Slow Food, founded in 1986, is an international organization whose aim is to protect the pleasures of the table from the homogenization of modern fast food and life. Though a variety of initiatives it promotes gastronomic culture, develops taste education, conserves agricultural biodiversity and protects traditional foods at risk of extinction. It now boasts over 100,000 members in 153 countries.

Slow Food Auckland, formerly Slow Food Waitakere, is registered as a charitable entity. Registration Number: CC38263, please click here to read our Rules and Regulations

Monday, September 22, 2008

Slow Grappa

Slow Grappa

What an afternoon we had at Slow Grappa!
The event, a fundraiser for our delegates Aldo, Mary-Ann and Claire attending Terra Madre, was hosted by Sue and Dan, with help from Deb and Claire.

Here are some photos by me and Barbara Holloway.

Aldo and Peter

Peter made dozens of cocktails, helped on and off by various people, and that really set the mood. Some ‘purists’ tried the various grappas unmixed, and Michael Brajkovich’s talk on distillation made us all wiser and keen to go back for more tasting.

The food received compliments from all directions, and I must say that Claire is a truly talented chef! The menu included:
Crostini with tomato and Basil
Sushi - smoked salmon and avocado
Antipasti with Turkish pide bread, organic Gouda, marinated mushrooms, olives, orange marinated beetroot, green capsicum, and brie
Canapés with salami and brie/ roast pumpkin, rocket and blue cheese/ parsley and green olive pesto
Eggplant, pinenut and smoked paprika empanadas
Chicken Kebabs with Pomegranate molasses and coriander
Deb's White bean dip with Alessandra's ciabatta
Cheese and Chilli Tamales
Grapefruit Syrup cake
Vanilla Meringues

On request from many of the attendees Claire has also offered two recipes: the stunning tamales and the divine grapefruit cake. Keep scrolling down and you will find them.

Aldo and Mary-Ann

Claire, Sue and Deb

Grappa tales

Silent Auction

Thank you also to the people who offered goods for the event: Ross Clow of Hampers Ltd. in New Lynn, The Turkish Bread Company in Henderson, Charlies / Phoenix Organics, East West Organic store in Glen Eden, Aldo and Mary Ann of Ecopac, Icoco Coffee in Point Chevalier, Distilleria Bottega in Italy. Thank you also to Waitakere City Council for gifting six copies of Chris Hoult photographic book Out West for our delegates to take to Italy.

And thank you to all the friends who passed the trays around, collected the money and helped with the washing up after.

We finished with coffee, cake and chocolates sprayed with grappa, and many new friends.

David and Dan

On behalf of Slow Food Waitakere Committee and all our members I would like to wish Aldo, Mary-Ann and Claire all the best for Terra Madre.
Have a great time guys!

And for the recipes Claire says:

Hugo's Tamales

This recipe is from Hugh O'Neill of Hugh's New American Bistro, Denver, where I used to work. Hugh is a wonderful Irishman with a passion for Mexican food!
Some variations we would make were shrimp and peanut (for a Colorado wedding feast) and goat cheese, pumpkin and oregano.
Mexican traditional cheeses such as queso blanco or asadero would normally be used.
Traditionally tamales are made with fresh or dried corn husks. I save the husks off fresh corn in the summer for this use. Corn husks make a pattern of lovely ridges in the masa as it cooks. Fresh or frozen banana leaves work well and some Asian stores sell frozen banana leaves (try the Tofu Shop, Pioneer Plaza, Henderson).

1/2 cup milk
1 3/4 cup roasted fresh corn raw, canned or frozen [raw is fine and canned or frozen is suitable out of season]
1 cup masa meal (lime treated cornmeal, available at Wah Lee's, Hobson Street, and East West Organics, Glen Eden)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp soft butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh green chilli chopped finely OR a few dried chilli flakes added to taste
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Coarsely chopped fresh coriander to taste
2 spring onions finely sliced

Simmer milk and corn, strain milk and keep 1 cup of corn aside.
Purée remaining corn with milk, add to masa and mix well.
In a separate bowl whip butter, baking powder and salt till fluffy.
Add masa mixture little by little mixing between additions.
Fold in green chilli, remaining corn, cheese, coriander and spring onion
Lay corn husks or cut banana leaves 12 to 15 cm flat.
If using corn husks place the mixture vertically in the husk following the lines in the leaf, this makes folding easier.
Place 1 tablespoon or 2 of mixture (depending on size of leaf) in the centre of the leaf, fold in the sides and tuck in ends so that no mixture can escape.
Lay rolled tamales flat in a steamer basket, can double up layers. Steam for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot. Great with a good fresh tomato and lime salsa. Leftover tamales are fine re-steamed.

