I am obsessed with food; good food, grounded in culinary traditions. What do I mean by good food? After all, the notion of what constitutes "good food" is subjective. I decided to write this blog as a way of exploring my subjective understanding of what good food is in the context of my current home, New Zealand.
I moved from Toronto to Auckland just over half a year ago. Prior to my moving here, a fear began to set in. You see, I dedicated the past seven years of my life to figuring out the culinary landscape of Toronto. Prior to that I lived in Germany and absolutely fell in love with German gastronomy. While living there I travelled as often and as rigorously as I could around Europe exploring the culinary traditions these countries had to offer, including those of my country of origin, Romania. Needless to say, the more wonderful foods I experienced abroad the more Toronto lacked in the form of quality fare and ingredients.
That was how I came to dedicate my time there to finding ingredients and foods that would allow me to eat as well as I did abroad; with the same passion and gusto. It was difficult at first but the more I knew what I was looking for the more I began to find what I longed to eat. It must be said, that with time Toronto itself went through a transformation. From shops stocking up on good ingredients from abroad to locally made products using old-world methods, not to mention the numerous proper bakeries, butcher shops, charcuteries and bistros that were popping up and promising a standard of eating I had not previously experienced in Toronto.
As I have always equated feelings of joy, wellbeing and connectedness with food, I could finally say I felt at home in Toronto. So here I was, about to move to yet another commonwealth country far far away, and my joie de vivre began to drain out of me in anticipation of the same gastronomic wasteland I had previously experienced in Toronto. Alright, I knew they’d have lamb, very good lamb indeed but man cannot live on lamb alone. What would I do without pancetta, passata, jamon, baquettes, sourdough breads and croissants? I really felt like someone had posed that old hypothetical question: If you were stranded on an island, what things would you want to take with you? Alas, this was really happening! I really was going to be stuck on a far off island for an indefinite period of time cut off from everything I love, or so I thought.
I remember not long before leaving, I asked my partner, a New Zealander, if there were any proper bakeries in Auckland. He said he’d never bothered to look but that he would get on the case immediately. Being my fatalistic old self I decided not to wait, and so I set out to learn how to make my own bread. The type of bread I’d had in Europe, the kind that takes its sweet time to rise, at least half a day, none of this bread-maker business. Feeling damn well proud that I could fend for myself on this island, my partner returned with some surprising finds from his reconnaissance mission. He managed to track down an actual old-school French & German bakery that even made my all-time favorite bread, the Bergsteiger .
My first loaf of bread while still in
Bergsteiger Brot (translates into Mountain-Climber's bread)
(click link for Paris-Berlin Organic Bakery: http://www.parisberlin.co.nz/.
My lovely and equally obsessive partner took it upon himself to find other culinary delights he knew I could not live without. He set out on a similar quest that I went on seven years ago in Toronto, and within weeks he discovered the most surprising sources for gastronomic delights in Auckland before I even set foot on Kiwi soil. The rest of this blog is really about what I do with these awesome local foods. I hope you enjoy.