Today we launch our brand new food newsletter – here’s the first instalment.
A disclaimer: Future editions will include regular and rotating sections with snack reviews, interviews with food and beverage makers, noteworthy meals, recipes and more.
Sharing boil up with whānau on big round tables in the wharekai got me thinking about all sorts of elements of food that I hope enrich this new newsletter as it bubbles and brews over time.
I hope The Boil Up becomes a shared table where we can gather to break bread and contemplate the meaning of food in our lives.
A big thank you to Hiria Anderson who let us use her beautiful paintings (fortuitously including the below image of Kimiora, the kitchen at my marae) throughout this newsletter.
A roundup of the best and most vital food media I’ve read, watched or heard over the last seven days. (A slightly trimmed version this week)
- Pre-pandemic, the first meal I’d eat on arrival in the UK was a Boots meal deal. Because of this, Lauren Shamy’s ode to the British chain shop sandwich spoke to me. For just £3.39 (about NZ$6.50) you’ve got an invitation to treat yourself to a little bottle of juice, kettle chips and a wrapped sandwich – heaven. That Aotearoa doesn’t have British chain shops and the perfect sandwiches they hold (despite Britain colonising us) is deeply unfair.
- I always ponder how disappointing it must have been for my own ancestors when they realised that coconut trees don’t grow in Aotearoa. The word nīkau is a reference to this sad fact – a palm without a coconut. I loved this gentle piece of writing by Sunita Patel on her memories of coconuts, along with their cultural significance for Indian-New Zealanders and other communities in New Zealand today.
- “Does all food media exist to keep mainly women inspired around what is actually a dull task that needs to be suffused with novelty?”, food writer Alicia Kennedy writes in her piece On domesticity. It’s well worth a read for a reflection on the tensions between food being both a creative pursuit and a form of gendered labour.
- There’s been plenty of local coverage of the impacts of inflation over the last month – and for good reason. The cost of food has increased by 7.6% in the last year in Aotearoa. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, it’s an increase of 9%. With the cost of living soaring globally, it’s already having massive ramifications around what we’re eating and food stability, and is sure to colour how we talk about food going forward.
- This week Edmonds, whose sacks of flour are labelled with “proudly made in NZ”, said in a press release, “unfortunately, due to adverse wheat growing weather conditions in 2022, yields in the South Island have been significantly impacted”. The reduced local flour supply means they’ve had to urgently source wheat from Australia which will continue to be milled and packaged in New Zealand. Grain growing is front of mind locally and globally (particularly because of the impacts of the climate crisis and the Russia-Ukraine war) at the moment, and the subject of this year’s Eat NZ hui which kicked off this week.
Each week, I ask interesting and noteworthy locals from all around the country to share their five favourite food spots.
Hiria Anderson – visual artist
Hiria Anderson (Rereahu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Apakura) is a visual artist based in Ōtorohanga. She often paints everyday scenes of marae life – especially from within wharekai. They’re a reflection of Māori contemporary life and how that relates to both the land and our ancestors. I keep a copy of her painting Manaaki ki te tāngata on my fridge – it’s a beautiful painting that was featured in the influential Toi Tū Toi Ora exhibition of contemporary Māori art at Auckland Art Gallery last year.
My grandmother’s cooking, 46 Turongo Street, Ōtorohanga: In the 1960s, my grandmother owned her own bakery, Anderson’s Home Cookery, in Ōtorohanga. Growing up, I was surrounded by my grandmother’s cooking for all kinds of local functions from weddings to funerals and everything in between. One of my earliest childhood memories is in the kitchen at Otewa Paa with my nanny as a head cook. Her kaihākari tables were elaborate and her shopping trips for the paa included a trailer. She was a hard-working, formidable woman.
King Country Pies, Ōtorohanga: Stella and Hemotu Koroheke are at the helm, business women and experienced ringawera who whakapapa to Ngāti Maniapoto. Their pies have a lovely light crust and are not overloaded with salt and fillers like most bakery pies are these days.
