Sunday, November 3

The Traitor and Her Cake

I feel a bit like a traitor…

I’ve just been prowling over my blog posts from 2011. I was in Italy then with Mama. Those pages are graffiti’d with photographs of pasta and pizza and gelato; everything that celebrates carbohydrates in their finest. And now… well now I’m whistling a different tune.

Food is still the running melody of my life, the sound I hear every day in my head. But now those days are spent somewhere with a little less sugar and a little less grain. A teeny tiny store in St Heliers called Wilder and Hunt, to be precise.

I know, I didn’t see it coming either. I don’t hate carbs, I promise. I also don’t hate sugar. But I have found myself here; developing recipes, occasionally cooking for the store, writing articles for media, and producing nutritional based research for our website. Our customers often follow a Paleolithic lifestyle, meaning they eat food that cavemen would have consumed. Think plants, meat, and nuts. And then don’t think about diary, refined sugar, legumes, and grains. We also cater to those who find themselves (unfortunately) with allergies. We literally don’t keep any grain on the premises. 

And I have found out something about myself; I love this food.

I could say that I follow a ‘Paleo’ regime Sunday through Thursday, and then I have a normal diet from Friday to Saturday, but I would be lying.

What has been more convenient than our convenience health store, is that I learnt something last year which has helped me pursue this lifestyle with a little more vigour. My blood gets sticky when I eat sugar, and therefore also any type of carbohydrate that instantly turns to sugar in my body. This is because I have a mild resistance to insulin. Instead of insulin helping my body metabolise carbohydrates as it’s supposed to, my body resists insulin, ensuring that the glucose from carbohydrates is not absorbed into my cells, leaving my blood filled with sticky glucose. Crazy.

After following this regime for some time now (discounting the weekends) I am sleeping better, I am functioning better, and I am much less internally inflamed. And so what I’m saying is, this change has been good for me.

But the most exciting discovery has been that this lifestyle does not exclude chocolate or cake or slice. We can make all those foods without refined sugar and grain. So from now on I may post a few recipes and some stories about this melody that doesn’t go away, regardless of its ingredients.

Wilder and Hunt is a convenience ‘real food’ store. Our food is nutrient dense, the kind of stuff your body will thrive off. And we are attracting the likes of many Aucklanders. I love the team, the goal, and our impact on people’s health.

Saturday, March 3

Hodgepodge in Epsom

It’s been more months than I like to count.

And a long time ago, before I lived in Paris and wrote in this space, I made an eggplant ragout with more things than you would realize. There was red wine and tomato chutney, thyme and basil, white wine vinegar and caramelized onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes and lastly, lemon and sultanas.

Then I moved house...

... and I heard this: “I’m happy with hodgepodge.”

And I was so relieved to hear that statement.

I took out my hand written recipe book. And from somewhere way before Jamie Oliver’s paprika, raisin and lamb shank amalgamation, and hidden between the traditional Italian Carbonara I learnt to make in Paris and the Vietnamese spring rolls I have recently embraced, I pulled out my old faithful eggplant medley.

We cooked soba noodles, and stirred cumin through homemade Greek yoghurt (yes this is the place I have moved into; where yoghurt is on tap and muesli is made every Sunday fortnight). We turned all the lights off, lit all the candles and opened a bottle of wine for our first flat dinner, two months after living together.

But then this morning I was taken back to my life in Hemmingway’s favourite city. I heard from a dear friend who tells me that Paris is missing the girl in the red coat, the one who wondered along the streets in autumn.

It’s strange really, not being there with you. The streets here aren’t nearly as grey and peculiar, and the language is far less beautiful. Everyone sounds unfamiliar and outspoken, and I can’t meet with you at Bread and Roses near the Luxembourg Gardens. But there is a mountain covered with sheep not far from my doorstep, creamy coffee bought from smiley baristas just three doors down, and a table filled with two wonderful women to cook for.

And so what I’m saying is that the adjustment has not been a bad one. But that I’m also not done with you, you who fill those grey concrete streets scattered with cigarette butts and the crusts left over from stale baguettes.

Sunday, September 18

Slow Cooked Beef Amongst the Big Guns in Paris

I have been enjoying the use of my kitchenette in my apartment recently with the exception of one of my favourite night's in Paris thus far...

Unexpectedly whirly due to the single gin fizz I picked up on the way to the restaurant at a local bistro, which cost an excruciating 12 euros, I stepped off the metro in Bellville in the twentieth. Lightly influenced and sitting across from Frédérick, a Parisian food journalist, I asked him, “So how did you get into it all?” Frédérick’s smile was something to enjoy watching due to the absolute passion he had for his day job. “I just remember my grandmother. You know, it is so rare now in France to have two grandmothers who cook.” I remembered my own grandmother’s soggy carrots and I was starting to realize I was from the wrong country. “I have this memory of when I was three or four. I was out picking griolles in the forest,” I nodded because I prepare crates of these mushrooms each week, “and I picked one up and it smelt of dirt but it had a musty and at the same time, fresh scent and I just remember being amazed that this came from the ground. You can’t do that in France anymore, it’s really a shame, but our fruit and vegetables are just not as fresh as they used to be.”

