A pop of positivity

April 9, 2020

We passed the halfway point of the four-week lockdown last night.

There is very little chance we will get out of lockdown earlier and it is too soon to know whether it might extend beyond four weeks.

The decline, slow as it is,  in the number of new cases of Covid-19 gives reason for hope that four weeks might be enough to eliminate the disease, or at least get the spread so low it can be contained and the likelihood of that would be increased if all new arrivals are quarantined.

National launched a petition on Monday  calling for mandatory quarantining at the border and it had an unprecedented response:

. . .With the large number of cases overseas, experts, like epidemiologist Professor Sir David Skegg, say a blanket quarantine is needed to ensure Kiwis with the virus don’t return to the country and nullify any success our domestic lockdown measures have had. 

Likewise, the National Party leader told The AM Show that implementing a mandatory quarantine was about making sure the four-week lockdown wasn’t in vain.

“As we make sacrifices as New Zealanders, as dads can’t see their babies in hospital, as people can’t go to their loved ones’ funerals, let’s do some of the things that really matter,” he said.

“We know where COVID-19 is coming in from, it is offshore, that is where most of the cases are. This is urgent.” . . 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also appeared supportive of tighter border control on Tuesday.

“I agree with what Professor Skegg was saying, that, actually, if we’re going to go for the elimination approach, which is our extended keep it out, stamp it out, and for when we move down out into Alert Level 3, we need to be very confident we are not letting new cases into the country at the border,” he said. . . 

In the meantime, business not as usual goes on.

The regular newsletter from my MP, Jacqui Dean is usually full of what she’s been doing around the electorate.

The latest one is different as she is working from her lock down base.

She, like other electorate MPs, has been busy helping people in need of support, information  and advice.

She has also had time to notice the good things people and businesses have been doing:

A pop of positivity

Cardona Distillery

I visited Desiree and the team at Cardrona Distillery last year. It’s a wonderful family run business and I was impressed (but not surprised) by their offer of free hand sanitizer to locals who need it.

Prince Albert

We humans are social creatures and The Prince Albert in Wanaka has come up with a clever idea to keep their regulars connected. They’ve moved their weekly quiz night online, something I suspect could be a highlight on many social calendars in the coming weeks.

Bringing out the books

Geraldine’s new bookshop The Page and Post Booksellers has been offering a daily story time session through its Facebook page. Cromwell Community Board Chair and Goldfields School Principal Anna Harrison has done something similar by reading children’s books and posting the videos on YouTube.

Whitestone Taxis

Whitestone Taxis have offered to deliver Meals on Wheels to people in Oamaru without taking payment from Waitaki District Health Services. This news left me in no doubt that there are some absolute gems in this electorate. What a kind and generous offer.

Supermarket superstars

Frontline supermarket staff all deserve a round of applause at the moment but I’d like to give a special mention the owner-operators of supermarkets in our small towns who are going above and beyond in taking orders and delivering groceries to those who need it. I started to compile a list of the towns where this is happening and it just got too long – a wonderful reflection of community spirit.

Digital Libraries

Here’s a quote from the Waitaki District Libraries website that couldn’t be more appropriate in times like these:

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” ~ Anne Herbert

Their buildings may be closed but libraries are still there for you either on the phone, via email or social media, and you get your good reads using the digital platform.

Visit: https://library.waitaki.govt.nz/

https://codc-qldc.govt.nz/

#codclibraries #digitallibraryopen

When so much in the media is bad news, it was refreshing to read this pop of positivity and there’s plenty more.

Riverstone Kitchen chef Bevan Smith is live streaming cooking demonstrations.

Cucina chef Pablo Tacchini is live streaming cooking demonstrations too.

Netball NZ is offering free online fitness classes – Netfit.

Otago Museum has a range of activities including online jigsaw puzzles and Te Papa has online jigsaw puzzles too.

If you can add to th epop of positivity, pleaes do.


Culinary capital

November 29, 2019

Cuisine’s list of 100 top New Zealand restaurants includes three from the Waitaki District – Cucina in Oamaru, Riverstone Kitchen a few kilometres north of the town and Fleurs Place in Moeraki a few kilometres south.

Given the District has only around 22,000 people it is a contender for the most top restaurants per head of population in the country.

Queenstown Lakes, with nearly twice as many people,  would come a close second with Bistro Gentil and Kika in Wanaka; Botswana Butchery and Sherwood in Queenstown and Amisfield Bistro  at Lake Hayes on the list.

An out-of-town friend asked me which of the Waitaki restaurants was best. I couldn’t answer, they are all different and all serve delicious food, using the freshest ingredients, locally sourced where possible; and their food is enhanced by wonderful waiting staff.

