets (like gummy bears, but with a ginger kick) it seems like the Kiwis just can’t get enough ginger.