When the All Blacks lost to France in the World Cup quarter final way back in 2007, I lived in Hataitai and sat somewhere on the Rugby-enthusiasm spectrum between indifferent and disinterested. It might of been that I had suffered fatigue in the preceding couple of years (which saw me amongst other things become an honorary Bay of Plenty steamers supporter, and get very excited about the Lion's tour. I could go on, but I'll spare you. I digress).
I just really wasn't fussed back in '07 when the World Cup came around. I kind of cared, but really I just didn't. I was smugly coupled and thus not creaming myself over Richie, and decided on that slightly-hungover Sunday morning that brunch was in order. I missioned down to four square at half time and returned to make beautiful poached eggs, complete with bacon and spinach, all served on grainy toast made with love and crisp crisp apple juice.
No one cared for my poached eggs. In fact, such was the shock emanating from that three-legged floral couch that two said-eggs remained cold and uneaten. The toast went soggy. The bacon, flacid. It ruined my Sunday. AND I DIDN'T EVEN CARE THAT MUCH ABOUT THE STUPID RUGBY.
But four more years ladies and gentlemen, and sentiments, oh how they change. Sentiments and residences and attitudes and relationship status, and you know what? I am truly grateful for them all. I admit I began this World Cup campaign with an appreciation for Kahui's eyes and Sonny Bill's arms and Richie's sweet rugged face, but I also had an ulterior motive in that I stood to win the office sweepstake if Wales came through. I also have this deep-seated ethos remaining from my waitressing days which just makes me as a hostess want to show people a good time. I wanted all the travelling foreign visitors to have fun and enjoy New Zealand, and thus for 7 weeks I embraced the code.
A few barbecues were had, as was a trip to Auckland to get amongst the French. There were many beers and games at home, and I even made it to a quarter final. We had a scarily high intake of sugar at a friend's house for that tense semi-final in the form of dessert overload (yummy mummy's cheesecakes, a locally made caramel chocolate chip ice cream, snickers pods, baby marshmallows, compulsory rainbow sprinkles, and hot fudge sauce) which followed after an excellent summer salad of asparagus, feta, mint, broccoli and almonds. I also witnessed the sacking of lots of white Steinlager cans.
So for the All Blacks and France final here in 2011, despite my fears of a repeat - cooking for people and them not eating it because we lose and me being REALLY GUTTED all over again, but too insecure to maturely say something and rather just brood all day and then probably cry, I still gathered people around.
And cooked for them. And when I say I cooked, I assembled anyone in town and not wanting to cram into a bar (read: pay for drinks (read: still spent all my money on shots and beers for games of fingers in town after we drank the house dry and went to town)) and made my friend Andrew tend the barbecue. A friend painted her nails in supportively bogan nearly-black, whilst others met and chatted and chopped bread and made salads anxiously. Amongst the tension, a feast was created.
I even obtained a projector and beamed the game up onto Aro walls, in the same vein as the Royal Wedding (and whilst the anticipation was close to what it was at wedding of the century, the night-ending celebrations weren't quite as spectacular. But again, I digress.)
Pre match dinner? Delicious salads, hungover coleslaw, tasty bread, amazing roasted portobello mushrooms with thyme and parmesan, marinated steak, roasted asparagus, pork and fennel sausages, the best guacamole, a thousand corn chips, venison sausages and banoffee freaking pie.
Banoffee pie was my key contribution, and for the reasons outlined above, I was nervous.
Pre-game, we were not ready for dessert, and so maybe half time pie we thought? Things were far too tense. I worried: would people eat it? Would it be a repeat of both disaster-game and disaster-meal of 2007? Would it remain in the fridge only to be slowly devoured by a grieving flat upon an unspeakable loss? Would I mow the whole thing myself in an attempt to nurse my hangover? No.
We won. We screamed, we shouted, we sang and danced. By one freaking point, we freaking won. And upon victory the stereo was cranked and the pie was cut unbeautifully into slabs with a fish slice, and unceremoniously shimmied onto plates, and oh boy did it get eaten. Trashy? Maybe a little. A made up name a cross between banana and toffee? Also yes. ONE OF THE MOST DELICIOUS THINGS EVER?
YES YES YES.
5 simple ingredients. A tiny bit of foresight. Banoffee pie for the win.
I learned to make this off my cousin's former wife when I was about 12 and it's been in my repertoire ever since. Although I've tasted numerous variations over the years - instant coffee in the cream, pastry for the base, gingernuts instead of wine biscuits, tinned caramel, chocolate on top - I remain true to this very simple formula, which I think can only be improved with sliced strawberries on top when they're in season. Do it!
1 packet wine biscuits
about 75g butter
2 tins sweetened condensed milk
About 3 or 4 bananas, depending on their size
330mL cream (just one of those small bottles will do)
Vanilla and icing sugar, for cream whipping
1. Place both cans of condensed milk - unopened - into a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil uncovered, and boil for about 2 hours. Continue topping up the water when necessary to ensure the tins are always covered. Turn the tins occasionally using tongs. 2 hours is the minimum, you could comfortably do a bit more.
2. Pulverize your biscuits (this will be made far simpler with a food processor, although in my past I've had success with a plastic bag, a tea towel and a rolling pin. Get smash-happy!)
3. Melt the butter and mix into the biscuit crumbs. Press into a dish - I use a lasagne dish. Vary your size depending on how thick you want your layers, remembering that this is essentially a stock-standard cheesecake base. Leave in the fridge until your caramel is ready.
4. Carefully remove tins from water. You could leave to cool for a bit. Carefully open with a tin opener. Take a spoon and have a taste of heaven in a mouthful. Continue.
5. Spread caramel over the biscuit base with a rubber spatula. Slice your bananas and spread evenly over the caramel.
6. Whip cream with a little icing sugar and a little vanilla. Spread over the banana layer.
7. Allow to set in the fridge.
That is all. Pure and simple. Amazingly calorifically impressively easy banoffee pie. For a win, or a loss, or a celebration or anything. Works well as a dessert, or a drunken alternative to a 4am kebab, and of course as breakfast the next day it's unbeatable. For a little bit of trashy and a whole heap of delicious, I really cannot recommend this enough.
Seriously though, how good was that game?
I'm kidding - it wasn't good, it was nail-bitingly horrific!
But seriously though. How good was Stephen Donald?
Anyone know if he's single?