I had planned to go to every single cooking session (!), but after two of them, I decided my weekend was more valuable than that. Recipes and cooking tips can be had from a gazillion websites, and while I learnt some new things (did you know you can cure raw salmon by packing it in grated beetroot and copious amount of salt and sugar for a day or two?), I didn't really see myself making anything from the sessions. For goodness sake, Anabelle White didn't even cook in her demo. She just told funny stories and plugged her book and other products for sale, while her assistant Nancy did everything in the background without saying a word.
|Cooking demonstration by Richard Till|
|My award for asking questions|
|The manuka smoked eggs had blackened tops|
Maybe I've talked myself around to the viewpoint that the show is worth the $25 entrance fee. If you were not organised enough to attend demonstrations though, you would have to console yourself with trying to eat your money's worth in free samples from the various stalls. This is only a good idea if you have the self control not to eat too much of the supermarket biscuits and bread-and-dips type offerings, and instead save room for the more gourmet items, the meats and cheeses (and wines, if you are that way inclined, which I generally am not... but I recommend the Japanese plum wine!).
One of my gripes is that there were not so many things that were new and exciting. Not only are Chop Chop Chicken and Easiyo products things that I have already seen in the supermarket, but why would I want to waste my calories tasting them, even if they were free (which they were)? Seriously, a huge stall for Pam's products? What's with all these packet soups and instant meals? And Pic's Peanut Butter may be good, but I already knew that from trying it at the La Cigale French Style Market.
Other stalls served samples that tasted amazing, such as the paw paw salad from True Pacific, a programme being driven by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation. They didn't have a shop, though, and couldn't tell me where I could buy their yummy food! What's the point of raising my awareness if my only source of the item is at the Food Show?
I guess I am being a bit harsh. There are definitely reasons for checking out the Food Show. Many stalls offered good discounts for their wares. For instance, the delicious Native Infusions drinks, which I first came across at Serafin, were available at $1 a bottle, or $3.50 for four. That's a third of the usual price at New World. I would have gone on a shopping binge if I had had a shopping cart, or stronger arm muscles.
|Delicious drinks, at a third of the retail price at a supermarket|
Perhaps my favourite stall of the day was at the Farro Fresh booth, where Neil Willman of The New Zealand Cheese School showed us how to make halloumi in less than 10 minutes. I was unsure about his choice of Chux cloths for use as cheesecloth, as I have washed my dishes with those before and seen how the colours came out of them, but his halloumi was indeed delicious (yes, we got to taste it). Unfortunately, we missed his other demonstration, in which he claimed to have made mozzarella in under a minute.
All in all, I think the Food Show can be worth a visit, but you have to put up with endless amounts of blatant advertising and borings bits before you find some good stuff. And you need to be at the right place at the right time. If patience is your virtue, if you love throngs of people, free samples and bargain hunting, then this show is for you.