Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Lakes District

My most recent trip out of the ol' Ch-Ch was further south to Queenstown, and as has become habit I want to share with you a summary of my foodie discoveries. This part of the world is one of the most beautiful (and many tourists would agree). That's especially true when you're lucky enough to have perfect weather like we did. While still on the cold side, one cannot complain when there is constant sun this time of year.

So the tale begins... first on the list is The Remarkable Sweet Shop. There are stores in Queenstown and Arrowtown with sweets and treats from all over the world. We dived right into their fudge. The favourites were Creme Brulee (a classic), Jelly Tip and Red Velvet. I won't put photos up for risk of drooling onto the keyboard- and also that it went too quickly for any to be taken.

Next recommendation is any fruit stall from the Cromwell region. Maybe it was just the fact that Cromwell has a big statue of fruit which draws you in, but there must be something good about it. Our choice was Jones' Fruit Stall which had a large selection of dried and fresh fruit. Just make sure you get the freshest possible to lower the chance of wastage.

Another important part of one's diet is cheese. Naturally, this was high on the agenda. We visited Gibbston Valley Cheese, which is right next door to Gibbston Valley Winery. All of which are located on the main road to Queenstown. Soon after walking in we were flooded with samples (a good sign!- or maybe a good marketing ploy). In the end, we left with a smoked brie and a Kawarau blue cheese.

While not exactly in the Queenstown area, a must visit for me was the Barker's Store in Geraldine. I have a lot of respect for this company who have become a household name in New Zealand, and who are always developing new products. The store itself has a vast selection of products (all of which you can sample), and you can pick up some bargains like expired stock (only by a month or so) and product trials- e.g. a citrus curd made with lime.

And right next door is a cheese store called Curds and Whey who stock locally made cheeses- delicious! From there we picked up a Geraldine Vintage Cheddar, which includes a silver sticker. It was a great trip with a lot to discover. My goal next time is to hit the back roads and hopefully come across something amazing to share with you all- fingers crossed! But in the meantime and I can put my feet up at home and enjoy a scrummy assortment of cheeses.

(L-R): Smoked Brie, Kawarau Blue, Geraldine Vintage Cheddar

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

My First Italian Cooking Class

I have a love of Italian cuisine that cannot compare to any other. The pizza, pastas, salads, meats... all of them hit the spot. It was reasonable that the next step would be to take a cooking class in order to recreate some of those dishes in my little kitchen. The class of choice is through Risingholme Community Centre. The first class was held last week. The authentic Italian teacher, Brunella, taught us how to make 'Crostini ai Funghi' and 'Pasta alla Puttanesca'. According to Brunella the pasta dish means an easy dish for a women to cook, but I was later told by my learned mother that it means something quite different.... So in dedication to my love of Italian food, I present Crostini ai Funghi- recreated! A really delicious spread, which is so easy to make!

Crostini ai Funghi

20g butter
1/2 onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
250g mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon vegetable stock
Freshly ground salt and pepper
75g cream cheese, or according to taste
(the recipe actually says 100ml cream but you can use cream cheese as an alternative)
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1 baguette, sliced
Edam cheese, grated (recipe says Mozzarella but didn't have any)

Melt the butter in a pan. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until tender.
Add mushrooms, parsley and stock, and cook on high until mushrooms are soft.
Reduce heat to low, add salt, pepper and cream cheese. Cook for another two minutes.
Put all into a food processor with parmesan and blend.
Toast baguette pieces in oven until crunchy. Spread mushroom dip on toasted bread and top with grated cheese. Top in oven until cheese is melted.

I have set up a Facebook page for my blog, so any readers who would like updates via Facebook, please 'Like' :)
Ginger.Love.Care. (New Zealand Food Blog)