Tuesday 30 December 2014

What is out the back of Westmere Butchery?

What is out the back of Westmere Butchery?

On our summer holiday we travelled to Auckland and stayed with a friend, she lives in Grey Lynn. My wife came home from a morning stroll and said, "I walked past the Westmere Butchery, and they are open." I was surprised they were open on a Sunday morning just after Christmas, however was delighted with the news. So naturally I wandered down and brought some snarlers. The young butcher who served me was helpful and informative. I told him about my blog and he showed me their chiller. He said with the Christmas rush they only had about half the number of snarlers that are normally present and that the butchers would be working hard to restock the sausage supply. Even at half full it was an impressive sight! 

Of course I purchased some snarlers to be eaten on our trip to the far north.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Christmas Sausages

Christmas Sausages

I made some sausages for Christmas, for Christmas Eve dinner with friends and Christmas lunch with whanau.

I used the Christmas colours of red and green to flavour the sausages with capsicum, Granny Smith apples and shallots. The flavour I was aiming to create was mostly sweet with a little bit of tartness from the apple. My aim was to please the punters and make a sausage that will appeal to all.

I used two kilos of minced pork and I had the longest string of snarlers I had created. The long string meant that the two abreast tying method had its challenges, and this had to be done using the bench as base. However I did succeed in the task. I started making quite large sausages at the beginning of the string, as handling was a challenge. As I worked my down the length the snarler size decreased.

The kitchen was a hive of activity on Christmas Eve morning, and as the sausages were being finished, my wife was creating a recipe from Nigella Lawson, a gooey chocolate triple meringue stack for Christmas Eve dining.

On Christmas Eve we also took some marinated rump steak which was farm kill meat that a friend in the Wairarapa had given us. I said to my wife, when I tell our host, that it is farm kill beef, he will say, "You’re sure it’s not road kill?" True to form, he posed this question.
When we went to friends for Christmas Eve, four adults missed the soiree due to a bug that was doing the rounds. We had five adults and nine soon to be adults present. This definitely lowered the average age and also meant the balance of whole table conversations reflected the young in spirit nature of the dinner. As we ate, conversed and chattered about the table it made you realise that our kids are growing up.

The sausages went down well and positive comments were received about the homemade snarlers. There was a lot of food and the only portion of the meal that was completely eaten were the desserts. They were delicious.

The following day it was off to my sister’s house for a Christmas lunch. We took sausages, Jansson’s temptation, a Swedish potato dish, along with salmon and pate for starters. The sausages and a butterflied leg of lamb were cooked on the barbecue. When the meal was being eaten my ten year old niece said, "This sausage is yummy." High praise indeed.

So at the end of the day I reflect, with a full belly, on the charm of Christmas. It is not about the rampant consumerism that I consider to be too much of a focus in society. It is about family and friends, enjoying each other’s company with food, frivolity and laughter. And my sister, who is an Anglican vicar, would add …. "Hey, and remember the birth of Jesus too."

For an index of homemade sausages click here.   

Monday 22 December 2014

A Meal Without Sausages?

A Meal Without Sausages?

We had a few friends and neighbours around for an afternoon of festivities, drinks and food. At the end of the year it is good to relax and celebrate the run up the Christmas.

My wife was in a bit of a baking and cooking frenzy.

Although by the end of the afternoon I had instructions for a batch of homemade sausages for a barbecue on Christmas Eve. I will make one larger batch, this is do Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Here is our food,  note there are no sausages:

Mrs Wood's Christmas Cake

Salmon and Sour Cream on Blinis

Cinnamon Angel Wings
Cheese, Kapiti Aorangi Brie and Cumin Seed Gouda with Grapes
Stollen and Christmas Mince Pies  
Linseed and Sour Dough Loaf
Chocolate Coated Marzipan

Smoked Oyster Dip along with Hummus and Coriander Dip on Focaccia  

Saturday 20 December 2014

Don's Sausage Blog Awards 2014

Don’s Sausage Blog Awards 2014

Each year I identify those sausages that I have reviewed and that have given me the most pleasure during the year. I have decided to take the less is more approach to these awards. Not too many awards, however the recipients are at the very top end of the sausages I like and enjoy eating. Life it too short to eat bad sausages, so if you are after a great snarler, here are the best ones I ate in 2014.

