Monthly Archives: November 2012

Auckland Breakfast

8.52am, Thursday 29th November, Federal Street, Auckland Central, New Zealand

Morning folks, here I am at my favorite bench, right up the back at Depot Eatery, next to the open kitchen. There’s 3 fab brekky options here, and for the last two days I’ve walked the line with a bowl of the house blend muesli topped with a liberal dollop of natural yoghurt and stewed rhubarb. Not today. I gave in. It’s a Bacon & Egg ‘Doona’ .Translated, Doona = colloquial term for a fluffy quilt = the very fluffy bread roll wrapped around the bacon, egg, and home made tomato chilli relish.

We have a solid day out in the Auckland trade today, catching up with some private customer clients this evening at the Yalumba stronghold down at the Viaduct – Soul Bar – then pack the bags and off to Sydney early tomorrow morning.

But for now, if it’s breakfast time in Auckland…….it’s Depot!

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Auckland – wine class and cupcakes

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5.54pm, Tuesday 27th November, Queen Street, Auckland, New Zealand

Evening folks, it’s been a big Day 1 here in Auckland – starting with a wine class this morning for the sales team from our distributor here on both the North and South Islands – Negociants New Zealand. Then lunch with some of our good mates in the local trade over at Andiamo in Herne Bay – 2010 Strapper Grenache Shiraz Mataro wins more hearts and palates with grilled eggplant, proscuito and smoked cheese, and we introduce the super cassis liftoff, aromatic driven 2008 Signature Cabernet Shiraz to new friends. Now, I have homework to do. I’m becoming familiar with the companies that are finalists in the ‘Sustainability 60’ National New Zealand Sustainable Business Awards, which are being held here in Auckland tomorrow night at The Q Theatre.

Why am I reading up on these folks?

Because I have been asked by Fairfax Media to be the MC at the Awards! And no, I haven’t done anything like this before. I have the running sheet script and am reading that over and over as well. Hopefully it will all flow a bit by the time 7pm tomorrow comes around!

Wish us luck!

Until then, here’s some local cupcake edible art from Icing On The Cake at Herne Bay. On the left is the lamington with raspberry laced icing, on the right is lemon meringue! For the late night homework session!

See ya when it’s Thursday!

PS Underneath the cupcakes is today’s breakfast from the good people at Depot … next door to the hotel. It’s their house blend of muesli topped with stewed rhubarb and yoghurt. Yum … see I squeeze healthy in there as well!

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Off to Hobbit-ville today

10.15am, Monday 26th November, Gate 12, Adelaide Airport, South Australia

Morning folks, sorry I’ve been off the air for a week or so…..I tend to go into hibernation as soon as I get home after a solid trip away…..but I’m back at the airport, boarding pass in hand, and off to Auckland in New Zealand. I am expecting the full Middle Earth welcoming committee, as the Land of The Long White Cloud gets set to release the new Peter Jackson ‘Hobbit’ movie on Boxing Day. Even the Air New Zealand safety video at the start of your flight is stacked with long pixie eared, barefoot and robe clad characters!!

So wish us luck as we go across the Tasman Sea to talk wine…..and sustainable business…..on the North Island.

See ya when we’re in Auckland…….Perky Nana candy bars, Hokey Pokey ice cream full of honeycomb chips, sweet potatoes are called kumera and made into chips, Richie McCaw in his rugby shorts with thighs like tree trunks, many good reasons to go!

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That’s my Air NZ ride home!

4.54pm, Sunday 11th November, Los Angeles International Airport, California, USA

Evening folks, we finished work in Houston yesterday – I’ll get to that next – and flew back across the country early this morning. Walking across to Terminal 2 I saw this Air NZ tail above the wall, and it’s probably my ride home. Well, at least as far as Auckland, anyway. Then it’s a change of airplanes and through to Adelaide, then back into my trusty ute – and the drive up to the Barossa. A pile of mail and bills you can’t jump over, a desperately needed haircut, and I should be good as gold after 10 or 12 hours of sleep!

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Houston here we come!

9.12am, Thursday 8th November, Diamond S Diner, China, US 90 West, Texas, USA

OK folks, we’re back on the clock as of today, and after a quick coffee here, next stop will be Houston. It’s a trade lunch today at Truluck’s Seafood – we’ve just made the list there, and dinner with trade tonight – we’re going Vietnamese. So I’ll see ya when we’ve left Boomtown ( ask me one day about the Spindletop story!!) Beaumont way back in the east, and we’re in Texans territory.

Oh, and by the way, today is bought to you by the special edition Zapps ( look for the crawfish on the bag) baby back rib flavor potato chips!

