Day 2 of the New Zealand Food Bloggers’ Conference beckoned with the usual Wellington laissez-faire attitude to sunshine, but luckily it was quite mild and pleasant. (See Day 1 recap here). We were again hosted at the stunning Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute.
Our first session of the day was a re-education of my tastebuds by Jo Coffey of L’affaire du Chocolat. We slowly worked up to the star, Criollo cocao which makes up only 5% of the cocoa grown. Such a revelation, that this little square could hold so much smooth complex flavour with only a faint bitterness, which I typically associate with chocolate of high cocoa solids content. This is chocolate on a completely different level.
Rachel Taulelei of Yellow Brick Road is driven to source, supply and market sustainable seafood. She asks that we question and demand sustainably harvested seafood. Yellow Brick Road supports long line-caught fish, aquaculture oysters and clams, and even sardines, which many think of as bait, but is delicious in their own right. Rachel and her company held a very successful Oyster Saloon at Cuba St as part of Wellington on a Plate, and if you missed out, they supply the freshest seafood at the City Market every Sunday morning in the Chaffers Dock building.
I attempted a ‘healthy’ morning tea, – I supplemented the delicious pain au chocolat and scones with a mango yoghurt drink from The Collective Dairy. Yum. Joseph Slater from Six Barrel Soda lead us through a tasting of several of his syrups. The name of the label refers to sixth barrel, or 1/6th of a regular oak barrel, which is used to make test batches. The ginger is a clear winner for me, I’m not a fan of ginger in sweet things, but this makes the most refreshing drink, with a warm glow (the secret is the peppercorns). Six Barrel Soda is now sold at Farro Fresh (yay for us Aucklanders), and make sure you visit their charming café just off Dixon St when in Wellington.
I am intolerant to alcohol, a fate worst than death for some, but I found the talk by Chris Archer of Archer McRae interesting. And Ritzling, his ‘Bottled Happiness’ riesling is very clever marketing. I tried a sip, and enjoyed the smooth, sweet taste and fruity aroma.
What a special treat; we had the team of sisters-in-law Mary and Tee from Little Penang (Dixon St) present a masterclass on ang ku kuih (Nyonya steamed cake with mung bean filing) and rojak pasembur (Mamak salad). This was great timing, – I have ang ku kuih molds at home, and the tip on how to prolong the storage of the dough by incorporating a small amount of steamed dough to the dough mixture will come in useful. I also learnt that traditional ang ku kuih is orange in colour (not the commonly seen red) and served as announcement of births, round for girls and oblong (obviously) for boys. It is clear the love and dedication Little Penang puts into their food, made with herbs and spices specially brought over from Malaysia to ensure a level of authenticity not often found. For lunch, we were spoilt with nasi lemak (the best I’ve had in NZ), delicious pasembur, assam laksa, finishing off with ang ku kuih for dessert.
Vicky Ha, the dumpling queen herself (The Dumpling House) demonstrated her famous prawn and garlic chive dumplings (available at City Market, Chaffers Dock). The secret is the flavoured dumpling skin that Vicky makes herself (green tea!) and the freshest of fillings. The tangy soy dipping sauce (her mum’s recipe) was the perfect foil to the moreish dumplings. We also learnt how to make a rose-scented dumpling with almond filling in ginger syrup. There’s a rumour that we Aucklanders might get our hands on these dumplings in the near future, keeping my ear on the twitter-sphere for updates.
It was a difficult choice for the breakout session, between Alli’s mozerella masterclass or pastry-making. I ended in the pâtisserie kitchen, listening intently as Sébastian Lambert, the Pâtisserie Head Tutor revealed his secrets for making the shortest short crust. Never knead your dough, smear it on the surface to incorporate the ingredients; after you have pricked your rolled out dough, flip it to line the tin to ensure the holes made by the fork tines are as small as possible; tuck the edges in and pinch the dough to rise ~2cm above the edge of the tin to allow for shrinkage.
I attended the coffee masterclass (t Leaf T held a tea masterclass) with Steve Barrett of Peoples Coffee who taught us about single origin coffee and filter coffee. Peoples Coffee sells Fairtrade, organically grown coffee. My favourite was the Guatemalan huehuetenango (try saying that 6 times quickly), which had a great smooth flavour, with hints of cocoa. To get the best out of your coffee, Steve recommends adding 15g water to 1g ground coffee for filters or 13g water to 1g ground coffee for plungers.
Inexplicably, it was the end of two glorious days of camaraderie, learning and eating. For more recaps, see Ultimate Om Noms (Day 1 and Day 2), Couscous and Consciousness (Day 1 and Day 2), Something Else to Eat , Eat etc (Day 1 and Day 2), Lydia Bakes (Day 1 and Day 2), Alessandra Zecchini, Toast and Domestic Executive.
Speakers, Mini Masterclasses, Tutorials and Tastings (25 August)
Archer McRae | The Dumpling House | The Gourmet Gannet | L’affaire au Chocolat | Le Cordon Bleu | Peoples Coffee | Six Barrel Soda Co. | t Leaf T | Yellow Brick Road
Lunch (25 August)