Wednesday 27 January 2016

The Final Raglan Post

The Final Raglan Post
This is the final post from summertime Raglan - it was an enjoyable two weeks of sun and relaxation. The surf at the beach in the second week was a bit lumpy and uneven, however it was still vastly better than being in Wellington. I have a gps watch that I use for running, this watch has an open water swim function. Using this while boggie boarding it was able to tell me that I was surfing the waves at 29 seconds per hundred metres, this is considerably quicker than the world record for swimming a hundred metres which currently stands at 46.91 seconds. I do like the speed and power of the surf.

After another day at the beach we had snarlers for dinner. These were canela chorizo from Zamora in Queenstown. These are a medium to coarse ground sausage, cinnamon is the primary flavour. Of all the sausages I have sampled from Zamora this is one I liked the least, I guess I’m just not a fan of cinnamon. I had managed to perk some snapper and a couple of flounder, these were cooked up on the barbecue along with the snarlers for dinner, we also had aubergine smash, a chick pea salad, and roast spuds.

I did not do the best job of cooking the fish on the barbecue, the flounder was alright, however the snapper fillets came apart. I definitely more practice needed in the art of cooking fish on the barbie.

As this is the last post I must make comment about the great little butcher’s shop in Raglan. I consider Top Cut Butchers punches above its weight in the fine art of sausage making. Although I have been discursive about a couple of the sausages they have made, they make a wide variety of quality sausages tailored to the kiwi palate. If you are in Raglan I would recommend you pop in a grab a few snarlers for dinner. My favourite was the sweet chilli and plum, the only way you can identify your preferred sausage is the try them.

I hope to return to Raglan next summer to spend more time enjoying the ambiance of the place, with a special focus on the beach, and of course sausages on the barbie.

Monday 25 January 2016

Mt Karioi and chorizo

Mt Karioi and chorizo
Over the next few weeks I will be competing in the Jumbo-Holdsworth Race. I see this as a warm up for the Tararua Mountain Race held five weeks later. As part of my training I decided to go to the top of Karioi mountain near Raglan.

This is an old volcano that is close to the coast and stands dominant in the Raglan landscape at 756 metres above sea level. The route I took was up the Te Toto Gorge. This route follows the ridge on the true left of the gorge. It is not subtle, in fact it just goes straight up - deviations to make the route easier are not part of this track. There are even a couple of ladders provided to get over small rocky bluffs. In a number of spots chains are anchored into the rock, these assist the ascent and descent over a few precipitous points. The route follows the only place in the North Island where bush cover runs from the coast to peak. This bush is not majestic and the trees are not particularly large, maybe three to four metres high, however I was traveling up the ridge and I assume the exposure to the weather stunts the growth of the trees. The track is extremely rugged and gnarly, as I was travelling alone I did not push it too hard as it would be easy to do an ankle over the uneven terrain.
Raglan Harbour
When I reached the summit the view to Raglan Harbour to the north and Aotea Harbour to the south was well worth the effort of getting to the top. On a rock at the summit; surprise, surprise I found two sausages. Who would have thought? After tasting, and due consideration, I determined one of them was my favourite, chorizo criollo from Park Ave Quality Meats in Lower Hutt. I often mention this snarler and I still consider it is the best sausage available in Wellington. The other snarler was a Spanish chorizo from Top Cut Butchers in Raglan. This chorizo lacks complexity and balance in comparison - it is just hot flavour, too much chilli, pimenton or smoked paprika that dominates the sausage, a quality chorizo has balance with other flavours also present, I was not keen on this snarler.

On the way down you there were great vantage points looking into the gorge. You could see good bush and even a small flock of keruru or wood pigeons flying down the gorge. From above they did not look like the slow flying lumbering fat birds you see from the ground level when they take off from trees, they gracefully glided down the gorge.

An added extra:

We took a day trip to Kawhia. I had never been there before so we visited Ocean Beach, just to the north of the harbour. On the beach there were a pair of NZ dotterels nesting, signs identified them and their nest site was cordoned off by stakes and rope. Dotterels are endangered, there are less dotterels that there are kiwis. About twenty birds live south of Auckland, so it was a privilege to see this bird and their distinctive run across the sand. Below is a photo of one of the pair.
For other blog posts about being the hills, see this index.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Too Much Meat?

Too Much Meat?
Tonight’s dinner had a focus on meat, the salads were chick pea and fresh vege along with a potato salad, and fresh corn on the cob.

The Calabrese chorizo are made by Zamora in Queenstown. This is a chorizo with flavours of fennel and coriander. This sausage is medium to coarsely ground and it has a minimal level of heat, the fennel is a dominant flavour with a secondary flavour of coriander. My wife thought they were superb and I enjoyed them too. These are an excellent snarler.  

The sweet chilli and plum sausages came from Top Cut butchery in Raglan. After going for a run, I will often wander into the shops to see what varieties of snarlers are in the meat cabinet today. These are a fine ground meat sausage with the flavours of sweet chilli and plum meld together to create a moderately flavoured sausage. Sausage Boy and the other members of the whanau considered this sausage to be the best so far that we have sampled from Top Cut.

I also purchased some beef eye fillet which is not a cut of meat we normally consume. They were cooked on the barbecue and were a delight to eat, tender, soft and juicy - they melted in the mouth.

