Monday 30 December 2013

Chorizo and Pasta

Chorizo and Pasta

Tonight’s meal was a quick and easy dish. I cooked up Spanish chorizo sausages added them to a sauce which was combined with pasta. Quick, easy, delicious.

The sausages were chorizo made by Mariano’s Spanish Goods in Christchurch. This is the third review of sausages made by Mariano in Christchurch. Here in Wellington they are stocked by Moore Wilsons. For butifarra see link, for malaguena see link. In 2010 this sausage was the winner of the artisan awards run by Cuisine Magazine.

These sausages are made from free range pork. The ingredients are listed as pork, 85%, pork fat 15%, along with salt, paprika, garlic and edible casing. On Mariano’s website he extols the chorizo sausage. The paprika used is Spanish, of course. This is a combination of mild and smoked paprika. Once the pork is minced the spices are added to allow the flavours to meld. The sausage mixture is rested overnight, and the following day the sausages are filled by hand. This sausage has a medium grind and is nice and chunky. These sausages are gluten free and contain no nitrates and additives.

When these were cooked they oozed quite a bit fat and liquid. I did sample the sausage once cooked, naturally. They had a very pleasant flavour. The heat of paprika is present but does not overpower the meat. They are a spicy sausage that will probably not appeal to all. However, as a chorizo, this is a very good sausage. And for those looking for a sausage with a bit of heat, this fits the bill. A balance is achieved between the spice and meat. In some chorizo sausage it seems that all you can taste is the heat of the paprika.

I made a quick pasta sauce using fresh basil, ground black pepper, tomatoes and mushrooms. This cooked as the pasta boiled. The chopped up chunks of the chorizo were added to the sauce with fresh parmesan cheese grated over the top.

A quick, easy and delicious meal.

Cost per packet: $12.95 - five sausages were in the packet.

Friday 27 December 2013

Toulouse Sausages with Mrs Chippy

Toulouse Sausages with Mrs Chippy

The post Christmas celebration began with a gathering to eat the leftovers from a variety of Christmas dinners. Our whanau headed off to friends. There four families met with a wide variety of leftovers.

As it was raining on Christmas Eve we also took fireworks, but we left the floating Chinese lanterns at home. It was too windy to launch a hot air balloon into the night. With eight adults and lots of teenagers (9 definitely qualifies as a lot), the adults hung about in the house while the kids were in an old garage that has been converted into a hangout place. A win-win for all concerned!

I broke the rules and offered to supply sausages. I took Dutch Braadworst and Toulouse sausages both made by Park Avenue Quality Meats. The Dutch Braadworst have been reviewed previously and in my opinion are the best plain meat sausage available in Wellington. They are also a great price at $16.99 per kilo, see link.

The Toulouse sausage is finely ground, with smalls lumps of meat. The taste has a flavour of wine, garlic and pepper. These subtle flavours complement the meat and do not over power the predominant flavour of pork. It’s a very nice sausage that will have a wide appeal. I recommend this sausage and will buy this again.

Gordon the butcher at Park Avenue said to me that some customers consider the Toulouse sausage to be his best sausage. I consider it is very good but still prefer the Dutch Braadworst in their traditional sausage range to be the nicest sausage they make.

The evening was a bit more subdued than Christmas Eve, more of a recovery session after Christmas Day. It was a very pleasant evening with much laughter and a bonus short expedition to the Karori Cemetery to see Mrs Chippy, the cat who is memorialised on the grave of Harry McNish who was the carpenter on Earnest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition. When events made the circumstances of the expedition very dire, Mrs Chippy was killed. Harry McNish was a bit septic when this occurred. However Shackleton recognised his skills and made him part of the crew that made the epic 800 nautical mile voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia across the Southern Ocean. This was sailed in an open topped life boat. A truly heroic feat.


