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!