Saturday 26 December 2015

The Festive Season Snarlers

The Festive Season Snarlers

The festive season rolls on. On Christmas Eve we had a sit down meal for eighteen with friends. Great food and company, there were nibbles followed by beef Wellington, potatoes and salad. I offered to bring some homemade snarlers to add to the selection of kai.

The children hoed into the food. Calling them children is a bit of misnomer as they are all aged between seventeen and twenty, our twins are the only ones who will still be school next year, the rest of youngsters are at university. The adults who don’t talk about their age but do contemplate, speculate and pontificate about both the past and the upcoming years. Of course this is all done over fine food and conversation.

After our Christmas Eve function, with full bellies we headed off my sister’s place for a Christmas Day lunch, this was held mid afternoon. We had eight households present, lots of whanau to share a casual and relaxed lunch. With the newest addition being just four weeks old – she slept in the arms of cousins and aunties, with an occasional feed from mum she successfully created the impression of a blissful new born. However she will not have it all her own way as another baby is expected in the next month, they will have to vie for the attention of the doting adults, and adolescent cussies. Also present were a few pre-schoolers, along with those who have just started school, and some who have finished school. The day had excited little kids, more sedate bigger kids, and some of the parents just pretending to be kids. It was a very enjoyable day, although lunch was the centre of attention, a water fight was held, cricket was played on the road outside the house, as those present enjoyed and appreciated the presence of whanau.

The table groaned with food, a ham, chicken, salmon, salads, potatoes, veges and more. I mention one of the many desserts later in the post.  I contributed my version a blue cheese, pear and walnut snarler along with an Italian banger. They were well received.

My version of the blue cheese, pear and walnut snarler is a self created recipe that uses a kilo of minced pork – through a 6mm grinder, six pears – stewed and chilled, ¾ of a cup of roughly diced walnut and one hundred grams of blue cheese - frozen and then finely grated. I also add one hundred grams of bread crumbs. 

The Italian sausage is a recipe from a UK sausage website. After making this for the first time I doubled the amount of spices from the recipe. I do prefer a bolder tasting sausage.

At the Christmas Eve dinner the woman sitting next to me described the blue cheese snarler as “amazing” and “heavenly.” Now here is a woman who knows how to flatter. The Christmas day barbecue was borrowed from a neighbour. They were rewarded with a gift of two snarlers, they asked me where they could purchase the blue cheese snarler, as they were keen for more. This comment was echoed a number of people on Christmas day. I am always ready to receive very positive feedback. These were the best presents I received on the day.

We are arrived home we were replete, a great day with the whanau. Roll on the next family event.

As a postscript, I have added a photo of a dessert my fourteen year old niece made, she is her mother’s daughter, who specialist area of gastronomy is sweets and desserts. I consider this to be a very impressive creation.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Don's Sausage Awards 2015

Don’s Sausage Awards 2015

As we near the end of the year, I contemplate the snarlers I have munched on during the year. I write a review shortly after consumption of a sausage, in the idiosyncratic (my wife says obsessive) way my minds works, I sometimes come back to a sausage after a week or two and in my mind desire to consume this variety again. The sausages to be awarded as my snarlers of the year are those that made me want more, the ones that I thought about after some time had elapsed since eating them.

This year I am giving three awards.

These go to Italian Banderia and the Blue Cheese, Walnut and Pear from Westmere Butchery in Auckland. Also in the mix is Kazanka Domowa, a Polish Black Pudding from Park Avenue Quality Meats. All these sausage reviews can be read by clicking on the link.

In a hard decision my sausage of the year is awarded to the Italian Banderia. You will be delighted with this sausage if you try it.

In the almost made the podium category I considered Heritage Meat Company’s Mexician Chorizo and The Sausage Sheds, Polish Garlic Smoked Sausage. These are also very highly recommended by this writer.

Tomorrow I will make my own sausages for the Christmas barbecue season. I’m making an Italian sausage along with my own version of a blue cheese, pear and walnut snarler. We are going to a Christmas Eve dinner / barbecue with friends, and then a Christmas Day barbie with whanau. There will be around about 26 present this year on Christmas Day. The sausages will be made with care and consumed with gusto by the hungry guests. Watch out for the next post about how it all goes.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Meat - alicious

Meat - alicious

I came across this photo of a nativity scene, I have long considered the that sausages are an art form. Here is the evidence.......

Sunday 13 December 2015

Chorizo Criollo – Zamora, Queenstown

Chorizo Criollo – Zamora, Queenstown

After completing the Kepler Challenge we flew back to Wellington via Queenstown. We stopped in to see my favourite South Island butchers, Zamora. Matias, one of the owners of the business, was in the shop and he talked to me about how they create their fantastic array of sausages. Needless to say I purchased a few, along with some salamis and condiments. I came prepared with a freezer bag to keep the purchases cold on the flight back to Wellington, Zamora also kindly provided a block of ice.

Over the next few weeks I will review the purchases.

Yesterday I went a mate’s place for a barbecue. I know him through running and a group of us had a run before we fired up the BBQ and focused on eating. My legs were still tired after the exertion of the previous weekend so I bailed out early in the run and walked back to his place.