Frédérick told me about how he had first come to this restaurant ten years ago as a guest of Pierre Hermé, one of Paris’ most well known chocolatiers. This was quite a moment for me. As he continued to set the scene of the evening I thought back to my walk to the restaurant. Rue de Belleville is what I call Chinatown hill. It is covered foot to top with Chinese restaurants. And yet where we where, just off the road, was an insanely traditional French restaurant with exquisite food and an accompanying wine list with wines from all over France. “She is in the kitchen,” Frédérick pointed to a lovely looking women with stiff brown hair pulled behind her as she leaned over the bar, “and her husband stays out here.”

Frédérick’s partner, my friend who had invited me to this evening, had told me over coffee once that Frédérick was the type of person to trail across Paris to get the perfect olive oil for a certain dish. And I knew right then in that moment that he was someone I would enjoy meeting. He pointed at my plate. “This was cooked for 6 hours. It is so appel d’offres,” he turned towards his partner. “How do you say it,” and he raised his hands in front of his face and touched his fingers together and then slowly drew them apart. “What do you mean?” She watched his hands. “You know, appel d’offres.” She looked at his hands. I looked at his hands. And then she said, “Oh you mean tender?” I love how different languages communicate words without knowing them. We are all connected through our mannerisms.

At the end of the night Frédérick stood up and then looking across the restaurant his checks raised and he called out, “Pierre! Ça va?” And then he introduced me to Pierre Hermé, a man worthy of his weight. And all I could think while leaving the restaurant was that I had just had one of my favourite meals in Paris, not because the food was just as he said, exquisite, not because of the full bodied wines form all over the country that I live in, and not even because I met one of the kings of pastry, but because I got to learn about some one who is important to a friend of mine and I got to hear about someone’s passion which I could entirely relate with.

A part from dinners in restaurants there have been breakfasts in bistros and breakfasts at home.

A typical French petit déjeuner at a bistro consists of baguette with comfiture of butter and jam.

A typical French petit déjeuner at my kitchenette table consists of baguette filled with butter and cubes of dark chocolate as well a croissant smothered in nutella.

Recently my kitchentte has also played with the remnants of my trip to Italy. These have been effortlessly carried out with appreciation for the only plant in my apartment. It is now raining in Paris. One of my favourite moments to be a part of. And I am about to start making a fish stew with langoustines and gambas and Cabillaud for this evening’s dinner.

Names were changed for the sake of privacy.

Friday, September 2

Corn Obsession and Experimentation

It’s all the fresh hand picked produce just down the road and around the corner, it’s the opening of the front road side door that leads to the courtyard, and it’s the four flights of stairs that walk me up to that space I name kitchenette, with that view I can’t get enough of, that all as a combination cause me to endeavor into experimentation.

Especially considering it is finally corn season here in Paris. Seriously, someone couldn’t have waited longer.

The way I see it, I’m practicing for when you come over for dinner.

And in doing so there’s been something I’ve had to think about; how food was supposed to be about unifying people, it was supposed to be the drawing us together.

But you’re there and I’m over here and that’s my fault.

At least I know that.

And so I have to say this: I can’t make every meal about you.

And so in the meantime I’ve had to have a change of perspective; Not everything can mean that much.

It can’t all be meaningful, something that ends in a lesson or is put away for a rainy day. When did we start to search for reason in everything and miss out on enjoying what was happening around us? Was that ever ok?

Sometimes you will just have to do things that seem as though they are not leading anywhere or they are not helping anyone, but I think it is ok to rest in that place, to wait, and while you are there, to just do what you already know you should be doing.

And for now, in this season, that is corn obsession and experimentation.

Omelette personifying the Tortilla with condiments and corn

For the Guacamole…

Either mash or use your hand processor to combine an avocado, half a diced tomato, a quarter diced red onion, a good squeeze of lime juice and salt and pepper.

For the Tomato Salsa…

Very finely chop half a tomato, a quarter red onion, a small bunch of coriander, one clove of garlic and mix them together with a good squeeze of lime juice, a gulp of olive oil and some salt and pepper.

For the Omelette…

You will need a quarter chopped red onion and a handful of corn kernels for the inside.

In a small bowl beat together two eggs with a sprinkling of salt. Melt butter in a pan on medium heat. When the butter is bubbling pour the egg mixture in to the pan. Agitate the pan so the egg mixture spreads over the width of the pan. Continue agitating so the egg doesn’t stick to the pan and it doesn’t over cook. Once the omelette is half cooked, sprinkle the red onion and corn over half of the omelette that is closet to you. With your fish slice flip the side of the omelette that is furthest from you towards you over the first half. Then in the same direction flip the omelette over itself and slide on to a plate.

