Tuesday, October 26, 2010
When I was a bob-haircutted 11 year old girl guide, three other uniformed girls and I won our guide group's outdoor cookout competition. Not only did we attain glory, and an industrious badge for our sashes, we also progressed to take on other unsuspecting girls from the region. The task? Prepare a 2 course meal on an open fire, that you've dug out of the ground, started yourself, and made reach the requisite heat. Our group made it through two further rounds to finally come second overall in greater Auckland. Our dish was some fancy-angle-cut sliced sausage, done in tinned tomatoes, herb, onions, and served over pasta spirals. The water would take forever to boil. Our dessert was a winning combination of cinnamon spiced apples with a coconut crumble topping. The girls that won overall? They made chocolate orange cakes inside an in-tact orange skin wrapped in tinfoil, baked in the fire. Bitches.
My weekend was kind of like that, but with grown males and a gas barbecue. There were no uniforms or leaders making us promise to serve the queen and our country, but there was getting back to nature, embracing the great outdoors, and hunting and gathering. Plus plenty of goon and warm beer. And a long drop toilet with no door, but an incredible view nonetheless.
What a weekend it was. After an amazing feast of tapas (haloumi salad, kumara chips with smoked paprika, the ripest avocado, roasted asparagus and eggplant with feta, smoked fish, chorizo and delicious turkish bread) on our deck and then Trinity Roots on Saturday night, early early Sunday morning saw me emerge bleary eyed and haphazardly pack in about 5 minutes for the overnight rugged camping trip to Ngapotiki Station, White Rock. The Rimutaka Hill Road on a slight hangover is never a good idea, especially from the back seat, but I'd managed to not repeat last Saturday, the night before thankfully. That, combined with a coffee stop in Martinborough (one of my all time favourite places) sorted me out. Breathing in that salty air gets me every time too.
Once we walked in over the track, we settled in to the old deerstalkers hut and had pre-made meat patties with brie and rocket in bread rolls. I read for the afternoon, while one boy attempted to hunt, and two of them dived. We read, Sophie had baked, we saw some Orca whales, took some photos and got some sun. Whilst eating paua fritters made with paua caught by the boys that evening, listening to the Black Seeds, someone declared "das ist good, das ist summer, das ist Aotearoa" (it apparently stemmed from an angry woman shouting "das ist Scheiße!" at them over some heavy drum and bass at 2am on a Europe trip last year. Such gags tend to escalate).
Everyone laughed, but it was Aotearoa, and it was an excellent beginning to what is shaping up to be a fun-filled summer. We also had venison medallions, pre-caught and marinated by Jimmy, as well as barbecued asparagus. Sophie had also made a particularly tasty kumara salad. It was a cobweb filled hut, and it was rock-offs for the mattresses, but the food definitely made it glamping.
Sophie's Kumara, Cumin and Chickpea Salad
Take some kumara and cut into chunks. Place in a roasting tray with some melted honey, some cumin seeds, a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
While that's roasting, put two crushed garlic cloves in a pan with a little olive oil. Add a tin of chickpeas and sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper. Toast some walnuts, and when the kumara is done, mix it all together. So simple and so tasty.
The morning saw us debate the intricacies of how best to plunge coffee while camping, and Sophie whipped up pancakes which we enjoyed with cinnamon cooked bananas. Lunch was more paua, sliced thinly with garlic and butter, held together with grainy bread. Jimmy boldly declared Mackenzie bread better than Vogel's, but he was alone on that one. It's great bread that's for sure, but better than Vogel's? Come on.
So, sun-kissed and relaxed after getting out of the city, this week I promise an overdue review of Cafe Polo and my continued professing of my love of loaves. Stay tuned.