Cost per kilo: $18.99

Thursday 26 December 2013

Replete on Christmas day

Replete on Christmas Day
Our whanau gathered at our house for Christmas lunch. We had thought that the barbecue may be in the garage due to the inclement weather that was forecast but that was not to be. Instead the weather was pleasant, around twenty-two degrees, fine and not very windy, just great for the barbecue. The weather forecasters got it wrong. This resulted in a bit of gip for the meteorologist brother in law.

I had woken a little tired, as the previous evening we had gone to friends for a Christmas Eve dinner. Great fun, twenty of us around a double table as some local families celebrated the year. I offered to supply sausages, but our host declined as she had made beef Wellington for all those present. The music reflected the 1980’s, interspersed with the Russian national anthem and well known Christmas songs. We got home after midnight, and although we didn’t see Santa in his sleigh delivering presents, we kept a watchful eye out for any stray reindeer.

As lunch approached the barbecue was fired up, I cooked a butterflied leg of lamb, and three snarlers, Island Bay chicken sausages, Mariano’s Spanish Foods butifarra, see link, along with my personal favourites chorizo coriollo from Park Avenue Quality Meats, see link.

The chicken sausages from Island Bay Butchery are very good. They are a very high quality chicken sausage. To achieve this you need to use real chicken meat. These sausages use corn fed chicken breast and thigh meat. Too many poor quality chicken sausages omit the use of quality chicken meat. If you do use quality ingredients this is reflected in the superior taste of the cooked product.
The chicken sausage is a thin sausage, it is finely ground, and you can see small lumps of meat within the finer ground inner of the sausage. These cook well and are appreciated by a wide range of sausage eaters. These sausages taste of chicken, they also have a flavour of tarragon, and you can see the flecks of tarragon that is used to augment the chicken flavour. I consider these sausages to be the best chicken sausages you can purchase in Wellington. They will appeal to a very wide spectrum of people including those who may normally refrain from eating sausages.

The table had ample food as is traditional at Christmas gatherings - three varieties of sausage, barbecued lamb, a salmon cooked with red onion, garlic, rosemary, lemon and seasonings, a couple of salads, potatoes and asparagus. A wide array of desserts followed the main course. A hearty Christmas lunch for the whanau with plenty left over to eat and share in the days ahead.

Christmas is also a time to reflect on life and also to remember that not everyone in our society is as fortunate as our family. Some in our society are doing it tough. As a fortunate member of society we need to contribute towards the welfare of others.

Everyone present had satisfied taste buds and full belly. We then adjourned down to the park to play a game of cricket. The kids have a wide range of skills, and the adults also had a variety of cricketing ability. I managed to play the ball onto the stumps at both my turns of bat. The aim was the big slog, the result a nick onto the stumps and out. The children, nieces and nephews found this wildly amusing.

At the end of the day there was contentment, fine weather, fine food, fine company and of course even finer sausages. All three are beauties that I would highly recommend.

Merry Christmas to all – I hope your table and homes were similarly laden with the pleasures of life.

Monday 23 December 2013

John Campbell is my kind of guy.

John Campbell is my kind of guy.

This quote from John Campbell, TV3 journalist, appeared in the Sunday Magazine which is part of the Sunday Star Times newspaper. John sounds like my kind of guy.

You are asked to bring a plate to the barbecue. What is on yours?

"Sausages. I love sausages. Not the best piece of steak. Not organic chicken marinated in the juice of the rarest flower from the Amazon jungle. Not even calamari caught by an Italian super-model. Just sausages."

John would be welcome for a barbeque at my house anytime he’s in Wellington – I might even be persuaded to give him a guided tour to the array of sausages in our deep freeze, if he’s interested.

Sausage selection for Christmas dinner.

Sausage selection for Christmas dinner.

Christmas is a time for whanau. This year our family is hosting Christmas lunch at our place. It will be the usual barbecue based meal with a wide assortment of foods that will be enjoyed by all the whanau. You probably won’t be surprised that for many years I have been the provider of sausages.

Some of my family are not keen on the spicier variety of sausages, in spite of my best efforts over a number of years to educate them on the finer points of sausage cuisine. So this year’s selection tries to cater to all tastes.

