Tag Archives: Auckland

The Auckland Food Show 2017 experience

Every year from the beginning of July, I countdown to THE foodie event of the year in Auckland: the Food Show. It’s a time to see my favourite brands, check out new products and ogle at the increasingly high standards of design and artwork on products. This year was no different, if not better. I went on the first day of the four-day event, which is the preview day with less crowds. I use this as my ‘discovery’ day, where I spend much more time talking to stall holders who are often the farmers and producers behind the actual products. Some of the stories are touching with rich histories; everyone I met were super passionate with the product they have.

Here are some of the highlights of my day.

Barilla Australia hands-on cooking class began with chef Andrea Tranchero, Executive Chef at Barilla Australia telling us the history behind Barilla. I now have a fond visualization of Casa Barilla thanks to his Italian accent and warm introduction.

Chef first demonstrated the perfect way of cooking pasta before we dived in with the cooking ourselves.

He shared three top tips with us:

  1. Never add oil to the water.
  2. Don’t rinse pasta after cooking.
  3. Take pasta out 3 mins before cooking finish and place in sauce to finish cooking for perfect al dente bite.

The Barilla team tasted it and I now have a measure of what the true ‘al dente’ stage is for Italians – kiwis generally cook it for far too long. However, if you want it softer, by all means!

Jersey Girl Organics – they recently won in the Outstanding Producer Dairy Primary category in the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. Their milk is full of Omega 3 and A2 Protein, is fully certified organic that comes direct from their farm in Matamata. When tasting, the milk is full-bodied and creamy. Pure deliciousness. Liz, a director of the fourth-generation family business, was brimming with excitement when she told me her family’s story, producing first class milk. Check out the video on their website of their cool milk vending machine!

Aunt Jean – all the way from beautiful Nelson, Hannah and Tom Raine brought their farms’ milk to the Auckland folk. I love the bottles! Their milk is creamy and fresh tasting. No permeates and not homogenised. I’m in love with these beautiful milk. Perfect in hot chocolate and baking. Can’t wait for Miss 8 to try.

Eddy’s french dressing is phenomenal – fell in love with it straight away after trying – it will go with my shredded poached chicken, crunchy cucumber and noodles dish. Yum! $20 for 2 bottles.

Wild Fennel Co’s range of gourmet seasonings for meat and fish, are different to the traditional seasonings. In a good, “what’s this spice I can taste in here? It works!!” Totally eyebrow-raising at first, when I tasted the dish as I cook, but in the end my family loved the steak/venison/lamb/chicken/duck/fish/pork so I’m winning.  Dan, the creator behind the seasonings, was formerly a fine dining chef and naturally is inspired by traditional flavour pairings from different cuisines around the world. Jo, his wife, is the illustrator and designer for the brand and gave the products a beautiful classic look. Together, they’ve created a product that is easy to use and dishes taste amazing. Tip: don’t let the type of seasoning stop you from mixing it up. I tried the venison seasoning on the beef and it was next level.

No Shortcuts – Gourmet Chutney – I discovered their Sambal Ulek and have thrown away my malaysia-made jars of sambal. These NZ made ones are so good and addictive. There are no preservatives nor additives, and tastes great with dumplings, noodles, roasts and chicken. At the show this year they launched a new product, the sweet pickles ($7). They will be perfect in a vietnamese pho I think! I tried the Feijoa and Ginger Jam and am itching to make a cake out of it. The chutneys are 3 for $25 or 1 for $10.

The Vegery – Discovered a very interesting healthy snack – dried carrots with cumin! These will be perfect with hummus and dips (such as the No Shortcuts Chutney) , and there are 65g of carrots per wrap. Tasty too!

Fresh As – They are renouned for their freeze dried fruit powers, used by bakers and executive chefs worldwide. Launched at the Food Show is their Panna Cotta powder – they’ve done the work for you! Just add milk and follow the recipe. Each packet makes 2-4 servings. There are two flavours – Doris Plum and Raspberry. Personally I think both tasted delicious and will sell out before Sunday. $10 for 4 packs.