I took chorizo criollo to the barbecue. These sausages are made from pork and beef, the grind is medium to coarse, the dominant flavours are garlic and oregano. There is a subtle flavour of mild heat also present, but this is a secondary flavour. This is a great example of another quality sausage made by Zamora. I look forward to sampling the other varieties over the next few weeks.

It is quite an art to meld heat and herbs. Getting the balance between these two elements is something that many sausages fail to achieve, and the heat of the spice often overpowers the herbs. Zamora succeeds in the creating a very good balance and I would expect nothing less from these quality butchers.

Park Avenue Quality Meats also make a chorizo criollo with bolder flavours. This is my favourite sausage and is quite different to the one made by Zamora. Both of these sausages are very high quality, but if I had to choose the one I prefer I would select Park Avenue’s example. However the key message here is to let your taste buds be the decider, rather than my preferences. I suggest you sample both and let me know your views. You will not be disappointed by either sausage.

Sunday 6 December 2015

It is not all beer and sausages - Part Thirteen

It is not all beer and sausages – Part Thirteen

The Kepler Challenge

I write this from Te Anau in Fiordland, as yesterday I completed the Kepler Challenge. This is a 60km mountain run, with a few good sized hills to make it interesting. The event follows the route of the Kepler Track, which is a four day tramp. My watch informed me I had ascended over 1600 metres by the time I finished.

The weather was looking dodgy all week leading up Saturday and at the briefing on Friday night they said gales - which means six metre waves in Foveaux Strait. If it was severe gales we would not be sending you over the tops, however the good news, we were told, is - it is only gales. Snow was forecast to fall above 800 to a 1000m. At the high point of the event you are at 1500m. It looked like it would be a fun day.

As it was not an optimal day for photos, I pilfered a few from the net, to demonstrate what the view can be like on a good day.

The weather on the day was good, with a gusty wind that was not too bad. As I come from Wellington I am used to strong winds so this didn’t worry me too much. Thankfully there was no snow, although we did get a hail shower that helped exfoliate the bare legs, as we headed over the tops.

The highlight for me was going over the tops. Although the claggy cloud came and went, and sometimes the wind blew strongly, the view was fantastic; seeing the dark grey blues of the lakes, Te Anau and Manapouri, along with the greens and browns of the precipitous slopes above the bush line as they headed to high snow topped peaks, being able to see many definitions of ridges, one behind the other as the mountains went into the distance, all made for a magnificent sight.  

I felt good for the first six hours. I considered I was running within myself and had reserves left for the last section. I was aiming to complete the event in around ten hours, however I slowed during the last twenty kilometres and ended up doing 10 hours 47 minutes. I was satisfied, even though I had slowed I always knew I was going to finish, and I was well ahead of the cut off times. Like all previous posts about running, I came near the rear of the field. You had to write a small comment on your entry for the finishing announcer to say as you neared the finish line. Mine was: A specialist back of the field runner, his role is to make other people look good. The announcer kindly told me I had succeeded in my mission.

At the end of the event, I was looking forward to beer and sausages. Unfortunately it was raining, and was not particularly pleasant at the finish line, so my wife and I hopped in the car and went back to our accommodation in Te Anau. There I had lamb and mint sausages from Cameron Harrison. These snarlers have a good minty aroma, the combination of chunky grind lamb with a nice balance of mint went down well after a knackering run. This was washed down by a pale ale from the Herne Brewing Company based in Tapanui, Western Otago. It was called Tane – a manuka smoked pale ale. This beer has elements of bitterness that are complemented by sweet smoky malt. It went down easily after the exertions of the day and both were very enjoyable. 

So at the end of a hard day, the body deserves replenishing, and what better way to do this that with beer and sausages.

Today I am quite stiff and sore, however as the week goes on I know I will recover and look back with pleasant memories and a sense of satisfaction and achievement about the run, the beer and of course the sausages.

Will I be back for another foray to the deep south to complete the Kepler Challenge? Or will I seek new adventures? 

For links to the rest of this series click here. 

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Kase - Griller

Kase – Griller

This is a rather different sausage from those normally made by Park Ave Quality Meats. It is a sausage that has its origins in Germany, with an influence from South Africa, and it has ended up in a butcher’s cabinet in Lower Hutt. It is a mild smoky sausage that has cheese added to the meat - in this case it is maasdam, a soft Dutch cheese. As the boys said, it is like a cheese kransky – and they are correct. This is a mass appeal sausage. Pleasant on the palate, with gooey maasdam cheese to complement the mildly spiced meat.

It is a snarler that will be well liked, easy eating and will be enjoyed by just about everyone. While I enjoyed the sausage, I prefer a snarler that has a bit more bite to it. However I am not your usual punter, if the truth be told I am a bit of a sausage obsessive. You have probably noticed.

But if you are after a mass appeal snarler and are at Park Avenue Quality Meats, this is well worth a try.

