Auckland Food Show 2015

The Auckland Food Show is a staple on my calendar, and is a truly fantastic way to discover new food and beverages on the scene. I typically join the throngs on the weekends, but this year, I decided to come on ‘Preview Day’. Preview Day falls on the Thursday, and costs more to attend ($40 vs $26), but for that, you get almost the whole place to yourself and up to four thousand other eager pundits.

One of the first things I noticed was the sheer number of exhibitors (there are around 300!). I am convinced The Auckland Food Show gets larger every year. This year, the theme appears to be gluten-free, paleo, dairy-free and whole foods. Whole foods definitely, though the rest has me somewhat bewildered. I’m on the taste bandwagon. If it taste great, I’m sold.

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Vegetarian cooking class with Chef Kevin Blakeman

Sometimes I think the universe is trying to speak to me. Case in point; I was waiting at the airport waiting for a flight back to Auckland on a Friday night, and thinking that I had no plans for the Saturday apart from a long list of chores. Cue message from my blogger friend, Chef Kevin Blakeman. He had some last-minute dropouts from his inaugural cooking class, and did I want to come? Oh heck, YES!

And when I checked what class it was, I found out it was a vegetarian class. Double oh heck, YES! I had resolved to increase my vegetable consumption this year and use meat as flavouring, rather than the main ingredient. So far, it’s been good, but I was getting lazy and cooking the same dishes (and getting slightly bored with them).

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Malaysian cooking class with Zaida & Chef Liza

The longer I reside in New Zealand, the more I yearn for traditional food from my childhood. We can get Malaysian food here, but the lack of certain ingredients and the still somewhat conservative palate of the general populous mean we don’t get the truly authentic range of foods I used to take for granted back home.

That’s why I get excited when chance arise to learn how to recreate some of these authentic dishes. I  might be hard-pressed to whip these up on a weekly basis; but these are perfect when you want to surprise and impress family and friends with your culinary prowess.

A few weekends ago, Zaida Ahmad (Auckland Malaysia Society‘s Food Programme Co-ordinator), with her guest, Chef Liza, held a special cooking class. It is clear that a culinary gene runs in Zaida’s family. Liza Zainol, Zaida’s aunt, is a celebrity chef in Malaysia. On top of running her own Culinary Academy and jetting around the world advocating Malaysian cuisine, Chef Liza also manages her own television production company making her cookery series.

‘Sedapnya!’ (It’s delicious) – Chef Liza

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Malaysian cooking class with Zaida Ahmad

One of the hats I wear is as the occasional Food Editor for the Auckland Malaysian Society (AMS). AMS is a community group, staffed by a passionate band of volunteers who do a great job in sharing the culture of Malaysia.  Luckily, AMS committee members are incredibly patient with my very meager activity (*thanks Patric and Dorin!).

AMS is fortunate to have among its members, a fantastic cook in the form of Zaida Ahmad. And better still, Zaida shares her classic Malaysian recipes by holding several cooking classes during the year. These are homey dishes you are unlikely to find at Malaysian restaurants. Continue reading

Barbecued lamb on Le Puy lentil purée with garlic aioli, pickled red cabbage and hazelnut beignets

Try saying that three times quickly. Seriously, this dish is even more delicious than it sounds. This was the second dish chef Michael Van de Elzen demonstrated from his Molten cookbook during the Molten cooking demonstration at Nosh Mt Eden. The first was a potato tart with pickled fennel, green apple, sheep’s feta and wild rocket (and my version)

Michael states that this recipe takes 80 minutes to prep and cook (not withstanding marinating the lamb). I beg to differ; it took me the better part of 2 ½ hours, true, I did have to repeat a couple of recipes, but do give yourself plenty of time. One big, no, make that huge lesson, – mise en place is crucial, weigh everything out beforehand. This will greatly reduce the cussing… Continue reading

Potato tart with pickled fennel, green apple, sheep’s feta and wild rocket

Molten (422 Mt Eden Rd, Auckland, Ph: 09 – 6387236) is an award-winning neighbourhood restaurant nestled in quaint Mt Eden village. Michael Van de Elzen, the chef of Molten is also known as the star of the TV series, The Food Truck, where he deconstructs common fast food to come up with their healthy and tasty reincarnations.

Recently, Michael released the Molten cookbook where recipes from the kitchen of Molten which have been modified to suit a home kitchen, and shows you how to create a fine dining experience to wow your guests. Continue reading

Macarons with Guillaume Nicoli

These French confectioneries were popular during the time of Marie Antoinette, but actually hark from medieval days. I’ve developed a fondness for these delicate treats since I accidentally stumbled upon them in Paris many years ago. However, I’ve never attempted to bake them; there are more than enough stories of how devilishly tricky these are to recreate.

The macaron craze hit New Zealand a few years back, and there are now at least two well-known macaron brands; Ma Cherie (Auckland) and J’aime les macaron (Christchurch). To help me get over my macaron-baking phobia, I booked into a demonstration (at Nosh Food Market Mt Eden) by Guillaume Nicoli of Ma Cherie macaron fame, and yes, of the Macaron Tower Frenzy which caused Jax’s demise at the final of Masterchef NZ Series 2. Continue reading

May-laysia cooking class with Youges Subramaniam and Peta Mathias

I was very lucky to wrangle a seat at the May-laysia Cooking class at Nosh Mt Eden which was organized as part of the Malaysia Kitchen Programme by MATRADE. And what a fun evening it was, with a fantastic cooking demonstration by the totally charming Mrs Youges Subramaniam of Santhiya’s South Indian and Malaysian Restaurant, Mt Roskill (see my review here) and commentary by the totally effervescent Peta Mathias.

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