Blog

When The Boss Is Away!

Posted by on July 24, 2017

Wow! What a month of touring! 
Our fearless leader aka Big Cheese aka Elle, was away for the month of July, and I was left holding the baby, the actual baby (Miss Charlotte is now 6 months old, where does the time go?!) and the Foody baby! (the Business) but jeeze what a neat time we had.
Apologies for the lack of instagram posts - in her rush to jet set away, I didn't pick her brains for the blimmin password and as she usually scolds me for making my beloved Grid Pics, I thought better to infuriate her by posting them on Facebook willy nilly in her absence! So....I've saved up the hightlights til now.
To be honest, I've been pretty darned terrible at remembering to snap pictures whilst on tour lately. My mouth tends to run away on me (as usual) & I also end up busy playing paparazzi for our guests juggling their phones & sometimes proper cameras (shock horror! people STILL use them!) taking snaps of them so they don't end up with a holiday album full of selfies

You'll see snaps of: 

Our favourite Earthbound honey enjoyed in the sun in the amphitheater at The Pumphouse in Takapuna

Fresh Tamarillos from the farmers market in the weekend - mixed reviews from our american taste testers! 

Exploring Golf Courses with curious Koreans 

The sheer delight from a guest from Yorkshire enjoying Giapo's genius ice cream creation from a Yorkshire pud!

Auckland showing off some stunning crisp but clear days 

Glorious seafood enjoyed on the water front 

Korean Pancakes that delight everyone that comes into contact with them 


What you can't see pictures of:
 

Cheeky Australians hassling my kiwi accent (so predictable huh?!) 

Close friends creating lifelong memories while on a celebratory birthday trip

Honeymooners just starting out their overseas adventures together (Aaaaawwww)

Wonder and amazement about The Albert Park Tunnels from a local on tour.

Laughter (complete with full snorting) during a conversation stuck up with a quirky retailer

The glorious smell of freshly roasted coffee by one of the pioneers on the Auckland coffee scene 

A mad dash in the pouring rain that came from NOWHERE (typical Auckland weather!) to get into the Auckland Museum at the end of the tour 

The look of surprise followed by ecstasy on the face of a cheese lover after tasting some of our locally produced edam.  

Warm friendly hugs with guests who I don't want to say bye to!


Wow! What a nice little moment of reflection! We really do meet some super awesome people on tour, even though we may only spend a half day with them, that few hours really leaves an impact. For me heading out to tour in the morning or afternoon is like Forrest Gumps Box of Chocolates, you just never know what you're gonna get! 

We have guests from all walks of life, of all ages and from all over the world and even locals who are heading out to play 'tourist' for the day.
Our guests are usually super excited to explore our city, pick our brains with all sorts of interesting questions (including a lot about Rugby!) and by the end of the tour, I've come away having learnt something about their home town (which of course gives me the urge to travel!) and sometimes a little extra appreciation for what we have here in my own backyard (our GIANT green lipped mussels, all things feijoa, easy access to meat pies wherever we are, our relatively safe and clean city, stunning beaches, cheese, cheese, cheese, our laid back friendly nature, awesome variety of asian cuisine scattered thoughout the city and suburbs and loads more)
I consider myself very lucky to do this on a regular basis that's for sure. But now that Elle is back, I'll stop checking my phone at 3am to see if a new booking has come in! I'll leave that to her!
Thanks for reading my waffling thoughts & thanks to all our amazing suppliers who consistently make our guests welcome (and some who sneak me extra cheese)
Cheers
Colleen

Truffle Season

Posted by on June 27, 2017


The precious little balls of underground fungi are starting to ripen and be discovered by truffle dogs throughout our region. Canterbury has more truffle growers and truffles than anywhere else in New Zealand, and the biggest collection of them is in my region, North Canterbury.
This is recognised during the Canterbury Truffle Festival, which is happens from 15th to 30th of July. It’s a food and wine event which celebrates the coming of age of the New Zealand truffle business. It has become one of New Zealand’s premier gourmet experiences, and compliments the increasing focus on this region for premium food and wine.
The truffle season itself is much longer than this, particularly at Limestone Hills where they grow four different types of truffle, extending the season throughout most of the year. Watching Rosie the Beagle hunt for truffles is one of my favourite parts of the Wild Food and Winery Tour. Rosie invariably gets distracted by the hazelnuts which have fallen from the trees the truffles grow under. Just as all seems lost, she’ll remind you why she’s one of the best in the business and unearth something precious. It’s almost as if she has a sense of timing and drama!
I’m organising a special event as part of the Truffle Festival this year. It’s called ‘Truffle Day Out’ and will be held on Sunday 30th July. It will be a great introduction to the region; its wine and truffles. The day will begin with a truffle hunt at a local truffiere, continue with a wine & truffle tasting masterclass, include lunch cooked by one of our regions most famous chefs, Jonny Schwass, and move on to an afternoon cooking workshop with the legend himself. There will be truffle to purchase, and lots of tips and techniques to take away with you.
If those mysterious, seductive and transformative underground fungal treats are on your bucket list this will be the perfect way to spend a day. Book tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/truffle-day-out-tickets-35472959577

