Tuesday, September 11, 2012

For the Love of Food - NZ Food Bloggers' Conference


If there's no chocolate in Heaven, I'm not going.
Jane Seabrook, Furry Logic Laugh at Life

After a failed attempt at finding something for breakfast en route to conference, it was straight into chocolate on an empty stomach (again), but I’m not complaining. Chocolate mark II was a sensory evaluation of premium chocolate. Jo Coffey of L’Affaire au Chocolat led us gently down the learning path and I found her pace and style well suited to an early morning audience. I was relieved to discover that it is not the chocolate one becomes addicted to, but sugar. It’s fortunate then that dark chocolate is a favourite of mine. Excellent. So, no more cravings then?

It matters
Fish and chocolate only seem to come together in chocolate fish but here at conference, sustainable fishing followed the chocolate session.  To be honest, I did not think this talk would hold that much interest for me, but what a revelation.  I was so wrong.  Rachel Taulelei of Yellow Brick Road blew me away with her drive and passion for sustainable seafood - marrying up those who catch fish with those who cook it and having seafood traceable back to where and when it was caught. An enlightening and thought-provoking talk. What a talent.

Best cheese scones ever
A taste of the light as air, but oh so tasty, cheese scones served up at morning tea by Le Cordon Bleu had me trying to replicate them back home (with some hints but no actual recipe).  I got pretty close - just needs a few tweaks and maybe I can share them.  First attempt looks something like this.

New discoveries
The Collective’s
mango yoghurt drink – I’ve not been a fan of yogurt drinks until this one.  Creamy and flavourful, I’m now working my way through the range of drinks and yogurts.  Fabulous branding too!  

Six Barrel Soda's Joseph Slater introduced us to a range of soda syrups made with filtered water, fair trade organic cane sugar, fresh fruit, spices & nuts. My favourite was the ginger syrup.  Topped with sparkling water it made for a refreshing drink.  I reckon you could add hot water and whisky for a super terrific hot toddy.  For a truly authentic soda experience, visit the cafĂ© on the corner of Eva & Dixon Streets in Wellington.

Putting on the Ritzling
Who could fail to notice the elegant box in which Ritzling is packaged? That and the fact that I’d pick a Riesling over most other white wines any day should have made me try this before but, silly me, I thought it was a white wine spritzer.  Thanks to State of the Vines, Chris Archer, I learned otherwise and with one glass and a wedge of lime, I was smitten. This will be my ultimate summertime drink, but let’s not wait ‘til then.  Let’s get started now.  

Bottled happiness
Outside looking in
I had a slight disadvantage being both at the back of the crowd and beneath the air conditioning for the Little Penang and Dumpling House demonstrations but fortunately sampled Little Penang’s wonderful fare at lunch (the Nasi Lemak was outstanding) and tried my hand at making savoury and sweet dumplings with Dumpling Queen, Vicky Ha. Now all I need to know is where can I eat food like this in Auckland? 

Pastry perfection
If I thought I was in awe of actually being at Le Cordon Bleu, it was nothing compared to participating in a class with Patisserie Head Tutor, Sebastien Lambert.  With skilled hands (his, not mine) and useful tips (and oh that French accent), our happy group observed and learned.  There’s something wonderfully soothing about making pastry, both in the doing and in the watching.

Sebastien Lambert
A coffee’s finish
Normally I’d start the day with coffee but our day, and conference, concluded with a coffee tasting from Steve Barrett of People’s Coffee. I found the taste of the skillfully filtered coffee was smooth and rounded with no trace of bitterness but I can’t see me giving up my flat whites any time soon.

If only you could smell these

Just when you thought it was over ...
…another surprise, another goodie bag, this time courtesy of The Chocolate Festival. Oh happy days.

And another thank you
We certainly were spoiled over two days, so again I have to thank our sponsors and tell them how much we appreciated them.

For all sponsors, please click here.  You honestly won't regret it. 


  1. Great posts capturing the conference. Those scones were delicious so look forward to seeing your recipe soon. I'm still overwhelmed with the generosity of the sponsors and looking forward to being able to showcase some of their products over time on the blog.

  2. Great wrap up Lesley...your scones look amazing! Look forward to seeing the recipe as my baking skills not up to developing the recipe myself :)

  3. Wow 2 days! And looks like a very valuable conference. I'd start my day every day with chocolate. Mmm.