I have chosen Island Bay Butcher’s chicken sausages, as these are a genuine crowd pleaser. As Sausage Boy’s sister said, "Everyone likes chicken sausages and Island Bay makes the best." I have also selected Butifarra from Mariano’s Spanish Goods in Christchurch, link. The highlight for me will be chorizo coriollo from Park Avenue Quality Meats, link.

So I am looking forward to an enjoyable Christmas Day. Hopefully the weather will be good, the barbecue will be fired up and everybody will have a good time, at your house as well as mine.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Don's Sausage Awards 2013

Don's Sausage Awards 2013

A wide range of people who know I pen this sausage blog ask me, "What is your favourite sausage?" My response is, "That is like asking an oenophile what is their favourite wine? There are sausages for all occasions, and for all taste preferences. It is not a simple response. It all depends on what you are after.

Today a vegetarian work colleague asked me to recommend sausages for the barbie over the Christmas season. She wanted to know what to buy for her carnivorous family.

I thought I might make a few recommendations. So with a drum roll, flashing lights and rolling out the red carpet here are the Sausage Awards for 2013….
A plain meat sausage:
Winner: Dutch Braadworst – Park Avenue Quality Meats link
Runner Up – Harmony Wild Boar Sausage – Moore Wilsons link
A sausage with a little bit of spice and smokiness
Kabonosy – Park Avenue Quality Meats link
A sausage with more spice
Chorizo Coriollo – Park Avenue Quality Meats link
Hot and spicy
Sremska – Park Avenue Quality Meats link
A little bit of flavour
Pork and Fennel – Island Bay Butchery link
Chicken Sausage
Chicken Sausage – Island Bay Butchery 
I have just realised I have never reviewed this sausages. No review, but they are best chicken sausages in Wellington.
I have now added a review link
Handmade Gourmet
Butifarra – made by Mariano's Spanish Goods, sold by Moore Wilsons link
Pre cooked barbecue sausage
Turingia Bratwurst – Prestons Master Butchers link
Enjoy the barbies over summer. You will only know that your preference is by trying a wide variety and savouring the taste of quality sausages.
And for those of you still reading....
My favourite sausage in December 2013 is Chorizo Criollo.
Meri Kerihimete
Merry Christmas


Monday 9 December 2013

Malaguena - an Andalucian sausage

Malaguena – an Andalucian sausage

This is the second review I have done of sausages made by Mariano’s Spanish Goods, who are based in Christchurch. I purchased these from Moore Wilsons. Mariano’s Spanish Goods won the Cuisine Artisan Awards for this sausage in 2012 

This is an authentic Andalucian sausage, according to the packaging. The label says, “This succulent spicy sausage …. can be eaten whole or chopped to add life to a salad or mixed dish. The full meaty flavour is accented with hot overtones of chilli and black pepper, making the Malaguena a sausage to remember.” So the marketing puts the sausage in a positive light (as all marketing aims to do). 

The ingredients are listed as 85% pork, 15% pork fat, garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and paprika. 

So what was the sausage like? 

The aim of this blog is cut through the label’s PR spin and offer a perspective of the world of sausages from my point of view. If I like the sausage, I’ll say so. And if I am not keen, I'll voice this opinion too. Of course your view may differ from mine, however in the glory of self-publishing we can all be experts in our chosen field. 

This sausage is hand made. The skins are tubes and are not closed at each end. The sausage handled better than the Butifarra, see review. They cooked nicely with a bit of oozing from the casing. A reasonable amount of liquid came out of the sausage during cooking. I also may have overcooked the sausage a little bit. I am a male and I was having a conversation with my wife, talking to the son about his day at school, cooking sausages and also making a vegetable stir fry. Doing all this multitasking at once, may be considered by many to be beyond most males. And maybe that’s also the case in my house, given the snags were slightly over cooked. 

They were served with a stir fry vege dish, flavoured with garlic, ginger and fresh basil leaves. 

