Perfect platters: Serving up New Zealand's best
Warren Elwin's bountiful platter celebrates our gourmet foods and produce. Borrow some of these ideas to create a Kiwi feast of your own
• Make cheese the centrepiece by offering a variety for people to mix and match with other ingredients. We’ve used Over The Moon Creamy Blue which is smooth, rich, very creamy and not too full-on; Kapiti Ramara with its lovely red-hued washed rind and its sweet, mild and buttery flavour; Barry’s Bay Aged Maasdam, a firm cheese with a bold, fruity flavour, and Puhoi Valley Aged Cheddar with its sharp, full flavour and hard texture that presents well cut in to a tower of large cubes.
• Build some perfect mouthfuls by skewering small pieces of fresh Clevedon Buffalo mozzarella with cherry tomatoes and a basil leaf. Tumble into a small dish to contain the juices, drizzle with a fruity New Zealand extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
• In a separate dish, skewer some more mozzarella or feta with small pieces of Delbos bresaola (cold smoked topside beef) and cubes of rockmelon. The salty meat brings out the flavour of the melon.
• Present a range of cured meats from mild to spicy, pork and beef. Delbos is an Auckland company making European-style cured meats that are preservative-free, gluten-free and cold smoked. Along with the bresaola in our mozzarella skewers, we have also served Delbos Capicolla made from New Zealand pork scotch fillet and saucisson pork salami.
• Canterbury Biltong products are also preservative free and made from prime New Zealand beef. Sliced biersticks complement the softer sliced meats above. Also look out for preservative-free cured meat products from Salash Delicatessen. All available at select New World and speciality food stores.
From the sea
• Mussels are a great bite-sized addition. Pick up a pottle of Westpac mussels marinated in sweet brine from the supermarket.
• Smoked fish from fishmongers nationwide – we have served kingfish and salmon – broken into chunks.
Warren Elwin curates a selection of New Zealand's best produce into a celebratory platter
Fruit and nuts
• New Zealand grown nuts are fresh and creamy. Lightly toast some Uncle Joe’s Marlborough walnuts or serve them raw, they go well with cheese. Hazelz New Zealand grown whiteheart hazelnuts come dry roasted, are full of flavour and great for nibbling.
• Scatter around fresh seasonal fruits. Blueberries and kiwiberries are good right now. New Zealand grapes will be ripe soon, then move on to pear, apple, nashi, persimmon … Fruit pastes are good here also.
• A simple water cracker or some French bread will do the trick. For something special we’re fans of 180 Degrees Walnut Oat Crackers and Bonnie Oatcakes, which has recently released a new kamahi honey flavour that pairs well with brie. For something lighter, try a Waiheke Island Ringawera lavosh, Line’s knaekbrod and Huntley & Palmers baked flat bread. The different sizes and shapes of crackers help the overall structure of the platter.
• As a cracker alternative, slice radishes, carrots and fennel for dipping. Lettuce leaves (endive works well) make good carriers and try watermelon ‘crackers’ in summer. Slice watermelon in to thin wedges and encourage people to top them with salty feta, olives and basil leaves as a snack-size version of the watermelon pizza recipe.
• Add a selection of chutneys and pickles or make a quick courgette pickle using the recipe in next week’s Bite.
• Include some black garlic produced by the Black Garlic Man using a natural fermentation process without chemicals or additives. Sweet and prune-like with a very subtle garlic taste, it’s a real talking point.
• Set out a bowl of cured New Zealand olives. We like Telegraph Hill Sicilian Style Semi-Dried Olives.
• Add dips and spreads. A pesto made with fresh herbs and greens is a nice foil to the richer components of the platter. See next week’s Bite for the recipe. Fresh salsas, like the one below, also help break the fats.
Peach, tomato and basil salsa
1 cup mixed tomatoes
¼ red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Wash and chop peaches and tomatoes into small dice. Mix in a bowl with onion, basil, chilli and lemon juice and season with lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Store in fridge for at least 30 minutes for flavours to meld.