Serve with your homemade guacamole, tomato salsa and some crème fraiche (sour cream).

Pancetta and Corn Spaghetti that you must try

You will need…


An onion roughly chopped

Pancetta cut into squares

A handful or more of corn kernels

A handful of grated parmesan

2 Tbsp cream


lots of pepper

Cook your spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente. Once there is one minute left for your pasta to cook, add your corn kernels. Drain pasta, keeping about 2 – 4 Tbsps of cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, melt a small chunk of butter in a pot, add your onion and cover until just translucent, about five minutes. Add your pancetta pieces, mix well and sauté for about two minutes. Add the cream allowing it to reduce for half a minute. Add your drained pasta to the onion mixture with a small amount of the cooking liquid and your parmesan. I like this with a lot of pepper and some salt. Add what you want of these and then enjoy with a glass of red wine.

Hidden Corn in Carrot Rosti with tomato salsa and crème fraiche

Grate one carrot per rosti and place in a colindar with a handful of corn kernels. Sprinkle over a reasonable amount of salt and pepper, 1 tsp flour, a small gulp of olive oil and a cap full of milk. Mix well.

Meanwhile heat oil in a pan on near high. Once the pan is hot, take a handful of the carrot mixture and squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the carrot. The salt draws the water out of the carrot so there will be a lot of liquid. Shape it into a flat ball then carefully place each rosti in the pan and press down with a fish slice until it is reasonably flat. Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes in the second side. Be careful when flipping the rosti as it may fall a part, but it can be successful flipped I promise. Once cooked place it on a plate with a dollop of crème fraiche and some homemade tomato salsa (recipe above).

Wednesday, August 31

Creamy Lime and Coconut Chicken and The Way it Should Be.

There’s been a swift change. Suddenly everything is the way I remembered it being. I was starting to think that France had lost everything from four years ago that had given me feelings of; I can’t believe this is my home.

My last apartment didn’t overlook blue roofs with scattered red chimneys, the parks weren’t filled with children and clean grass but instead men who wouldn’t bother finding a bathroom, and I hadn’t yet come across one of the few streets in Paris filled with shops overflowing out onto the road; whether it be for your baguette, cheese or horse meat, you can now find these just around the corner. And so, as I was saying, everything is as it should be.

Of course in all areas of Paris there are still those few people who do us the disgrace of seeming to personify this country’s stereotype. The other morning at 7 a.m. a very crafty gentleman attempted to run me off the road as I rode my bicycle to work. I skidded, he pushed his breaks, I stopped, he rolled down his window, I became aware that there was no one else on the road, he reversed as I rode behind him and he yelled at me.

And there would be many of you who would nod at this and say that yes, everything is the way it’s supposed to be in Paris.

But you’re wrong.

Because where have all the classic sauces gone that France is known for?

A few months back I did a course at Le Cordon Bleu called Classic and Modern Sauces. I completely recommend it, even if it is just for the experience created by the chef who has spent a considerable amount of time working at the Ritz here in Paris (that link is worth a click even if it is just to listen to the back ground music).

Yes, I have become determined that sauces will not be left to only their culinary professionals. I will say this for everyone; we too can make sauce worthy of groaning. I may have chili in my fingernails and it may sting just as much as it would if it were in your eyes, but you too are capable of balancing your sweet and tart flavours, correcting your seasoning and becoming overwhelmed by the glory of reduction!

Creamy Lime and Coconut Chicken

The ratio of this recipe is to 1 chicken piece.


1 Tbsp curry powder

1 cm green chili, diced

1 cm lime rind, diced

6 saffron strands



juice of half lime

50ml coconut milk

1 Tbsp fresh coriander, diced

Chicken on the bone, amount depends on people

1 tsp peanut butter

½ onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

¾ cup chicken stock

Place the marinade ingredients in a bowl big enough to fit your chicken pieces. Mix well and add your chicken. Try and leave it for a few hours, or even over night, but don’t be too fussy about this.

Meanwhile, in a pan add a splash of oil (olive or peanut) and the peanut butter. Add garlic and onion and allow to sauté for a few minutes. Once the pan is quite hot, take the chicken pieces out of the marinade and shake them a bit, then place them in the pan skin-side down. Allow them to golden and crisp ever so slightly on both sides. Turn the heat on low and add your stock. The stock will simmer rapidly then slow down. You want it to be at a consistent light simmering. Once this has reduced by at least half, add the rest of your marinade and stir well.

This will reduce again, creating a thick and sticky consistency. When the sauce comes to your desired sauce consistency, check seasoning and see if the chicken has cooked through. Serve.

I served mine with garlic sautéed spinach, which was incredible. Just bang butter, diced garlic and spinach in a pan, cover and allow to soften and then dry slightly before eating.