Five Days of Fun and Friendships

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on March 28, 2017

Recipe for a great five days. 

10 Australians

1 American

1 Kiwi

1 Minibus

A handful of the following:

Coffee Roaster, organic honey, curd nerd, wine maker, brewer, veggie gardener, oyster shucker and his mrs, food writer and know it all, chef, baker, some wild food, Olive Oil without Popeye,

Generous amounts of :

Good humour, fresh food, great views and sparkling harbour waters. 

Method

Using the Kiwi, marinate the Australians and American for 6 months in using a premade mix. 

Day one

Begin by soaking in caffeine for an hour. Drain and mix with cheese and a light feed. Leave for a couple of hours. Feed again with cheese, beer, lamb and feijoas. Rest overnight. 

Day Two

Sweeten with honey and add a fresh vegetable salsa. Mix wines and soak for an hour. Finish the process for the day adding a little beer and hazelnuts 

Day Three

Forage and find wild berries and leaves. Place mix in a water bath in the fresh air.  Add an ugly carrot and cover for the day. 

Day Four

Long process day. Wake early. Discard the minibus and split into two groups. Mix for one hour. Add foodwriter to the mix and leave with other ingredients in the open air. With care add the oyster shucker and his Mrs. Spread liberally with fresh air and fresh lemon. Light feeding and mix for an hour. Rest on the beach. Feed in a metal container.

Day Five

Separate Kiwi from the rest of the group. Separately leave in a water bath for an hour. Drown in olive oil and wine. Wrap in Pasta and serve.

 

The end result should look like this. 

 

Stay With Us

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on March 08, 2017

We're a little bit biased but we're right, Auckland has many many hidden gems and we've been lucky enough to take over one of them! The Vineyard Cottages were built in the early 2000's by Bill and Eileen Spence on the back of their vineyard Matua Estate. The Spence brothers were famous for introducing Sauvignon Blanc to New Zealand which is now over 75% of the wine produced in New Zealand

We packed our lives into a truck,  threw the cat in a cage and dogs in the front seat of the car and moved to the rolling hills of the Waikoukou Valley and North West Auckland. There are seven cottages each individually decorated to match the variety of wine they are named after. The pinnacle of the property is the little event centre which can host up to 35 people for events and weddings. A veranda wraps around the lodge perfect for BBQ's and long lunches. 

It was love at first sight and over the last three months we've travelled around the area and met some of the nicest people in the region, all very passionate about the local area and showing it off. The Kumeu wine region has a number of boutique vineyards producing world class wines. The glorious black sand Muriwai Beach is 15kms away from the cottages and home to an enormous gannet colony. We've walked the dogs for miles along the black sands as the waves have crashed around us and sand has sparkled below our feet. 

The area is very famous for it's produce too and having said goodbye to our old faithful vegetable garden, we've thoroughly enjoyed the farm stands and local veggie shops where produce is coming straight from their land and onto the shelves.

Later this month we have our first five day food and wine tour of the Auckland Region and will be adding more dates for later this year and 2018!!!! To sign up for the five day tours, please email us at [email protected] so we can add you to the list!

We've had such an amazing variety of guests coming to stay with us in the last three months and some wonderful nights sharing travel and food stories. From local wedding guests to international tourists, conference groups and honeymooners, this is the perfect spot to kick back and relax! 

Deliciously Drinkable Portland

Posted by Laura Morgan on November 02, 2016

Fall really is in the air now. Halloween is over, the leaves flamed out and are beginning to drop, leaving most sidewalks in Portland cushioned with various shades of brown. Urban chickens have slowed laying while many of Portland’s artisan food and drink makers are steadily churning away, some switching over to fall-inspired preparations. Fall-time in Portland is associated with rainy day pastimes such as mushroom hunting in the mist-soaked forests of the coast range and then relaxing in your favorite bar, restaurant or at home with something warm in hand. Within the city itself, locals spend time hiking in Forest Park, one of the largest urban forests in the country, escaping to nature – a very typical Oregonian pursuit. Of course, the best way to end an excursion into the woods is with a delicious snack and a hot drink or glass of wine afterward, this is why we went hiking in the first place, isn’t it?! Lucky for us, there are plenty of ways to do this in Portland, which is what we’ll be talking about on the blog this month – all things deliciously drinkable! So stay tuned for recipes, tips for great places to get a drink in Portland and a spotlight on the most imbibable seasonal products.

