Oysters, oysters, oysters

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Oysters, what can I say. I know the French say their oysters are top of the world, but I am guessing they have not tried the NZ ones yet! Pacific oysters, rock oysters, farmed ones, wild ones, and don’t forget the flat shelled deep sea very chunky Bluff Oyster. You can wake me up at any time to try any of these.

One of the best oysters I ever had were the wild ones we picked and opened ourselves at a lodge we stayed at in Marlborough Sounds. Those were small but oh so flavoursome rock oysters. These days my favourite oyster has to be the Kaipara oyster, farmed in the Kaipara harbour in a very sustainable way. But I am always willing to try any other ones.

I eat them the only way that you can really enjoy the flavour to its fullest, just with a squeeze of fresh lemon. I can’t justify putting them in batter and frying them. what do you think?

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Kaipara Kumara’s are unforgetable

golden and red kumara's

golden and red kumara’s

Kaipara is known as the Kumara region in New Zealand, with Dargaville as its capital. We are lucky enough to go to the Kaipara a lot and so we’re never short of great local Kumara’s.The Kumara, or sweet potato got to New Zealnd with the first Polynesian explorers. It’s not certain how they got hold of it, but there is strong evidence they had sailed to South America, where the Kumara is native, before they got here. Thats a pretty amazing story.

I got introduced to Kumara in the early 90’s when i first backpacked around NZ. I got them served as part of a roast lamb dinner, and was blown away by that melting sweet taste. I did not understand that I had not had them before, that nobody had had the wits to introduce them in our potato eating country. I should have acted on that idea, as they are available everywhere now!

But I never forgot thattaste and was so happy seeing them again when I moved here.  I still love cooking with them and roasting is still a favorite with some good olive oil and fresh rosemary. Then eaten like that or cool them down and put in a salad with some feta and walnuts.Or make an amazing mash with some coconut milk.

Grapes grow here!

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Grapes, growing up in the Netherlands, were a fruit of sunny Mediterranean holiday lunches. We would buy bunches on the roadside with some fresh bread, cheese and a piece of those beautiful dried sausages and have a picnic under large plantain trees in the middle of village square. We would have a proper siesta, letting the hottest part of the day go by, whilst munching on the sweet juicy grapes. I never thought then that growing them myself was ever going to be an option.

But of course in New Zealand, land of the most beautiful wines, grapes do grow! And even though I haven’t done so yet, I know I can grow them in my garden. Friends and neighbours definitely do! I still find it amazing to see these beautiful bunches grow in common gardens. It just looks so exotic to me.

Even better is to see the rolling hills of vineyards planted up, ready for harvest to make another year of their gorgeous juice: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Malbec.. There are so many good wines to choose from here in New Zealand! It’s not a very old winemaking country, but gosh have they caught up with the rest of the world! I blame the clean air and the great balanced climate. If you haven’t tried, you really should!

Tonight I might just use the grapes I was given by a friend yesterday roasted with some onions, garlic and fresh salmon. And of course I’ll have a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc with that!

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