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Sampling the City of Sails Smorgasbord

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on August 14, 2018

Sampling the "City of Sails Smorgasbord"

We love showing off our city and it's hidden treasures.

A couple of weeks ago, we were honoured to host a group from the Otago Daily Times.

Check out the fantastic article that they wrote up about visiting Auckland and sampling the "City of Sails Smorgasbord"

To Biddy

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on July 18, 2018

When I started The Big Foody, one of the most exiting things that I knew would happen was meeting the people behind the foods that we talked about. I have travelled the length and breadth of the country meeting people over the last 8 years and each and everyone of them has been fabulous. But it was Biddy Fraser-Davies who I wanted to meet the most.

From the first time Calum at Sabato gave me her cheese to try, to watching her on Country Calendar, hearing her plight against the monsters at MPI and speaking to her on the phone, she was a character I just wanted to spend some time with.

As much as we loved Biddy at The Big Foody, we loved her cows too. Biddy didn’t start making cheese until she was given her first house cow Gwendoline 15 years ago. Now Patsy, Dizzy, Holly, Isabel, Nellie, Nora and Lilly were all names of cows, I have photos of on my phone. In 2014 Biddy’s cheese won a super gold award at the World Cheese Awards in London! From the social metropolis of Eketahuna, in New Zealand, that cheese rocked the awards.

Earlier this year we had our fab group of 20, on a tour passing through Eketahuna and last minute I called Biddy to ask whether we could pop in. In true Biddy style she told me off for arranging our tour on a Monday when she was making cheese and couldn’t talk to us, but there she was at the end of the path waiting to welcome us to Cwmglynn and tell us her story.

We met the cows that have been part of our tours for years, saw the infamous model railway, chatted with Colin and Biddy and of course tried the cheese. When I got back on the bus with the group, a big part of me wanted to just jump off again and go and hang out some more. But driving away there was a very special feeling of “that was awesome!”

Biddy died last Friday unexpectedly and when Calum told me on Saturday I sat down and cried. Why? Because in the 4 or so years I have talked about Cwmglynn farmhouse cheese to our guests, I have learnt what tenacity, determination and standing up for your cause really meant. Because of Biddy, I have learnt more about making cheese, storing cheese, maturing cheese, Eketahuna (!) and keeping it real and authentic, than I have from anyone else.

God bless you Biddy, thank you for everything, I will miss you greatly.

 

Elle

 

The Big Foody PDX Featured in Iwanowski's Travel Blog

Posted by Laura Morgan on July 13, 2018

We recently hosted German Travel Guide writers, Dr. Margit Brinke and Dr. Peter Kränzle on our Portland Makers Walking Tour and they wrote about it on Iwanowski's Travel Blog! Dr's Brinke and Kränzle are two of the coolest human beings on the planet and it was so interesting to learn that where they came from in Bavaria is similar in values and culture to Portland and the Pacific Northwest. They ride bikes everywhere, toil away in community gardens during summer and are serious about good beer. 

Read their story here: Excursion to Foodie Town

If you speak German (or even if you don't) please check out their blog (and Iwanowski's Travel Guides to the USA) and come visit us in Portland!

 

 

 

 

 

Honoring the Life of Anthony Bourdain

Posted by Laura Morgan on July 05, 2018

Honoring the Life of Anthony Bourdain

 

This writing will probably go out on or near the day Anthony Bourdain would have been 62 years old. Even though it’s been a couple weeks since news of his death woke me up on that strange Friday morning, and I never knew him personally, I still feel heartbroken at having written that first sentence. Why is that? More important, why is it that so many of you in “the industry” were also so affected by this tragedy?

 

Speaking for myself, Tony changed everything when he debuted on the Food Network late in my high school years. On ‘A Cook’s Tour’ he was eating his way through Asia, meeting people and participating in food rituals that were so far from my own frame of reference – so far from anything that I had ever experienced. I was blown away and immediately knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. From that point forward, everything I’ve done is to put me one step closer to experiencing and learning from those food cultures that are foreign to me, as well as appreciating and learning more about my own. Admittedly, I read Kitchen Confidential shortly after that (and then anything else I could get my hands on) and again I realized - those are my people! That is where I belong! Everything he said appealed to me, which is why I pivoted my focus in college and work, into the food industry. I’ve done a lot of different jobs in “food,” but I’ve never desired to leave the industry since. I realized from mourning that I’m still as excited about discovery and driven by food as he made me all those years ago when I heard his voice on TV and in books for the first time.

