Monday 25 March 2013

The Upside of the Earthquake

The upside to the earthquakes
You can get parking in Christchurch for $2 a day.
This weekend we went to Christchurch for a friend’s fiftieth birthday. Four classmates from Northcote College, on Auckland’s North Shore, got together to relive their youth and tell lies, truths and laugh about their life at secondary school and beyond. More than thirty years later, they live in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and London. I am married to one of these people.

I had not been to Christchurch since the big earthquake of February 2011. I was last there in late 2010 when the damage from the first earthquake was evident. This weekend I rode a bike from the house we were staying in to the centre of the city. There are large vacant plots of land where buildings once stood. When you get to the red zone you can see the damage to some of Christchurch’s landmarks. Below is the Art’s Centre and blocks that have fallen, or been removed, as the building is restored. The Cathedral in The Square has lost its spire. On the right hand side of the shot there used to be a block of buildings that have been demolished. There is still a great amount of work to be accomplished.


There is an upside, many vacant lots are available for car parking. You can park for $2 a day, which is very cheap. However I’m not sure we would want to have to go through an earthquake of that magnitude just to achieve such cheap parking.
My wife went to The Mediterranean Food Company and came back with some sausages from the Akaroa Butchery and Deli. These were mild Italian and chorizo. There was two of each. As I cooked these on the barbecue the question was asked by another guest, why are there only two?  As I replied I would have bought a minimum of six, or maybe eight. Anyway they cooked nicely and were served as a pre aperitif, that’s the special tasting you have before the aperitif for dinner.

The mild Italian are a pork based sausage with seasoning; parsley, sage and thyme, and maybe a hint of nutmeg also existed in the flavour. They are a pleasant but not spectacular sausage to eat. They are ground to a slightly more coarse texture than fine. These are ok sausages, and I would buy these again.

Cost per kilo: $22.00

The chorizo had the ingredients labelled as pork, wine, paprika, salt and garlic. On the continuum of chorizo that I have reviewed on this blog, this sausage is good. It is a medium spiced sausage. It was also pleasant to eat, in fact I could eat three or four of these if only my wife had provided for us better than she did. However as with the other sausage there are better examples around.   

Cost per kilo: $22.00

After the sausages were consumed, champagne was opened. Martin, our host, told us that my wife and other school friends who were there for the weekend had given him and his wife 24 champagne flutes for their wedding over 20 years ago. Until February 2011 they had not broken one. However after the big earthquake only four remained. These have now been replaced and the champagne, memories and laughter flowed.   If only there had been more sausages!

Sunday 10 March 2013

It is not all beer and sausages

It’s not all beer and sausages

Yesterday I competed in the Tararua Mountain Race. This is a race across the Southern Crossing route, usually a long two day, or three day tramp. There was 2250m of vertical climbing over the course. The track is rough and rugged. As the Italian runner, who had only just arrived in New Zealand, said to me in broken English as we struggled up the steep ascent to Alpha Hut, “There are so many tree roots in the jungle. I have never seen anything like it. I fell over four times.” Welcome to mountain running in NZ I thought, quickly followed by, we don’t call it jungle - we call it bush. However the nuances of language are not a topic of conversation as you are pushing it hard uphill. After 8½ hours I was knackered and delighted to have reached the finish line. There is a trophy for the first masters male. I only have to take nearly 3 hours off my time to claim this prize. Am I deluded or what? 
Below are a couple of photos the Italian guy took during the race. These were taken going over the tops between Alpha and Kime Huts. I am the wearing the red pack in the second photo. Here is a video of the 2011 event.

In some posts I have talked about the joy of the solitude of the NZ bush. I like being in the outdoors. Yesterday, however, it was hard work, pain and battling the mind during the harder sections of the course. The cloud was down, it came and went, so visibility was often down to around 30-50m on the alpine section of route from Alpha Hut to just before Field Hut, and the wind was blowing. It was not strong enough to blow you over (I have been in some events where this has occurred), but was strong enough to slow you down, or disrupt your balance at times. This chart gives you and indication of the ups and downs of the route.
Anyway at the end of the event, for those who run at the back of the field, what are the rewards? The ethereal satisfaction of achieving your goal; or on a more base level:  beer and sausages. I came home to snack on Gipp St Butchers German Bratwurst and Pale Whale Ale from the Mussel Inn in Golden Bay.

The German Bratwurst are made with 8kg of pork, 4kg of lean beef and secret spices according to the butcher. They are nice to eat and have a pleasant meaty taste. Cooking them on the barbecue they oozed quite a bit of fat. I would buy these again, however the family agreed that the bratwurst from Park Avenue Butchers are superior and they are cheaper too.

Cost per kilo; $22.95

I had a Pale Whale Ale from the Mussel Inn in Golden Bay to wash the sausages down and replace some sugars and carbohydrates. There’s nothing like an energy drink after a hard days running! This beer is a slightly cloudy pale ale. It is made from organic hops and malt. It has a mild hoppy and yeast taste with a stronger aftertaste. A satisfying and refreshing drink to wind down after an exhausting day.  Alcohol content of this beer is 7%. 

If you are ever in Golden Bay, the Mussel Inn is a must visit venue. It’s a relaxed converted farmhouse or woolshed, with rustic food and beer. They brew their own beer and also had their own range of non-alcoholic drinks for the kids and those so inclined. There is large outside area with a fire, and a big tractor tyre swing for the kids. Live music is performed there most nights, and the time we went there the place was rocking with a big local crowd turning out to see a Wellington gypsy brass band. It was great fun.  

