Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Cheese and Dentists

Hello everyone. I gave my two weeks notice in at work last Friday and leave next week to go on a big bus trip around New Zealand. I'm excited but I'm also going to miss Wellington and my friends here. In the post-Christmas calm things at Moore Wilson's have been changing. We have Peter Gordon coming on Saturday, the chef who went travelling around Europe, worked in michelin star restaurants and brought good food back to New Zealand. The winner of NZ's first Masterchef is coming in one Sunday to do a book signing and cooking demo. Every Thursday they've been doing workshops, taking a particular food item and doing a lecture/ cooking demo. Thursday happens to be my day off so I've been to a couple of them, sushi making and raw milk cheeses.

I've tried making sushi before and it was a disaster. There was one of the managers and one of the fish-mongers leading the workshop and they told us the history of sushi, how to tell if fish is sushi quality (basically as you are eating it raw u want it killed no more then 2 days ago), how to cut sashimi and roll a sushi roll. I tried it at home and it worked!

Raw milk cheeses was a very interesting one. Basically raw milk cheeses use un-pasteurised milk and for that reason some argue that there is a health risk. Pasteurisation was invented (as i'm sure most of you know) during a time with no refrigeration and general bad hygiene. It destroys bad bacteria but also good bacteria, enzymes essential for digestion and vitamins, all of which give cheese flavour and are also very healthy.We tasted some pasteurised and un-pasteurised cheese and those with raw milk were certainly more flavourful. It has been illegal to import raw milk cheese into NZ until very recently and is still illegal in certain parts of Australia. But bad bacteria is only bad in large quantities. Salmonella and E-coli line all are guts but its good for our immune system as it keeps it working. There is very very small scale production in NZ going on at farmers markets, for the foodies out there. But About 90% of NZ dairy is owned by Fonterra, the monopoly which most cheese-makers buy milk from which is all pasteurised.

(On an aside milk is very expensive here as Fonterra have the monopoly and charge export prices at home, there is an investigation about that now as a lot of people can't afford milk. I heard a mother in a supermarket make her children choose between yoghurt or cheese that week, two very healthy snacks, full of nutrients, and she could only afford one)

Anyway, The cheeses we tasted were from France; Camenbert, Brie, Bauxfort, Comte, and St. Nectaire. Each cheese is regional, Camenbert is from Normany, ect. This is important as each region has its own soil and climate. This affects the flavour of the grass, which the cows eat, and thus flavours the milk and the cheese. We also learnt the main difference between Brie and Camenbert: a Camanbert wheel weighs 250g, no more or less any bigger and its a Brie. It is also from Normandy and Brie is from Brie. Legend has it the cheese originated in Brie and a priest who was being persecuted fled, and was hidden by a woman in Normandy who he showed him the technique.

Basically we were told not to be afraid of raw-cheese, they are much much older than pasteurisation and it should be about personal preference in flavour. However large supermarkets, who want cheeses with long shelf life and standardisation are dictating our choices. To them Cheddar should all taste the same, but in reality each farmer should have there own recipe. I am very lucky to have access to foreign and New Zealand traditional cheese, even if they are all very expensive!!! And in London I'll have Le Fromagerie on the Marlybone High Street so keep fighting the supermarkets and eat some real cheese everyone!

I also got an infection last week in one of my wisdom teeth which really really hurt and clove oil really wasn't helping so went to the dentist on Monday. I went to the dentist behind work who was relatively cheep to get it checked out. He looked at it and said it would take it out then and there, as well as my other one just in case. After some local aneasthetic he got a pair of pliers and just started pulling. It still hurt the next day so I went back to see if I needed antibiotics. He told me a blood clot hadn't formed so he got a clove (a special dental clove) and put it in the hole for the pain, as well as giving me antibiotics. I'v heard horror stories about wisdom teeth and operations so I was very luck that they could just pull it out. It only hurts a little now, and the infection is going away. I got a lovely bunch of flowers from my parents delivered today as well!

Monday, 7 March 2011


Sorry, should have done this post ages ago. After my swimming with dolphins adventure i just relaxed on the Tuesday, my last day in Paihia. I spent the day running between the cafe and the beach, depending on what the weather was doing. The bus journey back to Auckland was uneventful that evening and I arrived at Base hostel. I was told I needed to give my key deposit in cash so was made to run out in the rain and get money out. I also refuse to pay the stupid bank charges for taking money out of other banks ATMs so had to walk a little way to find a Kiwibank machine. Having stayed there before this change of policy was not making me happy. I got to the room to find one bed taken, another looked slept in and another was missing a pillow. There were also dirty pants on the floor and the room hadn't been cleaned. Shortly after I arrived two others did and housekeeping was sent for, still not impressed at all.

The next morning I checked out and put my bag in storage. There was a possibility of me staying with my dads friends that night and if I couldn't I would find another hostel. I saw that they had decided to implement a $2 bag storage fee but at this point I didn't feel like arguing, the woman was having computer problems anyway and was very busy so I put my bag in and just walked off, guessing they would charge me when I got back. This is where they day got really fun as I had decided to go to Kelly Tarlton's, an aquarium on the outskirts of Auckland. They have a free Shuttlebus which I took which looked like a shark and I had a 10% off voucher so I went. Its underground by the harbour and you walk in to a room with information on penguins and two small windows where you can view them from. You then walk through a museum-like exhibit about Robert Scott, Ernest Shackleton, and Roald Amundsen, men who were the first to lead expeditions to the South Pole. It was set up like their base the told their stories. They had everything from sewing machines and fur blankets to a piano and film projector. It was vaguely interesting. Then you walk out into a big room with the cafe, an exhibit on sharks, and the penguin ride. This was pretty cool as you got into a little car on rail tracks and got to go around the penguin pool and see them up close. This was one of the highlights. Then there was the Aquaruim where you stood on a conveyer belt and were taken under the glass so you saw the fish from underneath and next to you to get a much better view. There were sharks and stingrays as well as normal fish. at the end there were a few other tanks with exotic fish. Overall it was good, but aimed more at children and families.

After a bit of shopping I heard from my dads friends and they said they had room for me to stay the night so I went to the PWC building, where his ex-colleague works, and her husband picked us up and drove us home. It was a very nice evening and it was just good to be out of a hostel again.

Then next day I flew home, there was a slight delay because of the Christchurch earthquake but that was understandable and I arrived home. It was a fun trip over all and considering how the weather has been lately it was great to get away!