Cost per kilo: $24.95

Sunday 29 November 2015

Kaszanka Domowa - Polish Black Pudding

Kaszanka Domowa - Polish Black Pudding

I enjoy black pudding and regular readers of the blog will have read my previous pontifications on this semi maligned style of snarler. I was in Park Ave Quality Meats recently and spied a new variety I had not sampled previously, so of course I had to purchase some. It was called Kaszanka Domowa, a Polish style black pudding – I purchased two sausages to sample at home.

These bangers cooked up nicely and with four people keen to sample and only two sausages it was morsels for savouring all round. I will admit that I expected something quite different to the taste I experienced. When I think of Polish sausages I think of big flavours, while this sausage has a subdued flavour. It lacks the heat and pepper that most black puddings have but the flavour is complex and subtle, lingering on the palate. This was very enjoyable black pudding. If you are looking to sample a pudding that will appeal to wide range, and you prefer a more delicate flavour then this could be the one for you. This is an excellent sausage and I am keen to buy more.

Cost per kilo: $19.99

Sunday 15 November 2015

The Bespoke Banger

The Bespoke Banger

In the world of instant communication it is interesting to find out about new initiatives happening across the globe. Here is a story about the Northumberland Sausage Company and their new venture into making bespoke snarlers in a market in Newcastle.

I would be keen to visit, but I suspect the chance of me being in Newcastle in the near future is very slim. All the best for this new venture. I guess I will just have to creative in my own kitchen.

For a full copy of the story click here.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Сколько стоит эта колбаса?

Сколько стоит эта колбаса?
We were at friends for an informal dinner at the end of the working week last night. I was perusing their bookcase and pulled out a book – The Penguin Russian Course, A Complete Course for Beginners. Published in 1958, this could have been the essential guide for those wanting to master the Russian language during the era of the Cold War.

I randomly opened it to page 131, and at the top of the page was the following:

Translate into Russian:

  1. How much does this sausage cost? One rouble a kilo? That’s too expensive. Give me some ham please.
Rather than read the whole book, I went to the translate function on the PC. The answer is:
Сколько стоит эта колбаса? Один рубль Кило? Это слишком дорого. Дайте мне, пожалуйста, некоторые ветчины.
Guess this goes to show that sausages really are a universal food. It is great to see that in the late 1950s Penguin recognised the value of using snarlers as a tool to teach the Russian language.

Sunday 1 November 2015

The Celebratory Breakfast - Whew!

The Celebratory Breakfast – Whew!

We had friends round to watch the final of the Rugby World Cup so the alarm was set for 4.40am. I didn’t think I could stumble out of bed at 4.58am and wander into the lounge in a state of semi undress with guests present, so I wore my lucky All Blacks jersey - the one I wore to the 2011 final. To date this has a 100% strike rate – after today I’ll be wearing it for a while…..

The tension was high. The tries either side of half time made it feel comfortable before the Aussies put us back on the edges of our seats by coming back from 21-3 down to 21-17. However, as the second half drew to a close, we shut them out, and with a late try to Beauden Barrett the score was 34-17 at the final whistle. There was unrestrained joy in the room.

One of our guests was texting her daughter who was in rehearsals for a theatre production in Pittsburgh, USA. She had half her mind on the production, and half on her NZ heritage.

Soon after the final whistle, I started on the cooking a breakfast of champions. We had black pudding, chorizo criollo and bacon from Park Ave Quality Meats, chicken lemon and sage sausages from Cameron Harrison, hash browns and eggs. For those wanting a cold breakfast there was bircher muesli and yoghurt. Most people washed this down with champagne and orange juice, or a plain juice.

The black pudding, an old English recipe, won a bronze medal at the recent Devro NZ Sausage Awards. It is a mixed texture pudding, very large chunks and finer parts within the casing. It has a soft texture in the mouth - the flavours are pleasant and quite mild. Our daughter is at home for the weekend - she wanted to know if she could take some leftover black pudding back to her flat. Although not everybody sampled it, those who did really enjoyed the taste and flavours.

The chicken sausage has elements of lemon and sage complementing the chicken. One guest was especially effusive about this snarler. Lemon is not a flavour I particularly like, however this is a quality chicken sausage that will appeal to those who like some lemon tartness to accentuate the chicken.

The guests all enjoyed my favourite sausage, the chorizo criollo. These are always good.

The mood of the breakfast was joyful as we talked over the match, and wondered where to from here? Both my wife and I and another couple mused about the possibility of a trip to Japan in four years’ time…. Somehow I think sausages probably won’t be on the menu for breakfast if we are there.

Cost: Chicken lemon and sage - $21.99kg.

Black Pudding - $16.99 for a tube.

Monday 26 October 2015

Devro NZ Sausage Competition. The Supreme Award - Alpine Pork Sausage

Devro NZ Sausage Competition. The Supreme Award - Alpine Pork Sausage

Congratulations to Countdown who have produced the 2015 Supreme Award winning sausage. It’s a traditional pork sausage, and in the terms of the competition a traditional pork sausage does not have any substantial additional ingredients to detract from the taste and flavour of the pork.

The Supreme Award was decided by re-tasting the winners of gold medals from the two regional events held a week earlier. This was followed by a barbecue where the announcement was made.