PRO-TIP: Go to Forest Park when you’re here! There are several ways to get into the park, but for a truly Nob Hill experience Portland-style, enter the park by walking or biking up NW Thurman St or parking in the designated parking lot on NW Upshur. Follow the Lower MacLeay trail at the MacLeay Park Entrance one mile up to the Witch’s Castle, as it’s locally known, or up to Pittock Mansion for a bit more of a workout (it’s all uphill from this point, but still only 5 miles round trip). When you get back to the trailhead where you started, walk up the stairs onto NW Thurman and a couple blocks down the street to The Clearing Café & Bakery for a chai latte or glass of wine (and one of their house-made pastries)!

Happy Fall from The Big Foody PDX!

Drinks Month - Lemon and Paeroa!

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on November 01, 2016

Every country has its favourite drinks and it might be a bit of a funny thing to be celebrating for a whole month, but we love traditional drinks, new drinks and quirky drinks, so we’re going to tell you all about them throughout November. 

First up the legendary L&P - Lemon and Paeroa! The legendary New Zealand drink that we all love has actually been in existence for over a century. Paeroa is a township at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula and is famous for the giant Lemon and Paeroa Bottle you pass on the road through. 

The history of the drink is totally fascinating. It originated from a bubbling spring on a block of land in Junction Road which people visited to enjoy the fresh naturally carbonated water and take some bottles away with them. The land was once owned by the “Father” of Auckland, Entrepreneur John Logan Campbell.  As the story goes a couple took lemons with them to squeeze the fresh juice into the naturally sweet water and there was the start of the drink we know today. The water from the spring was used in the manufacture of the drink right up until 1980 when all production moved up to Auckland. 

Lemon and Paeroa was purchased by a number of businesses over the years and finally swept up by Coca Cola Amatil. Still the refreshing lemon soft drink it is a firm family favourite amongst Kiwis and one we can say definitely started in NZ. 

 

 

The infamous bottle of Lemon and Paeroa was built in 1968 by the Paeroa business association in conjunction with Innes Tartan, the company that owned the business at the time. In 1969 it was moved to the spot it sits today at the Ohinemuri reserve. 

 

Perfect for a picnic, we love L&P scones! 

 

4 cups self-raising flour

300ml cream (1 small bottle of cream)

¼ cup White Sugar

300ml Lemon and Paeroa

½ tsp salt

 

Preheat oven to 220°C. Prepare an oven tray with a sheet of baking paper wiped with butter or spray oil.

 

In a deep bowl combine all ingredients to form a smooth dough. The mixture is quite wet, so don’t add more flour!. 

Tip out onto a floured bench and combine into a round shape. 

Lift carefully onto the baking sheet and usually a cookie cutter or knife cut into the shapes you want. 

These don’t take long to cook - max 15-20 minutes until they are a pale golden brown. Check that they are thoroughly cooked through with a skewer before removing from the oven.

Cool on a wire rack, and cover to keep the scones soft. 

Serve with whipped cream and raspberry jam or lime curd. 

 

Throughout November we’ll be trying NZ’s iconic drinks on our tours!!!!!

 

Five Cheeses Not To Miss In New Zealand

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on October 03, 2016

We love showing New Zealand cheeses off here at The Big Foody Food Tours. On almost every Auckland food tour we do, there is a curd of some kind! Here food tour boss, Elle has picked five cheeses you must try in New Zealand.

1 Mahoe Very Old Edam

When you think of edam you think of a red waxed plastic cheese that tastes bland and has a rubbery texture. When we think of edam, we think of the multiple award winning Mahoe Very Old Edam from KeriKeri. VOE (as it is affectionately known) is highly addictive. We have renamed it “Crack” on the tours because one hit and you want more. Even the people who vehemently refuse to like cheese have been turned by VOE. Four years in a row this amazing cheese won the Champion of Champions at the cheese awards and it is not hard to see why. There is a distinctive sweet and nutty taste that has a lingering pineapple flavour. The tiny crystals add a slight crunch similar to that found in Parmesan. You have been warned, buy extra luggage, you’ll be taking some home!