These sausages were very good. They are a soft medium grind. A nice texture to eat. They were hot in taste and this complemented the free range pork.  One of the key issues with spicy hot sausages is getting the balance right between hotness and meat. In too many hot sausages the spice is overpowering, and is the only taste you get on your palate. This is not case in this sausage, the hotness of paprika and cayenne complimented the taste of the meat. My son thought they were good, he described, “the chilli as quite mild.” Number two son, aka Sausage Boy, said they were “very good.” My wife described them by saying, “I loved them, the chilli was nicely balanced with the meat, it was not overpowering. I would love to eat them again.” So as you can see the whanau were keen. So was I and I will happily be purchasing again, just to keep in the good books of my wife. These were an excellent sausage, well worth trying - again and again.

These suasages are gluten free, they have no nitrates and no additives. Just meat and flavours.

Cost per packet: $10.95 – six snarlers in the packet

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Barvarian Sausages from Island Bay

Bavarian Sausages from Island Bay

These sausages won a silver medal in the Pre Cooked Barbecue section at the recent Devro NZ Sausage awards, see report. They are made by Island Bay Butchery. I did not judge this section of the competition, so I was interested to see how they tasted.

I cooked these on a Friday night recently. Friday nights at our place are often a "fend for yourself" dinner. I tend to get home from work, have low motivation for cooking, and don’t feel inclined to the "hunter-gather" routine searching out food for the whanau in the local community. As we don’t eat pets, and barbecuing the neighbour’s cat or dog doesn’t do a lot for neighbourly relations, the term "hunter-gather" in our household is a euphemism for takeaways. The Northland shops over the years have changed from a couple dairies, post office, hairdresser, chemist, butcher and green grocer to being a strip of takeaway joints comprising three pizza places, fish and chips, burgers and, the latest innovation, an Indian curry cafe. If the "hunter-gather" option is not pursued, it is often fend for yourself in the kitchen. The food on Friday night generally ranges from sausages, tins of baked beans, eggs, to the odd sandwich.

So what were the Bavarian sausages like? They were good. They are precooked so only need heating through. The butcher told me they are made from free range pork, that is finely ground. They have a hint of caraway seed and cayenne pepper. I should emphasis these are just a hint of flavour - very slight. This a sausage aimed at the NZ barbecue market so the predominant flavour is meat. The whole whanau liked the sausages. My sister even popped in and sampled one, and she was keen on it too. I did get a whole caraway seed, after the rest of the mouthful had disappeared down the gullet. I crunched it between the teeth and I got that intense burst of caraway flavour, the only one of the meal.

I would buy these sausages again, however the preferred sausage is the gold medal winner. You can see a review of the gold medal winner in this category here.
Cost per kilo: $19.95
However I still judge all plain meat sausages against the Dutch Braadworst made by Park Avenue Quality Meats. This sausage is superior in both taste and price. Although it is not a pre cooked sausage.  See review.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Double gold winner Turingia Bratwurst

Double gold winner Turingia Bratwurst

Peter Snell, Ian Ferguson, Paul MacDonald, Alan Thompson, Mark Todd, Danyon Loader, Valerie Adams, Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell have all reached the pinnacle of sport by winning double Olympic gold for New Zealand.

So in the culinary arts, or should that be the science of sausage making, can butchers reach the pinnacle of double gold? The answer is yes. Preston’s Master Butchers in Wellington won the pre-cooked/barbeque sausage category of the Devro NZ Sausage awards for a second time this year. See link. This sausage is sold under the Anytime brand.

I must declare that the pre-cooked and barbecue section is not a category of sausage that I would buy to sample. Those of you who read this blog will know I prefer a spicier sausage.

However, I was doing the family shop during the weekend and came across a stand giving away samples of the Turingia Bratwurst in New World and I got talking to the two guys were cooking up the sausages. They said they were very proud that, for the second year in a row, their snarler had won the gold medal. After the win sales have gone through the roof. They normally make two batches a week, but last week they had their biggest order to date and made 37 batches of the bratwurst.