In seven weeks’ time I am participating in the Kepler Challenge, a race over the Kepler Track in Fiordland in the South Island. It’s normally a four day tramp but this is an event of 60km trail running with a few decent hills to make it interesting. As part of my training I headed into the Tararuas for a run yesterday. After ascending over a thousand vertical metres I was on the alpine tops. As I ventured along the track I was surprised to find nestled in the tussock two sausages, and further along the track a sausage was on top of a warratah. Warratahs are positioned along the track to act as markers for when snow present. I have been over this track in mid-winter when the snow was up to waist deep – on that day an ice axe and crampons were needed to cope in the alpine conditions.
Snarlers in the tussock
Snarler on a warratah
What a coincidence I thought on finding the sausages….. Of course I tasted them and concluded it must be the Alpine Pork from Countdown. It is a finely ground meaty tasting pork sausage. It was great to eat them after a hard climb up the ridge and onto the tops. Pork sausages are not my preferred sausage - I like something with a bit more flavour. However this is a magnificent example of the pork sausage. It will have a very wide appeal.
The view to Otaki Forks - the beginning of the run
For a complete list of the winners in the 2015 Devro NZ Sausage Awards, see this link.

Cost per kilo: $9.54

Saturday 17 October 2015

Devro NZ Sausage Competition 2105 – South Island Regional Judging

Devro NZ Sausage Competition 2105 – South Island Regional Judging

I was pleased to be invited back to judge at the Devro NZ Sausage Competition. Now in its twenty second year, the appeal of tasting, eating and discussing the merits of quality snarlers was very high. It will be no surprise that I have always been a fan of a good sausage. The growth of quality sausages over recent years is fantastic for sausage geeks such as myself, and this is also a bonus for the palates of the everyday sausage eater. I travelled to Christchurch for the day and judged the rounds and traditional flavoured sections of the competition.

I was an atheistic judge. At our table we had two butchers, the owner and chef of a well known Christchurch restaurant, and myself. The butchers were technical judges. It is interesting dissecting a raw sausage and then comparing its cooked form with another dissection. After the olfactory senses are stimulated by the aroma the most interesting part, tasting and eating, occurs. The key element in any sausage is the taste. I will do a post shortly were I will share the judging sheets and while you might find it hard to believe, the judges do have to work hard on the day. 

In the rounds we had a small number of black puddings and a white pudding. Black pudding is an underrated sausage in my view. A significant number of people think of the primary ingredient and then decline to sample. In my view they do not know what they are missing and we sampled an excellent range of puddings on the day.

In the traditional flavoured category, there were a large number of sausages with an equally wide variety of flavours. All judging is completed blind - the sausage is described and identified only by a number.

The gold medal winners have been announced and these sausages are off to Auckland for the final judging for the Supreme Award next week. In the categories I judged the gold medal winners were:

  • Traditional Flavoured: New World Woolston – Pork, Fennel and Mint,
  • Rounds: Hellers - Black Pudding
Having judged and eaten these sausages I can attest to their superior flavour and taste.

Between sausages we cleansed our palates, as a running mate said to me, "Do you use mashed potato to do this?"

The event was held at CPIT, Christchurch Polytech and at the end of the day I wandered into the centre of the city. There are swathes of empty blocks where commercial buildings once stood and multiple large building projects are underway as part of the post-earthquake rebuild. The cathedral looks forlorn. Anyone who lives in NZ will know there are a range of hotly contested views on whether to demolish the building or rebuild. Whatever the outcome it will be a big project.

I look forward to seeing the result of the Supreme Awards next Wednesday.

Monday 5 October 2015

It is not all beer and sausages - Part Twelve

It is not all beer and sausages – Part Twelve
Lap one runners begin the steep descent to Governors Bay in Lyttleton Harbour
For the third consecutive year the NZ Road Relay championships were held over the Christchurch to Akaroa road course. This 74km, eight lap race is fantastic on a fine spring day, and yesterday was one of those days. The M50s from Scottish Harriers were light in numbers this year so we raced in the M40 grade with a wide array of ages in our team. I ran a flat leg of 9.4km in glorious running conditions, if anything it was too hot. I started off too fast and slowed towards the end kilometres, although I was pleased that I maintained an even pace over the last few kms. I was afraid that I might just run slower and slower, but I managed the last kilometre a tad quicker than the previous pace I had set. Although I had wanted to run faster I was satisfied with my time. I even managed to pass a couple of runners, while the speedy athletic juniors who ran a shorter course steamed past me at a great rate of knots.

Speedy John hands the baton over to me.

As I have identified in previous posts about this event some people turn up hoping for a medal - we turn up to have an enjoyable time. There were 14 teams in our grade and we were a minute off achieving a top ten placing. In relays you compete against teams that are running a comparable race to you. We were particularly keen to beat our club’s Senior Women’s team. Although the lead seesawed as the event progressed we were able to prevail, and arrive before they did at the Akaroa Recreation Ground.

