Category Archives: Cooking ideas

Dear New Zealand

Dear New Zealand,

As you know, people travel to New Zealand for your magnificent scenery and adventure sports, certainly worthy highlights, but they are not what we miss most, it’s the freekah, the labneh, the Afghans, and the Bauernbrot!  It’s about your FOOD!


House made granola, lentil pie & flat whites.

It’s not just what you eat, it’s the whole food culture that was such a pleasant surprise to me.

P1010635Judging by the widespread use of organic, fair trade, pasture raised, sustainable, and local products, most Kiwis seem to expect quality ingredients and care about where they come from. So many have their own gardens, and stock honor boxes in their front yards to share the bounty.


“Honor boxes” – take what you need, leave the money in a can!

In many areas we saw beehives stacked along the roadside, and bought, or were given, local honey. And the BREAD – I was so excited to find the bakers in NZ know how to make my favorite German sourdough rye.

Bauernbrot and soup

Bauernbrot and soup

Where I live, the “farm to fork” movement is gaining momentum, but in NZ, it’s just a way of life, no catchy names or movements necessary. Do you realize how lucky you are??

Afghan cookie

Afghan cookie

 A flat white and a slice…

I never would have thought that New Zealand would have the best espresso in the world. We became connoisseurs, sampling from one end of the country to the other, even developing favorites (the Italian style roasts at All Press & Havana). I was impressed how often we saw “fair trade” promoted, and that Havana uses their own, “Real Trade” designation to educate consumers about economic fairness and sustainability. I learned so much from you Kiwi foodies!

drooling yet?

drooling yet?

Aside from the espresso, the food selection in your café’s is so creative, fresh and a good value. We had real muesli, “veggie stack”, frittata, grain & kale salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And then of course we couldn’t resist the “slices” and “Afghans”.  It’s refreshing to find so many places where everything is made from scratch – no bulk batters, packaged mixes, bottled dressings.

P1010077As far as I am concerned, there is only one major blemish on New Zealand’s foodie nirvana cafes – for crying out loud, how can you serve those McDonalds-style, deep-fried patties and call them hash browns? I was crushed. One chef I questioned said that they used to make real hash browns, but the Kiwis prefer the packaged ones.

Real potato pancakes at the Courthouse Cafe!

REAL potato pancakes at the Courthouse Cafe!

My favorite breakfast of the whole trip was at a place in Golden Bay that made real potato pancakes topped with avocado, spinach, poached egg and hollandaise. I still dream about it. Maybe the esteemed district councils could outlaw the frozen hash-slabs and require real, grated potato hash browns?

Now that's a sandwich!

Now that’s a sandwich!

I thought maybe our experience in NZ was unique – we just got really lucky and happened upon fantastic meals? But then I noticed that people who have traveled in New Zealand, always mention the food, before I get a chance.  That’s when I knew I had to write, to make sure you realize that your culinary culture is special. Please, continue to appreciate the healthy options you have and protect them, don’t take them for granted. Bigger and more is not better. Pay attention, be diligent, don’t let your food supply become corrupted in the name of “advancement” and profits.

Missing New Zealand!

fresh berry ice cream!

fresh berry ice cream!

Julie & David

My favorite fall salad…

IMG_2003I look forward to fall for many reasons – the leaves changing colors, the crowds disappearing, and Fuyu’s!I discovered Fuyu persimmons a few years ago and fell head over heals for them.

Fall is for Fuyus!

Fall is for Fuyus!

Fuyu’s are not at all like the other persimmons, you eat them when they are firm and a little crisp, not mushy. And if you cut them thru the middle, they reveal a gorgeous star pattern.

Here’s my “Three P’s Salad” recipe – persimmon, pomegranate & pecans – a light, healthy, anti oxidant-packed addition to the Thanksgiving spread!IMG_3015

Citrus Dressing: Mix olive oil; lemon or lime juice, and/or vinegar; a teaspoon of Dijon mustard; and pomegranate, tangerine or orange juice (to balance the acid with some sweet). Make it as sweet or as tart as you like.

Use one, or a mixture of several – baby kale, European salad mix, spinach, and I love to include arugula. There is a new Earthbound Farms baby kale and asian greens mix called “Zen” that I like.

Toss greens with dressing, add slices of one persimmon, or two. Add 1 cup of pomegranate seeds, preferably fresh (I have not found the frozen ones to be very good). Add 1/2 cup of pine nuts, or pecans. Distribute to plates, and crumble goat or feta cheese over the top.