Fix and Fog – At $10 for 2 jars, I said to them “you better have enough stock. This lot might only last you till Saturday”. Don’t worry, they have more stock being sent up so everyone can stop panicking.

Their peanut butters are handmade from start to finish in a factory in Wellington. There are five flavours in the range, with the latest being the honey peanut butter, a collaboration with J.Friend&Co. All of their existing range of peanut butters have been either awarded medals or were finalists in various industry awards.

Home St – I tried their sprouted good seed pizza bases and was blown away by how yum it was. Pizza has never tasted better than this. Sprouted refers to the seeds and grains that have been soaked and sprouted, therefore activated. Enzymes and minerals in the seed are unlocked for the body. Doesn’t that sound good?

The Pie Piper desserts bring pure happiness. The mother-daughter team makes pies from scratch, with a weekly changing menu. You can find them at their K Road shop.

Meadow mushrooms – the team made delicious mushroom and chicken dumpings at the show and they are yummy! Pick up a recipe and the 3 for $5 deal when you are there.

Dad’s pies – our favourite pies! Their range includes beef, lamb, chicken, bacon, veges and comes in individual servings and family sizes. Miss 8’s favourite is the Prime Beef Steak and Cracked Pepper. It is an easy dinner option – prepare some veges while the pie’s heating in the oven and dinner is in 30 minutes. The pies are full to the top of delicious filling, plenty of tender meat and flavoursome sauce. Not too salty either. It really does feel like you are eating a homemade pie where lots of tender love and care went in. Miss 8 is super excited with the prize pack we won from them!

With over 270 stalls at the show, I cannot possibly list them all here. However the following are my last minute dash stalls that I will have to remember to pick up goodies from on Sunday, when I return with Miss 8:

  • Simon Gault – for the stock and seasonings. I am stocking up on the fish and Beef stock, Morrocan and Indian spice seasonings. 5 for $25. Simon’s new tomato sauce ($7) that is sweetened with only veges launched at the foodshow. However as of Friday afternoon they have sold out! Don’t fret, you will still be able to sample, and they will be stocked in shops and Sous Chef from next week. They are also running a special with Turks chicken, $20 for 2 whole chickens with a seasoning or $20 for 4 bags of 450g skinless boneless chicken. They come with a chill bag too.
  • Lewis Road Creamery – if you have had trouble finding their chocolate liqueur, you can buy at the show for $40.
  • Chia drink – $12 for 4 bottles. I’m going for blackcurrant and passionfruit.
  • Green Meadows Beef – their show special $60 beef box is a bargain – sausages, sirloin, patties, mince all direct from their farm.
  • Perfect Pork – 3 for $25 – their range of grain-fed New Zealand pork includes sirloin and pork belly.
  • House of Dumplings – we love the Nepalese Spiced Lamb and Korean Sesame Beef dumplings.
  • Dish magazine – I love their stories and food styling! Their subscription deal is pretty amazing with a gigantic goody bag.

Top tips:

  • Register your ticket if you haven’t already done so, and have it within easy reach like in your pocket. Scan them at the stalls you visit and gain an entry in the respective comps.
  • Get there early if you can. 11am to 2pm is the busiest at the show.
  • Keep hydrated and wear light layers as it’s warm in the showgrounds
  • Keep track of time if you have a particular cooking theatre session you want to see. It can be a bit chaotic when you realise you are in hall 3 when the cooking session in Hall 1 is about to start in 5 minutes.
  • Mazda chauffeured shuttles will pick up and drop off at destinated stops around the showgrounds, making it easier to buy more.

Here are some more photos from the show:

Countdown – crunchy lebanese cucumber

Farmland boys

Beer belly jellies

Prosciutto di Parma

Part of my foodshow haul

Cassis, chestnut and Valrhona Satilia Lactée ganache macarons

Unlike the more premium Gran Cru line, the Valrhona Satilia range of chocolate is made from a blend of cocoa beans from different regions. Nonetheless, it is as delicious as ever: strong chocolate flavour with 35% cocoa, slightly sweet and a little biscuity. Kinder to the wallet so why not!

