Friday 30 November 2012

Smoked or lightly spiced?

Smoked or lightly spiced?

Today we had a visitor in our house. A ruru, or morepork, a New Zealand native owl. They are magnificent creatures. I have seen them in the wild when I have been running at dusk. They fly silently, their feathers have variegated edges, which means they can fly without sound. Good for the ruru, bad for the prey they hunt. I have been running through the bush a bit after dusk and  ruru have glided past me, settling on branches where I have been able to observe them from about two metres away. This was on Johnson Hill, above Karori. The ruru is in a room above our garage, it must have flown into the garage when left the side door open one night, up the stairs and into this room which is usually my wife's sewing room, but appears to be a multipurpose room, in that it is also a avairy.

However what place does a ruru have in a sausage blog? Well it has decided to camp with us, so if it stays I have some tough decisions to make. When transforming it into sausage, do I smoke the sausages or go for a more delicate flavour?  Thoughts?  

This ruru may be very intelligent. He has settled on a box of 4’n20 Pies. Although the ruru is not a blackbird, the flavour may be very similar.

Of course as the parent of 14 year old twin boys, there are more questions to consider. Has the owl from Hogwarts arrived for one of them? Have I fathered a wizard? As a child of a muggle one of them, or maybe both, will have a lot of learning to do in the new subjects of witchcraft and wizardry when the new school year starts.   

Addenda: The room above the garage has a narrow staircase up to the room. When we renovated it we put a door into one wall (probably against all building codes) so we could get furniture into the room. We left this door open, after dusk I went up to the room and our visitor had decamped. So there will not be a review of ruru suasages.

Saturday 24 November 2012


These sausages are little beauties. I like a strongly flavoured sausage however these are too strongly flavoured for even me to eat and enjoy as a whole sausage. I prefer to cook these in a dish where they are in smaller pieces and not the primary flavour in the dish, eg the post of the 22nd August. Another way of eating and enjoying sremska is on a water cracker. In this instance I had sliced sremska and blue cheese, which was suggested to me by Gordon. These little morsels were delectable. A strongly flavoured sausage accentuated by the tang of blue cheese. We had people around in a on a Sunday afternoon, a few drinks and these made some nice nibbles.

Srem is a region in Serbia, these sausages are spiced with a good quantity of paprika, black pepper, salt and few secret spices. They have a high fat content, when cooking the fat oozes out. Gordon the chief sausage maker at Park Ave Quality Meats also says to make a quality sausage you need to use quality meats.  Although these are not cheap, they are worth the expense. Not an everyday eating sausage rather a speciality sausage for those who like a bit of spice on their palate and in their life.

Cost per kilo $34.95

Island Bay Butchers Supreme Sausage Award review

It is great to the see the award for the top sausage in New Zealand returning to Wellington. Island Bay Butchers, one of Wellington’s great sausage shops won this award for their smoked kielbasa.
This is a lightly smoked sausage, the smoky flavour is present but not intense. The sausage is ground to a fine medium texture. They are pleasant on the palate and taste good. I find some sausages made by Island Bay Butchers to contain too much fat; this is not the case for these sausages. For someone who is looking to try an Eastern European sausage, I would recommend these. I prefer a more flavoursome sausage but my wife prefers these. We served these cut into slices as nibbles when we had people around on Sunday afternoon and they were enjoyed by all, with much discussion on the qualities of sausages with our German neighbours.


Cost per kilo: $19.95

This award got me thinking, and researching. The first Wellington sausage maker I can remember winning this award was Bells Smallgoods, with a bratwurst.  This sausage had a regular diameter and was small in length. It was medium to coarsely ground and it had a very good meaty taste. Bells Smallgoods were based in Newlands(?). At the time there was limited supply of quality sausages that a sausage aficionado could purchase. Many years ago they rebranded and became Luscutto. I have not seen Luscutto products for sale recently. The website has been parked. I have gone back into archived websites and discovered that in 2006 and 2005 they won the supreme sausage award. A fantastic achievement. In 2005 it was for the Thuringer Bratwurst, followed by the Luscutto Hunter Sausage in 2006. The web archive did not go back past 2006 but I think that another bratwurst made by Bells won the supreme award many years before 2005.   

If anyone knows what happened to Bells/Luscutto, leave a comment.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Island Bay Butchers wins Supreme Sausage Award

The Devro New Zealand Sausage Competition is organised annually by Retail Meat New Zealand and is New Zealand’s premier sausage judging event.

The competition is an annual highlight for butchers and small-goods manufacturers as they vie for their sausages to be named the Supreme Award Winner. Makers can also be awarded gold, silver and bronze medals.

Congratulations to Island Bay Butchery for winning the supreme award at the 2013 NZ Sausage Awards. Other medal winners from Wellington were: Preston’s Master Butchers, gold and Greytown Butchery, a bronze and silver.  

Wellington award winners are below.

Pre Cooked BBQ

Preston's Master Butchers (Wellington) Turingia Pre-cooked Bratwurst
Greytown Butchery (Greytown) Beef pre-cooked

Greytown Butchery (Greytown) Beef Flavoured

Supreme Award
Island Bay & Strathmore Butcheries (Wellington) Smoked Kielbasa

Watch out for my thoughts on these sausages in later posts.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Can man live by sausages alone?

