Category Archives: Food

Review: The Collective’s Yoghurt Suckies

Suckies

My boys love yoghurt but normal yoghurt pottles seem to be beyond their ability to manage.  They make a MESS!  They’re invariably spilt all down their uniforms or on the ground, not to mention the yoghurty mess that ends up in their lunchbox and backpack by the end of the day.

The lovely folk at The Collective have pretty much solved this problem for us with their cool suckies range of yoghurts.  They come in either 100g pouches or 70g tubes.  There are no fruit bits or seeds to be rejected, no artificial flavours or preservatives – just the good stuff.

I’d been a fan of The Collective’s gourmet yoghurt range and loved their flavour combinations and branding.  You’ve probably noticed them on the chiller shelves.

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The boys choosing their suckies

I got in contact with the PR team at The Collective and organised for the boys to review their suckies.  They loved the extra bits that came – a hessian bag, tattoos, badges and of course the yoghurt.  The boys had been restricted to small bowls of yoghurt at home but had had lunchbox envy when friends had the pouches and tubes and were dead keen to have them in their lunch boxes.

Each day they took a different flavour in their lunchbox and reported back on what they thought.  The littlest one liked the Nommy Banana flavoured pouch and Bonkers for Bananas tubes the most, whereas the biggest one liked the Honeycomb pouch the best.  They both happily scoffed all the other flavours we had as well.

From a mum’s perspective these are great – highly practical size and shape so I don’t get leaky leftovers in the lunchbox, you can freeze them so they’re cool for break time, easy for the kids to open (one twists and the other tears or snips), a good range of kid friendly flavours with no fruit bits or pips, no preservatives and no artificial flavours.  Personally the practical packaging and healthy yoghurt (with no preservatives or artificial additives) is what sold them to me, oh and I’ve got a real thing for funky branding.

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Lunchbox for the biggest one

From a kids perspective they look cool, taste fab, are healthy and are easy for little fingers to manage.

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They loved the tattoos!

The full range of 100g pouch flavours are: Nommy banana, Blueberry, Honeycomb, Peach and Apricot, Sassy Strawberry, and Heilala Vanilla.

And the 70g tube flavours are: Sassy Strawberry, Bonkers for Bananas, and Bouncing Berries.

The tubes come in a box of 8 and the pouches are sold individually.

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Happy sucking

The Collective as a company is super cool.  They launched into the NZ premium yoghurt market in 2010 and made their presence known pretty quickly.  There’s a great range of innovative flavours and a limited edition yoghurt that is changed every three months – currently it’s raspberry and amaretto.  You can buy The Collective yoghurts in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and NZ of course.

The Collective supplied the yoghurt pouches and tubes plus the super useful bag, fun tattoos, funky magnets and badges, but the views are all my own.

Saturday morning at the Farmers’ Market

Licking
Licking

It was SUCH a grey morning, and is now a grey day.  The sort we lived with for six winters in London, I’ll never forget them.  Grey that is impenetrable and lowers the sky so you feel you could touch it.  I learnt in London not to let this spoil my day.  So with various options put forward to the boys, they picked to scooter to the Farmers’ Market, choose a favourite lollipop, walk through the native bush, and home again past the playground.  I hoped the market would bring a little colour to our day and the scoot a hit of endorphins for my screen obsessed sons.

Through the park
Through the park
Riccarton House and the Farmers Market
Riccarton House and the Farmers’ Market
Riccarton House and the Farmers Market
Riccarton House and the Farmers’ Market

Through the park, over the stream and wind through a few quiet streets and we emerge into the grounds of Riccarton House which is home to the Christchurch Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.  It’s also one of the original farms of the early settlers, the Scottish Deans brothers, who built their original cottage here in 1843 using wood from the surrounding bush.  Their original cottage is still here, it’s now the oldest building on the Canterbury Plains.  The Deans brothers kept their little cottage, and built the Victorian and Edwardian mansion (it survived the earthquakes, though still undergoing repairs) Riccarton House in 1856 with subsequent significant additions.

The farmers market has started with a mere handful of stalls, which was a great disappointment when we first visited as we’d been used to the thriving Borough Market in London.  But over the years it’s grown to a bustling hive of producers with their wares.  There are strict rules surrounding who can have a stall and where their produce can come from.  Personally I’d love to see more stalls with food you can eat as you browse, and a few more seats would be good too as the riverbank can get a little damp…

At markets my preference is to slowly browse the different stalls and taste as I go.  The boys however (no longer restrained to prams) prefer to head straight for the lolly stall, taste one, choose one and head away to eat.  I managed withstand the grumbling to buy eggs and apples from my favourite stalls, but couldn’t stand it much after that.  I love that the eggs are free range, the apples are organic, both are local and both are cheaper than the supermarket!  We also adore the pastry perfections that come from Bellbird Foods, and the Pain au Chocolat is our favourite – pronounced correctly of course not with a kiwi twang.