Any seasonal vegetables can be added, or herbs of your choice, but best to keep with the Mexican theme. Tamales usually feature lard instead of butter, and pork. Good with BBQ chicken or pork added.
You may like to try chipolotles, smoked jalapenos, for a distinct flavour, available from Wah Lee's. Very hot! Use sparingly.
Sweet tamales are also made, using sugar instead of salt, variations on pineapple, banana, dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and coconut

Grapefruit Syrup Cake

This recipe came from Everyday Gourmet in Dunedin and featured in a 2004 Cuisine Magazine.

200g butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp finely grated grapefruit zest
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk

For the syrup

1 cup grapefruit juice
3/4 cup caster sugar
More zest if you like

Preheat oven to 180° C or 160° C fan bake. Grease 24 cm round tin or line with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar, add zest and beat in eggs one at a time.
Sift flour and baking powder adding alternately with milk.
Bake for about an hour or until skewer comes out clean.
I check at 40 min.
Leave cake in tin while you make the syrup.
Place sugar, juice and zest in a pan and stir until reaches boiling point. Cook for about 5 min until slightly reduced, then pour over hot cake.
Cool in tin.

The original recipe was with lemon and included 1 1/2 cups chopped figs [tossed with a little flour before adding to mixture]
and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts.
3 tsp of lightly crushed coriander seeds were added to the syrup.

Great as a lemon, orange or rosewater cake.
Works fine muffin size too.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Michael Pollan: The Omnivore's Dilemma

Michael Pollan: The Omnivore's Dilemma

The UC Davis Mondavi Center presents bestselling author and UC Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollan. He explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the twenty-first century. Michael Pollan is the author, most recently, of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Terra Madre Tales

Seven examples of food communities around the world
Africa: Local food in the N’ganon School Canteen (Ivory Coast)
In the village of N’ganon, 70 Km from Korhogo in northern Ivory Coast, an educational project is underway to encourage local consumption, promoted and developed by the Slow Food Chigata Convivium.The project involves all the inhabitants of the village, but focuses on the N’ganon school. In addition to providing students with at least two meals a day, the program presents a menu with dishes prepared using healthy well-balanced local products. The village women grow the raw materials, which partly supply the school canteen, are partly used for family consumption and are partly sold on the market to support the project.Following the convivium’s presentation of the initiative on April 7, 2008, the village head gave 7 hectares of land to the inhabitants of N’ganon. Their women revived organic methods used in the village up to 20 years ago, before the introduction of the first chemical fertilizers.The school principal welcomed the idea of including local products in school meals, since in recent years traditional foods had been disappearing due to the WFP (World Food Program) distributing imported food to African school canteens.Since the project started, the 7 hectares have been ploughed and cultivated, while technical experts and economists have helped to select the most suitable cereal and vegetable varieties for the land. The first products, such as rice, peanuts and beans are harvested in September-October, followed by vegetable produce.Students at the N’ganon school have been able to eat traditional Ivory Coast dishes since September. This enables them to appreciate the great value of food products grown at home and the importance of their own food culture. The project Consommons Ivoirien, Equilibre et Sain dans nos Cantines Scolaires is coordinated and supported by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, through funding from the Gund Foundation.

Latin America: Producers of the Xochimilco Chinampas (Mexico)
Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, is an agricultural oasis containing the greatest plant and animal biodiversity in Mexico City.Here in a large marshy area, a community of active farmers is trying to maintain close links to rural traditions, though the site has for some time been incorporated in the metropolitan area of the capital. The farmers cultivate a great range of products in the chinampas or “floating gardens”. These chinampas are separated by canals wide enough to allow the passage of canoes.Seventy-six people are directly involved in this environmental project and are divided into three different groups: the farmers, who cultivate a large variety of vegetables, cereals and native fruit, the producers of medicinal plants and the flower growers.Marigolds (Tagetes erecta L.) have close links to Mexican traditions and are the most important flower species grown in Xochimilco, while corn is the main crop, widely used in Mexican cuisine to make tortillas, soups, tamales (using corn flour dough and meat), quesadillas, and flour.All the products, whether fresh or transformed, are eaten within the community and sold at markets through intermediaries.A rich seed bank containing a range of native plants is also kept here.