Although we did not figure at the sharp end of the event, I have no doubt that we had the best selection of beer and sausages in our van. The sausages were the perennial favourite of kabanosy and a Polish kranksy from Park Avenue Quality Meats. The beer selection in the van was Epic Pale Ale, Founders Pale Ale and Speights. We were able to soak in the sun, enjoy the heat on our backs and even witnessed rams becoming a eunuchs in one the paddocks as we passed. It was a very enjoyable day of camaraderie and bonhomie.

The kabonosy sausage were very well received - they have a meaty taste and moderate level of smokiness which seem to have universal appeal among sausage eaters. Everyone in the van preferred the kabonosy, which is what I expected. The Polish kranksy with an initial mild garlic taste on the palate, is followed by a hint of pepper. The Epic Pale Ale was refreshing with a mild taste of hops.

It is only on driving back to Christchurch that the distance you have covered is really evident - it is a long way. Next year’s event is in Rotorua and we will look forward to running over a new seven lap course in 2016.  

For other parts of this series, see this index.

The view down to the finish and Akaroa Harbour.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Harrington's Smoked Chorizo

Harrington's Smoked Chorizo

I was at New World doing a grocery shop recently and the guy from Harrington’s was doing an in-store demo. A variety of Harrington's sausages were available for tasting. I have talked to this guy before and he informed me that Harrington’s are making a new smoked chorizo, which was on display in the ever expanding snarler section of Thorndon New World. 

Harrington's have rebranded the company, now under the logo it says artisan sausages. My definition of artisan is probably different from Harrington's. They do make a very good product, however they are a maker of lots of sausages. I consider that the term artisan means you can see the hand of the maker in the product. So I regard this addition to their logo as a marketing exercise, in much the same way as Lion or DB Breweries saying they are makers of craft beer.

At home my wife made pizza bases, that were cooked on a pizza stone in the oven. Our pizza had balsamic onions, mushrooms, capsicum, anchovies and the Harrington’s smoked chorizo.

The chorizo are primarily finely ground meat with a few lumps of a larger grind. They are a mixture of pork and beef. The meat is complemented the acidy of vinegar, while the hotness of paprika adds balance and complexity to the smokiness of flavour. There is an element of smoke but I would have preferred this to be more prominent. The heat from the paprika is on the hotter side, but not overpowering. 

These are a nice sausage that would appeal to the kiwi palate. If you are looking for a chorizo then this could be for you. I will buy these again. 

The boys made a pizza with ham and pineapple - the palates of youth. As parents we have tried to bring our kids up to appreciate a wide range of hopefully quality food, but when given the choice they make a bog standard ham and pineapple pizza. They don’t know what they are missing sometimes!

Sunday 20 September 2015

Rugby World Cup Bangers

Rugby World Cup Bangers

As I prepare to rise at 3.45am tomorrow morning to see the All Blacks play Argentina in the their first pool game of the Rugby World Cup, I may have a banger for breakfast.

Croots Farm Shop in Derbyshire have made a special snarler for the Rugby World Cup. Some of the sales from these sausages will go to the Derbyshire Children's Holiday Centre a charity that provides holidays for disadvantaged children. See this link for information about the sausages.

I have asked if Croots will courier some to NZ. I'm backing the All Blacks to bring home the bacon and the William Webb Ellis Trophy. Will this happen? All I know is that the TV will be watched, and sleep deprivation will exist for the next six weeks. Bring it on!

I watched the South Africa v Japan match this morning, I was delighted to witness the biggest upset in World Cup history, as Japan scored a great and very late try to win on the final whistle, 34-32. On a serious note it is interesting to observe that during a massive refugee crisis, Japan took less than five refugees last year. There are six rugby refugees from New Zealand in the Japanese team, players who would have loved to play for the All Blacks, but settle to play for the Cherry Blossoms, in the fluid world of rugby national allegiances. It would be great if Japan could fit in a few more real refugees too. Who knows what contribution they might make?

Sunday 13 September 2015

Black Pudding - Cameron Harrison

Black Pudding – Cameron Harrison

My wife purchased a Cameron Harrison black pudding for me recently as a treat and brought it home. It sat in the fridge for a few days and I cooked it up while I had a variation on moussaka cooking in the oven for the family dinner.

There are a mixture of textures in the black pudding, you can see the lumps of maize interspersed with finely ground material. The packing indicates that pork, bacon and pork blood are the three primary ingredients, in that order.

Once the pudding was cooked I cut it into slices. The initial taste was a sweet one, it was soft and malleable in the mouth and it didn’t really taste like a black pudding. There were elements of the pork and bacon and, quite late in the piece, the heat from the pepper and spices kicked in. It was a very pleasant black pudding to eat.

The boys were at home - Sausage Boy only had one piece and wasn’t too fussed about it, but his brother had multiple pieces and commented very positively about the sausage. The purchaser of the sausage never made it home in time to sample a piece, but was still asked to review this posting…... Typical!

I would buy this black pudding again, and next time I might even save some for my wife…..

