Thursday, September 6, 2012

Time for a little something...

...or rather several little somethings - a few personal highlights from the Wellington Food Bloggers Association Conference (all the more fondly remembered because this wretched cold has robbed me of my taste buds! Thank heavens it didn't happen until AFTER the conference....)

So, first up - CHOCOLATE. we registered at the Hotel Intercontinental, which generously gave us the run of its Chocolate Festival (and an amazing goodie bag to go with it). The best bit for me, in the all-too-brief time we had there, was the Heilala Vanilla Chocolate Factory. I was already keen on Heilala - they originally set up their vanilla growing and processing operation in Tonga as a village aid project, giving a great boost to the local economy. They give away stunning little recipe books with their products. And they put a jar of their incredibly useful vanilla paste in our goodie bags.

Swiss chocolatier Rene Fellmann showed us how to make superbly simple chocolate "ribbons" that stand upright and can be filled with ganache (here's the ganache recipe - I'm going to try it as soon as I get my taste back).
You just melt the chocolate (here he's using a hairdryer to make sure it stays melted), smear it into a strip on a wide ribbon of cellophane, fold the ribbon so that the ends of the strip join, set it upright, and peel off the cellophane.

Then he folded a piping cone out of bake paper - "Swiss children learn to do this in kindergarten" - and piped zig-zag squiggles onto more cellophane strips. You can leave them flat for cake decorations, or fold them over a rolling pin before they set, then slide them off.

I reckon I might be able to manage all this - it really did look easy.

Next, BEEF WELLINGTON, the centrepiece of our lunch at The Tasting Room. A while ago I bought myself Dean Brettschneider's new book Pie, and getting to eat this immensely satisfying old-fashioned dish I haven't had for years has made me determined to try making it soon - beef fillet, pate, pastry and all.

But it wasn't all eating! No - there was also DRINKING. And two of the best things I got to drink weren't even alcoholic. I've always been partial to fizzy drink, ever since I was little and dad used to bring home a crate of small bottles - raspberry, creaming soda - as a Christmas treat. Six Barrel Soda Co started off making soda syrups because Joseph Slater ran a lounge bar and couldn't find what he wanted to concoct  traditional cocktails. Now they've taken over one of my old haunts, Eva Dixon's cafe just off Dixon St, to make syrups which can only be described as sophisticated. You can try them there, and eat as well. Their spicy "kola nut" was a revelation - completely different from the big commercial cola brands. And like many of the producers we met over the weekend, they go to great lengths to find ingredients that are both organic and fair trade. As well as kola nut, they're making lemon, cherry & pomegranate, raspberry & lemon, lime, vanilla cream and ginger. A few different kinds of really good syrup are brilliant to have for cooking, especially fruit - I plan to use the ginger one to bake rhubarb in...

In the afternoon, what else but TEA? We got to try a Wellington exclusive. T-Leaf T. Again, as organic and free trade as possible, a huge range, wonderful fresh flavours - my favourite was a New Zealand special, kawakawa fire - and the Cordon Bleu kitchen's lemon macaroons were pretty good too.

Here's the beautiful Japanese blooming tea, Golden Jasmine.

Next week I'll write about my very own Julia Child Cordon Bleu patisserie moment with Sebastien.

2 comments: said...

Great post Anne, it was lovely to meet you at the conference to and I look forward to your book release.

AnneE said...

Thank you - it should be out in late Feb/early March next year.