 

I know now that most people in food feel the same. I haven’t heard from one person who wasn’t deeply affected by Tony’s passing. Whether it was A Cook’s Tour or Kitchen Confidential, or No Reservations or some other work, he spoke to people, whatever their language, in a way they could understand. If you’re a cook, it was with camaraderie - a grueling, but loved, shared experience. If you were a traveler, it was with poetry that kinda perfectly expressed the indescribable-ness of a person or a place. I guess what I’m trying to say is Tony gave a voice, demonstrated respect for people, especially frequently marginalized people, encouraged cultural reciprocity, and in doing so, made this a better place for all of us. I hope he knew that.

Butterflied Lamb Roast

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on July 04, 2018

Butterflied Lamb Roast with Rosemary, Garlic and Red Onion

This is a great recipe for this time of the year, it is super easy and a hearty winter meal with lots of garlic to boost your immunity! Butterflied Lamb is an easy alternative and doesn't take too long in the oven as opposed to anything on the bone.

It is fancy enough to serve up at a dinner party but easy enough for a weekly dinner also (it was last nights dinner in our family - a Tuesday night!)

 

INGREDIENTS

Butterflied Lamb 

Several twigs of Rosemary

1 x Red Onion chopped finely

3 x cloves of garlic chopped finely

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to season

Cooking twine

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Lay down the butterflied lamb as flat as you can and sprinkle over the chopped red onion, chopped garlic and rosemary.

Roll the butterflied lamb together as tightly as possible and use the cooking twine to hold it together.

Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Place into the oven at 170 degrees for 1 and a half hours.

 

Serve with fresh seasonal vegetables (like broccoli) and roasted veggies of potatoes, pumpkin and kumara or sliced on top of herby steamed couscous tossed with orange zest, olives, parsley, coriander and lots of lemon juice and olive oil.

 

If there is any left over, we love shepherds pie or a hearty Middle Eastern soup made with tomatoes, paprika, cumin, chilli and beans - we'll add the recipe. 

 

 

Top 7 things to do on a chilly Auckland Winter's Day 

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on July 04, 2018

Top 7 things to do on a chilly Auckland Winter's Day

 

It's that time of the year, it's rainy and it's cold and you would rather stay at home (and feel miserable) ... and we don't blame you. But we at the Big Foody Food Tours have come up with our favourite 7 ways to cheer you up on a chilly Auckland Winter's Day and bring a smile back to your face.

 

Book yourself a night away at the Vineyard Cottages nestled between the vines in North West Auckland. You will be able to set yourself up in front of your own private fireplace, home-baked cookies and warm welcome drink on arrival. They've even got some Winter Escapes up on their website at the moment including super indulgent pampering sessions at Spa Di Vine and Trust the Chef dining options at the Hunting Lodge. With the north west region having so much to offer, the Vineyard Cottages is the perfect accommodation choice.


 

While you're in the beautiful North West region and enjoying a night away at The Vineyard Cottages, check out the award winning Tasting Shed. Not far from the Vineyard Cottages at all and we can arrange transportation if needed. A dinner at the Tasting Shed is an absolute delight! Delicious ‘sharing’ plates that may take you outside your comfort zone, with different combinations and varieties, but always amazing! Always fresh and seasonal produce, amazing service and a great international wine list. Definitely one to add to your dining Bucket List.

 

Make a complete weekend of it with an indulgent His and Hers massage at Spa Di Vine before returning to your Vineyard Cottages luxury accommodation. Spa Di Vine has been running since 2002 and offers a wide variety of beauty and spa treatments. Check out Vineyard Cottages special as part of the Winter Escape’s Ultimate Spa and Gastronomy Stay . Get your pampering in and then head to the Vineyard Cottages and relax with in front of your private fireplace - the perfect winter getaway in this chilly weather and sure to put a spring back into your step.