North America: Nova Scotia Maple Syrup Producers (Canada)
The North Eastern part of the United States and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia account for most of the world’s maple syrup production. The province of Quebec alone produces 80-90%, while Nova Scotia has just 1%. The community of this region is composed of about 70 producers. The variety of maple cultivated (Acer saccharum) grows much more slowly and is less productive than the variety cultivated in the US, Ontario and Quebec. The production of syrup begins with the tapping process. This involves making an incision in the bark of a tree and delicately inserting a small tube. Sap is extracted in the months of March and April when the temperatures begin to remain above zero. At this time of year, maple trees emerge from their winter dormancy and prepare for growth. Once collected the sap is boiled to eliminate excess water. In its crude state it is composed of 97% water, 2% sugar and 1% mineral salts. After boiling down for a longer period it reaches a sugar concentration of at least 66%: 40 liters of sap yield just 1 liter of syrup. The season for producing maple syrup only lasts 4-6 weeks and ends when the buds begin to sprout between the middle and the end of April.

Asia: Dried Hachiya Persimmon (Japan)
Dojo Hachiya-gaki is a type of dried persimmon produced in the town of Hachiya, now part of Minokamo municipality (Gifu prefecture, central Japan).This product dates back to the ninth century when it is said to have been offered to members of the imperial court (dojo) and shogunate, who considered it “as sweet as honey” (hachimitsu), hence the name of the village, Hachi-ya.As a result of offering the persimmon, the village for a long time enjoyed various privileges, including a reduction of taxes paid in rice. Persimmon cultivation was then almost completely replaced by mulberries for the silk industry; the varieties and production techniques were only saved through the efforts of the farmer Murase in the first half of the 20th century. He managed to find the last tree of the original variety in an old farming couple’s garden, and its branches were distributed to members of the community for grafting. After harvesting in November and December, the persimmons are left to ripen for three to seven days. They are then peeled, smoked and hung, first in the shade and then in the sun. The producers continually polish the surfaces with their hands and remove any excess sugar with a brush.This fruit is closely linked to the culture and traditions of Minokamo and a popular Hachiya tea and persimmon ceremony is held each year in January at the Zuirinji temple, also known as the “persimmon temple”. The increasing age of producers is again endangering the survival of this product however. In an attempt to protect it and transmit production methods, children of the third and last grade of elementary school attend a course each year on producing Hachiyagaki.

Western Europe: Producers of Yema de Huevo and Gofio di Lanzarote Potatoes (Spain)
Lanzarote is the fourth island of the Canaries archipelago, and being situated furthest to the northeast, is exposed to the continuous fresh winds of the Northern Atlantic. Although the island has been nominated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, its main economic activity remains mass tourism, which is indifferent to the island’s distinctive geographical and cultural features.The land is very arid, particularly in the south of the island, but fertile due to the volcanic soils. The farmers of Lanzarote have always built distinctive stone walls to shelter crops from the strong wind, but this makes it difficult to use machinery.The community is composed of local small farmers. With great manual effort they strive to produce some extraordinary products from this dry land. The environmental conditions mean that returns from farming are low and many people are progressively abandoning the activity and the rural landscape of Lanzarote risks disappearing.The few hundred small farmers who persevere in working the fields of Lanzarote in traditional fashion grow some interesting products. One of the most distinctive is papa yema de huevo, a variety of slightly sweet local potato, which is eaten with the skin (which is why they are called papas arrugadas, or wrinkled potatoes), often boiled in sea water and accompanied with garlic-based sauces.A second special product is gofio, a flour produced from cereals (such as corn or wheat) and at one time also with vegetables (such as lentechas menudas or chicharros, traditional local vegetables which have now almost disappeared), toasted and stone ground. Gofio contains a high concentration of nutritional substances and is a basic ingredient in traditional soups and sweet products.It is very hard for this community to compete with the prices of imported products available in supermarkets and it is also difficult to sell to local restaurants and shops, which are not yet receptive to promoting the island's traditional foods. The small farmers hope to achieve recognition for their production methods, particularly for gofio, which continues to be stoneground in an old mill. Run by an elderly miller, it risks closing because the activity is not an attractive financial proposition for younger people.This community is striving to obtain produce from an amazing land, which only a cursory and superficial glance would consider infertile.

