Sunday 26 January 2014

It is not all beer and sausages - Part Five

It is not all beer and sausages – Part Five

Yesterday I ran in the Jumbo-Holdsworth race. This is a 23km mountain run with a nice run along a river valley, some serious climbing as you head from Atiwhakatu Hut to the peak at Jumbo, along the ridge from Jumbo to Mt Holdsworth and then downhill to the finish. I knew my legs were tired and not is great shape so I took it easy along the valley. I felt alright as I climbed 900 vertical metres to the summit of Jumbo. I even passed a few people on the ascent. Between Jumbo and Holdsworth there are three climbs and it was only on the second climb along the ridge that my legs started to say, "Hey mate, we feel stuffed." However, being able to see the trig that marks Mt Holdsworth, you tell your legs to keep on going and soon you arrive. I arrived at the end with a slower time than when I last completed the race, but my second quickest time for the seven times I have run the event. I was happy to have finished.

Below is an old photo of the ridge between Jumbo and Mt Holdsworth. I took this when I was tramping with my sons quite a few years ago. The Mt Holdsworth trig is indicated by the arrow.



So when you reach the finish, what is the reward? The answer is the same as the last time: beer and sausages. There is a BBQ put on for all contestants and I brought two lots of sausages to share with friends. The old faithful Park Ave Quality Meats, kabanosy, see link, and a new sausage I had purchased from the Kelburn shop of Cameron Harrison Butchers, the Black Rock pork sausage. The butcher in the shop told me it was made by Cameron Harrison using a recipe from an Auckland butcher. This sausage had won awards, he told me. When I asked what they were, he did not know. Sadly this was a continuation of previous conversations I have had with the staff who work for Cameron Harrison. They have poor product knowledge, and Cameron Harrison really needs to do something about it if they want their staff to do justice to the quality sausages and other meats they sell.

The finish chute
The Black Rock pork sausage is pure pork. It tastes good, and when I cooked (and sampled) them the night before, the sweetness of the pork was the paramount flavour. It is a medium grind and tastes good between the teeth - you know you are eating a quality pork sausage. I will buy this sausage again.
Black Rock pork sausages
The runners who ate the sausages thought the kabonosy was the best, they liked the smokiness. This flavour remains when the sausages are cold. The Black Rock pork sausages were also appreciated. The flavour of the pork is not as marked when cold so these sausages are best eaten while warm. You can see I left the fine china and silver cutlery at home. A plastic bag and fingers make for great eating.
I talked with the winner of the race, he runs for the same club as I do.  They then announced the race was about to begin, line up! He headed for the front row, while I jostled with other runners for one of the back marker spots. I offered the winner a sausage at the end of the race and strangely he declined. He obviously does not appreciate the merits of the innovative and ground breaking sausages and running regime that I have been experimenting with. It really works and I would encourage all runners to come on board and see how much you can improve.

We also rehydrated with a Hancock’s & Co. Grand Pale Ale. This is a medium sweet beer with a full round flavour. It has nice well balanced after taste on the palate. An ideal rehydration drink, made more enjoyable by the pleasant picnic like surroundings.

So with a relaxing picnic on a glorious summer’s day we concluded the event. There was talk about the next event, the Tararua Mountain Race in six weeks’ time. By then the pain will have subsided, the legs will not be sore and the bruises will have healed. Like maniacs who go back for more, we will line up and spend our Saturday running through the bush again.
For links to other parts of this series.

Black Rock pork sausage; Cost per kilo $19.99

Friday 17 January 2014

The Sausage Gods lurk in the Tararuas

The Sausage Gods lurk in the Tararuas

I spent an enjoyable time recently in the Tararuas. I enjoy getting away from it all, being the hills and contemplating sausages and life. Having found a couple of sausages left in Cone Hut a few weeks ago I wondered if the sausage gods of the hills would leave sausages for hungry trampers in the huts in which I intended to stay on this adventure.

My trip route went from the Holdsworth road end, over Mt Holdsworth, and then dropped to Mid Waiohine Hut, up the steep ascent to Aokaparangi and along the main ridge to Maungahuka. I them dropped down from the main ridge and went over Concertina Knob and a steep descent into Neill Forks which led, you guessed it, to a steep ascent onto Cone Ridge, and onto Totara Flats. Then it was back to the Holdsworth road end.