The bratwurst came in a prepacked sealed package of 9-10 sausages. I brought three packs. When the first package was in the pan, I weighed the other two packs, there was a surprising difference. One pack weighed 508g, the other 639g. This means that the first pack is only 79% weight of the second. This is a big variation.

But let’s get to the nub of the issue: What does the sausage taste like?

The bratwurst is a pale colour and it cooks up nicely. Best of all it tastes good too. The pure pork filling is enhanced with marjoram, parsley and a touch of pepper and garlic. The label gives the content of pork at 82%. Monosodium is also listed as an ingredient.

The sausage is finely ground, and pre-cooked, so only heating is required. This bratwurst tastes good. It has a piquant flavour of the listed herbs and spices. The primary flavour is pork. My kids said they were very good eating, as they headed to the plate to get another one. I was remiss in not quickly taking a photo of the cooked bratwurst, so you can see that by the time I did this there were only two left.

Addenda: 1 Dec 2013. I cooked up another packet. Here is a photo.

If you are looking for a sausage that will appeal to all then this sausage fits the bill. When you fire up the barbie these will please your guests. Personally I prefer these to Island Bay Butcher’s Bavarian sausage, which won the silver medal this year in the same category. Clearly the judges for this category agreed but individual taste is the key component here. The best way to determine your favourite pre-cooked sausage in Wellington is to try them both.

Congratulations to Preston’s Master Butchers for achieving a goal that I don’t think has been done before - double gold in the same category is a fantastic achievement. Roll on great summer weather and many pleasant barbecues.

Cost per pack: $7.99

Thursday 21 November 2013

Viva Mexico meets Fritz's Wieners

Viva Mexico meets Fritz’s Wieners.

I went with a group of friends to the stadium to see the second leg of NZ playing Mexico for a place in the FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014. Four years ago I was present when NZ beat Bahrain to claim a place in the World Cup in South Africa. The place was electric that night. It was the best sporting event I have been to at the stadium. (It probably almost goes without saying that the best sporting event I have been to was the final of the Rugby World Cup in 2011. It was an extremely tense match - that was not enjoyable, but we all had such great delight when the ball was kicked out for the final whistle.)
After a 5-1 trashing by Mexico in the first leg, I went hoping to see a good game. The Mexicans were faster, more skilful and a vastly better team. After banging in three goals in the first half, the game was gone. When NZ scored two late goals after 80 minutes the NZ supporters became wistfully delusional and chanted 8-3! 8-3! 8-3! The Mexicans then reignited their team and banged another one past our goalie to reiterate which team was the quality soccer team.

The packed stadium meant we arrived reasonably early. My son, Sausage Boy, and I brought a Fritz’s Wiener to eat prior to game. He had a mild bratwurst, I brought the spicy bratwurst. Fritz’s Wieners are a franchised sausage operation. The guy behind the barbeque was able to tell me that the sausages were made by Hellers, and they only sold this variety of sausages to the franchise.

My sausage was pork and beef sausage which was lightly manuka smoked. Tasting the sausage you would not know it was smoked. The dominant flavour is hot spice. Biting into the sausage there was reasonable amount of watery fat and you could see small lumps of fat in the ground meat. The amount of mustard placed on the sausage also diminished the flavour, rather than enhancing it. So the dominant taste was hot spice and mustard.

Sausage Boy thought his bratwurst was bland. He said it was like the frankfurters I used to put in the rolls I made for the boys for lunch when they were at primary school. The only thing of substance was the condiment, with the mustard being the dominating flavour. His bratwurst was also smoked, but again you could not taste any smokiness in the flavour of the sausage.

The buns were very good. They were nicely toasted and were a light bread. Within the context of mass produced takeaway food at a stadium with over 30,000 people present the bratwurst was above average. Better than the chips and burgers that are served. I would buy these again, however my culinary expectation would be reasonably low. You are talking about fast food here, and it is an upmarket hotdog in a bun.

