For those that aren’t in New Zealand, we shut down from (including) Good Friday through to Easter Monday. It’s traditionally the last significant long holiday weekend and marks the entry in to Autumn and Winter.
Easter is the last opportunity to travel, camp, relax and reflect with friends and family. And this year, that opportunity was lost.
Easter Sunday was the hardest day for me so far, psychologically speaking.
I woke at the usual time. Made my bed. Went for a decent walk around Auckland city. Saw the people out and about, exercising, spending time with loved ones.
And I remembered that I was alone. Doing this lockdown, alone.
I’ve been so good in my isolation up until Sunday. My resilience has been evident and I’m drawing strength from the sources that are available to me. Until Sunday.
None of my usual go-to’s were working. The books I’m reading didn’t interest me. The Netflix documentaries that usually educate and inspire, bored me halfway through. The movies I love made me yawn.
This wasn’t a good sign.
I wasn’t even in the mood to chat, to message, to communicate.
Bedtime couldn’t come soon enough.
And today, Monday, I’m back to normal. Woke up. Made the bed. Cleaned. Did laundry. Played some PlayStation. Watched some Netflix.
It is like yesterday never happened.
On reflection, I have missed connection and intimacy this weekend, but I’ve come through the other side quickly. I have shifted my focus.
There will be an end to this lockdown. Covid-19 will be either contained or will become a part of global life. Things will return to a semblance of normality. There is HOPE.
And hope is what gets me through. Those of you who are close to me know that I’ve had three years of challenges, and that season of challenge ends in May. So my hope-focus is all about what next. Where will I be travelling to (and yes, I will be travelling)? How is my next life stage going to be framed? I’m desperate to explore cultures I’m not familiar with. Desperate to explore their food and learn their histories. (And yes, I’m watching ALL the Netflix food shows).
Where there is hope, there is also anticipation. There are the little things, as well as the big things that I am looking forward to.
I’m looking forward to being able to invest in a Weber kettle BBQ. I want to learn/understand low/slow cooking with charcoal.
I am looking forward to being comfortable having guests over for a meal. Well, I just need to buy three more dining chairs, but I have a plan in place for that.
Actually I have a plan in place for many and most things. Which is why I’m just waiting.
I have learned over the last three years to utterly let go of the things that I can’t control and pour focus and planning in to the things I can control. To line things up so when the time is right, I can press go.
Sunday? It’s in the past.
Sunday was a gentle reminder that I need to ensure I pay enough attention to my own care and well-being.
So, a few days ago (weeks? I have no idea… I’m really losing track of time), I was challenged on Twitter to make Beef Fudge. Someone had found a recipe that (I believe) originated in 1960’s Montana.
Note: I’ve reached that point in lockdown/isolation where I’ll do many things to amuse myself.
First I needed to obtain the roast beef required. I have to say, I’ve eaten well this week. This roast has a mustard and pepper rub in case you were wondering. It worked really well!
The recipe also gave me the opportunity to use some kitchen equipment I acquired a couple of years back when I was dabbling in learning the craft of sausage-making. Also, I have a lot more to learn in the craft of sausage-making. But that’s for another time.
Marshmallow Cream isn’t readily available in NZ (unless you go to places like Martha’s Backyard close by). I made a substitute by melting a pack of marshmallows (put them in a mixing bowl, above a pot of boiling water) and adding 2tbsp of syrup. You’d usually use corn syrup but golden syrup works also.
The end result? Actually surprisingly good. It’s fudge, and it’s not the abomination I thought it might be. Of course, this recipe and resulting product reminds me precisely why I don’t do baking. It’s lethal for those wanting to lose weight.
Sometimes you find a cookbook that inspires. I have to say, I’m a little addicted to printed cookbooks despite having accounts with Jamie Oliver and with Big Oven (both digital platforms are highly recommended) there is something special about leafing through pages of recipes and food photos.
One of my recent obsessions has been to dive into Chinese cuisine. This stems from a life-changing journey four years ago where I visited China on a 12 day tour.
I have learned to experience destinations through their culture and food. In China I loved walking down the alleys watching locals cook street food, as well as visiting their fine-dining restaurants.
Anyway, this book is awesome. I obtained it because I’d started to obsess about how to make dumplings. It adds so much more.
Tonight’s effort is Taiwanese Beef Rice. The liquid is basically a stock of ginger, garlic, onion, carrot, soy, oyster sauce, rice wine, caster sugar, vinegar, star anise, five spice and beef stock.
If you guys could smell this… Wow!!
Villa Maria – Keltern Chardonnay 2013, the Attorney Organic Pinot Noir 2013 and the Braided Gravels Organic Merlot 2013 were all outstanding.
And of course my current favorite vineyard, Misha’s. Their High Note Pinot Noir 2013, Starlet Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and the Limelight Riesling 2013 was simply superb. I’m glad I’ve finally managed to try the Riesling.
I love talking to the winemakers and getting a sense of their passion and craft. One thing I’ve noticed is that Chardonnay is definitely making a strong comeback and some of those I tasted were stunningly good.
Exciting times ahead for wine!
But this event wasn’t just about wine. It was about the wonderful world of food.
I enjoyed sitting in on a 1hr seminar, where chef Philippe Meyer talked about fermentation of food. How to make sauerkraut or kimchi. How to make ginger beer. It was great getting an insight into curing meats. This is something I’ve thought about and have never been brave enough to try. Perhaps now I will.
There was also an artisan food producers showcase.
Love Cake – If you suffer from allergies but have a thing for cake then these are the products for you. The baked result doesn’t have a cardboard texture. They taste great! Definitely check out their website for more detailed information.
I’m not usually a fan of oatcakes or crackers etc. but these by Bonnie taste amazing. A little bit of brie on a cake with your coffee and your executive breakfast is done!
Waiwera Spirits were showing off their rums, vodka and gin. I love the idea that they’re developing these products as standalone ‘sippers’. You don’t need mixers with them. Savour them as you would a fine whiskey or tequila. Delicious.
Now these sauces are seriously good. I’d not come across Culley’s before. I do like trying hot sauce and I have friends that are collectors so I paid a little bit of attention. The heat, the flavours, the aftertaste – all were divine. I’ll be purchasing some of these in the near future.
This brand of Danish crackerbread, Line’s Knaekbrod is also a new discovery for me. It was brilliant talking to the makers. Line was a winner in the 2015 Cuisine Artisan awards and you can see why. Having tried these, I’ve already purchased more from Farro Fresh. It’s so good.
This event really was a fun way to spend a Sunday late-afternoon.
I’ve been giving it some thought. I am loving what this school is creating here, not only with the courses they’re providing, but especially the way they’re supporting local producers of incredibly high-quality food and wine. We are lucky to have them I think.