Here I’ve paired it with blackcurrants and chestnut, to simulate a Mont Blanc-esque flavour.

Macarons shell ingredients
(makes about 40 macarons)

  • 150 g icing sugar
  • 150 g almond meal
  • 110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 38 ml water
  • 1 g meringue powder
  • daffodil yellow gel colouring

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.


  • 120g Valrhona Satilia Lactée fèves
  • 80ml pure (heavy) cream
  • 3-4 tsp Cassis paste or blackcurrant jelly
  • a few whole cooked chestnut, broken into pieces

Break up chocolate into small chunks. Bring cream up to a boil in a pan, and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stirring. Let it cool and thicken in the fridge.

Spread cassis paste on half of your shells. Add two pieces of broken up chestnut and pipe a teaspoon of ganache on top. Top with the remaining half of your shells.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells. These freeze well (up to 3 months).

Here’s my cone of macarons!

The Auckland Food Show 2016 Preview

Thanks to the Food Show and the PR Shop, I was able to experience the Auckland Foodshow Preview and I am so excited to share with you some of the highlights of my day. (A quick note here that I will return to the show over the coming days and may update the post with any new found gems…)

Without further ado, let me introduce my top stalls of the show:

Soda Press Co


The flavour profiles were profound and distinct; yet not overpowering. It was so hard to choose which of the range to buy as they were all very, very delicious.  In the end I thought about the macarons I would make with these and decided on Blueberry and Lime, Raspberry and Mint (I think this is going to be a winner), Gingerale, Old Fashioned Lemonade and Pink Grapefruit. Did I mention they contain 40-50% less sugar than other syrups? Cam from Soda Press Co tells me that their ingredients are locally sourced from NZ and they will be fully certified organic by the end of the year. With their fabulous show special, who can resist?

Barrys Bay Cheese

They had their entire range out for sampling and what made them stand out from the crowd was the detailed knowledge they had about each of their chesses, how each tastes and pairing suggestions. Here are some of my favourites: Maasdam and Cheshire.

Paneton Bakery


Finally, chocolate pastry, ready rolled. Need I say anymore? Hurry up and rush to get your hands on some. These are buttery and dark, perfect for a chocolate mousse tart with rich chocolate, mascarpone cream and a cherry compote. They come in 250g and 500g packs, and I think the 250g will be perfect for small batches of tarts and cookies while the larger pack would be great of a large tart. Perfect for this wintery kind of weather, wouldn’t you agree?

Women’s Bookshop


I love cook books – for the new recipe ideas and magnificent photography. The Women’s Bookshop at the show has all the cookbooks you can think of – plus it is located right next to the Whirlpool Cooking Theatre, where the chefs will come from after their cooking demos and do book signing. Here I picked up the Masu by Nic Watt from the fabulous chef at Masu, our favourite Japanese restaurant in Federal Street in the center of Auckland. It has beautiful photography and the recipes are easy to follow, using ingredients that can be sourced locally.

The Whirlpool Cooking Theatre

The highlight of my day was going to Josh Emett’s cooking demo with Jane Leong, head chef of Madam Woo, which serves traditional Malaysian Hawker food in a modern setting. They started first in Queenstown, then Takapuna, Dunedin and now Hamilton. I picked up a few tips at the demo (and learned just how much they can spend on cucumbers!) and can’t wait to take the family to Madam Woo asap!

KOAST Limoncello


Their range features Limoncello, Cream Limoncello and Orangecello, which are all made free of preservatives, additives or colouring. I tried all three and decided on a sampler pack so I could – guess what – make macarons XD. The flavour is bold and beautiful, you can easily drink it as an aperitif or mix with soda water for a nice refreshing drink, make icepops and bake a cake with it.
Their words not mine “100% Natural. 100% New Zealand. Handmade by our family, on the Kapiti Coast with lots of love, care, and time.” Wonderful, isn’t it?

