By Andrew Frame
I’ve become disillusioned with supermarket food.
Cadbury changes the recipe of their chocolate, allegedly putting orangutans at risk. Wattie’s Food in a Minute promotes freezable avocado in a tub, because buying an avocado, cutting it open and scooping out the greeny goodness inside is apparently just too arduous a task.
Everything has this colouring, that flavouring or a chemical that is either used in appearance medicine or to knock out charging rhinos at fifty paces … sometimes both. I’ve even seen duck confit in a can. How they got the duck in there I’m not sure, but it makes battery-farmed pigs sound pretty tame by comparison.
So for the past year, our household has been regressing.
Beloved has amassed a rather impressive collection of recipe books and they have been taking a hammering.
We’ve made our own bread thanks to Jamie Oliver. By hand that is, no technical whiz-bang machinery needed here to make a loaf the size of a rugby ball (without the bounce I discovered). Nigella Lawson showed us how to make our own granola, saving loads on supermarket cereal. We’ve even been making one curry a week from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible. We’ve had the book for almost a year now and have only just progressed from red meat to poultry. We’re hoping to get to the vegetable section sometime in the next decade.
It has even encouraged me to help in the kitchen.
Until recently I’ve been quite cucinaphobic, constantly afraid that anything I attempt would result in the words “111 Emergency, what service do you require?” I am now highly proficient at cutting up onions without losing any fingers or getting overly stupefied by the juices, using the blender (“Me man, use power-tools, smash food, Urgh!”), and I can even make a very decent egg and chorizo scramble (it’s supposed to be an omelette, but just never works out).
Hawke’s Bay has provided one of the best sources of good, natural ingredients.
In Napier, Chantal Foods has a massive selection of the basics: spices, rice, flours, fruits, nuts. Many of which are organic or locally sourced. I remember being taken there as a child and thinking it was all a bit alternative. Now we, like a growing number of people disillusioned with what is being put in their food, go there every week to form the basis of our diets. We also use Vetro in Ahuriri for some of the swankier and Mediterranean ingredients (Beloved’s lasagne meat sauce is to die for).
The Farmers Market has of course just grown and grown and is a wonderful destination on Sunday mornings. With so many stalls, smells, flavours, tastes and colours, the place is an impulse buyer’s heaven. It’s taken us over a year to limit how much we spend there. I’m not too ashamed to admit that that was mostly my fault. I’m drooling just typing about it.
Bolderson’s in Havelock North is becoming a regular stop, as they sell Schoc Chocolates from Greytown. With flavours ranging from chilli, salt and tequila to more standard tastes, they are well worth a try. Earlier this year Beloved and I even went for a daytrip down through Wairarapa just to get some.
Bellatino’s, also in Havelock, is one of our new favourite stores too. Bart, originally from Long Island in the United States, seriously loves his food. With a great range of food, organic and local produce are a big feature. The place has the feel (and sound) of what I imagine a New York deli would be like.
There is just so much to choose from. After Tom’s column on the problems of getting Hawke’s Bay wines onto the worldwide market, I’ve been considering if we should rebrand the region from Wine Country to Food Country. It sounds delicious!
Now youll have to excuse me … I’m off to get some breakfast before I start gnawing on the keyboard again.