Monday, December 22, 2008

Borage strawberries and borage panna cotta

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wash the strawberries and borage flowers and mix with a little (very little) sugar.

To make the panna cotta I used 300 ml of cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar 
and half teaspoon of agar agar powder. 
Boil for 2 minutes and then pour the cream into a rectangular or square container.
Place some more borage flowers on top and let the cream set.

Serve the strawberries with a square of panna cotta.

Terra Madre 2008, report from Claire Inwood

As a member of Slow Food Waitakere I had the great pleasure of attending Terra Madre 2008 as a delegate in October. It brought together many strands of my life and work, introduced me to a vital and committed community , and diverse cultural experience.
I grew up with a mother preparing traditional New zealand foods of the 60's and 70's [garlic and zucchini were still very exotic in 1970 ] Based on English food it was simple ,nourishing and primarily all home made, including preserves. My father would return from his business travels with sacks of Kerikeri oranges, Kumara [ NZ sweetpotato] fresh oysters, green beans , field mushrooms. He took great pleasure in bringing home seasonal foods and only as an adult am i appreciating the food education of my parents.
In my early adult years I became interested in holistic health. My first cooking job was in answer to an ad for cooks at a health spa..."No experience necessary" ! There I met Daniel and Audrey LeBel, extraordinary cooks ,who introduced me to macrobiotics.In essence it's philosophy dovetails with many Slow Food principles....seasonality, local foods,consciuosness about food and it's preparation, meaningful work and social responsibility. While no longer 'macrobiotic' it's common sense principles still inform my cooking.
Over the next 24 years I continued to work with food as a caterer, deli chef, in restaurants while living in America, designing recipes and occasionally teaching.. All the while experiencing the generosity of others passionate about food , sharing recipes and meals,laughter and discussion, creating events.
Since returning to New Zealand for the birth of my son I have been a caterer , artisan doll maker and teacher of recycled fibre arts. 2 years ago some friends gifted me a Slow Food membership.
Terra Madre has given me a fuller understanding of the broad scope of Slow Food and it's relevance to the health of our planet and peoples.
The area I live in has a diverse and stunning natural environment. It is also home to many food producers .There are orchardists, vineyards, herb growers , artisan breadmakers, cheesemakers, salami producers, organic juices... and flourishing farmers markets. Returning from TM I am even more committed to promoting local producers. A big realisation for me is that it can be as simple as the exchange when some one asks you where you sourced an ingredient.Part of the pleasure is also in the forming of relationships with local producers, many selling from their homes.As mentioned at TM the cook can become a link between the producer and diner/consumer .
I concentrated mostly on education and sustainability in restaurant/food production workshops at TM.As so many speakers stressed.. the children are the future. I am particularly interested in hands on cooking with children, this may start in my own small community as an after school activity in our local hall [hopefully with produce from my garden].I hope to teach children and adults that good food is not difficult or expensive.
 The Slow Food Waitakere convivium in partnership with the Enviroschools initiative, are sponsoring schools starting vegetable gardens.
At Oratia school the garden is well established and Alessandra Zecchini had a very successful afternoon with a group of children tasting and cooking the food they had grown.. I would also like to see rich learning experiences where the older members of the community can share their knowledge with the young. I am saddened to see how many older people diminish rapidly when moved to rest homes and would love to see strong links with schools and other community groups, where all would benefit.
Waitakere City is very fortunate to have a forward thinking local government , committed to sustainable practise. Over the next year I hope to build the links between Slow Food and our council's initiatives in the form of community gardens and learning centres. We have a fantastic resource in our area of experienced organic growers.
One of the things i have noticed is that many people consider Slow Food as a gastronomic club or one where you take all day to prepare a meal.I hope that through some small community initiatives the broader vision of  Slow Food can be promoted.It is a shame that for many good , clean food is associated with elite food and hope that can be changed. I am sure that along the way full and satisfying exchanges can happen.
A highlight of TM was my time with my host family, Giovanni and Mavi Dallorto of Bra.Fellow delegate Gretta Carney and I were welcomed so warmly and treated with such generosity. We exchanged wonderful and funny conversations with a handful of English and Italian words. Mavi created superb, simple regional dishes for us every evening, sharing her recipes [her cellar full of preserves which she spends weekends making for relaxation ,after working fulltime]. This embodied so much of the Slow food philosophy for me. Warmth, respect, the desire to communicate, overcoming potentail barriers of language or culture, simple pleasures.
TM has also increased my my thoughtfulness about the products and methods i use. Alice Waters' questions of...What, Why and How  do i cook were significant for me, and  Fabio Pichi's emphasis on learning to preserve foods, limit waste and the importance of love and spontaneity in food preparation.All of the chefs were looking for practical solutions in our daily practises. 
Simplicity is one of the key words for me from my experience at TM
.Simple food,prepared well with love, human exchanges, sharing a meal, tending the soil, protecting seeds.
When I was first invited to be a delegate I thought I was too 'small', not significant enough to attend such an event. I returned from Turin feeling very inspired, that action is local. That even the smallest gesture is significant. I think of my son's friends enjoying homemade bread and recently cooking potatoes over the fire where their own experiments led to potatoes wrapped in leaves with fennel and lavender inside, their exclamations as they ate them hot off the fire...' This is the best potato I've EVER tasted! ' all added to by the pleasure of sitting together , telling jokes, collecting wood as we waited for them to cook.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ranui Community Gardens

