At the Table
I know I am lucky living where I do and I am acutely aware of the abundance around me. Sometimes I lapse into complacency, take it for granted and need a jolt to make me marvel at it all over again.
That jolt happened at Labour Weekend, when I was invited to participate in the Moutere Artisan Day.
It was the second annual event in which the artisans of Moutere open their doors for everyone to come and celebrate their bounty. They are producers of food, wine, other beverages and art.
Moutere is without a doubt a beautiful part of our region. It is so productive, the land so fecund, it is the perfect spot to celebrate what it means to live here, why our life is so good and how easy it is for us to access and to buy products that are local, seasonal, fresh and made with care.
It is great to stop at Himmelsfeld Vineyard and step past the sheep to the cellar door and taste their wonderful aged wines.
To enter the cellar door at Neudorf and be greeted by Judy Finn and a crisp glass of 2013 Pinot Rose, and then to sit in the vineyard garden and look out at the hills and the vines is perfect any day.
Then to stop in at the village of Upper Moutere and at Moutere Gold and sample their amazing range of pickles, jams and Harakeke Wines, all produced by Andrew Sutherland and his wife Joanne Costar. They also stock Neudorf cheeses, olive oils, farm eggs, hazelnut oil and some wicked homemade Florentines, as well as great retro bowls designed and created by Moutere potter Owen Bartlett
Neudorf Rd alone is home to eight Moutere artisans. Long associated with one of the region's jewels, Neudorf Wines, it is also home to a number of other boutique producers.
At the start of the road on the right-hand side is Neudorf strawberries. On the left is Peckhams Cider, producing a range of craft ciders from traditional apple to blackberry.
There is also an egg seller close by. On the right again, a little further up, is Tim and Judy Finn's Neudorf Wines estate.
A bit further up is Neudorf Dairy, producing wonderful sheep cheese and a destination in its own right. Brian Beuke farms East Fresian and Awassi sheep, and says the taste of the cheese reflects the sweet grass and nuts they feed on.
The dairy is producing an amazing range of cheeses that include Mt Crusader a soft, velvety, lemony, white cheese perfect on its own with a drizzle of olive oil and some ripe tomatoes.
They also make feta and sarau, another soft cheese, yoghurt and hard cheeses such as Richmond Red, Mt Arthur and Neudorf.
I was even lucky enough to enter the dairy with cheesemaker Fiona Guyon, and came away with a pottle of ricotta, still warm and ready for the cannelloni that I made with it soon after.
A bit further up again is Neudorf Mushrooms. You wind up the hill past their trees, inoculated to produce fine boletus mushrooms, to find Hannes and Therese in the processing plant attached to their handcrafted home. At the top of the road is Neudorf Olives, with their Tuscan olive varieties producing well. They press on site and sell there, as well as at a number of local outlets.
Neudorf Rd is also home to a woodworker and sculptor selling from the studios.
I had the overwhelming feeling that if the end the world came, the people of Neudorf Rd would survive quite well from all they have on hand. So I invite you all, if you haven't done so already, to take a drive out to Moutere, introduce yourselves to the artisans, and pack your cars up with their fantastic fare, happy in the knowledge that it will taste better knowing its source so close by.
In the following recipes I have used the oil, the preserves and the cheeses of the Moutere artisans to be drunk with their wines and served from their dishes. A perfect experience.
ASPARAGUS, MT CRUSADER AND NEUDORF TARTS SERVED WITH MOUTERE GOLD CARROT AND MUSTARD SEED CHUTNEY
I sheet of puff pastry
1 shallot finely sliced
1 rasher of bacon in small pieces
5 asparagus spears
½ Mt Crusader cheese
1/4c cup of Richmond Red cheese
½ cup of milk
Salt and pepper Turn the oven to 180C. Roll the pastry and line large muffin tins. Saute the bacon until crisp.
Add the shallot to the pan and sauté until golden.
Lightly steam the asparagus and then slice into small pieces.
Slice the Mt Crusader and grate the Richmond Red. Whisk the eggs and add the milk and season with salt and pepper. In each muffin tin add a little bacon, shallot, pieces of asparagus, slices of Mt Crusader.
Add the egg mixture to the top of the pastry and add pieces of grated cheese. Bake until golden and cooked. Serve with spoonfulls of the carrot chutney and some of the spinach and basil salad
SPINACH AND BASIL SALAD WITH PINE NUTS AND NEUDORF HALLOUMI
4 cups of a mix of spinach leaves and basil leaves
cup of pine nuts
6 slices of halloumi
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Dry toast the pine nuts in a 180C oven until golden.
In a dry pan add the halloumi and cook until just golden on both sides. Break into pieces.
Wash and dry spinach leaves and basil leaves and arrange in a bowl. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add the nuts and halloumi and serve.
NEUDORF DAIRY RICOTTA AND RICHMOND RED CANNELLONI
Use a package of fresh lasagne sheets cut into 4 and then 4 again
For the filling
250g of ricotta cheese
100g of Richmond red finely grated
3 cloves of garlic crushed
4 cups of washed spinach leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg Cook the spinach until it wilts. Let it cool. Squeeze out the moisture and then finely chop.
Mix all the ingredients together. Place a good dollop onto each pasta sheet and roll up. Place in a baking dish and cover liberally with sauce. Cover with foil and bake in a 170C oven until tender. To check when it is done, stab with a sharp knife, there should be some resistance to the pasta.
8-10 cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced across the clove
3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
4 cans of best quality Italian tomatoes or 1½ kg of fresh Italian tomatoes
A big bunch of fresh basil and oregano or 1 tbs each of dried oregano and basil
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs of raw sugar
Sauté the garlic in olive oil until golden. Quickly add the tomatoes to make sure you don't overcook the garlic. Add the herbs and seasoning and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.