Coming across some raw chorizo sausage recently at Verkerks‘ butchers I decided to try out one of the recipes from the Mediterranean Café’s Tapas Evening. I also wanted to try out the Spanish smoked paprika that Chef Nik had used with such success that night but, naturally, the recipe sheet had disappeared. Still, if I’ve something in my mind, I don’t normally let something small like the lack of a recipe dissuade me.
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After a stressful week, all you want to do at the weekend is get out of the city (without driving too far), stay in a comfortable place (without paying too much) and eat some good food. In search of just such a place, the Boyfriend and I stayed at the historic Governors Bay Hotel last weekend. Although it is only about a forty minute drive from Christchurch, once you emerge from the Lyttelton tunnel, which cuts through the Port Hills directly south of the city, you feel like you’re arriving in another, more relaxed world.
Due to the vagaries of the post between Ireland and New Zealand, my reading of the Observer Food Monthly is always a few weeks behind. Seeing as we’re never in season with the produce it doesn’t really matter and it’s always a red letter day when the most recent edition arrives, along with recipes and restaurant reviews torn from Irish publications – thanks again Mum!
Bread is very important to me. I love it fresh, I love it stale and ready for toasting, l love it with cheese, I love it in particular – fresh or toasted – with good salty butter. I love the way it mops up your plate after you’ve had a particularly tasty tomato pasta dish. I love the yeasty smell from the breadmaker as it cooks yet another loaf of homemade bread. I love making my own Brown Soda Bread and, most importantly, eating it. In short, I can’t fathom a life without bread. That was why it was so important, after I moved to Christchurch – before the coming of the breadmaker – to find a local source of decent bread. The only time I ever use slice pan or a sliced loaf from the supermarket is when I’m temping and need something quick and easy to make my sandwiches for lunch. But it’s not something that I’d chose as part of my normal daily life.
As it’s winter at this side of the world – although the temperatures seem to have taken a turn for the better lately – I’ve been cooking lots of soups. I love making anything that just takes 20 minutes of chopping and frying, and then is happy to sit simmering on the cooker for an hour or longer, until it’s done. As a result of my interest in dried peas, beans and lentils, there’s always a cupboard full of various legumes to be incorporated into soup and one of the best soups around can be made with dried green split peas.
New Zealand baker Dean Brettschneider was one of the people that I encountered at the recent Savour New Zealand in Christchurch. Together with Lorraine Jacobs, a Cuisine food editor, he has recently published Taste, the third in a series of quality books on baking. At Savour New Zealand, when not signing stacks of Taste and his other books, he gave an eagerly anticipated class called Kneading the Dough in which he made a loaf of my favourite sourdough bread.