Tuesday 12 November 2013



These sausages were purchased at Moore Wilsons, they are variety of sausages made by Mariano’s Spanish Goods from Christchurch. Butifarra is described as authentic Catalan sausage. I like the description of the ingredients; pork 85%, pork fat 15%, along with salt, nutmeg, black pepper and edible casing. This sausage is gluten free, with no additives and nitrates. The pork is free range.

These sausages need to handled with care. They are a little delicate. when cooking they needed a little bit of extra attention to ensure that the sausage remained in the casing. You can tell these sausages are hand filled, I am always keen to eat sausages made by hand. The meat is ground to a medium coarseness, and I like my sausage a little chunky. The quality of the taste is very good, the pork is the main flavour, this is accented the natural sweetness of the spices, there is the taste of pepper and slight hint of nutmeg. These sausages make for very good eating. I will buy these again. The whanau liked the small morsels they had too. A very nice sausage.

If you go to this company’s website you can see that they have won Cuisine Magazine’s Artisan Award for sausages twice. The Malaguena Sausage won in 2012, and in 2010 the fresh chorizo won. I will be buying more of Mariano’s sausages from Moore Wilsons, so watch out for further reviews.

Cost per kilo: $29.84

Thursday 31 October 2013

Champagne, Veal and Truffle Sausages

Champagne, Veal and Truffle Sausages

I picked these up from Island Bay Butchery. They are a different sausage. If you have read the posting about Island Bay’s veal sausage, see link, you will know that I do not claim to be an experienced veal eater. While I enjoy champagne and would claim to have some expertise in this field, I know very little about truffles and the associated flavours. So what were the sausages like? The answer is very good, a different taste and aroma, but one I would happily eat again.

The sausages had what I could only describe as a distinctive aroma, but one where I could not identify what I was smelling. This was neither pleasant nor unpleasant, it was a smell new to my olfactory senses. I will assume this was the truffle. The sausages cooked well, a bit of fat, but not too much. A nice aroma came of as they cooked.


This fine to medium ground sausage was darker than the other veal sausage from Island Bay, and it tasted good. The flavour I assume is dominated, but not overpowered by the truffle, the meat flavour is good. They were well received by the whanau. My wife really liked them, one son liked them a lot, the other son and daughter were not so keen. As a result of this we have decided to have something a little exotic on the menu for our annual whanau Christmas barbecue. I will be going back to Island Bay Butchers to order more. These are not your everyday sausage, they may even be unique, however they are well worth trying out and expanding your sausage eating horizons.

Cost per kilo: $28.95
And great to see that Island Bay Butchery won medals in the NZ sausage competition for their Bavarian sausage and the black pudding. I judged the black pudding section of this competition. Watch out for a review of both sausages, coming to a blog soon.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

It is hard work, but someone has to do it.

It is hard work, but someone has to do it.
Judging at the Devro NZ Sausage Competition

Last week I had the pleasure of being a judge at the Devro NZ Sausage Competition. I went to Auckland and for two days I sampled some of the best sausages that are made in New Zealand. As someone who is very keen on eating quality sausages, I found this an interesting and rewarding experience. I was teamed up with representatives from the meat industry, butchers, chefs and food writers. I am not sure where I fitted in but after much consideration I decided I was there to represent the end consumer, the sausage eaters of NZ.

Around twenty judges were used each day. Judging was done by a table of four judges, which were paired and presented with a sausage for judging, in both its uncooked and cooked form. As each new sausage arrived you were paired with a different judge from the table. All judging was done blind, with sausages only identified by a code. I learnt a large amount from the butchers present who had the knowledge and expertise about the science of sausage making. The chefs could detect some of the added ingredients through their well-developed palates. The ability to identify whether the slight orange flavour was natural or dried orange, along with the quality of the blue cheese used in the sausages was impressive and not something I would have dreamed of challenging.
Here are judges are hard at work.

There were over 460 sausages entered in the competition. During the two days I judged the gourmet, traditional pork, and rounds (black and white pudding, and any sausage presented in a round or horseshoe form). And I see that one of the delectable morsels of black pudding was from the Island Bay Butchery who won the gold medal. There were many entries in the gourmet category, with multiple tables judging this section. The task of evaluating, tasting and offering written feedback on over 35 sausages each day was onerous…. but I was up for the challenge.

