Monthly Archives: April 2016

Bring on Autumn


Our gardens seems to be changing daily at the moment, more and more deciduous trees are turning golden and the leaves are starting to carpet our driveway and lawn. When I was visiting Mt Difficulty restaurant  several years ago with a tour group the Maître D  said the best Autumn colour is in the first week of May (Although after our very dry summer I think we might be there). Central Otago is certainly the most stunning region in New Zealand for Autumn colour and sitting drinking a Pinot Noir in my favourite Carrick or Mt Difficulty, surrounded by the hills of Bannockburn with the vineyards and Cherry Orchards lined up below you – it really can’t get any better.


Now is the season for Pumpkins, Walnuts, Quince, Pears and Apples plus the last of the Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries. I find myself making jars of jelly with all sorts of Autumn fruits especially Quince, Crab Apples and my favourite Japonica Apples. Jelly is such useful kitchen favourite and although its delicious dripping from a hot croissant fresh from the Farmers Market. I probably use it more by adding 2- 3 tablespoons along with a splash of wine to deglaze a frying pan after cooking a steak or lamb chops, or the wonderful Havoc Pork tenderloins and always for a chicken breast . Once it has reduced down add a knob of butter and  pour over your selected meat- Easy and delicious. Always stunning is adding  2-3 tablespoons of red currant Jelly to a Beef Bourguignon at the end of the cooking time . Just adds a touch of sweetness.

I have included a couple of  charming Autumn recipes;

Bruschetta with Pumpkin, Blue Cheese and Sage
1 kilogram pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1cm pieces
6 large sage leaves, torn roughly
extra Virgin olive oil
8 Slices of Ciabatta Bread or a sliced French Stick on an angle
1 clove garlic
120 grams blue cheese

Preheat oven to 200 deg Celsius
Place the pumpkin and sage leaves in a baking dish.
Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss. Season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt.
Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the pumpkin is beginning to brown around the edges.
Toast bread on both sides. Rub with the garlic clove.
Divide the pumpkin among the toast slices and top with cubes of blue cheese.
Bake 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese just begins to melt.
Serve drizzled with a little more olive oil.

Steamed Blackberry Puddings 
250 grams blackberries or … raspberries , rhubarb etc
3 eggs separated
100 grams caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoons melted butter
150 ml buttermilk
200 gams self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

 Pre-heat oven to180C. Grease 6 x200ml ramekins.
Divide the blackberries between the ramekins. (If using frozen blackberries do not thaw them out.)
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the caster sugar until thick and frothy. Stir in the melted butter and buttermilk.
Mix in the flour and baking powder. Fold in the egg whites.
Spoon the batter into the ramekins. Stand the ramekins in a baking dish pour in enough water to come half way up the sides of the ramekin. Cover the baking dish with tin foil.
Bake for 30 minutes. Let the puddings sit for 5-6 minutes before turning them out.

Great with Vanilla Custard


What’s Been Fun:

  • Walking the beach at low tide on one of our many calm sunny warm days.
  • Going to the first Italian dinner at ‘ The Esplanade” complete with Italian wines and a stunning menu from Pia Paolo.   You could have been in a Tratorria anywhere in Italy… Look out for the next one.
  • Picking the last of our roses.
  • Eating the flavoursome cherry tomatoes and courgettes from the garden.
  • Writing a list of all  the little maintenance jobs around the house and knocking them off one by one. ( so satisfying)
  • Having Michael  Coughlin back at Pier 24.
  • Chatting with Annabel White for a few hours about travel tours.
  • Going to the Movie’ Florence and the Ufizzi Gallery’ at the weekend – There are 3 more movies in this series :             ‘Teatro Alla Scala’ from May 12  :’ Leonardo Da Vinci’ from June 9  : ‘The Papal Basilicas of Rome’ from June 30              All at the Rialto . I am sure other centres must have these amazing movies too. Check them out….
  • Planting my Tulip bulbs in pots and when they start to flower I will dot them around the garden. I did this last year and it was a great success.

What Am I Looking Forward To :

  • High Tea with the New Zealand Ballet   2 High Tea with the RNZB Dunedin
  • Fashion Event hosted by the Golden Centre and Otago Polytechnic – Thursday 19th May. Proceeds are  going to the Otago Community Hospice.Dunedin’s Golden Centre Mall, is hosting Darnell 16 –  a glamorous fashion show of priceless international couture from the Darnell Collection – not seen before in Dunedin, presented by author Charlotte Smith (Dreaming of Chanel and Dreaming of Dior) and curator of the Darnell Collection, (   Darnell Collection    
  • My tour to Turkey beginning on the 25th May.
  • Spending a week in Edinburgh  after Turkey planning a new tour to Scotland and Normandy.
  • Demonstrating at Kitchen Things  as part of the Otago Polytechnics Food design conference  – June 30th                              Along with Dunedin’s  ‘Food Share ‘ and the NZ  wide  ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ Campaign it will be a night of instant inspiration creating meals out of the food donated to Food Share on the day. Think this might be hilarious…
  • Our garden is going to be in the May edition of NZ Gardener !!!