L’Authentique Charcuterie


Sampling here takes an average of 10 minutes – Wade patiently takes you through their range, inviting you to try all of them before deciding which one you like the most. Their sausages are handmade with 100% free farmed meat, dairy free, gluten free, with no additives or preservatives. The taste? Simply the best. Our favourites are their Toulouse grind which we use to make meatballs or dumplings, Peking Maximus which is made with Hallertau Maximus Craft beer and Pork and Fennel.

Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter

Most couldn’t believe something this tasty only has 2 ingredients – peanuts and salt! (if you prefer they have a no salt version which means there is only 1 ingredient in it – 100% peanuts.) That’s what people discovered when Pic’s was launched in 2008. Once you’ve tasted this you wouldn’t want to go back to any other. They now also have almond butter, cashew butter and peanut oil in their range.



Their new pork schnitzel and nuggests were out and one sample was not enough! The schnitzel was baked in the oven for 25 minutes, and was juicy and tender. Thumbs up from the family and definitely keeping on the shopping list for quick weekday meals. I could also pour over a Japanese Tonkatsu sauce and it would be just like how Saika does it…

Because I ran out of time, here’s a list of the stalls I’m returning to conduct further product analysis and investigation 😛

  • Urban Hippe Miso
  • Lewis Road Creamery (no excuse except that I wasn’t going home direct from the show and cannot take the milk, butter and ice cream with me then)
  • Silver Fern Farms (ditto)
  • Nanam Eatery (for a proper lunch)
  • Simon Gault – for the stock and seasonings. I recommend the fish and Beef stock, Morrocan and Indian spice seasonings. They are also running a special with Turks chicken, I just hope they don’t run out!

Lemon Lime and Bitters Macarons

I adore the mix of sweet and sour flavours. Think raspberries and chocolate; cherries in a Black Forest cake; passionfruit and white chocolate. The sharpness of an ingredient contrasting with the sweetness and richness of chocolate – very effective in waking up taste buds I would say.

Angostura isn’t something one can add to anything. After making these macarons though, I think my bottle would be finished rather quickly as lemon lime and bitters macarons have risen to my top 10 flavours.

Watch this space too for a lime and bitters marshmallow demo after my session at Vinnie’s Restaurant, Auckland! (Geoff Scott invited me to their kitchen to make some, how awesome!)

Macarons shell ingredients
(makes about 40 macarons)

150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.
Add daffodil yellow and kelly green gel colouring to separate bowls of macaron mix for different coloured shells.

120g whittakers 28% cocoa white chocolate, broken into small chunks
60ml pure (heavy) cream
2 -3 tbsp angostura bitters (add more to taste)

Break up chocolate into small chunks. Bring cream up to a boil in a pan, and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stirring. Stir and add bitters in a little at a time, until it has been incorporated. Let it cool and thicken in the fridge.

Spread or pipe a teaspoon of ganache on half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells. These freeze well (up to 3 months).

Soaking it up at the Auckland Foodshow

There are many reasons why it has been a few years since I last went to the Auckland Foodshow. It isn’t something you’d want to do pushing a baby pram/ stroller among the seas and seas of people, carrying you in every direction other than the way you are heading. The thought alone is nauseating. I also have the Mother’s guilt, which renders me incapable of having fun on a weekend by myself when it is supposed to be family time.

When the details for this year’s Foodshow were announced, I discovered there is a Masterclass that I just HAVE to attend – Food styling fundamentals by Chef Ray McVinnie and photographer Kieran Scott. I quickly checked the schedule, secretly hoping it would be held on the Friday. It was only scheduled for Thursday, the preview day, meaning it was a more expensive entry fee on top of the Masterclass fee. Just do it, I told myself, after all I have been telling myself to stop over thinking things this year. I took the day off to de-stress. I deserve it.

I spent the last 6 weeks counting down to the day and I could hardly hold my excitement.

I planned around the traffic to make sure I arrive nice and early before the official start time. I also found a park very close to the entrance and brought my suitcase on wheels to bring all the goodies home without breaking my back.