We’ve been walking round the loop track in Riccarton Bush since the boys were little as it’s a totally different environment for them, in the middle of our city.  In 2004 it was fenced to keep out predators and now has a thriving native bird population.  The boys take their binoculars to keep an eye out for them.  There’s a caged door entry which intrigues the boys, and then they follow the little path round.

Serenade
Serenade

We headed home to stop for a play in the playground and a ride on the leaf sculpture in the park.  It’s called ‘Serenade’ which is appropriate as the leaves look as if they’re dancing, with a bit of effort you can push it round. After all that we hadn’t even noticed that it was a very grey day.

Review: Nude Yoghurt

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When the PR at Piako said she’d send me a natural unsweetened yoghurt I must admit I groaned – it’s not exactly fodder for superlatives or a taste sensation I thought.

Foodie friend was far more excited “But it’s so much more versatile!” She exclaimed and happily took a pottle home. The next day she was raving, “Its sooo creamy!”

I dug into my pottle and I have to admit she’s right. Piako Nude yoghurt, commonly known as Greek style yoghurt is actually really very nice.  It’s naturally higher in protein and lower in fat so it’s a good healthy option.  It’s a far better alternative taste wise than lite vanilla tub yoghurt which has been my standard supermarket purchase. I’ve had my pottle with fruit (particularly nice with pears), maple syrup, brownie and just scooped from the pottle when I’m peckish.

Foodie friend however has far more interesting suggestions for using a pottle of Piako Nude yoghurt;

  • Make Tzatiki – add mint, cucumber, garlic and lemon juice, then dip crudités or bread
  • Use it plain with a Caesar salad
  • Ideal with with fruit compotes, crumbles or pies for dessert
  • Use as a replacement for cream in many recipes
  • Drizzle with honey and eat with fresh fruit
  • Try it in Annabel Langbein’s Lemon and Ginger Ice-cream

Our take on Piako Nude yoghurt: This is our go to alternative to cream or vanilla yoghurt. Thick and creamy it has a wonderful texture and is spot on in terms of flavour, spanning the sweet and tart line beautifully.

If you’d like to see my Foodie friend in action check out one of her cooking classes.

Yoghurt was supplied by Piako but all views are completely my own.

Late night treat - bananas, maple syrup and Nude...
Late night treat – bananas, maple syrup and Nude…

Foodie Heaven – International Cooking Classes

I’ve never been to a cooking class, but I’ve always wanted to.  The Argentian aka Carolina, is world famous in our neighbourhood for her fabulous cooking and passion for food.  Now she’s taking her passion to the wider community of Christchurch with her friend and fellow Argentinian, Andrea.  Andrea and her husband have recently moved into a house perched on the hill above Taylors Mistake from Barcelona where they’ve lived for the past ten years.  Having been to and loved Barcelona, I can tell  you this is quite a contrast.  But, their new abode makes the PERFECT location for a cooking class with dinner or lunch.  Andrea and Carolina are charming and delightful hosts and their passion for cooking is catching.  Their chosen recipes for the evening were not only genuinely delicious, but very easy and easy to accomplish for any home cook.

Two neighbours (also fans of Carolina’s) and I headed over the hill and joined Carolina and Andrea for the launch of their International Cooking Classes last week.  This particular night was making Italian Sorrentinos – filled homemade pasta.  The first thing that hits you, is the incredible view from Andrea’s home.  And whilst on the deck admiring it, a friendly paraglider flew past on his way down to the beach.

The friendly paraglider
The friendly paraglider

The cooks started with pasta, making sorrentino’s for us – very similar to ravioli, or tortellini.  They showed us how to make the pasta dough, sharing their tips and tricks along the way.  We all had a turn with the pasta machine and turning the handle, making it thiner with each of the six runs through.  I’ve always thought it looked time consuming, but surprisingly it wasn’t, more therapeutic.  Andrea and Carolina demonstrated how to make two fillings for the sorrentinos – salmon and homemade ricotta with dill, and pumpkin and mozzarella with basil.  We all followed along on our recipe sheet, making extra notes here and there. Each filling was served with a different sauce, cream sauce for the delicate salmon and ricotta, and an earthy puttanesca sauce for the more hearty pumpkin and mozzarella.  Both were beautiful and worthy of any restaurant.  The thing about cooking classes is not only do you get the smell (or should I say aroma), rather than the picture, but you can interact with the cooks, and in fact it’s encouraged.

