All I want for Christmas
We’re tried and true fans of Wild Fennel Co’s gourmet meat seasonings and their new fish range is hooking us in now too. At $5 for a 30g sachet they make the best stocking fillers — something the cooks you know are going to want to keep buying for themselves. The redesigned packaging (below) is very pleasing to the eye as well.
Make the crab and chilli omelette below from Dan Pearson (he owns the Dunedin-based company) and you’ll see what we mean. It’s speedy but definitely festive, enhanced with a sprinkling of Fennel and Co’s shellfish seasoning. A coconut, curry and caraway blend, it is Indian-inspired but not too hot.
As well as shellfish, the fish range contains seasonings for salmon and white fish. If you want to spend a little more, pick up a variety box of the three fish sachets, $14, or a box of the six meat sachets (cow, pig, chicken, deer, duck and sheep), $26. wildfennel.co.nz
Father Rabbit’s new gift box collection (above) makes it easy to shop for the foodie in your life. You simply choose items from specially edited product collections and pop them into the themed box that would most suit the recipient.
The Cook’s, Baker’s, Picnic, BBQ, Christmas and Pantry Boxes are included in the 11 themes, alongside others like For Her, For Him and The Baby Box. The stylish boxes hold about four to six items and come in three designs, personalised with your choice of ribbon and card. Available instore and online from Father Rabbit. fatherrabbit.com
Pop a bow around a bottle of Glenmorangie Astar (above) and put a big smile on the face of your favourite whisky drinker. Astar is Scottish Gaelic for ‘journey’ and the rich and silken Highland single malt is back after a five-year absence.
As part of the distillery’s designer cask programme, it was matured entirely in white oak, sourced from slow-growing trees on north-facing slopes on Missouri’s Ozark Mountains! Young wood from spring growth is chosen — being more porous, it allows more contact between wood and spirit. $140 from liquor stores. glenmorangie.com
L’Authentique have repackaged their pate, parfait, rillette and terrine in to reuseable glass preserving jars that are table-ready — just unscrew the top and serve (pictured above).
They could be passed off as homemade but we are always proud to announce that they are L’Authentique who go to great lengths to ensure the free range, preservative-free quality of their products. A delicious addition to festive tables, pictured above. lauthentique.co.nz
These retro bowls from Le Creuset’s Sorbet Collection will go down a real treat — made extra appealing when filled with a couple of scoops of easy to make icecream (no machine required - get the recipe here). Icecream bowl set, $144 for 4, and stoneware spoon set, $65 for 6 (pictured above). Contact Le Creuset to find your nearest stockist 0800 52 6974.
McLure’s pickles (Detroit), Huffman’s sauces (Wellington), Noble maple syrup (Seattle) and Haku Shoyu soy sauce (Kyoto) — just some of the globally sourced specialty foods in a Christmas hamper (above) that’s as special as its contents. Available to order from Cook & Nelson in Auckland, the cobalt blue box opens to reveal 10 more patterned boxes decorated with the flag from the city where the artisan product was created. It’s a cute idea that helps prolong the gourmet joy for a lucky recipient. Limited edition hampers, $350 each. cookandnelson.com
Longstanding products in the Sabato range — Forvm vinegar and Colonna oil (above) have become pantry staples for many cooks because their quality and flavour give the simplest of dishes the edge we’re looking for.
Sabato have packaged a 250ml bottle of Colonna lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil and a 250ml bottle of Forvm chardonnay vinegar in to a gift box, $65, that would be well received by anyone who enjoys good food.
While you are shopping at Sabato pick up some Marcona almonds. They will make all the difference to this salad, perfect for long, lazy summer lunches. Get the recipe
Know someone with a craving for chocolate — and a taste for the better things in life? Cross off the toughest present from your Christmas list with one of The Chocolate Bar’s specially curated gift boxes, pictured above (or, even better, buy a subscription to have one delivered monthly).
Sourced by chocolate aficionado and judge, Luke Owen Smith, each block is handcrafted from one place — from the cacao beans to the finished product, and sourced from around the world.
The beautifully packaged Christmas gift box, $49.50 plus delivery, contains four bars — Dick Taylor Black Fig, Hogarth Gianduia, Zotter Plum Marzipan in Rum and Spencer Cocoa Dark 72 per cent. Personalised messages can be included.
Other gift boxes are also available. The first monthly subscription box, should you choose that option, comes in either milk and dark options or just dark, depending upon your preference, and with a copy of Luke’s chocolate tasting notebook. Sounds like it is going to be needed. thechocolatebar.nz
Something new to surprise and delight the cheese lover, this buffalo cheese has been marinated in oil infused with roast garlic and thyme to produce something really quite out of this world. The look on someone's face when they try it is priceless.
The team at Clevedon Buffalo Co describe it as having the texture of snow, we think it’s how heaven tastes. Spread on crackers, bread or bruschetta, use in salads and on pasta or vegetables and use the marinade for dressings. $18.95 for 300g jar from Farro Fresh, Clevedon Farmers Market, RAW Waiheke, Bellatinos Havelock North, Moore Wilsons Wellington, Bel Mondo Wellington, La Bella Italia Petone, C’est Cheese Featherston.
This zesty, fresh salad is the perfect accompaniment to oily fish like salmon, or barbecued chicken. Use the fragrant oil the cheese is marinated in for the dressing. Get the recipe
Bonnie Oatcake tins, filled with four packs of Bonnie Oatcakes, in your choice of flavours, look as good as they are useful in the festive kitchen. Try them with this pistachio pesto. Order online at bonniegoods.co.nz
A trip to Hawkes Bay for FAWC
It was with great pleasure that in November I again fulfilled my duties as ambassador for the Food and Wine Challenge (FAWC). It was hardly onerous, it was indeed enjoyable. I gave two masterclasses, one with the excellent Nici Wickes, and cooked lunch at the Farmers’ Market with great chef Paolo Pancotti. I also spoke at the inaugural FAWC Talks where several speakers gave forth for seven minutes on the love of food.
The imagination that goes into such an enterprise as FAWC is priceless. To be able to keep it fresh for six years is another tribute. The events are legendary and on a global scale — I have had some of the best and most challenging food I have tasted at FAWC.
My 2017 highlight was the Bangkok meets Seoul dinner at The Milk and Honey restaurant in Ahuriri. Chef Lek from Auckland’s Saan restaurant alternated Thai courses with Milk and Honey’s Chef Hayden’s Korean courses. The flavour of the food was perfectly balanced and punchy: an amazingly good dinner. Next year’s summer FAWC runs from November 2-11.
A coffee subscription
Coffee Supreme’s coffee subscription is a great gift. You choose the quantity, frequency and, most importantly, the blend — or choose “armchair traveller” and they’ll send different beans each time. It’s a fun shopping experience online at coffeesupreme.com and take a look around at all the other desirables on offer too.
They have all the right gear for your perfect brew. The Hario Bona drip kettle is on our wish list and we are fans of the Hasami block mug produced with Japanese ceramic manufacturers Maruhiro in celebration of Coffee Supreme’s opening in Tokyo. Also look out for the Christmas Cracker Coffee Blend to help fill those Christmas stockings. Coffeesupreme.com
Lunch at the tennis
The Garden Lunch is our pick of the off-court action at the 2018 ASB Classic. Taking place just before the women’s semi-finals on Friday 5 January, this floral-themed lunch is hosted by musician/jeweller Boh Runga and shoe designer Kathryn Wilson, who will be entertaining diners over a three-course wine-matched menu. Tickets from ticketek.co.nz