Gourmet Meals

Dear Peg and Friends,
I have plenty of time these days to think over  times past, I have been mulling over in my mind, some of the more memorable meals I have enjoyed. I don’t wish to confine my gastronomic memories  only to be found in New Zealand. Sure I have eaten many outstanding meals here, but without exception they all seem in the main’ to be prepared by foreign women. One meal that stands out is a Moroccan Peasant’s dish called couscous. It has little to do with the ‘grain’ couscous, although it is included as a side dish. I have watched it being prepared in New Caledonia, having found it’s way there through though the French Foreign Legion, and the territories where they operated. Initially I wondered how it was going to turn out. This was after I saw a full handful of garlic being casually tossed into the tagine. Basically it’s a mixture of various meats, chicken, pork, mutton, beef, and perhaps even a Camel. In fact every household seems to have the only correct recipe, which each claim that theirs is. After an hour cooking with seasoned stock, Raisins, Chick Peas, Root Vegetables are added, together with a large slurp of spicy chilli sauce. The result is outstanding, and seeing the Chilli is added by the diner, you have control over the heat factor.
Another Meal that stood out was a young goat cooked by Jacqueline Montagnat. It had come from a game farm where a cull was in progress. I don’t know what spices she added, but it did have a delightful taste and I did see her finish it off, and thicken the gravy, with a blanquette of egg yokes.
I suppose of all of he New Zealand dishes that I have enjoyed ‘Ox Tail Stew’, would rate number one. With lamb shanks a second but unfortunately both these dishes are now being exploited by the fine dining restaurants. These dishes must be cooked twice to reduce the amount of fat that is present. Most of the fat after the inital cook will rise to the top of the dish, and can be easily removed when cold next day, then the cooking is finished off. The spice used for this dish are whole cloves.
Another favourite of mine is oyster soup. There is a trick to the preparation of this meal. Basically it is a fish soup, with stock made from a couple of grouper heads if you can find them. I do see them for sale at ‘Pac and Save’ from time to time. When the soup is prepared and seasoned,  guests are seated, then and only then, are the oysters added. They should not be left in the hot soup longer than two to three minutes. This means the oysters are not really cooked, but only heated through. However only you know this.
You either like Chinese Parsley, also known as Cilantro, or you hate it. If you belong to the like it brigade. The next meal exploits it to the full. I came across this dish overseas, and it’s delightful. I think too it belongs to the memorable meals sector. I’m not sure, but I think it’s origin is Indonesia, Javanese, or even Viet Nam. It also seems have several names, but more often it is just called ‘Nems’ or something that sounds similar. It is filled rolls with the usual fillings, such as crab or shrimp. Then rolled up in rice paper, and deep fried. It is served with a dipping sauce of Chinese Parsley, and the fish sauce. ‘Nubc Mam kim Dong’. this too is one the main ingredients, and used lavishly. Many folk don’t like fish sauce either. On its own it has a very strong fish smell. But with a little added soy sauce, a little sugar, and enough hot water to dissolve the sugar, I really can’t get enough, as all the flavours merge wonderfully. I noticed too how the Nems are eaten, each Nem is rolled in a lettuce leaf. With such exotic flavours, you can turn an ordinary meal into a feast.
I like steak too but it has to be cooked right. Top of the list would have to be Chateaubriand.  ‘Up Stairs and the Down Stairs’, a Restaurant in Queenstown, had a chef who cooked it to perfection. As it was the whole tenderloin, it was a dish that needed to be shared with one other. I like my meat slightly carbonised on the outside, and  towards rare on the inside. The Queenstown restaurant served it up with only cream poured onto the pan drippings, when making the sauce.  Accompanied with a lettuce salad, garlic vinaigrette, and chipped potatoes, I consider it’s the only way to serve a steak.
Another meal I enjoy if I can find it, and that’s  groper throats and tongues. I know it sounds strange, but it is the number one fish dish to cook, if you can get your hands on enough grouper heads. To get this dish, you needed to know a fisherman, or be a kissing cousin of the fish shop proprietor. We managed it a lot when there was many ‘in Shore’ fishermen still working the grouper beds. For many years we lived in sea ports. I have never stopped looking for a supply, and occasionally I get lucky. The last occasion was a Family fish shop Aspro’s in Oamaru. The traditional way is to serve it, is in a thick white sauce.
Is this all? Of course not. There are hundreds of meals out there unmentioned by this letter, not all five star, true. But certainly four star. Liver and Bacon, Hamburgers, and I haven’t even touched on Eastern meals. Chinese, Japanese Korean. Fortunately  today you don’t even have to go outside this City to try any of these, or all of them. You can find all these meals as we have, here right in our City, All being prepared by ethnic cooks. Right now I’m looking for a Chinese Restaurant that serves a ‘Steam Boat’. We had one Restaurant that before the earthquake that featured this dish, but it has been forced to relocate.