2 Kaikoura Tenara

When Daniel and his team at the Kaikoura cheese company first sent this to Auckland, I took one look at it and decided it was definitely going to be a shut eye experience. Covered in a grey / blue geotrichum mould, the bright white goats curd underneath is mouthwateringly sensational. As a seasonal cheese we have had a long winter waiting for the goats to come off their maternity leave and start kidding so we could get out hands on this amazing fromage. Forget crackers, just eat this on its own - it is just perfect. 

3 Mahoe Blue 

Yes it’s true, we love Mahoe cheeses, but especially this one. It’s the blue sister to the VOE! The VOE is made with skimmed milk and the cream goes into making this delicious cheese. To those who turn their noses up at blue, it is almost impossible with this cheese. There is a similar sweetness as with the VOE but with a the sharp bite that puts a lot of people off blue cheese. Some might consider it a waste to throw a good dollop on a grilled steak, but we’re dusting off the BBQ just thinking about it.   

4 Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese

We talk about Biddy a lot on The Big Foody Food Tours. A lady of amazing cheese making talent, she is a bit of a food hero for us, constantly sticking up for the small artisan cheese maker, taking the powers that be to task when she believes they are treated unfairly. Her four cows, Patsy, Holly, Dizzy and Isobel are a great talking point on our Tastebud Tour. Each cheese is either made from one cow, or maybe with a splash of milk from another, either way, the authenticity, traceability and happy cows make it one hell of a memorable mouthful. Think strong buttery cheddar and you’re heading in the right direction. 

5 Matariki from Wangapeka Cheese

Colleen came into the office earlier this year proclaiming she had tried “the new salami cheese.” I thought she had lost the plot and decided to ignore her. The next day I was hosting the Tastebud Tour and was handed “the salami cheese” to try - Oh My Word! This cheese is a semi soft cows cheese cloaked in a blend of garlic, herbs and spices which infuse into the cheese giving it the most aromatic of flavours, very similar to salami! It is a delight to have on a cheeseboard, or with a cold craft beer or on a venison burger. It’s ok we’ve done the research for you, you’re welcome!

 

Want to try these cheeses, check out the Tastebud Tour

 

Celebrate Spring at Masu

Posted by Elle Armon-Jones on September 30, 2016

It is a beautiful time of year here in Auckland. Spring is in full bloom with blossoms on all the trees around the city and the parks are full of daffodils, camellias and magnolias. 

To celebrate the arrive of spring, the team at Masu along with New Zealand Master of Wine Sam Harrop and Japanese Master of Wine Kenichi Ohashi, have sourced 5 very rare sakes and bought them to New Zealand. 

In a traditional sake barrel cracking yesterday, we had the privilege to have a sneak preview of the sakes, each totally different and very special. Sam Harrop provided a very informative run down on the history and variety of each Sake. Chef Nic Watt shared his delight in being able to bring these sakes to New Zealand for his patrons to enjoy and celebrate spring. 

From October 3rd to October 16th Masu are offering a very special tasting flight of all five sakes for $36.00. We will certainly be heading back! 

The sakes in the flight are:

·         Tanaka-Rokujugo (Fukuoka) – One of the most sought-after brands in Japan. The brewery is located in Fukuoka prefecture which is in southern Japan. Restrained, pristine and transparent, dry, medium weight and a tight palate texture.

Producer Tanaka remains true to family traditions in everything he does, from hand-writing the labels in calligraphy himself to using a traditional ‘squeeze’ method (called Haneki Shibori) to extract the sake with timber and stones, a very slow process that produces maximum flavour.

·         Toyo-Bijin (Yamaguchi) - This sake is adopted regularly as a sake which is served in official VIP dinners or receptions in Japan. The maker accomplishes “the expression of pure water passed through the rice.” Abundant fruity aromas, perfumed, banana-scented, semi-sweet but light finish. Yamaguchi Prefecture is located at the western end of Japan

·         Juogura (Ibaraki) – High quality. An easy-drinking, moderate umami flavour.

·         Nechi-Otokoyama (Niigata) - The sake expresses the terroir of Nechi Valley in Niigata Prefecture. It’s sought-after and produced by rare brewery which mostly cultivates chemical-free rice. Medium intensity of aromas, well-balanced fruitiness and a touch of savourines and dryness. 

·         Hanahato (Hiroshima) – An aged sake that’s a gold medal winner in the International Wine Challenge (IWC) 2014. Nutty, spicy, dried fruit, abundant complexity providing long length, full bodied.

(Tasting notes from Sam Harrop MW)

 

If you haven't had much experience with sake then check out our quick guide to sake here