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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Raw Halloumi thoughts

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As I was finishing of my very first homemade halloumi made from local Kaipara raw milk today two thoughts came to me:

1)  I’m a foodie, no two ways about it. I love everything about it: Growing my own, finding great local produce, experimenting with cooking, hearing or reading about it and of course eating and drinking all these fantastic culinary feasts, either home cooked or in a restaurant.   One day I’ll do something more with it. For now its fun, relaxation, happy non-working time.

2) The raw milk was so incredibly good, that an Instagram picture of my halloumi just doesn’t do it justice. I should tell the world about this amazing local food find and what great things you can make with it!

Within a few minutes my name was on the list for the A2Z blogging challenge. Of course! A whole month to blog about my amazing food adventures. What a great idea! And it gives me a great excuse to retry the raw milk halloumi on day “R” or “H” or maybe both. Are you as excited as I am?

Note: the #AtoZChallenge runs in April. More in for here:http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2015.html

Zest-zone New Zealand

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Is it coincidence that zest is related to orange and to a life full of energy, passion and enthusiasm? And that these zestful oranges grow so well in New Zealand?  I don’t think so.

New Zealand is made for zestful living and most New Zealanders definitely seem to do so.   According to the OECD happy life index more then 83% of New Zealanders say they have more positive then negative experiences every day in life.

And how could you not. Unemployment is very low, and although wages are not the highest in the world, money certainly can’t buy everything. Life expectancy is higher then the OECD average, and there are so many things to enjoy for free!  Go on hikes or mountain bike trails of any difficulty level, go fishing in rivers and the ocean, identify the Southern Cross in the brightest starry nights you have ever seen, explore active and dormant volcanoes, discover the shy but very cute native birds and marvel at trees as big as a large apartment building. The climate is great for the biggest part of the year to be able to enjoy the great outdoors. Even if it rains, it generally doesn’t last too long as clouds just fly over the fairly thin New Zealand land mass between the two oceans.

So no, I really don’t think it is a coincidence that you see so much Zest here.  New Zealand is just one big Zest zone.