As you can see there is a lot on .. Have fun. Judith XXX

Glorious Dunedin / Stunning Central Otago

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I once again had the privilege to show off my home town Dunedin with a tour group  who came from as far away as Tutakaka  in Northland to Wellington and Christchurch. All except one had travelled with me before and our tight group was a load of fun , enthusiastic and ready for every new experience.

On our first night in Dunedin at Distinction Hotel a very talented Chef Hannes created an outstanding degustation dinner. He set the standard and from here on Dunedin dining experiences ranged from: a Seafood selection at Fleurs in Moeraki, a delicious platter at Vault 21 in the Octagon, to my very unexpected and surprise picnic at my friends private boatshed on the Otago Harbour.

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Fashion iD Events in the evenings meant my tour group was caught up in the excitement and crowds at the extraordinary   Emerging Designer awards  on Thursday  night  and the famous Railway station catwalk on Friday night. But, there is always time to visit one of Dunedin’s major historical sites and immerse ourselves in the Larnach Castle gardens, along with Dunedin’s  Art Gallery, a little  contemporary Jewellery shopping at Lure and a walk in and out of our very good designer clothing shops.

PicMonkey Collage 9This tour has to incorporate my love of gardens and my dear friends Susie and William Cockerill once again provided a well deserved stop in Ophir, after a drive thought the magnificent Maniototo. With an orange and date scone and a cup of coffee   in ours  hands  we walked around their expansive garden created with vision and a love of their Blacks Rd property.

As we headed off into Central Otago the countryside  moves into Grape growing country and the Famous Pinot Noir Vineyards which now blanket the hillsides and surround Cromwell. Lunch platters at Mt Difficulty and a wine tasting introduced my group to this beautiful landscape and its easy to sit in the sun and take in the views of the glistening Lake Dunstun in the distance, rows of cherry trees and vines heavy with fruit below us .

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I can’t speak more highly of the food and service we had at all our restaurants . Bistro Gentil in Wanaka was no exception and the charming Irish waiter helped make our night a fun experience. Everyone could  match the wine with each course from the Enomatic wine dispensing machines –  choosing from 24 wines . The use of seasonal fresh Otago produce was evident where ever we went.

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I suppose one of the iconic meals on this tour and an experience everyone must do is to partake in a ‘Chefs Choice’ long lunch at Amisfield -Lake Hayes . From 1.30 until 4.30 each course was a surprise and accompanied by their award winning wines. The lunch was a winner too… . Finishing with their famous slow cooked lamb shoulder meant today dessert wasn’t an option!!

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Prior to lunch, Janet Blair walked  us around her expansive garden and ones of New Zealand’s  garden jewels. This is perfection at its best and worked in tirelessly by a true very clever plantswoman. With incredible foresight and knowledge she has created an oasis where their very old 1860’s house sits contentedly and comfortable, draped in a colourful ornamental grape and surrounded by the most pristine cut box hedges you will ever see.

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And … onto Queenstown our final destination  – Feeling very full and not the least hungry our accommodation at Peppers Beacon was a welcome rest. Each apartment had a balcony where you could sit and take in the activities on Lake Wakitapu and enjoy the stunning mountain views on a  gorgeous mild balmy evening.

We didn’t want to think of our last day in what has been a wonderful trip with wonderful people. Today a local Queenstowner Matt drove us up the side of the lake past the Lord of the Rings sites –  where he performed as an extra, to Glenorchy and further onto Paradise. The day was moody,grey and very calm and we could see in the distance the clouds dumping rain in Milford and the west coast .Its an opportunity to admire the early colonists that came to this region for gold and eventually farming and appreciate how hard life must have been in this climate that can be so extreme.

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Before dinner was the last tour surprise!  It was to get dressed up and go for a cocktail !!! Dressed up !!! Not in a cocktail dress, but   a heavy coat, boots and gloves and drink a cocktail out of a glass made of ice in the Ice Bar. It was  a hilarious time and always unexpected. It was very very cold and consequently was not a long leisurely  drink.

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Last Day means last night dinner . I booked a private room at Botwanna Butchery and it was so lovely. We could talk and chat easily. Enjoy a beautiful dinner of whitebait, beef and a picturesque cream brulee and reminisce over the past 6 days.

Thank you to my gorgeous group – sadly Adrienne who couldn’t make it will have to come next year. I am finishing by sharing a couple of the lovely comments I received after the tour  and I am ready for 2017.


  • My enjoyment of the tour far exceeded my expectations. Loved meeting your wonderful friends all of whom shared your passion for Otago.
  • Our tour was so well organized, our accommodation great the food and wine was superb, we visited some wonderful gardens and great restaurants, and met some lovely people Our time went so fast, it would be nice to do it all again.