Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review Wither Hills Wine 2013 as consumed in London

10 years ago this lovely wine was one of my favorites. It was quite expensive - but lovely floral and complex.

Then something happened it turned into essentially sugar water - it lost its gooseberry bite. I not sure if was targeting the US market?

Occasional I buy a bottle - out of nostalgia - such as the 2013 which was on special today for £5.49

Yuk though!

What happened why did it get so sweet?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


CHEERS: Nelson couple Debbie and David Wright with their range of Wai-Kawa mixer drinks, from left, Bitter Lemon with Horopito, Kiwi Cola with Kawakawa and Tonic Water with Horopito.
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A Nelson couple have launched a new line of soft-drink mixers infused with extracts from native plants kawakawa and horopito.

Debbie and David Wright have just finished their first production run of 4000 bottles and are working on securing distributors.

"It's exciting and nerve-racking at the same time," Mrs Wright said.

The mixers are sold under the Wai-kawa label, which means bitter water, and come in three flavours – Bitter Lemon with horopito, Tonic Water with horopito and Kiwi Cola with kawakawa.

Mr Wright says they are designed to be used as mixers, but can be drunk by themselves, although the horopito in the tonic water had a peppery kick.

The couple moved to Nelson for family reasons after spending the past few years in Australia and Singapore.

Mr Wright worked in technology with mobile phones and Mrs Wright is a locum nurse, so it is their first foray into the food and drink industry.

They wanted to do something uniquely New Zealand and liked the way that other companies had taken a product and given it distinctly local flavours, such as 42 Below with its manuka honey vodka, Mr Wright said.

While both horopito and kawakawa have medicinal properties, the couple are not claiming any health benefits for their products, although it is an avenue they are keen to investigate further.

The Wrights launched their product at the Auckland Food Show last month. They worked to incredibly tight deadlines and despite "a few hairy moments", everything had come together just in time. They were thrilled with the feedback they received.

Mr Wright said the product was a Nelson collaboration. They got their organic horopito from Nelson-based company Forest Herbs Research, which grew the plants on land that backed on to Kahurangi National Park.

Horopito is an ancient flowering plant with high levels of anti-oxidants and was used by Maori as a sedative tonic.

The kawakawa leaves were harvested from farmland, dried and made into a tea-like infusion. The botanical extracts were removed from the plants by food scientists in Christchurch and the mixers were bottled using Nelson aquifer water at the McCashin's plant in Main Rd, Stoke. Nelson company Hot House had designed the labels, Mr Wright said.

The mixers retail for about $3.50 each and can be bought from McCashin's.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Innovating Beverage Brands - by intense Localisation

Living in the UK now - I do miss New Zealand. Unfortunately I'm a an age where I need to be in a big city to survive - I need to work on big stuff and big ideas - and well New Zealand or Australia I don't fit right now.


One thing I admire about London is its intense intellectual curiosity. And more than not this curiosity pours over into Innovation. Its not a USA - $100 million Venture Capital backed - kick butt - leverage enormous debt and rule the world curiosity -  its lets be smart - and London is enough!

So the two food innovations that caught my eye:


Basically the meantime brewery is providing people with hop plants all over the city. They call it "crowd sourced beer". How clever!

A true London Brew - also encouraging harvesting in an urban environment! A brilliant idea - I wonder what it will tastes like. The beers will been named - via voting on Twitter.


Gin is big in London right now - and there are constant Gin launches. But back to innovation!

Upmarket Dodd's Gin Distillery flavors their latest Gin from honey made from urban London bees. They say the complex honey it perfect for the Gin.

Its for sale at upmarket Fortnum and Mason's

Both products are innovative - but also evoke pride for the location in which they were produced. In addition - both ideas and therefore products received extensive London press.

Sometimes New Zealand banks too much on its "clean green image" re products.

Plus - mention New Zealand to someone in the UK - mostly they will say - its such a long way away - its a beautiful country... no mention re: clean and green!