So all in all, a very good weekend. The Hurricanes beat the Crusaders convincingly on Friday night 29-28. The Tararua Mountain Race was successfully completed and the highlight was, of course, the beer and sausages.

And to see links to other parts in this series.

Friday 8 March 2013

An unexpected wee gem

Finding an unexpected wee gem

Today I was in a school staffroom at morning tea time. A woman came around and offered black pudding to all those present. She had made the black pudding and was sharing it with her colleagues. Some of those present declined the offer, they were not keen. However plenty were eager to sample the sausage.
Wow, I thought this is fantastic, food and even better sausages. I ate a morsel and enjoyed the texture and flavour. This black pudding had a medium to coarse texture, it had a mild flavour with a hint of onion and garlic. It was pleasant on the palate. This was an unexpected and very enjoyable surprise.
The black pudding did not have a skin, the dripping that was used in the recipe acts as a binding agent. It held together well in the long tradition of many skinless sausages.

A great way to have morning tea. Tēnā rawa atu koe Whaea Janine.
(For those of you who need a translation of Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous language; Thank you Aunty Janine)

The ingredients of this black pudding came from a sheep that had been rendered.
The recipe

Ingredients: Sheep’s blood- about 4 litres, Breadcrumbs – about 2 loaves, 4 large Onions – 4 large, Garlic – 1 bulb, Dripping – about 500g, Salt and pepper.
Mix together, heat on a low setting, gently stir the mixture, when the mixture has turned black mould into a sausage tube, use tinfoil to maintain the tubes shape. Let the mixture cool and set. Place in fridge.

Then the good part; eat.

Saturday 2 March 2013

The Smallest Sausage Factory in Wellington

The Smallest Sausage Factory in Wellington

Today I went to the Gipps St Butchers in Karori to buy some sausages. The Gipps St Butchery has a very good reputation for the quality of the meat it sells. Although we do not live in Karori, if you want a particular cut of meat it is well worth the extra travel knowing you will receive a quality product and great service.

In winter we often cook a brisket and beetroot soup. It is hearty and filling. This is colloquially known in our family as “pizzle soup.” It's a long story how it got this name, however if you are unsure of the word pizzle, it would be best to look it up in a quality dictionary. Brisket is not sold in the supermarket meat section, so I sourced this from Gipp St. The butcher asked me if I was going to feed it to the pets. I told him what I was going to cook and he was quite interested, and cut the meat from a carcass he had out the back of the butcher’s shop. This is great, friendly service. Brisket is an underappreciated cut of the meat, and makes great eating especially during the colder months.

Anyway to get to the point of the posting, today at Gipp St I bought some German Bratwurst and Cumberland Sausages. Bill, the butcher, told me they make all the sausages on site, in the smallest sausage factory in Wellington. He motioned to the back of the shop, indicating where the sausages were made.

Tonight for dinner I cooked the Cumberland sausages from Gipp St, along with some Chorizo Criollo, from Park Avenue. These were cooked on the barbecue. I oven roasted baby potatoes, zucchini, onion and yellow capsicum, and boiled some broccoli.
It was a very pleasant summer meal.
The Cumberland sausage was good. It is a coarse sausage that is easy to eat. It has a soft texture. The flavour is meaty and nice. It is a plain sausage that would appeal to a wide section of population. Kids would be very keen on these, as I am assured my nieces are – they feast on them regularly. They make for good eating.

Cost per kilo: $16.95

The Chorizo Criollo has previous been reviewed on 9 January 2013. The family liked these sausages and both the boys, who are not keen on sausages at the spicier end of the spectrum, enjoyed eating them.  
Before Cooking
                                                              After cooking

Other reviews from Gipps St Butchery to follow.

And for those who want the recipe for Pizzle Soup:

Serves 6-8

This is a one pot meal, serve with toast, or bread.

450g of beef brisket

2 litres of water

1.5 l of beef stock

30g unsalted butter

½ onion, finely diced

700g beetroot (peeled and cut into 5cm long strips and 5mm thick)

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1.5 litres reserved liquid from cooking bisket

¼ cabbage, finely shredded

110g ham (this is optional)

4 parsley stalks

4 bay leaves

2 tablespoons chives, finely sliced


To cook the brisket: place the brisket into medium size pot with water and beef stock, place on high heat. Bring to boil and remove the scum from the surface. Reduce heat, cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 4 hours, or until the brisket is very tender and beginning to fall apart. You may need to add more water to keep the brisket covered while cooking.

Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Cool the brisket and cut into 1cm pieces.

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or till onion is soft but not browned.

Add beetroot, vinegar, sugar, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and 100ml of the reserved brisket cooking liquid.

Cover with a lid and simmer for 50 minutes, or until the beetroot is tender.

Tie the parsley stalks and bay leaves together and add to the saucepan with the remaining 1.4 litres of reserved brisket cooking liquid plus the cabbage, ham and brisket.

Place over a medium heat and bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Philippe’s Pork Chipolatas

Philippe’s Pork Chipolatas

See the previous posting for how I purchased these from Fresh Choice in Takaka. The traditional free farmed pork chipolatas are gluten and preservative free. They contain 82% meat from Apple Farm pork, along with salt, garlic and pepper inside a beef casing.  
They are a fine to medium ground sausage. They have a good meaty taste. They held together better than the previously reviewed Greek Lamb sausages.
If I saw these in Wellington I would purchase them again. A nice sausage. The family were keen on these too.
They are great value for money.
Cost per kilo: $14.99