And because circumstances rarely match, and one afternoon can be a patchwork of both joy and horror, the taste of the soup washed through me. Warm, kind, focused, whole. It was easily, without question, the best soup I had ever had, made by a chef who found true refuge in cooking.
~ Aimee Bender, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Do you ever feel like you want to be everywhere at once? I most certainly do. There are too many great places and people spread in a million directions. I want to hang out with friends in a dozen countries. Visit the places where I grew up. Feel my heart soar in La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Watch the sunlight skip across the glistening blue water at the Cape of Good Hope. Drink earthy, rounded coffee with condensed milk in Hanoi. See, smell, feel, listen, taste, be.
It’s been a delicious week, too. Emily and I swung by the NZ Food Innovation Showcase where we got to meet some of the faces behind a few brands like Venerdi (they do a pizza base which I’d be proud to feed non-gluten-intolerant folk too!) and Flyhidrate. It was fascinating too to go beyond the stuff on our plates/in our tummies and take a look at what is going on with packaging, research, exports… I enjoyed listening to people talk about their businesses too. I just wish I had had time to attend a seminar or two!
Emily and I also made a spontaneous decision to go to Taste of New Zealand. It was raining on the evening we went down to Victoria Park. We sought shelter beneath our red umbrellas as we walked from tent to tent, squishing along on the wet and slightly muddy grass. We talked, and laughed, and ate. Oh, and in true New Zealand style, we griped about the weather (really, though, I rather think the rain made it all more fun).
Memories of that evening are sparkling like coloured bits of stained glass in my mind as I type this now. Oh, how to sum up all the highlights?
It was great to meet and chat briefly with Pic, the man behind some really good PB. I will now associate that brand not just with yummy peanut butter – but a pair of very kind eyes too.
Chef Marco Edwardes/Te Whau’s stall was serving up seared Whangamata scallops with almond gazpacho, black olive, golden raisins, young cress, Te Whau chardonnay-vinaigrette. How could I resist? I was glad I didn’t. It was so fresh, you could taste each element perfectly and it was like Sweet and Salty were two equal-sized children sitting on two ends of a see-saw. The black olive dots were startling, like sherbert. Emily and I both enjoyed this! Also, I did a cooking class with Chef Marco earlier this year, so it was nice to say hello and talk for a few minutes too.
Emily’s eye fell on (and so we got a plate of) Cocoro’s prawn and courgette filo tempura, tartare and Worcestershire sauce, Tonburi and Wasabi Tobiko field and sea caviar. Yes, that’s quite a mouthful to recite, but eating these was not quite so difficult. The prawn and courgette pieces were like candles within filo lanterns – the batter was remarkable, light and intricate like crispy interwoven threads, coating but not stifling the warm fillings. The sauce was a backup singer to the lead vocalists (batter, prawn, courgette). I don’t know for sure that they used the principles of umami in this dish, but I’m prepared to hazard a guess that they did so (successfully). A delight to eat.
Regal Salmon held an interested audience with a lively demonstration up front and passed around some really delicious plates for everyone – in particular, I relished what closely resembled a fresh Spring rose (sushi rice wrapped with fresh salmon petals and topped with a few bright pearls of caviar).
The table holding Lisa’s yet-to-be-sold-in-stores range of dips held a crowd who were immune to “please let us through” signals from the people behind. I have to admit that when I finally got to try the Moroccan carrot, I pretty much had to be shoved out of the way, too.
The Neat Meat Company Ltd sure lived up to its name…
And oh, Petal Cupcakes sure are a treat! I have often been of the view that cupcakes look a hundred times better than they taste (kind of similar to the way I feel about pancakes). Well, these ones taste infinitely better than they look (and they are very pretty, too). Loved the peach and red velvet buttermilk cupcake bits I got to try!
The People’s Wine let us all unleash our inner artist:
Oh and this doesn’t even begin to summarise it all. There was a champagne and oyster bar. Live music. Some beautiful wine from the Canterbury/Otago border – Pasquale. A zesty range of soap from Ecostore (try the lemongrass!). A pleasing medley of beautiful cooking aromas. A demonstration of how to make nasi goreng. Addmore’s very delicious elderflower cordial. Fudge. Spicy macadamias. Capsicum jam. Vintage blue cheese. Pear cider. Soy and ginger tofu. Venison.
Some of these I tasted, some I averted my eyes from. You will understand that if I ate everything there was to eat, I would have exploded and that wouldn’t have been a nice thing to do to the people around me.
As this limoncello lingered on my tongue and slipped smoothly down my throat, I realised I didn’t want any other flavour getting in the way of that beautiful, beautiful taste. Luckily, Emily was quite full too so we left shortly after this, feeling sated.
The Skycity was looking pretty glam, though my camera unfortunately failed to adequately capture this (it refused to focus as it was feeling sleepy)…
And that wasn’t the last I’d seen of food for the night…
I arrived home to a lovely surprise: homemade fudge! From none other than sweet Kath!) So my breakfast the next day was a sample kiwifruit I got given at Taste (juicy juicy loveliness, thank you Zespri) and Kath’s dangerously good fudge. How’s that for a balanced and delicious breakfast? :-)