Soaking it up at the Auckland Foodshow


There are many reasons why it has been a few years since I last went to the Auckland Foodshow. It isn’t something you’d want to do pushing a baby pram/ stroller among the seas and seas of people, carrying you in every direction other than the way you are heading. The thought alone is nauseating. I also have the Mother’s guilt, which renders me incapable of having fun on a weekend by myself when it is supposed to be family time.

When the details for this year’s Foodshow were announced, I discovered there is a Masterclass that I just HAVE to attend – Food styling fundamentals by Chef Ray McVinnie and photographer Kieran Scott. I quickly checked the schedule, secretly hoping it would be held on the Friday. It was only scheduled for Thursday, the preview day, meaning it was a more expensive entry fee on top of the Masterclass fee. Just do it, I told myself, after all I have been telling myself to stop over thinking things this year. I took the day off to de-stress. I deserve it.

I spent the last 6 weeks counting down to the day and I could hardly hold my excitement.

I planned around the traffic to make sure I arrive nice and early before the official start time. I also found a park very close to the entrance and brought my suitcase on wheels to bring all the goodies home without breaking my back.

Long queue. What? Prepaid ticket holders lining up for the ONE scanner to scan the barcodes while on-the-day paying people get to go in straight away? What’s the logic? Anyway I wasn’t going to let this upset me so I just patiently wait, shutting out the voices of complaints around me. Thank heavens the rain held off.

I’m in!

Well I’ve also set myself a challenge today – try the brands I haven’t seen before and go for flavours I would not have bought. Afterall that’s the spirit of the Foodshow.

Here are the top brands/ stalls I’ve seen today and wanted to share with you all:

Butlers chocolate

“Home’s never been such a nice place to be. Bringing a little happiness to the world with our chocolate.” that’s their mission. Wellingtonians would be familiar with this brand, and they are opening a store in Auckland at Sylvia Park next month. Every hot drink purchased comes with a free piece of hand made chocolate! Hmm tempting isn’t it?

Their hot chocolate drink is a must try, all you do is you heat up some milk and add a Butlers Hot Chocolate Cup (there is 10 in the box), stir and enjoy. It was very very delicious. This brings me back to home ec class when we stirred big pots of hot milk and mixing cocoa powder into it. I am all warm and fuzzy now.

They also have their chocolates for sell and I got some with the show special.

Kokoleka – premium hot chocolate
I was attracted to the graphics of this logo, and was not disappointed with the taste of it either.
I bought their Hot Chilli one, and it had a warmth to the throat, at every single sip and swallow. Hmm very good for my sore throat.

Petal cupcakes
Wow what a surprise did I get when I saw Laurel Watson whom I have not seen for at least 5 years. She was my teacher at the cupcake decorating class at Milly’s many moons ago and now she’s the owner of Petal Cupcakes!! I couldn’t believe it but it all just makes sense now.
The cupcakes were delicious. Light and fluffy with the flavoured cream frosting being the hero of the cupcakes. They tasted like the ones she made at the class and the swirls had a familiar ring to it. I bought their show special mini cupcakes for $1 each as dessert for S and J.

How cute are they? Flavours available today included plum, caramel, mango, strawberry and peach.

Canterbury biltong
If you have not tried biltong before this is what their website says about it: “Biltong is a traditional product from South Africa consisting of dried beef seasoned and cured over a period of time.”
The flavour is huge and I could really taste the spices with this delicious snack. 4 flavours to choose from – chilli, garlic, barbecue and smoked. Anything to support Canterbury too! These are bought especially for S – he loves them!

The Great Dairy Collective Yoghurt Drink (the one with the cow logo)
While I expected to try a few yoghurts I wasn’t expecting to buy any. 1) on the perishable scale this is definitely right up there on the top and 2) how different can yoghurt be?
I’ve seen this brand in the shops before and it’s exactly my thought number 2) above that stopped me from buying it.
I was very much attracted to the packaging today (no secret in the industry really) – tiny cups that looks like coffee!! So cute. I had to try.

These were 3 for $10.
This berrystart flavour is my favourite (yes I managed to try most of them!!) and I bought a big bottle home with me. Tomette
“Bonjour madam” ooh who’s that? ah Thomas and Etienne from Tomette, the new French duo delivering single-serve gourmet classic French dishes. I looked at what was on offer and was surprised by the list – there’s six, so the range is not as big as some of the other meal-in-box brands yet small enough to retain that intimacy and je ne sais quoi that comes with boutique brands. I’m already impressed and I haven’t even sampled their food. Perhaps it was the warmth and truefulness of the duo, it was like they honestly wanted you to like their food, all the while knowing you would anyway, but with zero arrogance?