My wife and I had a discussion about the level of meat in the dinner - she thinks we eat too much meat. This does pose an issue for the sausage blogger, will the blog become a sausage and vegetarian dish blog? I’m not convinced. Or maybe preparing three meat options for dinner was over the top? I just like making great food at the beach.

Saturday 23 January 2016

Another Hard Day at the Beach

Another Hard Day at the Beach

After another enjoyable day at the beach, with sand, boogie boards and large waves, the need to replenish the stomach was high on the agenda. A pre dinner appetiser of a post beach ice cream helped settle the stomach, as dinner was prepared. My wife made a barbecued egg plant smash, a recipe by Annabel Crabb. This dish required the whole egg plant to the roasted on the barbeque on high heat. When it was soft and charred it was removed, chopped roughly, and garlic, spring onions, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper were added. Also served were a chick pea, capsicum, feta, cucumber and celery salad, and some of last night’s coleslaw.

Days at the beach with great weather just call out for a barbecue with salads. This is simple wholesome fresh food and great eating. Of course from my perspective the sausages make the meal. Tonight we had kabonosy from Park Avenue Quality Meats, and a cracked pepper and merlot sausage from Top Cut in Raglan. The smoky kabonosy are a firm family favourite. Here is a link to the very first review I wrote on my blog - it was kabonosy.

The cracked pepper and merlot sausages are finely ground. This is a beef sausage, with the flavour of the pepper completed by the merlot. Although the family went for a kabonosy initially they did comment positively about the cracked pepper and merlot snarlers. I would buy these again.

Cost of cracked pepper and merlot snarlers: $15.50 per kilo.

Friday 22 January 2016

Roast beef and mustard, along with Roma tomato snarlers

Roast beef and mustard, along with Roma tomato snarlers
Tonight we had two varieties of sausage from Top Cut Butchers in Raglan - roast beef and mustard, and Roma tomato snarlers. These were served with coleslaw, fresh corn and green salad.

Last year when we stayed in Raglan I visited Top Cut and was impressed by the quality and range of the sausages they produced. After my first visit this year I was disappointed. The reason for this disappointment was the roast beef and mustard snarler. While it is a quality finely ground beef sausage it only had a very slight hint of mustard, and you can see the occasional whole mustard seed in the meat. I would describe this sausage as a beef snarler with a slight suggestion of mustard. Those of you who are regular readers of the blog will know that a plain beef or pork sausage is not my sausage of choice, and the lack of additional flavour failed to impress me.


The Roma tomato sausage is a nice sausage. This is a finely ground beef sausage that has a reddish tinge due to the added tomato. The tomato flavour complements the beef. This is an enjoyable sausage to eat and I preferred this sausage to the roast beef. This was endorsed by comments from the family. I enjoyed this sausage and would buy this variety again.

At the beach today some members of The Chiefs, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Super Rugby Team, were present, they were having a relaxing time in the surf and on the sand. Brodie Retallick, two time Rugby World Cup winner, and World Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, was present. In my rugby playing days I too was a lock. I could have been an All Black apart from a lack of skills in speed, strength, agility and general play. The All Black selectors of my era had a policy of selecting the best player in the position for the team, this also counted against me. I thought about giving him a few tips about playing the position of lock, but then decided that he needs to figure the nuances of the game out himself.

Both sausages were $15.99 per kilo.

Thursday 21 January 2016

Xiang Chang Sausages - Zamora Queenstown

Xiang Chang Sausages – Zamora Queenstown

After completing the Kepler Challenge in the hills around Te Anau a few weeks ago we called into Zamora in Queenstown to replenish the snarler supply. I purchased a few different varieties, some of these were frozen so they could be consumed while on holiday in Raglan.

Our family headed Raglan for a couple of weeks at the beach and I was looking forward spending time on the sand and in the surf. We stayed at the same house we rented last year which is a great house, in a very pleasant spot.

Tonight for dinner we had pimenton sausages, see previous review, and Xiang Chang, a Chinese sausage. This is a pork sausage with flavours of soy and cinnamon. The sausages were accompanied with a green salad, potato salad and roast carrots.
The Xaing Chang sausage is medium grind sausage and it cooked up into a dense little sausage. It has a very good balance between meat and other flavours, elements of soy and cinnamon can be tasted. I thought this sausage was different and was rather unsure about the flavour. Although I did not dislike it, I just thought it was a new and different flavour, but my wife enjoyed the sausage and was more effusive than me.
So, if you are after a new and different taste sensation I suggest you should give Xiang Chang a try. However if I had to select a sausage to eat, I would probably choose another variety of snarler.
The pimenton are a strongly flavoured sausage with smoked paprika to the fore. I enjoyed eating one of my favourite sausages as part of the meal and I would choose these over Xaing Chang every day of the week.

Sunday 17 January 2016

Sharing the Love: How to make Lorne sausage

Sharing the Love: How to make Lorne sausage

This link is a podcast and photos of Terry McKee from Island Bay Butchery talking about making a traditional Scottish sausage - Lorne sausage. It is simple and easy to make.

Check this out here.

I attended a sausage making class with Terry McKee last year, he is a master of the fine art of making a quality snarler. A home sausage maker can pick up lots of tips from listening to his experienced  and knowledgeable voice.