Day three as a ‘Locavore’ was cheese and crackers tough … but she made up for it with tarte tatin
By Natacha Lee, Gisborne
They are Kiwis eating food grown and produced within a 200 km radius for 30 days of April in theHappyzine Eat Local Challenge.
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When I entered the locavore contest I knew the hardest for me would be in situations where I can’t control what is being put on the table… Since we are not hermits and love to catch up with friends (and they enjoy it too), the chance to test my awesome determination to eat local food came up on day three of the challenge.
I had made a “tarte tatin”, or upside down apple pie… a popular french dish involving caramelised apples cooked in a skillet then topped with flaky pastry then cooked in the oven. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take pictures, might have to make it again!
We have been picking beautiful cooking apples from an orchard down the road. We were picking blackberries next door and saw all the apples on the ground (Royal Gala and an old variety of cooking apples, both unsprayed). We asked the owners if they minded us picking some and they were more than happy for us to do so. We go there about once a week and fill a bag (or a couple) of apples. I have been preserving most of them and making vinegar with the skin and cores (recipe in a future post), feeding our house cow a good amount as well. There are probably a dozen trees in total, our picking hardly makes a dent and there are plenty of apples on the ground too.
So the “Tarte” included the said beautiful cooking apples, butter (Fonterra organic butter, I’ve sent them an email asking where the milk is sourced and where it is processed into butter), sugar (fair trade from TradeAid, if it’s going to be food miles loaded it might as well serve the people at the other end as well) and flaky pastry made with white flour (thank you wild card), butter (it’s a french recipe, dairy is a must) and water (very local, rain water actually. How many miles it travelled to get into our tank I can’t tell). Now, if you like this dish, or think you might like it, I’ll tell you the secret to perfectly nicely decadently caramelised apples (told to me by a friend who is a 3 star michelin cook and sugar addict): mix the butter with the sugar in the pan, add the apples on top and let them cook on low heat for about 30mn or until nicely caramelised. Now don’t do like me and flatten out your slices nicely on the pan so they look like rose petals, stuff as many apple slices as you can in there because they do shrink quite a bit.
Back to my story… We got to our friends’ place, and if you’re into the socialising thing you know what happens next: nibbles. There on the table was a plate of perfectly tasty crackers, cheese and dips. If you haven’t guessed already, that was my downfall.
I find it hard to resits nibbles when it’s about dinner time. I love cheese, and I love crackers. Crackers are never local. There was a kind that I really like and hardly ever buy (180 degrees if you want to know). It is a New Zealand brand, and they do use locally grown ingredients. Unfortunately they are locally based in Auckland… some 480km away. The cheese could have been local, although no one produces gouda here, so that one is definitely not a local either. What a miserable fail!
Anyway, I figured if I was going to fail I might as well make the most of it, so yes, I did stuff myself with the crackers and cheeses.
The worst part is that the dinner itself was indecently local: homegrown beef, vegetables (local and homegrown) and garden rocket. Damn.
I had bought some Killinchy Gold maple and walnut ice cream to go with the dessert, had a tiny spoonful of that too. Yes, I did. Day 3 was a total failure.
And since I don’t have any pictures to redeem myself, here are some taken at the beach a few weeks ago… Thai loves dinosaurs and loves drawing. He also loves to write bubbles with possibly rude words.