Love from Christchurch,
Wally
I have plenty of time these days to think over  times past, I have been mulling over in my mind, some of the more memorable meals I have enjoyed. I don’t wish to confine my gastronomic memories  only to be found in New Zealand. Sure I have eaten many outstanding meals here, but without exception they all seem in the main’ to be prepared by foreign women. One meal that stands out is a Moroccan Peasant’s dish called couscous. It has little to do with the ‘grain’ couscous, although it is included as a side dish. I have watched it being prepared in New Caledonia, having found it’s way there through though the French Foreign Legion, and the territories where they operated. Initially I wondered how it was going to turn out. This was after I saw a full handful of garlic being casually tossed into the tagine. Basically it’s a mixture of various meats, chicken, pork, mutton, beef, and perhaps even a Camel. In fact every household seems to have the only correct recipe, which each claim that theirs is. After an hour cooking with seasoned stock, Raisins, Chick Peas, Root Vegetables are added, together with a large slurp of spicy chilli sauce. The result is outstanding, and seeing the Chilli is added by the diner, you have control over the heat factor.
Another Meal that stood out was a young goat cooked by Jacqueline Montagnat. It had come from a game farm where a cull was in progress. I don’t know what spices she added, but it did have a delightful taste and I did see her finish it off, and thicken the gravy, with a blanquette of egg yokes.
I suppose of all of he New Zealand dishes that I have enjoyed ‘Ox Tail Stew’, would rate number one. With lamb shanks a second but unfortunately both these dishes are now being exploited by the fine dining restaurants. These dishes must be cooked twice to reduce the amount of fat that is present. Most of the fat after the inital cook will rise to the top of the dish, and can be easily removed when cold next day, then the cooking is finished off. The spice used for this dish are whole cloves.
Another favourite of mine is oyster soup. There is a trick to the preparation of this meal. Basically it is a fish soup, with stock made from a couple of grouper heads if you can find them. I do see them for sale at ‘Pac and Save’ from time to time. When the soup is prepared and seasoned,  guests are seated, then and only then, are the oysters added. They should not be left in the hot soup longer than two to three minutes. This means the oysters are not really cooked, but only heated through. However only you know this.
You either like Chinese Parsley, also known as Cilantro, or you hate it. If you belong to the like it brigade. The next meal exploits it to the full. I came across this dish overseas, and it’s delightful. I think too it belongs to the memorable meals sector. I’m not sure, but I think it’s origin is Indonesia, Javanese, or even Viet Nam. It also seems have several names, but more often it is just called ‘Nems’ or something that sounds similar. It is filled rolls with the usual fillings, such as crab or shrimp. Then rolled up in rice paper, and deep fried. It is served with a dipping sauce of Chinese Parsley, and the fish sauce. ‘Nubc Mam kim Dong’. this too is one the main ingredients, and used lavishly. Many folk don’t like fish sauce either. On its own it has a very strong fish smell. But with a little added soy sauce, a little sugar, and enough hot water to dissolve the sugar, I really can’t get enough, as all the flavours merge wonderfully. I noticed too how the Nems are eaten, each Nem is rolled in a lettuce leaf. With such exotic flavours, you can turn an ordinary meal into a feast.
I like steak too but it has to be cooked right. Top of the list would have to be Chateaubriand.  ‘Up Stairs and the Down Stairs’, a Restaurant in Queenstown, had a chef who cooked it to perfection. As it was the whole tenderloin, it was a dish that needed to be shared with one other. I like my meat slightly carbonised on the outside, and  towards rare on the inside. The Queenstown restaurant served it up with only cream poured onto the pan drippings, when making the sauce.  Accompanied with a lettuce salad, garlic vinaigrette, and chipped potatoes, I consider it’s the only way to serve a steak.
Another meal I enjoy if I can find it, and that’s  groper throats and tongues. I know it sounds strange, but it is the number one fish dish to cook, if you can get your hands on enough grouper heads. To get this dish, you needed to know a fisherman, or be a kissing cousin of the fish shop proprietor. We managed it a lot when there was many ‘in Shore’ fishermen still working the grouper beds. For many years we lived in sea ports. I have never stopped looking for a supply, and occasionally I get lucky. The last occasion was a Family fish shop Aspro’s in Oamaru. The traditional way is to serve it, is in a thick white sauce.
Is this all? Of course not. There are hundreds of meals out there unmentioned by this letter, not all five star, true. But certainly four star. Liver and Bacon, Hamburgers, and I haven’t even touched on Eastern meals. Chinese, Japanese Korean. Fortunately  today you don’t even have to go outside this City to try any of these, or all of them. You can find all these meals as we have, here right in our City, All being prepared by ethnic cooks. Right now I’m looking for a Chinese Restaurant that serves a ‘Steam Boat’. We had one Restaurant that before the earthquake that featured this dish, but it has been forced to relocate.
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