As part of the team that judged traditional pork, I can attest to the quality of the entries. The supreme winner was a beautiful pork sausage made by the Village Butcher in Havelock North. See link. Even within the category of traditional pork sausages this snarler had serious competition, with a large number of the sausages being seriously good. The winner of the traditional pork category was a great sausage from New World in Rototuna, Delights Pure Pork.  

Check out the winners of each category, and watch out for reviews of these sausages. Congratulations to the Wellington butchers who collected medals. See link for all medal winners.
Gold Medal:
Preston’s Master Butcher, Turingia Bratwurst - Pre-cooked/Barbecue Category

Greytown Butchery, Beef Flavoured - Flavoured Category

Island Bay Butchery, Black Pudding - Rounds Category

Silver Medal
Island Bay Butchery, Bavarian (Wellington) - Pre-cooked/Barbecue Category

Preston’s Master Butchers, Cracked Pepper, Coriander & Basil (Wellington) - Gourmet Category

So after two days of eating some of NZ’s best sausages I headed home with a smile, a full belly, and a great experience of discussing the intricacies of sausages making and fine food appreciation. It was a difficult task but I was up for the challenge.


Sunday 6 October 2013

It is not all beer and sausages - Part Three

It is not all beer and sausages – Part Three

This weekend I was off to the highlight of the harrier season, the NZ Road Relays. This was held on the Sign of the Takahe to Akaroa route, 76km of varied terrain, run by a team of eight. This course is rightly regarded as the best relay course in NZ. Some teams turn up to win or medal. Our team sorted out our goals before the race - to have a good time and enjoy ourselves. I offered to bring sausages to feed the team.

It would be fair to say that the mighty M50 (men over 50) from Scottish Harriers would not put fear into the opposition with our running prowess. I ran the lap from hill top to Duvauchelle, which concludes with a long 5km of steep downhill. It hammers the legs and feet and I was knackered when I reached the finish. My legs and feet were sore and at the end of my stretch my team mates asked me how many toenails I had lost. I said my feet were sore and took off my shoes. In the supportive way we worked together, they said, ‘There’s no blood in your shoes, stop moaning and get into the van."

At the finish the announcer said, "Here come Scottish’s M50A team, the first finishers in the M50 grade….." What is omitted is, "from the 8.30am start." Most of the M50 teams started at 9.15am.

 We did not come last, and we were not close to the medals. However I can confidently say that we had the best selection of beer and sausages in our van. The teams had to carry a baton over the course - our team abandoned the baton supplied by the organisers and replaced it with a kabonosy.

I cooked the sausages the day before our race. Not knowing my team members preference for sausages I brought a variety - kabonosy from Park Ave Quality Meats, (See review), pork and fennel from Island bay Butchery, (see review) and Cumberland from Cameron Harrison Butchers. From left to right, kabonosy, Cumberland, Sremska and pork and fennel. 

Comments from the learned, if tired, runners in the van: these are good, a very nice flavour, smell good and not too over powering. This was the kabonosy. One team member, in a moment of madness, even offered to run another lap if I could find him another sausage to munch on.
The sausages were appreciated and went down well after each team member completed their lap. The Cumberland were appreciated for the meaty taste, the pork and fennel for their flavour. The consensus was the most preferred sausage of the day was the kabonosy. I shared the sremska (see review) on the way back to Christchurch, but this did not have too many takers. I gave these out in smaller morsels. It is a spicier sausage and received comments about the strong taste.

Of course a refreshing drink was needed to rehydrate and in the van a selection of beers were present, Macs Pale Ale, Tsingtao and a Bismark Brown Ale made by Hancock and Co. This is a malty, hoppy, slightly bitter brown ale, best drunk cold, rather than after being in the van for many hours. However as a post race refresher it meets the mark.