Cost per kilo: $27.99

Friday 28 August 2015

Litewska Kielbasa

Litewska Kielbasa

For dinner I cooked our old favourites, snarlers, with the comfort food of mashed potato and a bit of broccoli for colour - a satisfying mid-winter meal. I put a bit of horse radish sauce in the mashed potato during the mashing and this really enhanced the flavour. Delicious was the family judgement. I went with a couple of sausages that I buy that are the old favourites - chorizo criollo and Dutch braadworst. I was in Park Avenue Quality Meats and Gordon, the sausage maker, identified a new product he had made, Litewska kielbasa. It’s a Lithuanian sausage that Gordon made after a Chinese customer brought in a recipe.

There was a migration from Lithuania to China in the early part of the twentieth century. This led to the creation and development of the Harbin Red Sausage from China. Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, and the sausage from this area is more eastern European that Chinese. This Lithuanian recipe is similar in style to a Harbin Red.

The meat for this sausage comes from the pig’s head, tongue and heart. It is finely ground and the dominant flavour is smoke. I really enjoy a smoked snarler. The secondary flavours are a slight heat from spice, maybe pepper and paprika. There was also a hint of what I thought was probably cloves. I only had one of these sausages so I sliced the sausage into bite size pieces. They were consumed by the whanau who all rated the sausage highly. The boys gave it a higher rating than my wife but we all agreed it was sausage that was worth buying again.

I may sound like a tried record, or for the younger ones, a sample on loop, however if you are after the best sausages in Wellington that have an eastern European influence then there really is only one place you should go - Park Avenue Quality Meats in the Hutt. They continue their tradition of making fantastic tasty snarlers. There is not another sausage maker in Wellington who gets close to these guys. If you do not live in the Hutt, it is well worth a visit to this little butchers shop. You will not be disappointed. 

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Polish Smoked Bacon Sausage – The Sausage Shed

Polish Smoked Bacon Sausage – The Sausage Shed

This is the final review of the three sausages purchased from the Sausage Shed at the Farmers’ Market in Waipara. The term Sausage Shed is a bit of a misnomer - the sausages were being sold from a sausage gazebo.

Like all the sausages from this butcher they are longer and thicker in girth than the average snarler. These are very appealing sausages, primarily finely ground sausage with some larger chunks within the ground meat. During cooking the aroma was great and the family came flocking - meaty bacon and smokey aroma permeated the kitchen.

The primary flavour is bacon with a secondary flavour of smoke. It is a very good sausage. I would describe the sausage as having an Eastern European origin, but made for the kiwi palate.  Both the boys thought these were great sausages and said it reminded them of another one of their favourites, kabonosy from Park Avenue Quality meats. This sausage is my preferred banger from the Sausage Shed. I consider it the best snarler I have eaten over the last few months.

This sausage has broad appeal but there is only way to find out and that is to go to one of the Farmers’ Markets when the Sausage Shed is selling their wares. Buy some of these bangers, take them home and cook up a delectable meal.

Sunday 16 August 2015

Polish Garlic Smoked Sausage – The Sausage Shed

Polish Garlic Smoked Sausage – The Sausage Shed

(This post was written a few weeks prior to it put it up on the web)
I cooked these up as nibbles for a couple of friends who came round to watch the Warriors take on Manly early on a Saturday evening. The sausages were infinitely better than the league. The underdogs Manly deserved to win by 20 points. It was a lacklustre performance with the Warriors playing poorly and they also lost the star of the team, Shaun Johnson, to a season ending ankle injury. Hopefully a better performance will be on display when they play the St George Dragons in Wellington in two weeks (They lost 36-0).

These sausages are coarsely ground, and the name is an apt description. Garlic is the primary flavour, and the smoked taste has a lower profile. I enjoy both garlic and smoked flavours but I would have preferred the smoked flavour to be more pronounced. However, these are still very enjoyable sausages.

So with a bit of despair we watched the Warriors lose. The kai accompanying the match was much appreciated and the sausages all disappeared. There were other morsels that remained as the friends headed off, so I was pleased that they had appreciated the snarlers from Canterbury.

Friday 7 August 2015

Andouille Sausage - The Sausage Shed

Andouille Sausage – The Sausage Shed

On our trip around Canterbury we came across a farmers’ market at Waipara. At my wife’s suggestion we stopped and wandered around the stalls. We bought some bread, honey and then found a stall selling sausages. Of course I stopped and talked to the guy selling the snarlers. He came across as a man who enjoys making quality sausages and who wasn’t interested in compromising that quality. He had a few samples and these morsels certainly tempted the taste buds. He said they sell their snarlers at four farmers’ markets around Canterbury - Waipara, Lyttleton, Ohoka, and Oxford. The Sausage Shed makes an array of sausages and I purchased three varieties.

When we got back to Wellington there was older silverbeet and leek in the fridge, which was made into a soup with some chick peas - a "treat" known as pond soup (greeny soup, could be in a pond) in the family. I cooked the Andouille sausage to add to the soup. This is described as smoked Cajun sausage. This sausage is coarsely ground snarler, it has an initial hit of flavour of herbs and spices on the palate and then the Cajun spices kick in. The hotness of the spice is moderate to high intensity. The paprika leaves a strong after taste. These sausages are lightly smoked, and I would prefer a more prominent level of smoke. The heat is the dominant flavour.