Eastern Europe: Community of Kostroma Black Salt Producers (Russia)
Black salt has a long history, dating back to when rock salt was first extracted by the Troize-Sergiev monastery in the Kostroma region of northern Russia. The salt is also called chetvergovaya (“made on Thursday”), because it used to be used on Maundy Thursday for seasoning Easter dishes. For a long time this black salt was part of Russian culinary heritage and the secrets of production were handed down from generation to generation.With the coming of the Communist regime, which brought an almost complete cessation of all religious activity, the production of black salt was abandoned and this traditional foodstuff forgotten.In the mid-1990s, Lebedev Andrei, a resident of Kostroma and a fireman for 20 years, read an article in the magazine Science and Life about the amazing benefits of black salt and decided to revive this traditional local product.Andrei recreated the traditional preparation method with the help of a woman from a nearby village. After mixing with rye flour, the rock salt is put in a linen bag and surrounded with birch wood. It is then all put in an oven and burned. The resulting solid ball is broken up in a machine and then sieved.The black salt producer community is located in a natural area, a long way from large industrial centers. Burning birch wood does not harm the local ecosystem because felling is planned and authorized to control the forest.The community comprises 10 people, including 5 women and 5 men between 18 and 40 years old, of different nationalities and religious beliefs.

Oceania: Producers and Transformers of Tasmanian Wallaby Meat (Australia)
Tasmania and Flinders Islands lie to the south of the Australian continent. The wallaby is a native animal similar to the kangaroo, but smaller and its name comes from the Eora Aboriginal tribe, who at one time inhabited the Sydney area. The wallaby’s preferred habitat is the thick bush, while the big semi-arid plains are more suited to kangaroos. The relative isolation and practically intact ecosystems of Flinders Islands and Tasmania have enabled the conservation and development of significant plant and animal biodiversity.The food community consists of about 80 people: wallaby farmers who can assure product quality, butchers, and chefs who offer this unique product in their restaurants.Wallaby meat is processed, coated with red pepper and cooked like a steak. The community's second product is a Tasmanian salami whose meat is minced, spiced and then enclosed in a casing before being smoked.Wallaby is an integral part of Aboriginal diet, but very few other people in Australia eat it, though the meat is lean and has a delicate flavor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Press Release

Three Slow Food Waitakere members chosen to represent New Zealand at Terra Madre 2008 in Italy.

Chef Claire Inwood form Piha and growers Aldo and Mary-Ann Di Cesare from Te Atatu Peninsula will be travelling to Turin, Italy, in October to attend Terra Madre – a biannual event that brings together 5000 producers, farmers, fishers and food artisans, along with 1000 cooks, 500 academics and 1000 students from 150 countries worldwide.
Terra Madre offers the opportunity to spend five days networking with other nations, attending workshops and conferences, and discussing the major themes. The event is organised by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestries, the Cooperation for Development Department of the Italian Foreign Ministry, the Piedmont Regional Authority, the City of Turin and Slow Food in collaboration with Coldiretti Piemonte and Fondazione CRT, and it will look at food from various aspects – production, the environment, taste, worker rights and consumer safety. Participants will also visit the Salone del Gusto, the world's largest artisan food marketplace, in Turin from 23–27 October 2008.
Claire Inwood has been catering in Waitakere for many years, from weddings to small events to exhibition openings at the Corban Estate Art Centre. She is also a cooking teacher and an artist, best known for her handmade Pacifica dolls, crafted from recycled materials and native flax.
Mary-Ann and Aldo Di Cesare are salad producers for Ecopac, of which Aldo is also CEO, and for many other brands. They are regular stall holders at the Oratia Farmers Market. Mary-Ann and Aldo are keen sportspeople, and both are champion swimmers with a long history of involvement in the Waitakere City Masters.
Claire, Mary-Ann and Aldo are members of Slow Food Waitakere, the Waitakere City branch of Slow Food International. They will be representing New Zealand, and specifically Waitakere, and will be accompanied by 10 more delegates from different regions of New Zealand, including 8 Maori representatives.
Slow Food, founded in 1986, is an international organisation whose aim is to protect the pleasures of the table from the homogenisation of modern fast food and life. Though a variety of initiatives it promotes gastronomic culture, develops taste education, conserves agricultural biodiversity and protects traditional foods at risk of extinction. It now boasts over 86,000 members in 130 countries.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cuisine hunting for New Zealand’s local food heroes