So the team had a very enjoyable jaunt from Christchurch to Akaroa. There were a lot of laughs, ribbing, jokes and irreverent comments about our respective running ability, while racing against other teams of a similar pace. There was a great spirit of camaraderie, enhanced by the snacking on sausages and beer.

We will all be back next year for what will undoubtedly be another highly unsuccessful attempt at a NZ title, but with high anticipation that the day will one an pleasurable one.

For links to other parts of this series.

Monday 30 September 2013

What is out the back at the Langham Hotel?


What is out the back of the Langham Hotel?

We had a weekend in Auckland and stayed at the Langham Hotel. On Saturday night we had a meal with friends who live in Auckland. After a few drinks down at Britomart, we headed off to a couple of restaurants they were keen to eat at. We were turned away from both as they were too busy. The decision was then made to go the Langham’s restaurant, Eight. This had been recommended to us by friends.

We arrived at the end of the evening rush, around 8.30pm. Our waiter showed us around the kitchens that make up Eight and gave us a fulsome rundown. The concept of the restaurant is eight kitchens with different cuisines. You select the food, tell the chef how you want it cooked and the chef then cooks this while you watch. Then you eat it, returning back to the kitchens as many times as you like. One of our party was gluten free - she was easily catered for, had lots of food choices and helpful staff were ready to identify the gluten free options for her.

The kitchens at Eight are an American style grille serving meats, Asian noodles and dim sum, Indian cuisine including a tandoor oven, fresh seafood and oysters, sushi and sashimi, French pastries and crepes, and dessert. I started with a dozen raw oysters, they slipped down so easily that later in the evening I came back and had a half dozen top up.

In the meat kitchen our waiter identified that there were fourteen meats to choose from. I looked for sausages but none were present. However, all was not lost for later in the evening I spied some sausages in the meat display. Naturally I got talking with Brian the chef. He was very helpful, obliging and an interesting guy. He told me they had a selection of sausages out the back. By now I was extremely interested. The selection were: chicken, white chocolate and coffee; venison, chorizo and shrimp; and finally a venison curry sausage. I would describe the sausages as petite, small and thin, a good snacking or tasting size. All were a medium ground sausage. Brian informed me they were the inspiration of the restaurant’s executive chef and are made off site. The sausages are served as part of the breakfast and lunch selection at Eight. I was delighted that as a sausage eater they had made it to the premier meal of the day, even if it was after most of the punters had left the restaurant. Brian the chef is affable, friendly and he certainly knows his sausages. He was a pleasure to talk to as he cooked up the morsels to be eaten.

Sausages on the grill. Once on the plate, the brown sausages and brown plate does not make great culinary photography.
Chicken white chocolate and coffee

This is a unique combination of flavour, the subtlety of chicken meat, combined with the sweetness of white chocolate and bitterness of coffee. I do not drink coffee, and I found this flavour to be strong. My wife, a woman who needs a coffee to get the day going, found the coffee flavour to be subdued. The flavours complemented each other. This is not a sausage to base a meal around, rather it is morsel of different flavours and I consider it works well within a meal of many components. If you are at the Langman it is well worth a try.
Venison chorizo and shrimp

Another interesting combination. Seafood has a delicate taste and balancing this with the strong flavour of chorizo would be a challenge. In our group this was our favourite sausage, however none of us could detect the shrimp. It was a soft and easily chewed sausage, the spice of the chorizo was subtle and not overpowering. There was not the strong after taste you get with many chorizo. I would describe this as very mild venison chorizo style of sausage, and if you are at the Langham, check this sausage out.

Venison Curry
This was the least favourite sausage of our party. Venison sausages are not my meat of choice. I prefer pork, beef or lamb. These sausages were venison with a light curry flavour. They were fine to eat but did not appeal as much as the other sausages to those at our table.

So in a meal of wide ranging flavours, these sausages formed a small but significant part of our evening. Great company, plenty of laughs and fine food augmented with petite, flavoursome, specialty sausages. And the answer to the question I posed at the beginning? Quirky and tasty sausages.