After cooking I cut these sausages into slices to be added to soup. My wife was later in coming from work and despite me mentioning to the boys to leave some for their mother, when she arrived home, no sausage was to be seen. One boy then emptied out a large quantity of Andouille sausage into his mother’s bowl, a case of selective deafness was then pushed by the son. All the whanau enjoyed the sausage in the soup. These two dishes are not necessarily that aligned to each other, but this sausage would be great in a gumbo, or another Cajun inspired dish. However the heat of the sausage against the warm winter wholesomeness of a nice vegetable soup on a cold winter’s evening certainly went down well.


I would definitely buy this sausage again.

If you are at a farmers market in Canterbury and see the Sausage Shed’s stall I recommend you stop, see the array of sausages and select a variety that appeals to your palate. And do have a good chat to the maker – he’s an interesting guy.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Tuatapere Sauages - Are they endangered?

Tuatapere Sauages - Are they endangered?

If you head to Fiordland the remotest part of New Zealand, go to Invercargill, then drive to Riverton, keep on going around the coast, through Colac Bay and you will come to the last town before the bush, Tuatapere. I was in Tuatapere about a year before I started this blog. There is a sign as you enter the town, declaring Tuatapere the sausage capital of New Zealand.

The butcher who creates the famous Tuatapere snarlers has shut up shop. However his business is for sale and for the right price the recipe is included as part of the sale. Has NZ said its last hurrah to these snarlers, or can they come back from the brink of extinction?

See link for the story.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Black Pudding - Akaroa Butchery and Deli

Black Pudding – Akaroa Butchery and Deli

I also purchased some black pudding from the butcher’s shop in Akaroa, see the previous post. After I had selected the pudding, I enquired about it – the butcher told me they did not make it themselves, they sourced it from Peter Timbs in Christchurch.

This black pudding was cooked in a pan. I cut it lengthways before cooking. The ratio of chucky bits to finely ground filling is firmly in favour of the finely ground filling. Pieces of maize can be seen, along with other larger pieces.

Once cooked this sausage did not hold together. This sausage was a plain black pudding. If you are looking to try black pudding for the first time, this could be the one for you, it has a plain taste, with a small amount of pepper. This is a black pudding for the masses, if you are after a pudding that has a stronger or more complex flavour then look elsewhere.

I would not purchase this again as there are plenty of better examples of black pudding that are able to be purchased.

Monday 27 July 2015

Pork Chorizo Sausage – Akaroa Butchery and Deli

Pork Chorizo Sausage – Akaroa Butchery and Deli

You won’t be surprised that while I was in Akaroa recently that I sought out the local butcher. A small variety of sausages were on display so I selected the chorizo and a black pudding.

The chorizo was cooked up once we got back to Wellington. The sausages lost a little shape in their journey to the North Island - being inside a carry-on bag on the plane meant that the tubes were a little squashed. During the cooking there was a small amount of oozing from the casing and a little bit of moisture also came out - this was a watery fat. Once they came out of the pan to rest, a large amount of watery fat oozed out.

These are a coarsely ground sausage but once cooked they are soft and malleable. The primary taste in the mouth is one of paprika. It is a moderate strength and does not overpower the meat. These chorizo are nice to eat but not fantastic. The whanau liked these sausages and they will appeal to people who are looking to eat a chorizo that is in the middle of the pack.

I would buy these again.

Monday 20 July 2015

Arobake - A business worthy of your support

Arobake - A business worthy of your support

We regularly purchase bread from Arobake in the Aro Valley. This is quality bread that is appreciated by the household. It is a little complicated but my wife had an incident outside the shop after the purchasing some bread on Friday.

Arobake have been fantastic over a matter not of their making.

This is a great small bakery that is worthy of on going support. If you are in Aro Valley I would recommend you stop for a coffee, pastry or bread from this fine bakery.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Roots Restaurant: Fantastic Food – But where were the snarlers?

Roots Restaurant: Fantastic Food – But where were the snarlers?

My wife and I had a small break in the South Island. The coldest spell of the year arrived a day or two before us. Snow and ice to sea level across most of the island. We had intended to go the Aoraki/Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, however the weather meant the roads may not have been open, so we opted to go to Hanmer Springs and Akaroa instead.
We started with a night in Christchurch. Roots Restaurant in Lyttleton has just been awarded Restaurant of Year by Cuisine magazine so we thought we should check this out. Roots is a small restaurant that aims use locally sourced seasonal produce to produce a menu that changes daily. It is an open restaurant where the kitchen can be observed from the dining room. 

On the cold night we dined there were five groups eating. Roots offers a degustation menu. We had the eight courses with matching wines. The meal was simply the best restaurant meal we have experienced in a very, very long time.

The tableware changed with each course. Just as every course was different the plates, like the food, showed the hand of the maker. They complemented and added to this fantastic culinary experience.

My wife’s favourite course was the shitake and oyster mushrooms, with pearl barley and dried egg. Mine was the cauliflower gnocchi, or maybe the venison loin with beetroot, which I also thought was a very impressive dish. Each dish has additional extras to enhance and accompany the food. This added to the complexity on the palate and the enjoyment of the flavours.

