Winning and Wining and Dining

For all those who are convinced that no-one ever wins those in-store “be in the draw to win” things, I’m here to tell you that people do, because I did. Win, that is. Although winning sort of implies some effort on my part, which was no more than the arduous task of filling out my name and number, but still…I like to think of it as winning, because it was my name that was pulled out of the hat. Whose hat, you may ask? What did you win? I’ll tell you.

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Marmite, the new must-have

I was going to call this Marmite, the new black, but oh wait…it already is. Purists would say it’s a very dark brown, but I’m not going there. For those of you who have only just arrived back on this planet, and haven’t caught up with the news, you need to be made aware of the latest crisis in New Zealand…an impending shortage of Marmite.

What, you may ask is Marmite? It’s edible Kiwiana. Originally English (like many Kiwis), it is a savoury spread, which was imported around 1910 then made with NZ ingredients from around 1930. This meant that it became quite different from its ancestors – also like many Kiwis, really. It has its own website – www.marmite.co.nz, and is made by Sanitarium.

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The Bluffies are back!


Ring the bells, sing choirs of angels, open the Champagne and do a happy dance….it’s Bluff Oyster season again. For those who know what this means, no further explanation is necessary, as they won’t be reading this anyway; they’ll be trotting down to their local seafood shop or fish-and-chippery, with tongues hanging out and a slight propensity to drool.

For those of you who don’t like oysters, please accept my grateful thanks for leaving more for the rest of us, and stop reading now. For those who love an oyster, but have yet to sample the sublimity that is the Bluff Oyster, read on.

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Rhapsody on a great bowl of chips

Well, one can’t really call them chips – these little bits of heaven were in fact crushed, crisp-on-the-outside-creamy-on-the-inside roasted potatoes with (follow me closely here)…roast garlic slivers and rosemary. Paradise in a bowl. The fact that they were roast potatoes rather than chips gave them the air of being healthy; as I said to my dining companion, between mouthfuls, “Potatoes are vegetables, aren’t they? Must be nutrients in them somewhere”. To further the health argument, rosemary is a plant, and garlic also comes out of the ground, so all good.

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Martinborough Unmasked

By Insider – Suzanne Peri-Chapman

Excellent idea, this unmasking of Martinborough. For those of you who don’t know where, or what, Martinborough is..click here. For those who do – it’s that little piece of paradise, just out of Wellington, with a drive over the Rimutakas that’s just tricky enough to make you feel you’ve really achieved something when you get there. The home of NZ wine, NZ Olive Oil and general NZ loveliness.

Martinborough Unmasked is a new event, that could well become an annual one, especially if attached to some of the existing festivals that occur in the region. The brainchild of Gretchen Bunny, the idea is that you get a “behind the scenes” tour from various local good sports who have generously opened their vineyards, olive groves and galleries to the tourists.

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Indulgent Weekend

By Insider – Suzanne Peri-Chapman

No, I didn’t spend the weekend in a luxury spa resort. I went to the inaugural Indulge Marlborough event in Blenheim, followed the next morning by the Kaikoura SeaFest.

Indulge Marlborough is a lovely event where they introduce the new kids on the block…the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc wines produced locally. The wineries of Villa Maria, Dog Point, Astrolabe Wines, Wairau River, Hunters, Tohu, Forrest Wines and Whitehaven all had tastings of a range of their wines, including the latest Sauvignon Blancs. The event is held in Blenheim, in a venue that from the outside looked industrial and uninviting, but was transformed inside with loads of hanging fairy lights and nicely themed decor. A glass of Forrest bubbles on entry got things off to a good start, and then it was on to mingling, sniffing knowledgably, tasting, grabbing a canapé made of local delicacies from a passing tray, more sniffing, more tasting….you get the idea.

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The Great Whitebait Hunt

By Insider – Suzanne Peri-Chapman

The Great Whitebait Hunt.

Finding your fish

Finding your fish

You might think this involves gumboots, a net, and a certain amount of standing about in chilly water at the mouth of a river, but no. Other people, bless, have done this, so you don’t have to.

If you’re in Auckland, the whitebait is closer than you think… you guessed it, at the Auckland Fish Market. A friend and I went in search of whitebait at the Auckland Fish Market, after reading about it. Our mistake was to go last Sunday, when the place was absolutely packed, including the Viaduct and all the fun new stuff they have there for Rugby World You Know What.

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