Hello and welcome to the first edition of The Omnivore!
Our new fortnightly newsletter celebrates everything delicious, and delves into the fascinating world of things edible: from farm to plate and all the places in between.
We believe food shouldn’t be a moral compass that people feel judged on – there’s enough judginess pinging about in today’s world... and it doesn’t often seem to lead to positive change. But equally, we believe that food can be a force for good: our food choices can help create a resilient food system and entire planet, for future generations… we want to shine a light on ways we see this happening.
Above all, we’re big believers in joyful eating, so The Omnivore sets out to be a reliably delicious read you’ll want to snuggle in and get cosy with. We aim to bring you content to whet your appetite, and restore your faith in food: plenty of recipes, tips and tricks, chats with farmers, producers and hospitality heroes from right up and down the country.
Our first edition heralds the height of spring, so we’ll be having a look at ways to make the most of berries and spring greens. We’re looking ahead to Christmas, of course, so we have some hints on being ham season-ready. And we take a peek at summer barbecue trends to look forward to.
Spring on a fork
November brings with it the first properly sweet strawberries, and the last of the asparagus. Let’s all make the most of them while they’re around!
Everyone knows bacon-wrapped asparagus is a thing of beauty, but how about taking the concept one step further: make small parmesan-enriched crepes then on each lay a strip of grilled streaky bacon, a few steamed asparagus spears, and a dollop of ranch dressing. Roll up and devour as hors d’oeuvres or as part of a meal.
Make a baby potato salad with steamed asparagus and mayo-smashed eggs – pile in some grilled bacon (middle or shoulder bacon is good here) to make a filling meal.
Instead of toast soldiers, grill or steam asparagus spears to dip into a soft boiled egg.
Serve hulled and sliced strawberries with that simplest of Italian desserts, zabaglione. Calling on the richness of egg yolks for a silky smooth texture, zabaglione traditionally features marsala, but you can explore all sorts of flavour additions – limoncello, Frangelico, vermouth, or amaretto.
Use those leftover egg whites to make meringues – they’re a very handy go-to for desserts. Broken-up meringues gently folded with whipped cream and sliced strawberries is the ultimate simple spring pud.
Day-old bread if your best friend when it comes to brunch… make richly eggy French Toast and top with a pile of sliced strawberries combined with mint leaves, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
November planning for Christmas ham
No, November is not too early to make moves to make sure a glorious Christmas ham is the centrepiece of your festive table this year.
Farmers started planning for this Christmas last Christmas by forecasting how many pigs they’ll need to raise to meet demand. Those pigs have been going about their daily lives while fattening up. Stores placed their orders at the end of winter and now, deliveries of hams to stores have begun. Once these hams run out, that’s it.
So get in early – buy early if you have the room to store a ham, or ask at your preferred store if you can put an order in to collect your ham when it suits you.
Because we offer Champagne hams in three sizes – quarter, half, and whole – you can pick and choose to suit your needs (and your fridge capacity!). Maybe you want one large ham to last the distance between Christmas Day and New Years Eve. Or you might want a quarter ham for an early pre-Christmas gathering with friends, and another quarter for a smallish family gathering on the 25th. Do the (simple!) math now to gauge how many people you’ll need to feed and how long between events, and you’ll soon be congratulating yourself on your foresight.
Barbecue-ready! Tips and trends
With the evenings growing longer and delightfully balmier, now’s the time to get your existing barbecue ready for action, or shop around for something new.
Show your barbecue some love – dust it off, scrub it down. If you have a cover that needs replacing, you may as well do that now before it’s in complete tatters. If the matching shop-bought cover only lasted a season or two, consider getting a local canvas worker to custom-make a new one – yes, it’ll cost more upfront, but it will undoubtedly last a lot longer and be more cost-effective as a result, plus you’d be supporting a local business.
If you’re in the market for a barbecue this summer, you’re in luck as there’s never been more choice of kit… but that can make for some tricky decisions! It wasn’t too long ago that the only real question was whether you want to cook on gas or charcoal. Now there is a world of options – get the old ‘pros and cons’ list at the ready.
Multiple choice – it’s now common to own more than one type of grill, giving flexibility to you, the cook.
Small barbecues are winning legions of fans, whether you rely on one as your sole option, or add it as an alternative for when you want something faster to light, portable, and social – a small barbecue on the tabletop means everyone can get involved in cooking dinner, and the meal is a continuous affair of morsels hot off the grill, the conversation pausing briefly as these are devoured. We love the range from littlebbq.co.nz.
Cast iron is a material we love to cook on – it’s durable, it retains heat well, it caramelises ingredients wonderfully, and it’s easy to clean and maintain if done correctly. Cast iron hot plates are common on larger barbecues, but we recently tested out a small cast-iron iteration which we loved –The Lodge Sportsman Grill is an all-cast iron hibachi-style grill that can be used on the tabletop, and has a draft door to control the heat and a flip-down door so you can easily fan the coals or add more.
With 2020 having been a bit of a year, the supply chain isn’t always crash hot. If you see a barbecue you like in stock, make a move as if you miss out, you might be left waiting months for new stock to arrive.
If you’re torn between the ease of gas or and the flavour from charcoal, the good news is there is a growing number of models that feature dual operations with electricity to get things started, then the charcoal or wood kicks in. Or consider adding a charcoal tray to a gas barbecue for a flavour boost.
Wood and wood pellets are also fuel sources to consider. Whether you’re looking big – installing a wood-burning open grill, pizza oven, or Texan style pit smoker.. or a specific pellet grill which ranges from large to tabletop.
Experiment with different varieties of charcoal to see what works best for you and your grill.
The tech isn’t just in the raw materials… WiFi and bluetooth-enabled smart technology mean you can remotely and accurately monitor and control temperature and measure food for done-ness.
We’ll be bringing you plenty of barbecue ideas and recipes in summer editions of The Omnivore, so keep an eye on your inbox!