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Last Saturday I was at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium and once again I was left in no doubt that New Zealand is indeed a rugby nation. I saw scrums and mauls that would have delighted the heart of any All Black coach, the speed and determination with which they jinked and barged through to get a try would have won any number of world cups but I wasn’t there to watch rugby... I was at the Cake Tin for The Food Show 2012.
What is it about the prospect of a free tablespoon of wine or a small slice of chipolata that puts calm, ordinary people into a feeding frenzy? Mothers driving baby buggies like the chariots of Boudicca, people standing shoulder to shoulder with all the resolution of the British square as they consume all before them…the considered tasting of a newly released vintage, the appreciation of a spicy tracklement or appraisal of a fine cheese seem all too often to come second to consuming the entry price in tastings and samples.
That said, I do enjoy The Food Show and think it is a most worthwhile enterprise, deserving of even wider support from both producers/exhibitors and public. I realise The Food Show only happens in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch but if you can get to one, you can have a most enjoyable and worthwhile time. Over the years I have found that the best way to enjoy a visit though is to go on a weekday and to arrive early in the day, not too early on the first day as some exhibitors are not always quite ready for their public but certainly before the lunchtime crowds.
This year I didn’t go to any of the $50 Masterclasses or free cooking demonstrations but instead I spent more time at the stands that really took my interest and found a few special high spots.
I unashamedly coveted the wonderful Falk Culinair copper cookware on display at the ProChef stand; made of 2.5mm copper lined with a thin layer of stainless steel, these beautiful and heavy professional pans will last a lifetime without the need, as is often the case with copper pans, of re-tinning the inside. Although unsuitable for dishwashers, the copper has a brushed texture which is easily cleaned with a fine sponge. Details of these and of ProChef’s range of other quality kitchen equipment can be found at www.prochef.co.nz.
I was lucky enough to meet and chat with Sarah Nicholson, the editor of Cuisine on that magazine’s stand. I have been a subscriber to Cuisine since its first edition 25 years ago and still think it to be consistently the best food magazine I have read and I was happy to take the opportunity to tell her. Cuisine is up with food fashions, it’s well-written, beautifully presented and relevant to New Zealand, in fact a must for any Kiwi with an interest in food. I was pleased to see them at the show and do recommend you sign up at least for their newsletter at www.cuisine.co.nz and who knows, you may even choose to subscribe to the magazine.
Another person I was pleased to meet was a winner of a Cuisine Artisan Award in 2010; he is Pic Picot, the man behind Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter, surely the finest peanut butter found in New Zealand…it’s the one with the red star on the lid. He uses high-oil content peanuts, Australian since we don’t grow them here, which means he doesn’t need to add oil like other brands. The only other ingredient is the minimum amount of salt required to bring out the full flavour of the nuts and if you don’t like that, he makes an unsalted version. Such is Pic’s interest in and dedication to peanut butter that his company is now investigating the idea of varietal peanut butters made from different types of peanuts. Please can I be a taster!!? You can find out more about Pic and his peanuts at www.reallygood.co.nz and there are even some good recipes there.
I was about to leave the show, looking forward to a lunch in adult-sized pieces without toothpicks, when I saw my last high spot, the Wonderbites stand. At it I met Mike and Mary Bennett who won their stand at the show after entering a Dominion Post competition for one with their Wonderbites snack bars. After 10 years research and development the couple produced their first commercial batch of Wonderbites a matter of days before the food show. The bars are low GI, high fibre, low sodium and have under 10% sugar and under10% fat making them much more suitable in a healthy diet, especially for those concerned with weight management and for diabetics, than so many other snack bars on the market. The three bars in the range are packed in cartoon decorated boxes with comprehensive and easily understood nutritional information. I tried a raspberry and almond bar and delighted to find no trace of the usual glued-together-with-sugar texture. Certainly for me, this was one of the real food finds of this year’s food show and I suggest you have a look at their website www.wonderbites.co.nz.
So there it is…not all the same stands are at all the shows but I hope you get to one of them and like me enjoy finding your foodie high spots.