Can man live by sausage alone?

The world’s great philosophers seek to answer some of the notable questions of our time. Does God exist? Are humans innately good or evil? Will the Hurricanes win a Super Rugby title? While the first two questions are easily answered, the third question is doosey. Many a mind greater than mine has tried to examine this issue. However there is a bigger question than needs to be looked into: Can man live by sausage alone? Seeking an answer, I headed for the hills.

I went tramping for the weekend. A pleasant sojourn into the Tararuas. It rained all day Saturday. The five hours into the hut meant no stops as the weather was not conducive to enjoying the ambiance of the bush environment. On Sunday the day dawned cloudy and rainy. While standing on the deck of the hut you could see three spurs coming down from the ridge, they butted tightly. The misty cloud hanging on the steeply bushed hillside looked very picturesque. The solitude and scenery makes you appreciate the grandeur of the New Zealand bush. On the way out the sun shone and a pleasant lunch was had by the river. The great question about living off sausages was being contemplated and digested.

Prior to heading off I cooked up eight kolbaz sausages from Park Rd Butchers. These are a Hungarian sausage that have smoked paprika as the primary flavour. I really like these sausages. I decided to make these morsels of food the main sustenance of my trip. I had these for lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and also for Sunday breakfast. I consider that it is possible to go tramping on sausages alone.  However I am not one for an intransigent or doctrinaire stance. So the sausages were supplemented by chocolate biscuits and a curry on Saturday night. On a weekend trip I carry extra weight and the sausages are well worth taking. On a longer trip I take cooked sausages for the first few days.

The kolbaz sausages are quite highly spiced although not as spiced as the sremska made by Park Rd. They make for very good eating. The sausage is ground to a medium consistency. The paprika and smoking comes through strongly. I assume that garlic, salt and pepper are part of the recipe too. This makes for a great tasting sausage. An excellent spicy sausage for everyday consumption and enough to keep you going on the wettest weekend tramp. What more can I say?

Cost per kilo: $18.99

The sausages and chocolate biscuits diet is well proven. A few years ago I went with a friend to Nelson Lakes. We had four 10-11 year old boys with us and on the last day we had to get to the head of the lake for a water taxi. If we were not there at the required time it was another three hours around the lake. We needed to leave the hut shortly after 7am. It had snowed overnight. It was raining steadily as we left just before 8am. We told the boys, it would be nonstop tramping, and if we did not reach the head of the lake for the water taxi the boys would not be keen for another three hours around the lake. The enticement was we would provide sausages and chocolate biscuits for fuel.  The boys did well and we reached the water taxi in time, after between 5-6 hours of good paced tramping. Because of the rain there was no sitting, and because of the time factor, no stopping. A sausage followed by a chocolate biscuit, Mint Treats, ensured we got there on time. My advice is to try this diet. The variety of sausage and chocolate biscuit can be changed, but as fuel for tramping you cannot beat it.

And the answer to the question? Only a dedicated process of trial and error will allow a great mind to reach a conclusion over this issue but I think mine is almost made up!  

Smoked Venison Sausages

Cold Smoked Venison Sausages

Island Bay Butchery

I was in Island Bay Butchers and I thought I would buy a few of the cold smoked venison sausages. These are made with venison, malt vinegar, Worchester sauce, thyme, mace and caraway seeds. The venison is farmed deer.

The aroma of the sausages reflects the malt vinegar and Worchester sauce. They smell good. The sausage is ground to a medium coarseness. I prefer a sausage that is chunky and has not been ground to a puree, so I like the texture of these sausages. These sausages are lightly smoked, the delicate smoked taste is pleasant on the palate. They taste good without being spectacular. 
These sausages when cooked oozed a lot of fat, too much for my liking. I consider that less fat would enhance the flavour and quality of the sausage.

Cost per kilo: $19.95   

Friday 2 November 2012

Country Pork Sausages

Country Pork Sausages  Gluten Free

Cameron Harrison Butchers

My son does not like chicken, so when I was making a dish for dinner I thought I would add a few sausages to it so he would enjoy the meat part of the dish. I went to Cameron Harrison Butchers in Kelburn. I decided to buy a basic port pork sausage.  They had Irish pork sausages and country pork sausages for sale. I asked the butcher what the difference was, told me it was the flavour. I asked what flavour each sausage has. He told me they have different flavours.

Excuse the sarcasm; but I think I could establish independently that different types of sausages have different flavours. Maybe a little, even a small modicum, of product knowledge would not go amiss from the butcher. Or am I expecting too much?

A reader of my blog has asked me to review some gluten free sausages. Well here is a first. So to the reader from Auckland, here is a review of gluten free sausages from Wellington.

Cameron Harrison country pork sausages - gluten free. These are good sausages. A medium ground sausage with country style herbs for flavour. Could be sage and thyme? They worked well when cooked with chicken. I also cooked a few in the pan, they were flavoursome and nice to eat, a good meaty pork taste. The kids liked these. I would buy these again.

Cost per kilo: $18.99