I'd prefer to see more innovative ideas s and product- there is a large and curious market in London waiting.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ultra Cheap Cooking for Poor New Zealand Children ala Jack Monroe

I'm based in the UK now but think of New Zealand all the time - and dream about retiring on the Kapiti Coast - catching Snapper in my retirement.

It probably won't happen.

I still read all the papers.

Some time back I saw that for the first time - you can sponsor Kiwi children - just like you would - children in Africa. It seemed a sad turn of events - New Zealand is essentially a food basket - children should not be doing without. All is obviously not well in Aotearoa!

It's the same here in the UK - unfortunately globalization in reality means - the rich get even richer - everyone else is fated to be slaves (or worse). However - as brutal as this is - someone like John Key will say - well we have to compete (i.e. let the US spy on us for favorable trading terms).

In the UK an intriguing lady Jack Monroe - a single mother - lost her job - had no money and had the challenge of feeding her child on no money.

She is currently writing a book with super cheap recipes - that could help people in their time of need. It is likely the ingredients (often canned veggies!) could be limited to the UK - but the book will certainly be fill of ideas that could be applied to NZ.

Here blog is here

Kawakawa Roast Chicken

One of my favorite dishes (which I can't get now being in the UK!) is dried Kawakawa sprinkled over a roast chicken (lamb works as well).

The taste explosion is ridiculous.

No one seems to use native herbs in NZ cooking - which is such as waste.

Its so easy as Kawakawa grows like a weed - anywhere from Wellington to Auckland!

Just pick a shopping bag full a leaves and then dry. Then use as a herb.

For some reason using the herb as a seasoning for roasts - brings out an incredible flavor.

Make sure - its is just a dusting though!

If you don't like it - I'll buy you another chicken!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The march of House Brands in Australian Supermarkets

I have not posted for ages - mainly because I am in Australia - and therefore not a part of the New Zealand food scene. I do sometimes see New Zealand products that have made it to the supermarkets. The latest one I saw was Pitango -  high class soups and mushes.

However, the thing you notice here is the aggressive rise of the House Brand - i.e. Super Market Brands - Coles etc.. Anything that comes in a packet or a tin is fair game. And usually the House Brand is cheaper - much cheaper - and Australian shoppers are turning to these brands in uncertain economic times.

House Branding is simple - basically Coles or Woolies says to manufacturers can you replicate - say - San Remo pasta - for a CHEAP price and stick our brand on it. So the manufacturer essential copies the product - the box sand serving size identical - just new pictures on the box. They then put their House Brand next to the orginal - and sure enough people say well I was only making a shitty Lasagne anyway - so I will go with the House Brand and save a buck.

In terms of - well where is the stuff made - well China, by the factories of well known brands etc... etc... The supermarkets control the supply chain - so everyone JUMP's.

I think what the Super Markets is largely intellectual property theft - they don't create anything new - they just copy copy copy. Not illegal - and due to their market power - supplier protests are muted.

I wonder if this is the beginning of the death of product brands. No one seems to care whether their flour is Coles or from long term trusted producer brand. The are struggling with kids and bills - and don't really give a shit.

In someways - perhaps it will force people to local markets.

I am not sure - but the supermarket isles are starting to look very 1984.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Official Drink of the Rugby World Cup - Kiwi Cola

dun dun dun....

Actually no - it is Coke. However, I make the Kiwi Cola and though it would have been perfect for visitors to the Cup - something that contains New Zealand Native Kawakawa.

The thing is - sooo much tax payers $$$ has been thrown at the World Cup - you would have thought the locals - like me would have had a crack at selling and showcasing their products - in the hope of targeting larger markets.

No doubt - I will not be able to sell Kiwi Cola - anywhere near any of the events or parties.... I will be banished to the local markets - to sell my gourmet sparkling cola product surrounded by Leeks and baby carrots.