I managed to get to the Food Show for a couple of hours on Saturday - long enough to take in two celebrity chef performances and do a quick whizz around all the stalls.
I suppose I should have realised beforehand, but apart from the performances, there wasn't all that much actual food involved - though of course, like everyone else, I tried plenty of free samples. I noted lots and lots of oils and condiments - sauces, dips, spreads, rubs (many of which, to me, tasted either artificial or too vinegary); lots of alcohol - wine, spirits, liqueurs; and a good smattering of local and imported chocolate (including one stall that was a bit neglected, because it had made the mistake of not offering any free samples) and ice cream (including a yummy but pricey new Limoncello one). A bit of cheese (I bought Barry's Bay ones for Harvey, as he comes from Banks Peninsula), and plenty of sausages and bacon, from either happy pigs or (if you asked) much less happy pigs.
Not a happy pig (left - see Love Pigs for more information) and happy pigs (below - Freedom Farms).
I was a bit surprised to find out that two well-known brands of happy pig products are distributed by companies selling the other kind, but the SPCA lady explained to me that because our markets are too small, this is the only way to do it. They are working, she said, on sourcing free-range chicken meal for ethical pet food. It hadn't occurred to me to worry about this.
The two shows I saw were by Ross Burden and Annabelle White. He (understandably) abandoned his irritating ultra-suave, Brylcreemed Masterchef persona, as he expertly juggled the cooking of three dishes single-handed. They were very ably designed to showcase Hawkes Bay products - Esk Valley wines and Village Press olive oils - and I'll definitely be making two of them, the Sienese rabbit and the olive oil cake (pisciotta - the recipes are on the Food Show website.)
But I often felt a bit queasy during his show, for reasons that had nothing to do with the food. Though I liked the pig story, he really needs to get a new line in jokes that don't seem so contrived, or depend on slyly slinging off at non-whites, non-men, and non-straights. I wasn't the only one not laughing.
Honey Apple Crisp could be Harvey's idea of a perfect apple crumble, I'll try it.) But she did have one good tip that was new to me: when you cook pasta, put half a peeled raw potato in the water - the starch it releases will make the sauce cling to the pasta better.
In terms of presentation, she was top-notch, an accomplished comic turn, way better than anyone I've seen in the Comedy Show line-up. Good-hearted, perfectly timed, nicely staged verbal and physical jokes - all genuinely funny, and the whole audience loved it. Her show alone was worth the ticket price.
So I came home and for dinner I made grilled lamb rack with parsnip, potato and garlic mash, and carrots with honey and walnuts. Harvey was very happy.