We sat round the table and ate in the fading sunset and enjoyed both the food and company of others whom we didn’t know but, joined together with a common interest, food, we had a really good night.

After the main course Andrea and Carolina showed us how to make their version of Tiramasu.  Now, I should confess here to never having tried Tiramasu, always being put off at the end of a meal by layers of cream and sponge and topped off with coffee, seemed sickly to me.  But this Tiramasu was amazing – light, delicate and left me wanting more.  Super easy to prepare, we were all delighted to have this gem of a recipe in our repertoire.  Next dinner party, that’s what I’m serving.

Three hours later, happily full and armed with tips, tricks, new tastes and inspired to make sorrentinos myself, we headed back over the hill to home.  We all agreed we’d had a great night, having thoroughly enjoyed learning something new, the location, the food and the company.  We’ll be back for another class.

International Cooking Classes cost $50 which included the three hour class with dinner and dessert.  Carolina and Adrea hold classes each month with different themes.  To book: Email: cookingfoodclasses@gmail.com, Facebook: here , Mobile: Carolina 0210783841 or Andrea 0211735514.

PS.  Here’s Carolina’s recipe for Palmeritas from a previous blog post.

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Whittakers – Chocolate heaven

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I’ve always loved chocolate, any time, anywhere, and it’s particularly best in the morning.  Some people are lollie fans, some are potato chip fans, but it’s always been chocolate for me.

After the scandal when Cadburys reduced the size of their blocks, increased their prices and then used palm oil instead of cocoa butter in their chocolate, I decided the time was right to try out their competitor, Whittaker’s.  Peanut Slabs had been a favourite of my husbands for years, but I’d never really tried their blocks of chocolate.  So, when Whittaker’s sent us a parcel of six of their new flavours (L&P, Berry & Biscuit, Milk Strawberry, Peanut Butter, Hokey Pokey and Fair Trade Creamy Milk), the boys and I were in chocolate heaven.

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Whittaker’s have been a family owned and operated business since the 1890s and it’s still made right here in New Zealand, Porirua to be precise.  There’s no palm oil in their chocolate and they have fair trade cocoa beans, butter and sugar in their 33% Creamy Milk Block and 72% Dark Ghana Block from Ghana and Costa Rica.  Have a look at their rather cool website here and you can see where most of their other ingredients come from, and which countries you can buy Whittaker’s chocolate in.

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The boys and I enlisted the help of our neighbours and set about doing it in a scientific manner, tasting each flavour one after the other.  The results I found rather interesting – there wasn’t a clear winner.  We all liked different flavours.  The little boys liked the L&P ‘popping’ chocolate the best, followed by the Berry and Biscuit (MUCH better than Cadburys as it doesn’t stick in your teeth), Mr Newly 18 also liked the L&P flavour and confessed to having eaten an entire block single handedly in one sitting.  Mr 16 liked the traditional 33% Creamy Milk, and Mrs Neighbour’s favourite was the Hokey Pokey.  My father liked the Milk Strawberry, and I had two favourites – Peanut Butter and Milk Strawberry.  I’m not a peanut butter out of the jar fan, but I REALLY liked it in a chocolate.  I knew I was going to love the Milk Strawberry as in a box of chocolates, they’re the ones I search for.  I found the L&P ‘popping’ chocolate disconcerting, but the kids demolished it.  I do however LOVE that they’ve combined an iconic kiwi drink with a chocolate – how fab is that!

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Our take on Whittaker’s chocolate: We all agreed that Whittaker’s was by far the richer, creamier, tastier chocolate, and we all loved eating chocolate just for pure enjoyment.  There are so many different flavours to choose from and with each of us preferring a different flavour, I wonder which is your favourite Whittaker’s flavour?

Passengers and Co – Breakfast with someone else’s husband

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This morning I had breakfast with someone else’s husband.  I should explain – he’s a very old friend who moved to the other side of the world 15 years ago but has been in town for the summer.  I’ve been wanting to review Passengers and Co for a few weeks now and in need of a companion, he fitted the bill nicely.