These brief descriptions do not do justice to the food. If you want a superb meal you will have to check out Roots yourself.

I had just one question: Where was the course that included an exemplary snarler?

Friday 10 July 2015

Black Pudding - Eastbourne Village Meats

Black Pudding – Eastbourne Village Meats

Recently I purchased a black pudding Eastbourne Village Meats. I do enjoy black and white puddings, but as the whanau say, you just enjoy sausages. I consider that black pudding as a sausage style is much underrated and that many people would enjoy eating this particular variety of sausage if they tried it.


I cut the black pudding lengthwise and cooked it in the frying pan. I do like to be able to see chunks of ingredients in a sausage I eat. You could see lumps of maize and other elements in the sausage. When I tasted the pudding it was mild. The meatiness of the flavour was the initial sensation on the palate; this was then consumed by a mild heat. This black pudding was subtle in taste. It is not as peppery as other black puddings that I enjoy. Much like the beef and the pork and applecider snarlers in the previous reviews this is a black pudding that will be well liked. The flavours are mild and not over powering. I would buy this again.


Saturday 4 July 2015

Desolation Reigns

Desolation Reigns
With high hopes we headed off to the stadium.

The Hurricanes did not control the ball - they knocked it on, lost possession in the tackle and ruck, and were outplayed in the loose by the Highlanders. They dominated possession and territory so they had their chances - a poor kicking display meant eight points were not converted and Julian Savea bombed a try he would score 99% of the time.

So it was with some torpor that we left after the final whistle. Dejected Canes fans - no titles in twenty years, the lows of being a fan of an inconsistent team.

On way home we crossed the Kelburn Viaduct. A group of people were assembled at the edge, just near the abyss. Were they sacrificing a Hurricanes player? Or in their desolation, queuing to jump?

The colour of despair?

The colour of despair?

Tonight the Hurricanes take on the Highlanders in the Super Rugby Final. A creative butcher from Dunedin has made Highlander coloured sausages, see story.

In the twenty years since competition was created the Hurricanes have their best shot at winning their first title. The city is alive with the buzz of finals fever. I will be attending the game, the anticipation is building.

I hope these sausages are the colour of despair, desolation, depression and dejection for Highlander’s fans.

Tuesday 30 June 2015

Tuscan Sausage - Eastbourne Village Meats

Tuscan Sausage – Eastbourne Village Meats

The friendly butcher did not mention this sausage when I asked what sausages they had in the shop, and they were not in the display cabinet. After I had purchased the third variety he mentioned the Tuscan sausage that was in the chiller out the back. This was made from a recipe that someone had bought into the shop.

I like a coarsely ground sausage and that’s what this was. It cooked up well and the flavours of this sausage are great. It is a  mildly flavoured sausage with elements of garlic and white wine along with a slight taste of pepper.

I had three of these sausages. I ate two of them after cooking, and one cold the next day. All the sausages I ate hot had multiple pieces of gristle. The cold one I had the next day had a very large lump, it was half the size of my little finger nail. The tactile experience of chewing on hard lumps of indigestible something did detract from what could have been an excellent snarler.

I would not purchase this sausage again, unless I could be assured that there were no hard lumpy bits contained within the casing.

Eastbourne Village Meats are well worth a visit if you are out Eastbourne way. My favourite is still the Louisiana Reds and I also recommend the black pudding. However your individual taste will dictate which variety you prefer. Enjoy the trip around the harbour.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Pork and Cider Sausages - Eastbounre Village Meats

Pork and Cider Sausages – Eastbourne Village Meats

These sausages are a very nice snarler. I purchased four of these. These are a fine to medium ground sausage. The sweetness of the pork is complemented with a slightly tart taste of the cider. There are also elements of sweetness in the cider too.

Sausage Boy liked these sausages, and no one else in the family even got a look in! They are sausage that would appeal to those who enjoy a simply flavoured snarler.

I would buy these again.

Monday 22 June 2015

Gold medal winner from Eastbourne

Gold medal winner from Eastbourne
Over the weekend I went to Eastbourne which is, not surprisingly, on the eastern side of Wellington Harbour. I do not venture into this pleasant seaside suburb on a regular basis, however when you get there you understand the appeal of the suburb to those who live there. During the visit I checked out the local butcher, Eastbourne Village Meats. I was keen to purchase some of the beef sausages that won a gold medal in the traditional beef section in the Devro NZ Sausage Awards last year. I also hoped they would have some Louisiana Reds in stock. These are a great sausage that I am keen to eat again. Sadly no Louisiana Reds were available. However I did not leave empty handed - the next few posts could be called the Eastbourne series as I walked out of the shop with four different types snarlers.

The beef banger is a nice sausage. It is a plain standard beef banger and, while I prefer pork, this banger will appeal to those who prefer a plain beef sausage. It has elements of a finely ground beef, interspersed with some medium ground beef.

I had a couple of these sausages cold with tomato sauce after a longer run on Sunday. They still taste good cold. Sausage Boy agreed with me - a very good beef snarler.

Cost per kilo: $15.95