Long queue. What? Prepaid ticket holders lining up for the ONE scanner to scan the barcodes while on-the-day paying people get to go in straight away? What’s the logic? Anyway I wasn’t going to let this upset me so I just patiently wait, shutting out the voices of complaints around me. Thank heavens the rain held off.

I’m in!

Well I’ve also set myself a challenge today – try the brands I haven’t seen before and go for flavours I would not have bought. Afterall that’s the spirit of the Foodshow.

Here are the top brands/ stalls I’ve seen today and wanted to share with you all:

Butlers chocolate

“Home’s never been such a nice place to be. Bringing a little happiness to the world with our chocolate.” that’s their mission. Wellingtonians would be familiar with this brand, and they are opening a store in Auckland at Sylvia Park next month. Every hot drink purchased comes with a free piece of hand made chocolate! Hmm tempting isn’t it?

Their hot chocolate drink is a must try, all you do is you heat up some milk and add a Butlers Hot Chocolate Cup (there is 10 in the box), stir and enjoy. It was very very delicious. This brings me back to home ec class when we stirred big pots of hot milk and mixing cocoa powder into it. I am all warm and fuzzy now.

They also have their chocolates for sell and I got some with the show special.

Kokoleka – premium hot chocolate
I was attracted to the graphics of this logo, and was not disappointed with the taste of it either.
I bought their Hot Chilli one, and it had a warmth to the throat, at every single sip and swallow. Hmm very good for my sore throat.

Petal cupcakes
Wow what a surprise did I get when I saw Laurel Watson whom I have not seen for at least 5 years. She was my teacher at the cupcake decorating class at Milly’s many moons ago and now she’s the owner of Petal Cupcakes!! I couldn’t believe it but it all just makes sense now.
The cupcakes were delicious. Light and fluffy with the flavoured cream frosting being the hero of the cupcakes. They tasted like the ones she made at the class and the swirls had a familiar ring to it. I bought their show special mini cupcakes for $1 each as dessert for S and J.

How cute are they? Flavours available today included plum, caramel, mango, strawberry and peach.

Canterbury biltong
If you have not tried biltong before this is what their website says about it: “Biltong is a traditional product from South Africa consisting of dried beef seasoned and cured over a period of time.”
The flavour is huge and I could really taste the spices with this delicious snack. 4 flavours to choose from – chilli, garlic, barbecue and smoked. Anything to support Canterbury too! These are bought especially for S – he loves them!

The Great Dairy Collective Yoghurt Drink (the one with the cow logo)
While I expected to try a few yoghurts I wasn’t expecting to buy any. 1) on the perishable scale this is definitely right up there on the top and 2) how different can yoghurt be?
I’ve seen this brand in the shops before and it’s exactly my thought number 2) above that stopped me from buying it.
I was very much attracted to the packaging today (no secret in the industry really) – tiny cups that looks like coffee!! So cute. I had to try.

These were 3 for $10.
This berrystart flavour is my favourite (yes I managed to try most of them!!) and I bought a big bottle home with me. Tomette
“Bonjour madam” ooh who’s that? ah Thomas and Etienne from Tomette, the new French duo delivering single-serve gourmet classic French dishes. I looked at what was on offer and was surprised by the list – there’s six, so the range is not as big as some of the other meal-in-box brands yet small enough to retain that intimacy and je ne sais quoi that comes with boutique brands. I’m already impressed and I haven’t even sampled their food. Perhaps it was the warmth and truefulness of the duo, it was like they honestly wanted you to like their food, all the while knowing you would anyway, but with zero arrogance?

I sampled the chicken coq au vin, which I have to say is the most delicious coq au vin I have ever tasted. Succulent and full of flavour, there was no match to it. It just tasted of France no less. I couldn’t believe it came out of a box! How can they put so much flavour and freshness into this? Watch this space, I think these guys will be huge!

