The other day I got to sample some of the best food New Zealand has to offer. I spent a good few hours wandering around tasting local wine after local wine and infused olive oil after infused olive oil, in what can only be described as a middle-class Shangri-la.
The 2014 Seriously Good Food Show took place at Tauranga’s ASB Baypark Arena, on June 28th and 29th. It only cost $10 to enter, but my mum and I spent far more once we were in there. Two of my favourite things in the world are cheese and balsamic vinegar, so there was no way I’d be leaving empty-handed. In fact, it seemed that every second stall was balsamic vinegar!
To be fair, there were actually heaps of different stalls, selling all sorts from quality meats to platters and whisks. There was one stall that was frying bacon when we walked by, the clever devils.
Another mouth-watering smell came from the cooking demonstrations by top local chefs. We watched the chef from Tauranga’s Elizabeth Café making an orange duck salad with celeriac. Everyone in the audience got to try a mini portion. It was amazingly good, and the most unusual salad I’ve had in my life – it crackled in my mouth. There was ground-up popping candy in it – genius!
The demonstration was presented by Tauranga’s own celebrity chef, fellow Northern English expat Peter Blakeway. He’s been on telly and my mum’s got his book. And his avocado chocolate truffles are to die for! (We tasted them at last year’s show.)
It was quite crowded at the show, but not difficult to get around. It was a great venue for the whole family. There were all ages there, not just middle-aged, middle-class women.
There were beer stalls and bread stalls; chocolate stalls and chipotle; knives and pans and relishes and nuts; pâté and pasta and dukkah and port. You could try absolutely everything. I lost count of the number of little cubes of bread dripped in something or other I consumed!
I even consumed an unwisely large amount of the hottest chilli sauce at the show. (My mum was too much of a wuss to finish hers, so I stepped in even though I’d already had some.) I was fine until we’d wandered a few stalls away, but then my tongue erupted in pain. I looked frantically around for the nearest wine stall, but my mum was pondering over some cheese. By now in considerable discomfort, I took the sample of goat blue offered to me, not expecting to taste it. It actually tasted wonderful and neutralised the burning completely.
I think possibly the nicest find of the show was a distinctly nutty-tasting olive oil from Northland. We ended up buying a bottle of that. I also loved a certain lime-infused avocado oil. Ooh, and the chilli-infused avocado oil.
We didn’t actually end up buying any cheese, but we got some truffle balsamic glaze, among other things.
The Seriously Good Food Show really was a fantastic showcase for New Zealand-produced food. If you see it advertised when you’re travelling around New Zealand, I recommend you go. One thing’s for sure: if you visit New Zealand, you won’t eat poorly.