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Gulf Shrimp season – Beaumont, Texas

6.18am, Thursday 8th November, Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas, USA

Morning Seafood Lovers, it’s shrimp season in the Gulf Country, so for the last three days – through Southern Louisiana and South East Texas – I’ve been doing the local ‘Shrimp Po Boy’ thing. Now I’d best explain firstly what a ‘po boy’ is. It’s basically a sandwich with its origins in New Orleans. Back in 1929 there was a strike by the New Orleans streetcar conductors and drivers, and things got quite tight, no compromise from either side for 4 months, and no wages whatsoever. Two brothers – Benny and Clovis Martin – ran a restaurant in the city on St Claude Avenue, and seeing as they used to drive the streetcars, they wanted to help their former colleagues during the strike. So somewhere along the line, they apparently coined the phrase “what will these poor boys eat” and took the scraps of meat from the restaurant, and put them into sections of French bread sticks, soaked in gravy and the cooking drippings. The term ‘poor boy’ shortened to the local one word ‘po boy’ and now, the sandwiches have become 6 inch (half) or 12 inch works of art! In New Orleans, everyone has their favourite po boy place, and they knowingly compare whether they’re ‘dressed’ – which means ‘plus tomato, lettuce, onion, mayo, mustard’ – or not.

Now seeing as it’s shrimp season, it’s all about the shrimp po boy. But you can have the shrimp fried – in seasoned (every house has their own tangy version) corn flour batter; or grilled ; or blackened – which is grilled plus seasoned on a stinking hot dry pan. Then the mustard is hot or mild, the thing is dressed or not – it’s a many and varied thing, as is the number of shrimp that each place tries to get into the sandwich. So having tried grilled and blackened in Louisiana, I went with fried yesterday at the Zydeco Cajun Cafe on Crockett Street here in Beaumont. Now you know you’ve landed in the right spot for lunch when everyone gets out of their car / pickup / truck / minivan / Harley and walks across the road to the same place, with the line out the door at 11.45am in the morning! The Zydeco Cafe does ‘plate lunches’ each day of the week – which is a selection of meat and veg options you can put together, and it changes each day. I went through behind a couple of very beefy working blokes in boots and overalls, and one went for the ‘two piece’ fried chicken plate lunch – one piece was a whole half chicken southern fried style, the second piece a meaty wing – plus ‘two sides’ (your choice of two solid spoonfuls of items from the hot veg selection – mashed potato, fresh creamed corn, steamed spicy green beans, fried breaded okra, whatever’s on that day) – plus a 3 inch cube of either plain or jalapeño laced cornbread! That’s a working mans lunch right there! With the number of blue and white collar boys in the dining room, you know the food at the Zydeco is definitely ‘as good as mama makes’!

I went with the fried shrimp po boy, and took the ‘dressed’ with everything option – adding a dribble of Louisiana’s own ‘Crystal’ hot sauce to half the sandwich. Forget everything you think about hot sauces – Crystal is it! It’s not the strip your mouth heat – it’s the vinegar chili pepper flavor with twang that you want….and that’s Crystal! I will be trying to bring some back to the Barossa – I feel gumbo and po boy nights coming soon in the Valley!! The shrimp were that firm juicy sort of thing that just screams ‘fresh’, and the mustard mayo was really all flavor and not masses of it, so I was thrilled to bits with my choice. The French bread sticks used in the Zydeco’s po boys comes in daily from the Gambino bakery in New Orleans, and it’s special stuff. I reckon it’s got super stretch powers like Elasto- Man to be able to wrap itself around the mountain of shrimp stuffed into the sandwich, and to hold the whole lettuce, tomato, mayo thing together! Good thing really, otherwise you’d end up wearing more than you eat! Not good!

So the Zydeco Cajun Cafe – they’re resisting local pressure to open for dinner, so if you’re within 50 miles of Beaumont, Texas around lunch time – it’s worth making the detour. Exit Interstate I-10 and make the trip. It’s a special place. The ladies behind the servery treat everyone like extended family – I reckon they see a lot of those boys most days of the week so they kind of are – so drop in, have lunch ‘old school’ style, do the plate lunch or the po boy. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

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It’s Election Night in America

10.13pm, Tuesday 6th November, Highway 69, Beaumont, The Gulf Coast, Texas, USA

Evening folks, just said goodbye to Loosiana – for now – in Lake Charles, and came back across the Texas state line, and landed in Beaumont for the night. It’s Election Night here in America, and most of the TV channels are facts and figures crazy…..red states, blue states, swing states, battleground states – by the end of it, I reckon I’ll be quite the instant expert! So it’s a good excuse to make it an early night. Tomorrows plan is to explore the Gulf Coast a bit….and I have to go to the Cowboy Harley dealer to get Mick Cogan’s promised shirt…so one more day ‘at large’ before back to work Thursday night.

Oh…..I forgot the last couple of days….today is bought to you by Zapps Voodoo flavor – think tomato, paprika, vinegar, and something just a touch twangy.

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