spring colour

While the spring bulbs are dazzling us  and the  blossom is ethereal and elegant against the sky, this is a plain jane  time of the year for the vegetable garden. It is pretty bare and well a bit boring……well mine is.  The winter veg have mostly finished and its too early for new spring seedlings.

I think that is why I swoop so enthusiastically into the rhubarb patch gathering up large armfuls because the red stems are just so colourful  and tender at this time of year. It is my favourite breakfast fruit dish in spring.

I know a lot of people don’t like using rhubarb because they think you need large quantities of sugar to sweeten it, and as we all know we should be limiting our sugar intake. But, shock horror,  I don’t use sugar with rhubarb, I cook it just with fresh squeezed orange juice.
I fill a baking dish with rhubarb cut into about 6cm lengths bake it in the oven with the zested rind and juice from 2 oranges,  until it is just soft but not falling apart. I often add frozen raspberries after it comes out of the oven, from our summer harvest which adds more intense rich ruby colour to the dish.
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Guaranteed to make you smile while you  are eating your favourite cereal in the morning. I make this a lot for guests at this time of year
and it has converted many a non rhubarb eater. Try it love to hear what you think.


My other colourful stalwart at the moment is purple sprouting broccoli. A little lemon zest, some garlic and olive oil,  a quick sauté in a pan and it’s ready. The colour is wonderful and the little florets are just as pretty as flowers in the kitchen.

What is in your vegetable gardens that is giving pleasure at the moment? Do tell I need some inspiration.


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Winter warmth

On a bitterly cold winters day I am trying to channel some interior sunshine to feel warm. I have just picked the first of the wattle,
that is what we call it in NZ and Australia, Mimosa for the northern hemisphere. Always, a reassuring early spring sign.


It is always comforting when  cold, to have something baking in the oven, so the aroma of fresh baked cake can wrap around you.


This cake is definitely one for winter,with lemons and olive oil being plentiful,in season  and fresh. The new season olive oil
is just off the press and of course citrus times it’s ripening just when we need a vitamin C boost. Mother nature is clever like that.


Meyer lemon Olive oil cake

300 grams caster sugar
2-3 un-waxed Meyer lemons rind finely grated and juiced
3 eggs
300ml milk
300ml good quality preferably Waipara Valley extra virgin olive oil
300 grams self-raising flour
raspberries or blueberries to serve

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 23 cm cake tin.
Place caster sugar and grated lemon rind in a large bowl. Using your fingertips rub lemon rind into sugar until fragrant and damp.
Add eggs to sugar and whisk using a balloon whisk, until light and creamy.
Add milk and olive oil, and whisk until light and creamy.
Whisk in 100ml of lemon juice.
Sift flour over mixture and gently whisk until combined.
Pour into prepared tin.  Bake for 1 hour and edge of cake is just coming away from the sides of the tin.
Cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Dust cake with icing sugar and top with berries. I used frozen berries.
You can substitute oranges for the lemons.


This is a beautifully light cake.  A cup of tea, a slice of warm cake fresh from the oven……………the perfect antidote to the grind of winter.



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black diamonds

Drum roll please……………This is a first for the Waipara Valley, for Canterbury and also for New Zealand.


The first ever truffle festival, to celebrate that knobbly highly pungent tuber that grows underground.
It is a coming of age for the NZ truffle industry and is to be held in Christchurch and the Waipara Valley in
early July.


The week long celebration of all things truffle related will start with truffle tastings at Waipara, Lyttlelton and
Christchurch farmers markets Saturday 11th and 18th July.
Gareth Renowden the festival organiser says ‘it is designed to give everyone a chance to taste truffles and discover
why they are such a wonderful gourmet experience. There is something for everyone, from the first time taster to the
aficionado, and a chance to learn how and why they are doing so well in Canterbury’ So if you don’t know your bianchetto
from your perigord, a visit to one of the farmers markets is a great place to start. Canterbury is the only region that produces
all four truffle varieties.


The festival will also feature truffle dishes served at Canterbury’s best restaurants. Pegasus Bay and Black Estate will
also have special truffle dishes for the duration of the truffle season. On Friday July 18th there is a special truffle day out
in the Waipara Valley, featuring a truffle hunt, a North Canterbury pinot noir masterclass with local winemakers and an
amazing five course truffle lunch at Black Estate and Pegasus Bay. Tickets are required, and there is a limited number
for this event, so act fast so you don’t miss out.


Truffle hunts will be held in the valley over the weekend as well. Read about the truffle hunt we went on with Rosie and Gareth
at Limestone Hills.


A week of truffle dishes from all participating restaurants, culminating in a superb truffle dinner on Saturday 18th when the regions finest chefs will create dishes to die for.


A truffle open house at Harlequin Public House on the afternoon of Sunday July 19th will feature truffle tastings,
and wine matchings,  plus a ‘meet the truffle dog’ session.


Truffle hound Rosie, from Limestone Hills.To enjoy a taste of truffles go to the festival
website for a list of participating restaurants.
It would be a shame to miss out.


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a big week in the valley

It was a big week for the valley and wider Canterbury last week. Yes we are known for our wine, but last week it was all about our food.

Pegasus Bay winery won Cuisine magazines (NZ’s premier food magazine) best winery category. I think this is the sixth time,note the big smiles of chef Teresa Pert, Belinda Donaldson restaurant manager, Bora Hong maitre’d, and well done to Black Estate, included in Cuisine’s Good Food guide.
Roots of Lyttelton took out the top Restaurant of the Year 2015 award plus an innovation award, and two hats. Harlequin Public House, and  Saggio de Vino of Christchurch, and Pegasus Bay Waipara Valley all awarded one hat.

So, note to self add these to your dining address books now, be smart and make reservations well in advance. Plus check out our special winter package with Pegasus Bay and Black Estate, dining plus gorgeous accommodation, got to be a winner.

Dine + Wine

But wait, yes,  there is more………….. Cuisine has also run a wonderful article in their July issue, on our own Hunter Gatherer’s here in the valley.
The event was hosted by seven Waipara wineries Bellbird Spring, Black Estate, Greystone,  Mountford  Estate, Muddy Waters, Pegasus Bay and Tongue in Groove. Angela Clifford of Tongue in Groove says the foraging idea came up when those involved with the wineries talked about what set Waipara wine people apart from other regions. The answer was that they all fished, farmed, hunted, and foraged in some way, and it was a vital part of their lives. So off they went for the day with wine & food writers and overseas media in tow, to earn their dinner, by gathering & bringing in what the Waipara valley countryside and seaside would yield.


Watch the video, to see our valley in all its dry summer beauty in the middle of a drought, and the wonderful bounty that was gathered and the feast that followed.  it is a fabulous watch you will be inspired.

And news just in, Greystone wines have just won  the Decanter trophy for the best Pinot Noir from NZ with their Brothers Reserve Pinot Noir 2013, two years in a row.


Great wine and food what a combination.

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