On the first day the wind was up and the cloud was down. At Powell Hut I tried to go high when I first arrived. The wind was extremely strong and it would blow you over leaving you crawling along the ground if you wanted to proceed – not exactly optimal tramping weather. After more than three hours of waiting for the forecasted decline in the gale, an English tramper and I decided to attempt going over the summit of Mt Holdsworth. It was hard going and at one point we decided that if it got any worse we would turn back. However we persevered and were soon over the top of Holdsworth and onto the next peak Isabelle.

As we battled the conditions on the way down from Isabelle, the wind temporarily abated, the cloud cleared and you could see the rich verdant bush on the precipitous slopes of the upper Waiohine Gorge. The deep green contrasted to the opaque clouds. The silence that was present compared with the roar of the wind that had previously been there made for a magic moment. It is at times like this you feel fantastic and admire the grandeur of nature. Then the cloud rolled back in and the roar of the wind resumed.

The two of us arrived at the Mid Waiohine Hut near nightfall and we were pleased to find a couple of kabonosy were left at the hut. It was the second discovery of the day as I had also I sighted a Dutch braadworst at Powell Hut. It was clear that we were in the presence of the seldom sighted "sausage gods."
Powell Hut
Dutch braadworst at Powell
The kabonosy sausage is ideal for tramping, smoked and nicely flavoured. It went down well with all the people in the hut. By contrast the Dutch braadworst is a meaty sausage that appeals to those who prefer a straight meat taste, see link. For a review of kabonosy, see link.

Since August 2013 Mid Waiohine hut has only been stayed in for seven nights. It is a tired hut, but one that welcomes visitors. It but a bit off the beaten track and you have to keen to get into this part of the hills.
Mid Waiohine Hut
Kabonosy at Mid Waiohine
The Waiohine River
The climb up to Aokaparangi was steep, around 900m of vertical ascent. I was pleased to get the top. It was warm day and the sweat was pouring. I had a relatively small drink bottle of about 750ml of water and with a few hours more along the ridge including lots more climbing, the water had to be rationed and savoured. The English tramper and I talked about our desire for water, and there were more gnarly knolls and peaks to be climbed as we traversed south down the main ridge.

The view to Aokaparangi (marked with arrow) from Maungahuka
Fortunately the sausage gods had also visited Maungahuka Hut. The English tramper said he appreciated quality sausages as he headed off to Neill Forks, hoping to get there before night fell. He planned to add his sausages to his diet of pasta and sardines and was grateful for the sausages that would help to sustain him and offer variety to his diet.
Maungahuka Hut
Kabonosy and chorizo criollo at Maungahuka

The ridge south from Maungahuka
I spent the night alone in the solitude of Maungahika Hut. The moon shone through the windows and it was a very peaceful environment. It was easy to see why the sausage gods favoured this place as a hideaway. While in the hut there is no escaping the realisation that the weather in this area can be brutal and ferocious. The hut has steel guy ropes from each corner anchoring the hut into the ground. This added reinforcement supports the hut when the wind does blow.
Neill Forks Hut

Dutch braadworst and chorizo criollo
The Hector River just below Neill Forks
From Maungahuka it was down to Neill Forks Hut. Woo hoo! More cause for celebration. The sausage gods had left a chorizo criollo and half a Dutch braadworst, in Neill Forks hut to urge me forward to Totara Flats Hut for the night. When I arrived there were more chorizo criollo awaiting me.
Totara Flats Hut
Chorizo criollo at Totara Flats

Sadly, the chorizo criollo did not taste quite as I had expected. They lacked the complexity of flavour that I enjoy savouring which I usually partake in my favourite sausage. I did have high expectations but sadly these were not fulfilled on this occasion. This sausage is still a quality sausage, however my recommendation for best eating is to savour it hot, or from post cooking storage in a fridge. See link for a review.

Overnight the wind had risen again and was venting its force at Totara Flats. Roaring down the valley I got very little sleep as the sound of the wind buffeted the hut. However I was pleased I was not at Maungahuka hut where the wind would have been twice as strong on the tops.

As I headed to the road end I was walking down the Gentle Annie track close to my destination, I heard a voice behind me. It was a runner who wished to pass. He gave me a bit of fright. It was the first person I had seen in two days and I knew I was back close to society and away from the mysterious, but generous, sausage gods.

Thanks to the sausage gods for supplying sausages in each hut. A pleasant trip with some great sausages.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Abai Soondae: Traditional Korean Sausage

Abai Soondae: Traditional Korean Sausage

I read this story in the New Zealand Herald. All cultures make a form of sausage. Here is a story about a traditional Korean sausage. When I am next in Auckland I should check this out.

