Jerusalem Artichokes, nice to meet you!

 

Freshly harvested Jerusalem artichokes

Freshly harvested Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes don’t look very appealing. Their flowers do, it’s just like a sunflower. Right yellow and tall. Very pretty.  And if you didn’t know you wouldn’t go digging for the root once the flower had died off. And you would certainly not expect that it is edible! But it’s worth digging for them, cleaning them up and cooking with them.

I got introduced to these knobbly roots in a little local restaurant just up the road. I loved them so much that I had a chat to the Maitre d’ about what they were and how they grow. He gave me a handful to try to grow them myself. Which I did! You basically just stick them in the ground and they will start growing. And growing.. Once you have them it’s hard to ever clear them all out as they create little tubers that go  everywhere and grow their own flowers. And so on. I you don’t have enough space, make sure you contain them in a pot or so, otherwise they’ll take over.

I use them generally as I would use potatoes. I scrub them, cut the ugly parts off, but leave most of the skin on. then roll them in olive oil, some rosemary, and salt and pepper and roast them at 190 for 20-30 minutes.

I’m so glad I got introduced !

J

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!

G

Fish, that beautiful smoked version

freshly smoked trevally

freshly smoked trevally from the farmers market

Fish in New Zealand is wonderful. You don’t have to go to fancy places to get the best. Often you get the best from the back of a car selling alongside a reasonably busy road, or of course, a farmers market. Freshly caught, sold fresh, fried or smoked, its hard to choose!

Don’t let an opportunity go by though when you hear ‘caught yesterday and smoked overnight’. I bet you, it’s going to be worth it. Last weekend, the lady who normally sells us the most beautiful Kaipara flounders, suggested maybe we try this smoked trevally. She said it was a bit unusual for them to have it, but people would specifically request it.

I cannot say no to a sales pitch like that, I have to try! And oh yes, I get why people request it. It is so velvety, creamy with this lightly smoked flavour. I just added some capsicum, cottage cheese, tomato and a few pieces of pear, put it all in a wrap and made myself the most wonderful dinner. You should try it!

Give me fish, especially that smoked trevally any time!

F