Kimiora, Tuurangawaewae Marae Ngaaruawaahia: In 2019 I was invited to attend Puhoro ō mua, Puhoro ki tua, where 100 Indigenous artists from around the world gathered at Tuurangawaewae Marae. The kitchen, called Kimiora, catered for us during our nearly two-week-long stay. The meals were balanced, healthy and delish. Kimiora is set up to work with army-style precision. I painted a scene in the kitchen at Kimiora during a quiet period. The reflective surfaces and composition caught my eye.
Stoked Eatery, Te Kūiti: Stoked is fast becoming our whānau institution. I think it’s because the food is bistro style and the service is perfect. Maurice, the head waiter, always greets us with his fabulous smile and makes us feel welcome. My favourite dinner treat is the scotch fillet steak with mushroom sauce, onion rings, chips and salad. I’m yet to paint this restaurant, but it’s on its way.
AiA Foods, Ōtorohanga: In 2020, our Raumati Festival of Art hired AiA Foods to cater for our artists and visitors. Our wonderful and talented friend Chantel prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven days while the artists were busy making art. On the last night, she made an amazing spread for our exhibition opening. Her grazing tables are visually amazing, bountiful and delish. We felt very spoilt.
An interview with Morgan Maw, the founder of Boring Oat Milk
I’m so excited to have Boring Oat Milk as the founding partner of the newsletter. They share the passion for the huge role food has in our lives that underpins The Boil Up.
Before Boring, she ran an oatcake company, but saw huge potential for oats beyond the cheese platter. And after three years of hustle she was able to realise the vision for a “New Zealand oat milk company making oat milk in New Zealand with New Zealand oats”. I asked Morgan about everything oats.
What makes oats special?
Oats deservedly fit the description of a super grain. They are great for soil health, they soak up harmful nitrates and require little to no irrigation. Then there are the health benefits, like prebiotic fibre and a liberal dose of beta-glucans which are good for heart health.
Oats were introduced to Aotearoa by in the mid 1800s Scottish immigrants, who found that the cool, wet climate and long summer daylight hours at the bottom of the South Island was a lot like home and perfect for growing this glorious grain.
Most New Zealanders have grown up with them in our morning porridge, muesli or Anzac biscuits. I think this helps make oat milk a friendly gateway into plant-based alternatives.
How and where is Boring oat milk made?
It’s actually quite a boring process. Think lots of stainless steel tanks and pipes.
Our oats are sourced from Harraways just outside of Dunedin, and are grown by a group of 70 or so farmers across Southland and Otago. The wholegrain oats are then sent north to Hastings for the first part of the process, where they’re turned into our liquid “oat base”. Here, they’re transferred into a giant tank, along with water and enzymes, and are agitated by a big blade, allowing the enzymes to slowly break down the starches, which releases the sugars and gives it that really nice, slightly sweet taste and creamy mouthfeel.
A decanter separates the liquid from the solid – a thick porridgy substance that is donated to farms for pig feed. (Side note: we are trialling converting these solids into a plant protein fit for human consumption). The liquid oat base then goes into a milk tanker and travels 1.5km down the road to our beverage plant in Whakatu.
This is where the milk is fortified with calcium and B12, and other ingredients like locally sourced sunflower oil and sea salt are added. The milk is heat-treated and homogenised, then the bottles are blown on the line to a sterile 300℃, capped and sleeved, and then you’ve got your bottle of Boring® oat milk.
Why was it important for your milk to be manufactured locally?
Although not the most straightforward decision, making Boring® oat milk in Aotearoa was a non-negotiable. It took three long years to launch Boring, but I’m so proud that we persevered and can write “Made in New Zealand with New Zealand oats” on the front of our bottle.
Oat milk has solid sustainability credentials as it is, but a locally made oat milk has lower food miles and lower net carbon. Being able to support local growers, local processors and a local workforce feels really good too.