Only in New Zealand

Moeraki Moeraki Moeraki MoerakiOn Sunday morning, I was busily organising my family and my mother-in-law to leave for Moeraki, where we were meeting my sister-in-law and her fiancé for lunch at Fleurs Place. Fleurs is an amazing little seafood restaurant in this sleepy little village; fishing boats unload their catch directly at her door, and the food is simple and sublime.

When my mobile rang just after 10am, I thought it might be the restaurant asking us to change our booking. But it was Fleur herself, calling to ask if we happened to be driving up from Dunedin, and could stop by a local fish shop to bring her some live crayfish.

Such a kiwi thing to do, right? Both the request, and me responding like it was the most natural thing in the world. Like I’m called by the owner of a restaurant (a woman who rubs shoulders with celebrities on a regular basis, no less) all the time, asking for supplies. NBD, right?

Only in New Zealand.

Salmon and Avocado Salad with Dill Dressing

I’m married to a man who grew up on a cattle farm; his mum has a freezer full of beef and lamb. He rather reluctantly eats the vegetarian meals I prepare, always asking (with a cheeky grin), “Where’s the meat?”

Luckily, he would choose seafood over meat 95% of the time. Tall loves fish, especially salmon, snapper and blue cod. We try to eat fish once a week (even though I am mildly allergic, bleurgh), and during the warmer months, we eat a lot of fresh fish and salads.

This is such a simple, quick dish to prepare; serve with fresh bread (I like the texture of a ciabatta or Turkish pide with this) and a chilled glass of pinot gris or beer.

Salmon and Avocado SaladSalmon and Avocado Salad with Dill Dressing – serves 2-4

mesclun salad leaves
2 avocados, diced chunkily
1 bunch fresh asparagus, steamed until tender
1/2 telegraph cucumber, halved lengthways and sliced
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 wood roasted/hot-smoked salmon fillet
200g baked ricotta (method below; omit completely for dairy-free)
3T olive oil
approx. 1T lemon juice
1T fresh dill tips*
1t brown sugar*
salt and pepper

Combine mesclun, avocado, asparagus, cucumber and tomatoes in a large serving bowl.

In a small jug, whisk together the remaining ingredients; taste and adjust seasonings to your own taste. *You might want to reduce or increase the amounts of sugar and lemon juice depending on whether you like a sweeter or tarter dressing.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine.

Break the salmon into bite-size chunks and add to the salad along with chunks of baked ricotta.

Serve with lots of bread to soak up the dressing, and a glass of something cold and delicious.

Salmon and Avocado SaladBaked ricotta:
Line a baking tray with a small square of baking paper. Plop the ricotta on top, in an evenly-spread disc. Drizzle with olive oil and season; add fresh thyme leaves or dill tips. Bake at 200degC for 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and slightly crusty. Remove from the oven and cool. This can be made using firm-from-the-deli ricotta or fresh-from-a-pottle ricotta; I’ve tried it with both, and they are different in texture but equally delicious.

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Tales of {NZ} Travel: Invercargill & Bluff

Tales of NZ TravelInvercargill always gets a bit of flack from the rest of New Zealand, mostly for its slow-pace and “country” feel. I’ve visited the city a few times, and it’s definitely not the most exciting of cities, but it isn’t awful. However, it seems to be a place you might just pass through, or use as a base for exploring other southern areas.

A very good friend of mine used to work and live in New Zealand’s southern-most city, so I have visited a few times. To be honest, I’m struggling to recall what we did whilst there, other than visit numerous restaurants and dodgy bars!

Queens Park
Queens Park is a nice area for a stroll; the gardens are really pretty and there are lots of paths to wander down on a nice day. The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is located at one end of the park, and houses New Zealand’s oldest living tuatara – you could spend hours watching and waiting for him to move!

Queens Park1Riverton
It is always worth the 30km drive to Riverton, if only to pick up some hideous gaudy paua and shell kiwiana.

Bluff
South of Invercargill, Bluff is New Zealand’s southern-most town. Famed for its oysters, Tiwai Point and once, the Paua Shell House, this sleepy little place is the gateway to Stewart Island.The harbour is always crammed with boats, and the smell of the aluminium smelter competes with the smell of the sea.

IMG_9596Our visit to The Catlins last year coincided with the Bluff Oyster Festival; oysters, blue cod and other sea-dwelling foods cooked in a multitude of ways…we were in seafood-lovers’ heaven! Being a little over seven months pregnant, there wasn’t a huge amount for me to sample (I’ve tried mutton bird before, and I wasn’t going there again!), but the fish was as fresh as possible, and it was a fun day. Tiny was enthralled by the helicopters offering 20 minute rides, but not keen on the noise.

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