Slow Developments
Slowly but surely, Ranui Community House is establishing itself as the place where Fresh food is the only option.

With recent support from Slow Food Waitakere, it has given us the boost every new idea needs, especially when it is in the public arena and has not really been attempted by a community house before.

Last year the community house was given a new kitchen so we are now able to run cooking classes for both adults and children and participants will learn how to create tasty, nutritious food using fresh meat, fish, vegetables and herbs.

Our local community garden is the source of most of the vegetables and herbs we use in the classes.

As a way to encourage people to slow down and enjoy life we have also started up a little café and are slowly developing the menu. We are currently offering fresh scones or sandwiches and tea or coffee, but will expand on that in the future and offer locally made organic, fresh bread for the sandwiches and a wider range of light, nutritious food, freshly made.

As always, a few dedicated people are committed to this idea, but we believe that we, as people who take on the role of governing a public facility, need to lead by example.  It is probably no surprise that the two people taking the cooking classes are both members of Slow Food Waitakere – Karen Perri and Claire Inwood.

Ranui Community House is at 474 Swanson Road, Ranui. There are many classes and activity groups using the facility. The office is open from 9am to 3.30pm. Contact us by phoning 833 6280 or email at   We even have a website at    The House is managed by Lippy Chalmers who is well known for her involvement in organics and whole foods in west Auckland and the café is currently open on Monday - Friday from 11am to 1 pm if you are passing our way.   

Karen Perri

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008


Here I toasted some hazelnuts and peeled them. I made a 'shell' with melted dark chocolate (72%) and put a hazelnut inside. Then a little bit of nutella for the filling, and covered the lot with more dark chocolate. Very easy!

Here I made some quince paste (quinces, sugar and lemon juice) and cooled the paste in the chocolate moulds. Then I removed the quiche paste and placed it back into the mould, and poured over some dark chocolate. The paste must be removed first if you like the melted chocolate to fully coat the paste (otherwise it will just sit on it).

These were amazing!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eating flowers

I used courgette (zucchini) flowers
borage flowers
and a few sage leaves...

Make a batter with 1 egg, 1 tbsp of flour, a pinch of salt and a little cold beer.
Dip the flowers and leaves in the batter and then fry until golden.


Oratia Spinners and Weavers

Monday, December 1, 2008

Slow Food Waitakere December Event

Join us in discovering indigenous grape varieties from around the world through the wine glass. Names like garganega, moscato, pinotage, carignan, carmenère and dolcetto will no longer be strangers!
Hosted by  
at the
Sierra Café in Newmarket 
123 Carlton Gore Road
Wednesday 10 December
5:30pm to 8:00pm

$15.00 Slow Food Members
$25.00 Non Members
All profits will go towards Terra Madre

This will be our last event for the year, so come and celebrate with us
With good wine, good food and spot prizes.
Limited places available
Book quickly by rsvp to Martin
(Please advise if you are a Slow Food member with rsvp)


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