Cuisine magazine is on the hunt for New Zealand’s local food heroes to be recognised in the inaugural Cuisine Artisan Awards 2009, in association with the super premium wine, Selaks Founders Reserve.

The newly established Cuisine Artisan Awards will acknowledge New Zealand’s best artisan food and beverage producers who are defining the country’s flourishing food and farmers’ market culture — creating top-notch locally produced fare. An artisan producer is essentially a craftsperson who applies their skills to making handmade or individually crafted products, generally on a small scale and often according to traditional practices.

“From craft bakers, olive oil producers and chutney and jam preservers to charcuterie experts and boutique brewers — there are skilled artisans popping up around the country,” says Cuisine deputy food editor Fiona Smith. “We felt it was high time that these talented artisans and the fruits of their labour were recognised.

“New Zealand is a country that is renowned for the exceptional quality of our fresh produce – fruit and vegetables, meat and seafood and dairy. This is a great foundation for our local food producers to add value. The rise and rise of farmers’ markets and the immense popularity that they have experienced have given artisan food producers an avenue to sell directly to customers and given people access to excellent locally produced food.

“You don’t need to look to Italy for olive oil and salami, or France for fine mustard any more – these are being produced by skilled craftspeople just down the road with their own distinct Kiwi identity,” she says.

Selaks Founders Reserve senior winemaker, Brett Fullerton, says New Zealand wine, farmers’ markets and local artisan food are all very closely intertwined.

“In sponsoring these awards, Selaks wanted to show its support for the flourishing artisan food industry in New Zealand. It’s exciting to see artisans forging regional culinary identities and local pride, just as the wine industry has done in many regions. For a long time we have graced winemakers with deserving accolades. Now it’s time to recognise our local food heroes too," he says.

To help in the search for the country’s finest artisans, Cuisine is calling on their readers to nominate their local food heroes. The artisans must be producing food or beverage products on a small scale with an annual turnover of less than $5 million to 30 June 2008. Artisan producers can enter a wide range of product categories including dairy, preserves and condiments; oils such as olive, avocado or walnut; honey, mustards, seafood, meat, baked goods, speciality chocolates, drinks, fruit juices and boutique beer.

A panel of experts will judge the nominees and 10 winners, including a supreme winner, will be announced in the March issue of Cuisine, on sale mid-February 2009.

The judging panel includes Cuisine’s Fiona Smith, Toni Mason, Ray McVinnie and Lauraine Jacobs, as well as Selaks head winemaker Brett Fullerton, founder of Delmaine Enzo Bettio, co-owner of Logan Brown Restaurant in Wellington, Al Brown, and Farmers’ Market New Zealand chairperson Chris Fortune.

To nominate a favourite artisan producer send an email naming the company and the specific product/s you think should be entered to before 30 November 2008.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Slow Grappa

A unique fundraising event to celebrate Terra Madre 2008.

Come and meet Claire Inwood, Aldo and Mary-Ann Di Cesare
our Slow Food Waitakere delegates who will represent New Zealand
at the Terra Madre International Convention in Italy this coming October.

We will enjoy a special afternoon with:
a talk on distillation by MW Michael Brajkovich,
luscious grappa cocktails,
a selection of fine Italian grappas,
fantastic finger food,
Icoco Coffee
and a Silent Auction.

Sunday 21 September 2008
2pm to 5pm
Sue and Dan Greig’s home
5 Waima Cres.
Woodlands Park
Waitakere City

Only $15.00
Including food and the first cocktail or drink.
Priority will be given to Slow Food members.
A variety of drinks will be available from the cash bar
(sorry, no efpos)

All profits will go towards our delegates’ airfares to Italy.

Limited space available so book now.

Please RSVP by 17 September to
Sue Greig
(09) 817 8297

For more information on Terra Madre please visit


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