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.