I spent a few days at The Food Show in Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds this year. One day where I roamed about with my mother, getting a feel for things, and another two days where I was part of the action, manning a stand with my friends from L’Authentique Charcuterie.
As always, the place was jumping, with thousands of people tasting and talking over four days. Stand holders ranged from New Zealand’s largest supermarket chain (who had taken possession of one complete wall of the stadium, as they are wont to do) through to the smallest artisan producers, showing love and care for their beautiful handmade products. It was the small guys who excited me most.
There were many things I liked at The Food Show, but these are the ones I liked the best. Special mention should also go to Good George Brewing, for their craft beer supply at the end of a long day (cool bottles too); Soul Organics Juices, for giving me a carroty energy boost just when I needed it; and Ripe Deli for their fresh salads, packed with veggie goodness after too much meat.
L’Authentique – how could I not write about these guys first? I learned a huge amount about their products over the two days I worked with them. Although I had always known that their range of sausages, pates and other charcuterie was authentically French and always delicious, I hadn’t appreciated the high quality and values built into everything they make. All their pates and parfaits are dairy free, while retaining the creaminess you’d associate with ridiculous amounts of butter (of which there is none). Their sausages are gluten free (no using bread as a filler for these bangers), and the high quality meat cuts they use (pork shoulder for many) means they don’t require the long cooking times of lesser products. Even after a weekend of selling sausages and pate I was still happy to eat L’Authentique Traditional Toulouse sausages in rolls for dinner afterwards. Delicious indeed. Keep an eye out for their new pates; Cracked Pepper and Chicken and Sage, made with free range chicken livers and not much else.
Huffman’s Crafty Sauces– what could be more perfect for a good sausage than some good quality tomato ketchup? This is exactly what Huffman’s have created. I bought both their Spiced Bloody Mary Tomato Ketchup and their Thai Sweet Chilli Aromatic Sauce. The ketchup has a great hit of celery seeds and enough chilli to keep a heat freak like me interested. The sweet chilli is sweet, but very authentic, with a wonderful hit of kaffir lime leaves. The sugar content for both products is significantly lower than mass produced equivalents, and their products are 100% natural. No numbers here.
Hogarth Craft Chocolate – craft chocolate making is is becoming a bit of a thing at the moment, and after trying Hogarth’s amazing chocolate, I can see why. They bring cocoa beans in from all over the world: Madagascar, Venezuela, Peru and the Dominican Republic. They roast them locally (in Nelson), grind them, and mix with a bit of sugar and cocoa butter to create the most delicate and pure chocolate I think I’ve ever eaten.
I had expected that once I got to 75% cocoa solids (Hogarth’s chocolate is no less than 70%) I’d be making that face you make when chocolate is overly strong and bitter. But no, this chocolate seems to get just more creamy, rich and delicious the darker it gets. If you’re not a complete puritan, you can also opt for their Gianduia, which is made with Nelson grown hazelnuts. I should also add that their packaging and the wave design on each block is just beautiful.
Be Nourished – These guys make a wonderful range of sauerkraut and kimchi, all completely alive and active! I’m new to the fermented foods thing: I make my own kombucha and yoghurt, but really haven’t quite come to the party with fermented vegetables. These guys have made me pull on my party dress, do my hair and embrace the deliciousness that is fermented cabbage. The sauerkraut pairs extraordinarily well with sausages (clever Germany!), cutting through the richness of the pork and adding a lovely zest. While being extremely good for you of course. Once again, these products have no preservatives or artificial additives, so there’s nothing but the good stuff here. I’m converted.
For the Love of Tams – These people make a truly tasty Tamarillo Relish, which is unlike anything I’ve tasted before. Generally tamarillo relish/chutney can be a bit non-descript, a bit heavy on the vinegar and a bit light on the actual fruit that is supposed to be the star. For The Love of Tams Tamarillo Relish tastes like tamarillos. It’s is produced by the NZ Tamarillo Co-operative, who are a small group of specialist tamarillo growers, and the flavour of this product shows just how much they care. The relish has a tiny bit of colour added from the vinegars they use, and a small amount of preservative from the raisins. Otherwise, everything in this jar is just as it should be.
House of Dumplings – when I managed to sneak off for a break during a long day serving pate to unsuspecting passersby, I made a beeline for these guys. I tried three of their dumplings; Shanghai Pork and Cabbage, Crystal Prawn and a middle eastern lamb. I wanted to try authentic Chinese dumplings, but also something a bit different. All three were amazing, but the lamb stood out in its unusualness. When I spoke to Vicky Ha later in the day, she recommended the Chicken and Coriander, which is made to her mother’s recipe (I didn’t try them after being told they were the most popular, that’ll teach me to be contrary). So I’ve bought a pack of frozen chicken dumplings home for later, along with a bottle of Mum’s Sauce (soy, vinegar, garlic, ginger, yum!). They also do a mean chilli oil, packed with chillis and not for the faint of heart. I tried to convince Vicky to move to Auckland, but she wasn’t having it, so for now we’ll need to be content with buying the frozen from Farro, or visiting La Cigale at the weekends.
Satya – these guys get my award for recognising a problem and fixing it. They’ve packaged up wonderful spice mixes, pre-toasted, in jars with built-in grinders. That way, you get all the flavour of freshly ground spices, but with far less effort than using a mortar and pestle. When I spoke to them about when to add the spices during the cooking process, I was told that they can be added throughout, to suit your own taste. As they’ve already been toasted, they don’t need cooking prior to adding other ingredients. I bought a Chai mix to create simple chai at home, but there is a huge range, including a Za’tar and Masala. The aroma when the spices are ground is marvellous.