All the sausages awardees have been reviewed on this blog.

A drum roll please……………….

Don’s Sausage Blog Awards for 2014
The Undisputed Champion:
Pimenton: Zamora, Queenstown. I made an error when I brought some of these snarlers, the mistake was not buying more. This Argentinian style chorizo has layers of flavours and complexity on the palate when you eat it. It is a sausage that remains in the memory and leaves you wanting more. Reviewed May 2014 

A Close Runner Up:
Chicken Rocket and Cashew Sausages: The Fridge, New Plymouth. There are plenty of reasonable chicken sausages around, but to make an exceptional chicken sausages you need to have a great taste of chicken meat (as opposed to chicken flavour). This sausage excels in this. I contend this snarler is the best chicken sausage in the country – certainly the best I have tried that are currently being made. Reviewed June 2014 

Those that were in the mix and gain a worthy mention:
Venison Rost: Park Avenue Quality Meats. This is a venison and pork sausage that will appeal to a wide range of sausages eaters, on the continuum a little spicy with pepper and chilli added for flavour. A great snarler to eat. Reviewed February 2014.

Louisiana Reds: Eastbourne Village Meats. I purchased a few of these when I was out in Eastbourne one day and then went back for more but they did not have any in stock. These Cajun inspired sausages are subtly flavoured and leave you hankering for more. Reviewed June 2014.

Homemade Pork and Apple

Homemade Pork and Apple

I made some sausages for a family barbecue held to celebrate my mother’s 84th birthday.

I have been given a book Home Sausage Making by Susan Peery and Charles Reavis, and I used the pork and apple recipe as a basis to create some birthday snarlers.
I used one and half apples, a small leek and the zest of a lime. I cooked this up and then added the mix to a kilo of minced pork.
The stuffing and tying went satisfactorily, with assistance from a handy family member to wind the crank on the machine.
They were cooked on our new barbecue, along with some chicken sausages from Island Bay Butchery and beef tenderloin. I had marinated the beef in soy sauce, garlic and whole grain mustard. I also made a couple of salads, potato and mixed green. Simple fare on what I had hoped would be nice summer evening.
The sausages went down well with many positive comments. In our whanau we do speak with some frankness and if people were not keen on the end product they will make this clear. The sweetness of the apple complimented the pork, although the tartness of lime did not come through and I could not detect this on the palate. Next time I will use more apple and lots more lime or lemon zest. I enjoy experimenting with flavours as I make sausages.
It was a successful evening and I was pleased with how the sausages tasted. I now have five days before the next whanau event, Christmas dinner/barbecue. Guess who is supplying the sausages? There will be some that I make and others that I will purchase. See the review of the Christmas lunch here.

For an index of homemade sausages click here.

Sunday 14 December 2014

it is not al beer and sausages - Part Nine

It is not all beer and sausages – Part Nine

A Misty Southern Crossing

A group of us decided to complete the Southern Crossing as day trip as part of our training for the Tararua Mountain Race in March. It was chance to re familiarise ourselves with the route and spend a day in the hills. I cooked up some sausages for us to eat during the journey.

We set out from the YMCA camp in Kaitoke, the weather forecast was good, gentle zephyrs on the tops of five kilometres an hour rising to 35 kilometres an hour later in the day. The temperature on the tops was forecast to be slightly above freezing, this was the first day for over a week that summer had arrived above the bush line.

When we were getting ready at the YMCA camp I did a repack of my gear. As this was gentle trip at a leisurely pace, I took extra food and a few items I would not carry if I was aiming to go at a faster pace. I put my sandwiches and a supply of spicy Serbian kobasica I had purchased from Park Avenue Quality Meats on the ground.

A woman came past with a dog. While I was not looking the dog grabbed one of the sarnies and shot off. The woman was embarrassed and managed to retrieve the sandwich, however it was well chewed by the dog, and this sandwich went home with my wife in our car. The good news was the dog had not taken off with the snarlers.

