Frankly, I wasn't blown away by my restaurant meals during my recent stay in Auckland. We had some genuinely fun and tasty dinners, but what I'll continue to remember are the meals based around ingredients that we were able to pick, scavenge and hunt ourselves.
Our hunting and gathering started close to home, at G and G's beautiful garden just outside Auckland:
which had everything from fresh herbs to potatoes:
Maytel had the brilliant idea to take some of the abundant Swiss chard (known locally as silverbeet) and combine it with a blue cheese studded béchamel, which Hock topped with crispy breadcrumbs:
Twice we were given rabbit, an invasive menace in New Zealand, whose hunting is encouraged:
One lot we braised with red wine and served over homemade gnocchi:
and with another two I made two vast pots of rabbit and oyster gumbo, easily the tastiest gumbo I've ever assembled.
After a few days in Auckland we headed over to nearby Waiheke Island:
where within minutes of arriving, we were on our knees looking for pipis, a type of local shellfish:
We found none, but instead came upon heaps of deliciously salty cockles, half of which we grilled:
accompanied, courtesy of G and G, by a 2000 vintage Moët (it wasn't all hard work):
and the other half Maytel stir-fried Chinese-style.
The next day we took off on G and G's boat, The Beaver, for some fishing, and returned 12 hours later with this catch of snapper:
Hock filleted the entire lot, some of which we gave to the neighbours, some of which I made into a ceviche (following this simple recipe from memory), and the remainder of which he made into some truly memorable fish and chips:
Amazingly, it wasn't until virtually my last day in New Zealand that I set foot in a grocery store.