Passengers and Co opened in May 2013 at the rather unassuming location of the airport business park, and in less than a year they have made quite a name for themselves.  This has probably got a fair bit to do with the two owners who are something of the dynamic duo –  chefs Jamie Bennett and Sam Marchant.  Both in their mid-30s and with a small tribe of children between them, they are old school friends who own and operate the Christchurch Farmers Market, as well as Riccarton House Bistro and Taste Events company.  The Riccarton House Bistro is due to re-open within the next two months having been closed since the earthquakes, and their new venture ‘The Town Tonic’ a coffee house and wine bar in Addington, is scheduled to open at the end of March.  I pity their wives…

Old Friend and I arrived after the school run when Passengers and Co was pleasantly quiet.  I met chef Jamie who was late for a site meeting, but he introduced me to his chef Aliesha McGilligan who was a delight.  Aliesha is PASSIONATE about Passengers and Co food, which they call ‘soul food’ as it’s made from the heart with ingredients they love.  There’s a whole ethos about the place, not only Passengers and Co, but also the Christchurch Farmers Market and the Riccarton House Bistro that focuses on the local, the ethical, the seasonal, looking to serve the best everyday.  We chatted for ages about food, ingredients, inspiration, their Food Nights, and places we’ve eaten at (or want to eat at), but then Aliesha had to dash – a big table came in for breakfast and she was needed.  Old Friend and I sat and commented on how Passengers and Co is so much more than a cafe, it’s an instigator and a community hub for foodies (or architects of taste as Old Friend suggested) in Canterbury.

I liked the interior of Passengers and Co which has a muted colour palette of black and white, accented by punches of green and something of a Moroccan influence in their tiling and wooden screens.  There are good seating options which is always a bug bear of mine – two huge tables, an intimate booth, and a variety of other smaller tables.

Back to task – choosing from the menu.  Aliesha recommended their Turkish Baked Eggs with roasted peppers, tomato sauce, toast, labne, and dukkah for $16 and I chose the Brioche French Toast with poached fruit, real maple syrup, house-made marscarpone for $16.50.  Both were great, and I mean REALLY great.  I’ve had french toast a lot, but this is different.  The poached fruit, brioche and marscapone take it to a whole new level.  Bacon and banana would seem tame in comparison.  Aliesha popped back checking on our meals and we raved about them.  Old Friend enjoyed the Turkish Baked Eggs but was particularly taken with the bread that came with them.  The seeds were incredible.  Two happy diners.

Our take on Passengers and Co: Excellent.  Delicious breakfasts with a different take on the usuals and a few surprises thrown in too.  Good sized portions and a great price.  I’ll definitely be back.  Old Friend (also coffee expert) informs me that their coffee filter needs changing, but I can inform you that their hot chocolates are spot on, and you know how fussy I can be…

Lunch and Palmeritas with The Foodies

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The Argentinians are big foodies, both Him (Mr Foodie) and Her (Mrs Foodie).  Mr Foodie’s speciality is meat, big pieces of it, particularly on the BBQ.  He has a rather impressive (and somewhat intimidating) BBQ knife, that has its own leather pouch, and is specially sharpened by His Argentinian friend.  Mrs Foodie’s speciality is everything in between, and having tasted the most moreish pastry bites she made at two afternoon teas, I really wanted a demonstration and the recipe.

“Come for lunch before we cook”, She said and I gladly accepted.  My offerings were a Mushroom Quiche and Raspberry and Chocolate Brownies (which Mrs Foodie presented beautifully) .  The Foodies had remembered that I’d mentioned that I liked lamb and He had bought a lamb shoulder, marinated it and then cooked it lovingly for two hours on the BBQ.  That lamb has got to be the best I have EVER tasted (sorry Mum).  Beautifully moist, cooked to perfection and bursting with flavour.  Divine… We had spinach and avocado salad, homemade focaccia bread, cooked vegetables, and cucumber crudite with a moreish homemade dip.

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As the boys happily played Mrs Foodie and I got down to business.  The moreish pastry bites are in fact called Palmeritas and are a traditional Argentianian food, and as Argentina is an immigrant nation (like NZ) they are also a traditional French food known as Palmiers.  Made purely from puff pastry (bought frozen from the shop), butter and sugar, they aren’t part of a healthy diet, but gee they are good!

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Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with non-stick paper.

Step 2: Cut your pastry to a square.  Thinly slick butter over the entire square.  Mrs Foodie uses a cheese slicer that was cheap as chips.  Pop the pastry and butter into the microwave for about 10 seconds to make it easier to spread.  Spread the butter over the pastry square.

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Step 4: Sprinkle sugar over the butter.

Step 5: Carefully roll up each side to the middle.  Cut thinly and lay flat on the baking tray and then sprinkle more sugar over all the Palmeritas.

Step 7: Bake for 15 minutes or so, watching carefully that they turn golden brown, not burnt.  Turn, and cook for another few minutes.

When cool, eat – they are crunchy, flaky, perfect with a cup or tea of coffee.  Enjoy!

Mrs Foodie happens to be not only a fabulous cook, but a rather talented Graphic Designer and Illustrator – www.carolinababot.com