I sampled the chicken coq au vin, which I have to say is the most delicious coq au vin I have ever tasted. Succulent and full of flavour, there was no match to it. It just tasted of France no less. I couldn’t believe it came out of a box! How can they put so much flavour and freshness into this? Watch this space, I think these guys will be huge!

Silver Fern Farms I bought Venison Medallions and Lamb mince – I think J will like them. Venison has less fat than beef, so healthier and they have a softer texture, making it easier for her ‘big girl’ teeth to tear into.
I also got a free cooler bag with this. Freebies, useful freebies are always welcomed.

Dips
I was a bit surprised with myself for not buying more dips this time around. Nothing really caught my eye (or taste buds) apart from these ones from Culley’s and also ZING sauces from Springbrook foods. The ZING sauces are seriously good and at $8 for 3 bottles, it can’t go wrong. I’m planning to use those as marinades for my next BBQ.

Genevieve’s Cuisine – Chicken Liver Parfait Truffled
At $10 a pot, these are on the expensive side, but they are quite flavoursome and I can taste the truffle in it. I am all for truffles so in it went to my shopping trolley.

Mahurangi oysters
$2 a tasting! Yum-o. These were fresh, plump and sweet, and as I ate it, I closed my eyes and I was instantly transported to Leigh where I was on a diving training course and while waiting on the surface for the boat to pick us up, the instructor took kina from his diving bag, opened it with his knife in one swift motion and we ate it straight from the shells, with us bobbling away on the surface.
Seafood don’t get any fresher than that and these oysters was on par with that memory.
If you are stuck you can go to their website and there is even a video showing you how to shuck an oyster. I do hope I win their shucking knife and oysters though 😉

The Auckland on a plate stalls also featured fresh produce from The Fresh Grower, artisan bread from Wild Wheat and grape juice and jelly from Heron’s Flight.

Naked Local Soups
These were the yummiest soup on offer. You will have a hard time choosing which ones to get, but at 3 for $10, you can afford to get them all. My favourite would be the Gisborne Tomato Soup with Basil pesto & fresh cream.

The classes of the day
Normally I spend only a few hours at the Foodshow and leave feeling I haven’t visited all the stalls. Today I arrived right when they opened to allow myself time to attend some of the classes on offer as well.

Kenwood class – Brett McGregor
Brett was the first Masterchef New Zealand winner and he demonstrated in the Kenwood kitchen how to make authentic Thai curry pastes and fish cakes.
It was very cool to see him in action, and he was definitely as funny as he was on TV. His style is simple, and the recipes easy to follow. As Kenwood was the sponsor, he used many of their machines to demonstrate, and you can see how easy it was to make the paste with just the mini whizz blender. Using the new fryer with a rotating basket, he cooked fish cakes in less oil than normally required with no splashes or mess (really surprised me there, I had expected lots of mess but I suppose he wasn’t the messy one on tv!)



Now to taste. The fish cakes were quite tasty, I was most surprised by the lack of oiliness, and the 4 red chillies he put in the curry paste were definitely not over the top. He made a quick vegetable slaw using cabbage, red chillies, carrots with a chili lime dressing. It paired very well with the fish cakes. Definitely something I would try at home soon.

Masterclass – Ray McVinnie and Kieran Scott “Food styling Fundamentals”
Here are a few photos from the class, we even got something to nibble on during the class, vino and a nice goodie bag, which contained some of the things that were on my shopping list, so I didn’t have to buy them in the end.


The class went overtime, but that was great as Ray explained over 3 dishes what his thinking process was when it comes to plating and how Kieran sees each photo and the relationship between the different elements on the dish.

I took a lot away from the class, and even though I was already running late I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to ask Kieran if he would mind critiquing one of my photos. He was very kind ( I’m sure I totally cornered him) and gave me some helpful advice and insight into what a seasoned photographer sees as good food photography. He presented me with a challenge and I will work on it!

By now I was just incredibly glad I’m a ‘list’ person as I only had time to run to the various stalls still on my list to get my goodies, sign up subscriptions, sample ice creams and then hit the road in time to cook dinner!

What a wonderful day I had, I wish I can do it all over again already.
If you weren’t planning on going, I encourage you to.

Ciao!

ps. oh and on the drive home I realised what I did miss – the can opener called ‘the one that works’! the can opens smoothly and produces no sharp corners – you can run your hand along the cut edge and it feels so smooth. Very safe indeed.

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