Local Table Comp Low-down

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Here’s an overview for entrants to the Local Table Season #1 -Winter. The competition will take place on Sunday 23rd June 2013 from 12noon in St Peter’s Hall, Paekakariki. Exact timetable to be announced soon! Categories           … Continue reading

Olive Harvest

The Local Table was kindly invited by local grower Maree to harvest eating olives from their grove which is situated within a couple of kilometers of our village. They mostly grow olives for producing oil, but have quite a number of edible olive pollinating trees throughout the grove too. To these we could help ourselves. So on a rainy Sunday, a group of about 20 of us donned raincoats and headed out to the fertile fields of Emerald Glen.

Maree introducing us to the art of olive harvesting. Not just any old olive will do!

Maree introducing us to the art of olive harvesting. Not just any old olive will do!

Fresh olives, as it turns out, taste absolutely revolting! Strange really, considering how divinely edible they look when picking them. We picked Manzanilla and Lecchino varieties for bottling in brine. The Manzanillas looked especially tasty like gorgeous juicy little cherry-esk morsels. But one by one I watched each person ignore the best advice and pop one into their mouths… How bad could it be? Surely not!

Lecchino olives ripe for the picking.

Beautiful Lecchino olives ripe for the picking.

The taste of a raw olive is pure bitterness, and it lingers in the mouth so that you desperately want to drink water or eat something sweet to counter the awefulness. Anyways, that was our first lesson.

We hand picked bucket loads of the fruit in hope that we could learn how to make them taste good. All the children joined in too, and it’s fair to say we felt like we had joined in on some ancient mediterranean village’s harvest tradition.

Maree also gave us some tips on how to prepare the olives for eating. She recommended scoring the skins of each olive a couple of times and soaking them in fresh water for at least seven days changing the water each day before bottling them in salty brine. The first question on everyone’s lips was “Why do we have to slice the skins?”

Some of the harvest, manzanillo, lecchino and a few feijoas that snuck in

Fruits of the harvest, manzanilla, lecchino and a few feijoas that snuck in.

And the answer is because the shop ones we all buy are treated with caustic soda to remove their bitterness. We however, are going to de-bitter our olives a little more naturally. Caustic soda is used for a few things besides making olives palatable… for example: in the paper and pulp industry, for textiles, in detergents, and as drain cleaner. None of these applications sound even remotely appetizing, yet who knew it was good for using in our food?!

And somewhere therein lies an answer to why we are running the Local Table. By really getting in touch with how our food is produced, by learning the art of preparing and preserving, we develop a deep understanding and appreciation of what makes for quality, and nourishing food. Learning about the use of caustic soda may well have put a damper on my enthusiasm for bought olives, yet I now have a new appreciation of the time and artisanship that goes into truly good olives.

Green manzanilla olives sliced and soaking in brine a week after picking.

Green manzanilla olives with sliced skins, soaking in brine a week after picking.

We have already learned a lot and it feels like the door to a whole world of olivey knowledge has just cracked open. It remains to be seen of course, how well our hand-picked, hand-sliced, home-bottled little flavour bombs turn out. I’m pretty sure though that the wait and anticipation will only add to our delight when tasting day finally arrives.

Local Table – Launched!

Happy New Year to you all from the Local Table!

It’s been so easy to enjoy the garden with all the lovely summer weather we’ve been having, all our various fruits and vegetables are growing prolifically and looking plumper by the day -long may it continue!

But still its time for us to take a few minutes to update you on what’s been happening at the Local Table HQ.
We had our Season #1 Launch & Potluck dinner at St Peter’s Hall just before Christmas, where we were lucky to hear from Hannah Zwartz (our very own edible garden expert) about growing a garden of abundance. This was followed by a Q&A session to answer the squillions of questions everyone had.

The Local Table Season #1 Launch & Potluck at St Peter's Hall, Paekakariki

The Local Table Season #1 Launch & Potluck at St Peter’s Hall, Paekakariki, New Zealand

The kids were first in with a very good question: They wanted to know if they could form teams to enter? The answer is Yes! Everyone wanted to hear about cooking oil, pepper, spices, milk, could they use local fruit that had been preserved using sugar? That answer is No. It was really exciting to realise how thought provoking this competition is, and how engaged people are with the challenge -so many creative solutions are being found.

The food that everyone brought along for the potluck was scrumptious! and much of it was grown right here in the edible gardens of the village -YUM!

As people arrived, they were presented with an info pack which contained a bunch of information about the competition, a planting and harvest guide, a small pouch of genuine local Paekakariki Sea Salt, and a bay leaf.
Holly Andrews did a wonderful job helping make the hall so lovely -we even had big (preserving jar) vases full of edibles and fresh lemons as table centerpieces!

Info-packs including local sea salt pouches and a bay leaf were handed out as people arrived at the launch.

Info-packs including local sea salt pouches and a bay leaf were handed out as people arrived at the launch.

Now that the launch has been and gone, many have had the chance to get their heads around what the Local Table competition entails, and have begun the process of figuring out their recipes and ingredients.
Confirmed entrants, will soon be able to access our Supplier Directory which will give them the opportunity to sort out ingredients swaps and trades with others who have surplus in the village.

At the launch we announced our first confirmed judge: The wonderful Earl Zapf who is well known in the village as one of our food establishment pioneers, founding both the Paekakariki Café and later the Beach Road Deli. Earl currently works at The Monastery, a healing retreat where he cooks directly from the organic vegie garden by the kitchen door.

If you would like to join, or even just receive our regular Local Table emails leading up to the final event in April, essentially a newsletter sent out about once a fortnight, please send me a message to info@localtable.co.nz with your email address and I’ll pop you on the list. The content will vary and include up to date planting, harvest and pest & disease trouble-shooting info, moon planting phases, upcoming workshop details, opportunities to enjoy local olive oil and honey, etc. The email will also be a chance for us to answer questions about the comp and all sorts of things like preserving, storing and ingredients preparation.

We’d love to hear from you. Our first email newsletter is ready for delivery if you haven’t received it already.

Abundance and sunshine to you all!
Flo & Mike

Local Table Launches in Paekakariki

The countdown is on for our official Local Table launch event! On Thursday 20th December 2012 from 5:30pm in St Peter’s Hall, Paekakariki. Entry by koha.

The whole village is invited to kick start the festive season together with a shared potluck meal. BYO homegrown meal, kaimoana etc or support our local foodies – deli pizza or fish & chips are all good too (BYO picnic utensils). During the meal you will hear an introduction to the Local Table competition (to take place in June 2013) followed by a Q&A session and handing out of info packs.

There will then be a talk by local resident, and expert green fingers, Hannah Zwartz on creating abundance in your garden and planning your harvest.

Any skill level is welcome, and kids can enter too, as there will be a children’s section in the competition -ultimately it’s all about participation and learning new skills.

And to wrap up the evening we hope to show a film!

What is The Local Table?

For more details please contact info@localtable.co.nz