Gua bao (steamed buns)

Auckland diners are becoming very familiar with pillowy steamed white dough prised open and stuffed with flavoursome pork and other fillings – the treat known as gua bao. This is different from a Chinese steamed bun with the filling enclosed…. With the Taiwanese gua bao the filling is added once the plain dough comes out of…

Salted caramel

Tip Top ran a stunt in Auckland recently to promote its new chocolate and salted caramel Trumpet. A company delivery truck “broke down” by the park in New Zealand’s media heartland and Instagram epicentre of Grey Lynn, with the hope of generating some social media excitement about its new flavour. Our biggest ice cream maker needed…

Feijoas (part two)

It’s been three Autumns since we moved back to suburban Auckland, and discovered we had a feijoa tree. Three years since the anticipation of having our own feijoas was quickly followed by the sense of being overwhelmed by bags and bowls of rapidly perishing fruit. I think I have managed to bring my feelings in…

Black pepper

A friend of mine came back from Cambodia with a gift of peppercorns – some of the world’s best, the product of a traditional industry in Kambot that has re-emerged in the last 30 years as peace has been restored to the nation. Since 2008 Kambot peppercorns have had protected geographical status, like champagne. I…

Meyer lemons

Growing up in Auckland we never bought lemons, there always seemed to be one on the tree in the garden – and when ours occasionally wasn’t fruiting, then someone else’s was. By late winter in Auckland when the city’s suburbs are at their most colourless, trees stripped leafless under overcast skies, it’s the glow of…

Alphonso mangoes

In London in late spring boxes of Alphonso mangoes begin to stack up around the shop doors in the Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi precincts. Pretty tissue paper and shredded silver tinsel provide a nest for the fragrant treasures in each box, which are air-freighted from the sub-continent to be consumed within days if not hours of picking. The excitement…

Marmite

There’s a joke by English comedian Peter Kay that goes like this: “I’m in a great mood tonight because the other day I entered a competition and I won a year’s supply of Marmite……… one jar.” As long as Marmite has been around the problem for its marketeers has never been awareness – who doesn’t…

Bean-to-bar chocolate (new bar on the block)

In 2012 I wrote about the emergence of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in New Zealand – a craft food movement that, similarly to good wine and coffee, is about developing a product that is defined by the origin of its main ingredient. As an artisan food pursuit, the barriers to entry are steep – from sourcing…

Southern barbecue

Down-home Americana has become a firm trend in casual dining out. Southern barbecue, in all its slow-cooked, hickory-shrouded glory, is now commonplace across all sorts of menus from the numerous new Mexican/US-influenced eateries to upmarket pub grub. The king of this Southern feast is pulled pork. Pulled pork is pig done well. A 4kg shoulder…

Lobster Thermidor

We recently cooked the richly extravagant Lobster Thermidor for a French dinner (and ate peasantly meals for the rest of the week). Our grocery budget liquefied into succulent mouthfuls of lobster, butter, cream and cognac. After all, the cuisine of France wears many hats, and two of them are decadence and a kind of nourishing,…

Baguette

With a fresh baguette and a wedge of cheese you can feel like a king for a couple of euros in any town in France. Remarkably consistent across the country (the recipe is standardised), la baguette is the most democratic of foods – as fitting alongside haute cuisine as it is under a smear of jam….

Xinjiang kebabs

Western diners are scratching the surface of Chinese cuisine, awakening to the incredible diversity of China’s regional cooking. It’s a development that Aucklanders can run with – we are a city that has grown rapidly to become one-fifth Chinese. From inner-city holes-in-the-wall to the banqueting halls of outskirt suburbs, Auckland is home to a spectrum…