Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wild weather, wild food, wild words! 50 Shades of Nachos.

The weather bomb hit Eastbourne just before the Wild Food Challenge got under way on Saturday. I stepped off the bus into a river. Inside the Day's Bay Pavilion they were mopping up an instant flood.
      But none of this deterred hardy locals for a moment. They turned up in droves, to deliver their entries, cheer on friends and relations or just have a great time.
       The grand prize winner was Andrew (Roo) Wilkins with Escalier de Fruits de Mer (Seafood Staircase). For photos and more, look for Local Wild Food Challenge Eastbourne on Facebook.
        Here's one of my favourites: Peacock (wild, of course) in a Paua Kawa Tree. Paua balls for the peacock tail, and breast of peacock with kawakawa rub at the base. It tasted a bit like very good smoked chicken, and it won the Best Wing award.
          I had a remarkably easy job judging the Hemingway Award for the best story to go with an entry - one stood out immediately. The winner wants to "preserve the veil of mystery", but I do have permission to share the story with you.  It covers all the essentials - the ingredients, where they came from, how they were treated, why the combination worked - and it tells a remarkable tale...

50 Shades of Nachos
By an Eastbourne Entrant

The quest for success at the 2015 Wild Food Challenge started early.  Wairarapa crayfish were too wily for the pot, rabbits bounced away from the sling shot in Taupo.
       All the while the corn in the back yard grew, waiting for a partner to complete it.
       But then the corn changed.  The journey from corn to corn chip left it hardened both in form and spirit.  Plucked in the prime of its youth, it was boiled and sliced from the cob of its birth.  After being softened by the caustic kiss of boiling baking soda, cider vinegar was added till all the fizz from that relationship was gone.  Screaming for mercy, the corn is passed through a mincer, flattened and then fried, first shallow and then oh so deeply. 
         Is it any wonder the corn, now successful and presentable, yearns for control?  And who could complete it?
         The goat.  Nubile, succulent.  Innocent.  Charmed off its bones by 8 hours soaking in tepid chicken stock, the goat is teased apart until it’s not sure what way is up.  The goat, no longer a kid from the Wairarapa hills, is ready to learn but unsure of the ways of the world.
         The corn and the goat meet in the roomy ruby redness of a banging barbeque sauce.  Smoke deceives the senses into luring shackles of flavour.  To garnish, toasted rose petals, saucy tomatoes and cheese and avocado for lubrication.
          What says romance more than corn chips and wild goat? 
          50 shades of nachos.  It’s a singular taste.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Judging the Hemingway

If you have time to spare on Saturday 7 March and can't resist the lure of tasting a fascinating array of dishes using wild local ingredients, come along to the Local Wild Food Challenge at the Day's Bay Pavilion in Eastbourne, from 3 pm onwards.

Better still, put in an entry. Registration is easy - just send an email to: 
with your intent to enter. 
You can also register on the day at the event - entry forms will be provided at the venue.

I'll be there, but not as an entrant. This is my very first food-related stint as a judge! Only I'm not actually judging the food entries - that will be done by Steve Logan and other well-known experts.

I'll be judging the best cook's story about their dish, and presenting the winner with the Hemingway Award at the end of the day.

Every entrant is asked to write a piece which tells a brief story about their dish and the wild ingredient it features. It will be my job to read each story out loud to the other judges while each dish is being sampled.  Of course I do get to taste everything too, that's essential!

And after we've had our turn at tasting, the public gets to have theirs.  There will be wine, of course, and lots of other local food. Hope to see you there.

Strangely, I couldn't find a single picture of Hemingway cooking or eating, so this one will have to do.