To read the story click here.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Black Pudding from Island Bay Butchery

Black Pudding from Island Bay Butchery

I went to Island Bay and thought I would pop into the butchers and pick up some their award winning black pudding. This won gold at the 2013 Devro New Zealand Sausage Awards. I was a judge of this section. There were some great black puddings at the awards. The judging is done blind so the judges do not know who made the product they are sampling.

Island Bay Butchery make this in a round and it also available in a tube. I brought a tube of black pudding. The primary factor in this decision was weight - there is more in the tube than the round. Slices can be cut from the tube and eaten progressively. As you can see, I got this home and cooked up a few slices.

The black pudding looks good when you cut it. You can see the lumps of barley and oatmeal - I assume that some of the white material you can also see are lumps of fat. There is a finely ground component to the pudding too. The aroma is nice and stimulates the taste buds.

The black pudding not only looks good but tastes good too. There is a hint of heat on the palate. My taste buds say pepper, but I could be wrong. It is a nice taste. For breakfast the following day I had six slices, a very enjoyable way to start the day.

I did get a couple of stringy pieces in my slices, these got caught between the teeth. Not really sure what this might have been.

I do not buy black pudding regularly. This was a good snack and I would buy it again. Sausage Boy was ambivalent while my wife thought the black pudding from Churchill’s Butchers in Kerikeri, see link, was a superior product. I preferred the Island Bay black pudding.

Cost of a tube: $17.95   

Saturday 4 January 2014

It is not all beer and sausages - Part Four

It is not all beer and sausages – Part Four

Yesterday I went on a training run in the hills. Three of us ran from Kaitoke, north of Upper Hutt, to the Waiohine Gorge road end, inland from Greytown. This involves going over two saddles, and along the Tauherenikau River which flows in between them. It was a good day for running in the hills, the weather was mild and when the sun come out there was bit a heat, along with a slight breeze to cool you. We covered around 22km at a training run pace, not too fast. In a few weeks all of us are competing in the Jumbo-Holdsworth run, and two of us intend to also run the Tararua Mountain Race in early March. We spent the run trying to convince our running partner to do the same. Our run covered the first half of the Tararua Mountain Race route for 2014.



After 17km or so you arrive at Cone Hut. Cone Hut is set in a picturesque wide gully, just above the Tauherenikau River. It is located beneath mature beech trees. This is the last remaining traditional slab hut in the Tararuas. The walls of this hut are made from hewn totara slabs. It has a dirt floor, and a sleeping platform. I spent a night in this hut sometime around 1980 and it was in a state of disrepair then. We hung our packs from the rafters to stop the rats getting into our food. Since then the hut has been repaired and restored, during in the late 1980s.



Unbelievably, when I entered the hut I found two sausages on the bench. What a delight! I sampled these and thought they must have been cooked the night before. They had a nice level of caramelisation and once bitten into I thought they were probably Preston’s Master Butchers' silver medal winners in the gourmet category in the 2013 Devro Sausage Awards. They looked and tasted like the cracked pepper, coriander and basil sausage. This sausage is a meat sausage and this is predominant taste. The meat is supplemented by a moderate taste of pepper. This is the strongest secondary flavour. Elements of coriander and basil can be detected, and complement the pepper taste. This is a great eating, hearty, chunky sausage. I will buy this sausage.

I did find a wrapper in the hut’s fireplace. This labelling on the sausages does not add up. It lists the contents of the sausage as: pork 56%, beef 28%, maize flour and salt are listed next (assuming that ingredients are listed in size order you see why the numbers cause confusion), then, spices - pepper 9.5% and coriander 7%, sugar, herbs – including basil leaves 5%, and few more….. For those of you who have elementary skills in addition… this does not make sense.

I was part of the judging panel for the gourmet category in the sausage awards. There were numerous entries, with 3 or 4 tables judging some high quality gourmet snarlers. I am unsure if this sausage was one that our table judged. I was of course a novice judge but I did find that when sampling over 30 sausages in a day, I could not recall everything I judged.

For those of you who are familiar with running nutrition, and keeping fuelled up on the run, you will not find too many running guides that recommend sausages as a source of energy while you run. However as a runner who is at the forefront of pushing the boundaries in the evolution of supplements to be consumed while running; take my word and be ahead of the game, the eating of sausages on a run is the best!

And when we got the end there was no beer so we settled for a coffee in Greytown instead.

Cost per kilo: $17.99

See links to other parts of this series.