 

Citrus, Citrus, Citrus!! There is a reason that citrus is in season at this time of the year. We think that the brights of oranges, lemons and limes definitely brighten up our days, who can’t resist bright colours and tastes of something summery. There is nothing better than fresh mandarins, lemons or grapefruit straight off a tree, whether it’s your own, your neighbours or even pick-your own - google it they do exist! But at this time of the year, they also do us good with those boosts of Vitamin C. Check out our recipe for our favourite Lemon and Honey toddy and more citrus recipes on the blog.


Go for a drive through North West Auckland. It is the perfect destination for a weekend drive, with so many different options. Whether your looking to get back to nature, looking to dine in some fantastic restaurants or something more adventurous. Our favourites include Muriwai and the Gannet Colony and lunch at the Tasting Shed (Fri - Sun) or Halleratau. The options are endless with horse riding on Muriwai Beach, 4WD or Mountain biking in Woodhill Forest, Skydiving, Tree Adventures… the list goes on. And if you’ve exhausted yourself and want to spend the night, don’t forget us at the Vineyard Cottages.


Make yourself some winter comfort-food. We know this probably won’t get you out of the house, but your warm, satisfied belly will definitely make you feel happy and content. We have included some of The Big Food’s favourite recipes below (and on the blog). Roast lamb, soups, crockpot recipes and warm satisfying desserts!!




Join us on a Big Foody Food Tour! With winter here we’ve got hot coffees to enjoy and taste, satisfying bakery items  and lots of other warming goodies. Our guests may be bundled up with jackets and beanies but there is still heaps to taste and sample and learn about Auckland. Our tours are vibrant and exciting and you will learn all about Auckland, the city surrounded by water, volcanoes, vineyards and beaches. As the gateway to the rest of the country Auckland is the first port of call for many visitors coming to New Zealand and our tours are designed to give you the very best introduction to our gorgeous city and country. See you soon.

A little known fruit the Persimmon

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on May 17, 2018

A little known fruit - the Persimmon.

 

As we arrived at the Pick Your Own Orchard, a group of Chinese tourists were just leaving with their boot of their car packed to the brim with bags of Persimmons. “$300 worth of Persimmons they just purchased” explained the Ross, the owner of the Shiziyuan Persimmon Orchard.

The kids and I watched as they drove off and we too grabbed our plastic bags to start picking, but I explained carefully, we will not be picking $300’s worth, just half a bag full for now shall do.

For us, it certainly is a fruit not so familiar to our fruit bowl, and many have not heard nor tasted a Persimmon before.

It is not a surprise however, that the Persimmon is very highly regarded in the Asian culture with a near religious following, being Japan’s national fruit and originating from China. Being bright reddish in colour and shaped like a round Chinese lantern, they symbolise luck and often used for festive decorations and they are often given as lucky presents to newlyweds to symbolise eternal love. They are also often planted in temples as it is said four virtues - long life, sheltering birds, giving shade and freedom from insects and pests.

 

In the western world however, the persimmon has remained more of a home gardener sort of fruit. But why not change that? Persimmons are such a versatile fruit and easy to grow. They are really reliable croppers and mostly disease free. And provide a beautiful backdrop with their leaves turning spectacular shades of fiery red and burst of orange after their harvests in late autumn - even in the mildest climates. And did you know that Persimmons are technically considered a berry?!! Maybe a Persimmon tree in your backyard is not a bad idea? When slightly unripe, they have an apple-like crunch with a sweet and slight nutty flavour and when fully ripe they become a juicy, sweet, syrupy basket of goodness and this is what our Japanese and Chinese friends are obsessed with.

 

There are two main types of Persimmon, astringent and non-astringent. Historically all Persimmon were astringent and not edible until they were completely ripe. Because of their astringent nature, they could also not be transported or kept very well, until in the 1960’s when Israeli plant breeders developed (often believed by accident) the first non-astringent Persimmon. It meant that Persimmon could be eaten while still firm and shipped practically anywhere in the world (and stored for months). Today non- astringent Persimmons are the norm and grown worldwide, the most common type of non-astringent Persimmon in the Fruyu.

