Waikato businesses help make Christmas dinner memorable

Jonathan Walker of Soggy Bottom Holdings likes his home-grown free-range ham at Christmas.
FAIRFAX NZ

Jonathan Walker of Soggy Bottom Holdings likes his home-grown free-range ham at Christmas.

Board shorts, cold salads, thunderous heat and glazed ham on the barby - that's what Christmas meals are made of.

Top it off with a kiwifruit topped pavlova and you're left nursing a swollen belly in the shade of of a beach side caravan awning for the rest of the festivities.

Ahh ... Christmas.

Feastbox co-owners Tara Wrigley, left, and Rachel Brown want to lift Kiwis' experience of the perfect Christmas barbecue.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/FAIRFAX NZ

Feastbox co-owners Tara Wrigley, left, and Rachel Brown want to lift Kiwis' experience of the perfect Christmas barbecue.

It's just a few weeks away and the ultimate dinner menu is creeping up in the minds of families around the country.

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Ask Jonathan Walker, owner of Soggy Bottom Holding, a free-range pig farm, butchery and kitchen on the outskirts of Ngaruawahia.

"I'd usually eat the biggest one of those," Walker said. "The biggest and the fastest roast ham would be our normal Christmas dinner.

"Every now and then I might have a turkey, but the ham is much nicer."

Being from the Northern Hemisphere, Walker said turkey was traditional fare, sometimes goose. But since living in New Zealand, he goes for ham.

If it's warm, he'll have it with a salad. If it's cooler, he goes for roast parsnips and potatoes and creamy carrots.

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"It's delicious and the fact that it lasts a few days I like as well."

Roasting a ham on the barbecue is fairly common in our part of the world, but for FeastBox owner Rachel Brown, originally from England, it's a novelty she's fast getting used to.

"It's just the most obvious, simple thing to do, but I guess people just don't think of doing it," Brown said.

She got the idea from Warren Klein, co-owner of Hamilton business Chef Ready Meats, a supplier to her delivered-to-your-door Christmas feasts, who cooks his hams in a hooded barbecue on 160C for three hours, basting as he goes.

Amid the hustle and bustle and the children finishing school and end-of-year work dos and shopping for Christmas presents, buying food can be a drag.

So Brown and her business partner Tara Wrigley have put in all the hard work on what they think is the ultimate Christmas meal, provided by their Raglan-based business.

They've prepared the menu, sourcing the food from as many local suppliers as possible to create a box full of goods, a three-course meal for up to 12.

Hot-smoked Akaroa salmon with truffle-cured pork lomo with baby leaf salad on sourdough bread. That's a small taste of the entree.

For the main, there's a choice of ham, turkey, lamb or pork with Maori potatoes, lemon-scented asparagus and Mercer goat cheese.

Then there's the dessert platter. Don't get me started on the dessert platter.

"We always like to think we are helping people make special memories," Wrigley said. "Our meals can help families or groups of friends get together and make a really special occasion they can remember for a long time to come."

 - Stuff

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