Silver Fern Farms I bought Venison Medallions and Lamb mince – I think J will like them. Venison has less fat than beef, so healthier and they have a softer texture, making it easier for her ‘big girl’ teeth to tear into.
I also got a free cooler bag with this. Freebies, useful freebies are always welcomed.

I was a bit surprised with myself for not buying more dips this time around. Nothing really caught my eye (or taste buds) apart from these ones from Culley’s and also ZING sauces from Springbrook foods. The ZING sauces are seriously good and at $8 for 3 bottles, it can’t go wrong. I’m planning to use those as marinades for my next BBQ.

Genevieve’s Cuisine – Chicken Liver Parfait Truffled
At $10 a pot, these are on the expensive side, but they are quite flavoursome and I can taste the truffle in it. I am all for truffles so in it went to my shopping trolley.

Mahurangi oysters
$2 a tasting! Yum-o. These were fresh, plump and sweet, and as I ate it, I closed my eyes and I was instantly transported to Leigh where I was on a diving training course and while waiting on the surface for the boat to pick us up, the instructor took kina from his diving bag, opened it with his knife in one swift motion and we ate it straight from the shells, with us bobbling away on the surface.
Seafood don’t get any fresher than that and these oysters was on par with that memory.
If you are stuck you can go to their website and there is even a video showing you how to shuck an oyster. I do hope I win their shucking knife and oysters though 😉

The Auckland on a plate stalls also featured fresh produce from The Fresh Grower, artisan bread from Wild Wheat and grape juice and jelly from Heron’s Flight.

Naked Local Soups
These were the yummiest soup on offer. You will have a hard time choosing which ones to get, but at 3 for $10, you can afford to get them all. My favourite would be the Gisborne Tomato Soup with Basil pesto & fresh cream.

The classes of the day
Normally I spend only a few hours at the Foodshow and leave feeling I haven’t visited all the stalls. Today I arrived right when they opened to allow myself time to attend some of the classes on offer as well.

Kenwood class – Brett McGregor
Brett was the first Masterchef New Zealand winner and he demonstrated in the Kenwood kitchen how to make authentic Thai curry pastes and fish cakes.
It was very cool to see him in action, and he was definitely as funny as he was on TV. His style is simple, and the recipes easy to follow. As Kenwood was the sponsor, he used many of their machines to demonstrate, and you can see how easy it was to make the paste with just the mini whizz blender. Using the new fryer with a rotating basket, he cooked fish cakes in less oil than normally required with no splashes or mess (really surprised me there, I had expected lots of mess but I suppose he wasn’t the messy one on tv!)

Now to taste. The fish cakes were quite tasty, I was most surprised by the lack of oiliness, and the 4 red chillies he put in the curry paste were definitely not over the top. He made a quick vegetable slaw using cabbage, red chillies, carrots with a chili lime dressing. It paired very well with the fish cakes. Definitely something I would try at home soon.

Masterclass – Ray McVinnie and Kieran Scott “Food styling Fundamentals”
Here are a few photos from the class, we even got something to nibble on during the class, vino and a nice goodie bag, which contained some of the things that were on my shopping list, so I didn’t have to buy them in the end.

The class went overtime, but that was great as Ray explained over 3 dishes what his thinking process was when it comes to plating and how Kieran sees each photo and the relationship between the different elements on the dish.

I took a lot away from the class, and even though I was already running late I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to ask Kieran if he would mind critiquing one of my photos. He was very kind ( I’m sure I totally cornered him) and gave me some helpful advice and insight into what a seasoned photographer sees as good food photography. He presented me with a challenge and I will work on it!

By now I was just incredibly glad I’m a ‘list’ person as I only had time to run to the various stalls still on my list to get my goodies, sign up subscriptions, sample ice creams and then hit the road in time to cook dinner!

What a wonderful day I had, I wish I can do it all over again already.
If you weren’t planning on going, I encourage you to.


ps. oh and on the drive home I realised what I did miss – the can opener called ‘the one that works’! the can opens smoothly and produces no sharp corners – you can run your hand along the cut edge and it feels so smooth. Very safe indeed.