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Archive for November, 2010

Asparagus

Hautapu asparagus fields

Asparagus protector

Asparagus is a very weird looking vegetable – even more so when you see it in the ground. A single shoot pokes its way up through the bare soil like a periscope; a whole crop appears like an army on a blasted field.

It’s the lack of leaves that makes this crop looks so strange, but that’s a blessing for the pickers who have the backbreaking job of cutting each new crop of soldiers down – at least they can see each stalk as it appears.

Unfortunately, their solitary visibility also makes it easier for the hares who simply adore nibbling the fresh tender tips. The 10 hectare crop of asparagus I photographed is in Hawke’s Bay. It’s guarded by two fox terriers who spring into action whenever they see a pair of long ears appear over the plough lines. Nellie and Eddie give the hares a good run around but they have yet to catch one, which is a shame because a hare that’s grazed on asparagus tips must taste fantastic.

I love asparagus. Asparagus with hollandaise, asparagus with softly boiled eggs; asparagus with chicken, and asparagus with butter and parmesan cheese.

Here’s my recipe for asparagus risotto.

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Amazing but True

Amazing but true. Research from Alabama suggests the recent BP oil spill may have indirectly increased fish stocks in the Gulf of Mexico.

Scientists at Dauphin Island Sea lab have found fish numbers in survey areas have tripled since the most populous part of the Gulf fishery was closed to fishing through spring and summer.

They say it will take several years to discover the full effects of the catastrophe but in the short term it seems fishing may be more of a threat to these fish stocks than the worst oil spill in US history.

Read the full article from Alabama.

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Happy Pigs

I don’t know if I can take any more pictures of suffering pigs so I’m posting a photograph I took in the weekend – a photo of some very happy pigs.

Pigs at Waimarama

Pigs at Ti Kouka Farm, Waimarama

These pigs live in a grassy field on an organic farm in Hawke’s Bay. They are fed on organic vegetable scraps and their troughs are filled with whey from the Hohepa dairy in Clive. They are organic, free range, locavore pigs and they make great bacon but they are expensive to raise and the pork they produce is not to everyone’s taste.

We are used to eating flesh from animals that have been raised inside in warm barns with not a lot of room to move. Their sedentary lifestyle produces soft pork – not terribly tasty but certainly more tender than animals that are free to root and roam.

The farmer who raises the pigs in my photo turns them into bacon and ham. The meat that’s not brined and cured tastes great too but it has to be cooked much more slowly than the flash-in-the pan cuts you buy in the supermarket. Truly free-range pork has a texture that’s more like wild pork. In fact it’s more like the pork people used to eat before farming became so intensive.

Which means if we really want to change the way people farm pigs, we have to change our expectations of what pork should be. Fat or happy? It’s a tough one.

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Café Polo billboard‘One fish, two fish’ was the catchy line on an invitation to an event at Café Polo last Sunday. The promise of a fish filleting demonstration, a tapas selection of small plates and  a few words on sustainability had me hooked.

Having recently sworn off tuna thanks to the unremitting pessimism of groups like Greenpeace and Forest & Bird, I was interested to hear how chef David Thurlow and fish supplier Rachel Taulelei would reconcile their own interests with the ethics of eating a dwindling resource.

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