 

Persimmon tea leaves are also said to have superb health benefits. They are high in fibre and high in tannins which can help digestion. They also have properties that can help prevent high blood pressure. In parts of Japan, the leaves are used to wrap sushi as they have antiseptic properties.

 

A trip out to the Persimmon Farm is definitely worth the trip out not, not just for a foodie adventure but to have a good old chat to Ross, who as it turns out, grew up on a big farm, not far from our base here at the Vineyard Cottages, he has a huge wealth of local knowledge, he worked at the historical dairy farm in Helensville and he can tell you many stories of local happenings and of course is super passionate about anything Persimmons! Ross has been on this property for over 20 years now and has opened his orchard to the public for the last 20 years. This ANZAC Day was his busiest day yet! Find him at 152 Rimmer Road, Helensville open for Pick Your Own from ANZAC Day till June (if the birds don’t get to the Persimmons first).

 

Quick and Super Easy Persimmon Sorbet

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on May 17, 2018

Quick and Super Easy Persimmon Sorbet

 

Persimmons are a super versatile fruit, simply eat them like an apple while still firm, add into salads, use them in cookies and cakes, puddings, curries or make chutneys and relishes or even fruit leather.

One of The Big Foody Food Tours favourite ways to enjoy a Persimmon is this sweet quick and super easy Persimmon sorbet.

 

  1. Choose some beautifully coloured orange Persimmons, slightly on the ripe side.
  2. Cut the tops off the Persimmons.
  3. Gently cut some criss-cross lines into the top of the Persimmons.
  4. Put the Persimmons into the freezer.
  5. About half an hour prior before planning to devour this delicious treat, take the Persimmons of of the freezer and let defrost.
  6. When the Persimmons have defrosted enough to easily scoop out its contents with a spoon, simply sit down and ENJOY!


Check out the rest of our Persimmon recipes on our blog to freshen up, lighten up and add some up colour to your Autumn meals.

 

Persimmon and Feta Salad

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on May 16, 2018

Persimmon and Feta Salad

This salad is perfect for this  Autumn weather. With the last of our late summer produce now gone, adding Persimmons to your dishes, especially salads, its a great way to keep that freshness going for a little while longer and adds a beautiful burst of colour to your meals at this time of the year.

 

Salad Ingredients

1 firm Persimmon

Couple of handfuls of mixed salad greens eg. rocket mesclun etc

150g Feta

 

Dressing Ingredients

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 tsp dry mustard powder, 1/4 tsp sugar

Dash of salt and pepper

1 tablespoon good quality olive oil

2 tablespoons sunflower or other mild oil.

 

Arrange your mixed greens in a shallow salad bowl.

Slice the Persimmon into thin slices and place on top of the salad greens.

Gently crumble the feta over the top. 

Just prior to serving drizzle the dressing over the salad.

 

You can adapt this salad easily by adding cucumber into it as well.

Roasted Almonds or walnuts would also add a nice touch.

If you don't have any feta, why not try a beautiful blue cheese (we at the Big Foody Food Tours love the Kapiti Baby Kikorangi) or Brie or Camembert.

 

 

 

ANZAC recipe

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on April 13, 2018

ANZAC Day is celebrated in New Zealand on the 25th of April. ANZAC Day is a national remembrance day in New Zealand and Australia that commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. 
ANZAC biscuits were sent to soldiers abroad by wives and woman's group as the ingredients did not spoil and kept well during the naval transportation.
These delicious sweet, oaty biscuits are still enjoyed today and we have got the recipe for you

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dessicated coconut

1 cup white flour

1 cup white sugar

125 g butter

2 Tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tbsp boiling water

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a baking tray or line with baking paper.

Combine the oats, coconut, flour, and sugar together in a large bowl.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together. Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water and add to the butter mixture. Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together.

Roll teaspoons into balls and place on the tray, allowing room for them to spread.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, cooking one tray at a time.