We has a pleasant trip up Merchant Ridge, I found the section from Bull Mound to Alpha Hut seemed to take a long time. We had a break at Alpha before heading over the tops to Kime. We knew at this stage the weather forecast was not as accurate was we would have liked. As can so often happen in the mountains of New Zealand the weather can change incredibly quickly from fair to really inclement. We put on extra layers, raincoats, over trou, beanies and gloves and headed up to Alpha Peak and the exposed part of trip.

I had been hoping the weather would have been good, from the top of Mt Hector on a nice day you can see Wellington Harbour to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west and the main range with its rugged peaks stretch to the north. It can very pleasant admiring these vista. However yesterday it was more typical of the Tararuas, misty, rain and wind. Visibility was about 100m or less. The vista was one of mist, mist and more mist. The strength of wind was steadily increasing and the temperature was dropping. I shot ahead and took a photo of the party, it was quipped, "Will this be called Gorillas in the Mist." We kept on chugging along at a steady pace and after a couple of hours we reached the summit of Mt Hector, this is always a good point to reach, if I am travelling at a faster pace it means Kime Hut is half an hour away. We were not going a great rate and forty minutes later we arrived at Kime.

We went into the hut for a breather and talked to a couple of groups of trampers who were there for the night. At this stage I broke out the spicy Serbian kobasica. These are a relatively small sausage  that are made primarily of pork with a bit of beef, it is coarsely ground, the way I like it, and strongly flavoured with paprika. With the body in a cold and wet state, sausages with a lingering after taste of the heat of paprika were consumed along with chocolate biscuits. It is all hearty comfort food and more importantly fuel for the body as we set of on the journey out to Otaki Forks. The other members of group had varying responses to sausages. The paprika is strong and those with a preference for heat preferred these snarlers.
This was the first time I had been inside the new Kime Hut. It is lighter and brighter than the previous hut.

When we arrived at the Forks, our transport was waiting, we had taken a little longer than anticipated, but had a memorable trip with variable weather. The legs knew we had travelled nearly 40km and the vertical climb had been over 2200m. Just as hard was the hammering of the knees and quads on the descent. At this stage three of our party are looking to do the Tararua Mountain Race in March, we have three months to do the work required for a successful event.

Alas there was no beer.

For an index to this series see link.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Romanian Sausages for breakfast, lunch and tea

Romanian Sausages for breakfast, lunch and tea.

The whanau headed to a barbecue on Sunday evening. I was asked to bring some snarlers for the adults. I bought the old standbys kabonosy and Dutch braadworst from Park Avenue Quality Meats. As the males gathered around the barby we got a talking about sausages.


Our host had recently visited the town of Viseu de Sus in the Carpathian Mountains in northern Romania. He was investigating possible Industrial World Heritage status for the last remaining forestry railway in Europe. In this area larch and pine are harvested on a 100 year rotation.

The 48km railway still includes the use of steam locos on a narrow gauge line that runs up a beautiful mountain valley. The last of these steam engines were built during the last years of the Ceausescu regime.

He found Romanian young people had very good English and were enthusiastic about the future. A food pleasure was the popularity of sausages that formed a part of breakfast, lunch and tea. Particularly tasty were venison sausages served as part of lunch by a ‘camp mother’ in a loggers camp.

She expected a shot of local whiskey to be skulled prior to making a start on the sausages. My friend appreciated the spicy Romanian snarlers, although he considered the "camp mum" would drink him under the table if he tried to match her prowess in downing the local spirits.
The steam loco crews gently warmed their sausages on top of the loco boiler, creating an appetising aroma in anticipation of lunch. As my mate said it was sausages for breakfast, lunch and tea.
With the growing interest in this area, a tourist train is now run daily, offering lunch – of course featuring sausage - at a forest resort. Other European rail enthusiasts, along with business support from Sweden, are striving to maintain this bastion of steam rail as a working railway. One aspect of this is dual use, forestry and tourism.

If I am in northern Romania I know where I will be heading to sample get sausages while checking out the railway.