We’re spoilt for choice in the country’s culinary capital.


The story of Cucina

November 7, 2019

Is there any small town more blessed by culinary delights than Oamaru?

Award-winning Riverstone Kitchen is a few kilometres north and the wonderful Fleurs Place a few kilometres south. Then there’s Portside on the harbour beside the Little Blue Penguin Colony and in the centre of town, at the entrance to the historic precinct,  is Cucina.

It’s owned by Beef + Lamb NZ ambassador chef, and multi Beef + Lamb excellence award winning chef Pablo Tacchini and his wife, Yanina Tacchini.

The restaurant features fresh, local produce.

Given they are Argentinean, the delicious meat they serve is no surprise but the Cucina menu also features fish, house-made pasta and vegetables.

 

Cucina is one of Oamaru’s gems and Pablo and Yanina make it sparkle.

If you are passing through town before Cucina opens in the early evening, Tees Street Cafe is open from early morning to late afternoon.

It is owned by Pablo and Yanina too and shares staff and the kitchen with Cucina.

You can read more about Pablo and Yanina in the ODT, and the Oamaru Mail,


Rural round-up

February 2, 2019

Oamaru chef makes the cut – Rebecca Ryan:

Cucina head chef Pablo Tacchini isn’t one to talk up his own reputation – but his food says it all.

Mr Tacchini’s exceptional culinary skills have seen him named a Beef + Lamb New Zealand ambassador chef for 2019.

He is one of five New Zealand chefs to have been selected, all recognised for driving innovation and creativity using New Zealand beef and lamb.

 

Fertigation: a new way of applying fertiliser:

A new guide has been released which will assist farmers and the irrigation industry to adopt the use of fertigation.

The method is a new way of applying fertiliser which is likely to reduce nitrogen leaching and save labour on farms.

Fertigation allows irrigators to be used to apply liquid fertiliser or liquid soluble fertiliser in small quantities at the same time as water. . . 

Potato sector looking chipper – Pam Tipa:

The opportunities for the potato industry lie in a planned series of sustainable developments, says Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge.

“We don’t see a boom and bust with potatoes, just a gradual improvement,” he says.

The sector is now close to a one billion dollar industry. . . 

NZ blackcurrant harvest improves:

Despite a difficult growing season, 2019 has delivered a high-quality blackcurrant harvest, signalling positive signs for the industry as research and international science point to the unique health boosting properties found naturally in New Zealand blackcurrants.

BCNZ chairman and grower, Geoff Heslop, says this season’s high-quality harvest has come at a good time for blackcurrant growers. . . 

NZ to take ownership of a new global agritech initiative:

New Zealand is going to take ownership of a new global agritech initiative, AgritechNZ chief executive Peter Wren-Hilton says.

Wren-Hilton has just returned from the US where he met a number of key AgritechNZ partners in Farm2050 which was set up to solve the global food challenge. By the year 2050, the global population will reach 10 billion people, requiring a 70 percent increase in food production. . . 

Lamb is meat of choice for environmentally conscious millennials, group says :

As the end of Veganuary comes close, sheep farmers are reminding consumers of the dietary and environmental benefits of locally produced lamb.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has reiterated the benefits of British lamb as the month-long vegan campaign, ‘Veganuary’, comes to an end. Lamb producers have spent much of January responding to queries and giving interviews on why sheep reared in Britain are beneficial for the environment and why consuming British sheepmeat is one of the most sustainable options for the country. . . 

Understanding the values behind farmer perceptions of trees on farms to increase adoption of agroforestry in Australia – Aysha Fleming, Anthony P O’Grady, Daniel Mendham, Jacqueline England, Patrick Mitchell, Martin Moroni, Arthur Lyons:

Agriculture faces increasing sustainability pressures. Land intensification and degradation, energy use and inputs, complex environmental management, social issues facing farming communities and climate change are just some of the headline sustainability concerns threatening the viability of farming. Simultaneously, there is a need to increase food and fibre production and resource use efficiency. For many of these sustainability issues, increasing the number of trees planted in agricultural systems, or agroforestry, can improve the productivity and sustainability of future rural agricultural landscapes. In many parts of the world, the benefits of agroforestry remain under-realised. To understand the reasons behind this, interviews were conducted with 44 predominantly mixed enterprise farmers and farm advisors in Tasmania, Australia.  . . 


NZ Beef and Lambassadors

January 25, 2019

Pablo Tacchini from Cucina in Oamaru is one of Beef + Lamb NZ’s Ambassador Chefs.

Pablo is originally from Argentina where he trained at the culinary institute, Mausi Sebess for two and a half years. He worked in Argentina in different restaurants for more than five years before coming to New Zealand for a holiday with his wife and young son. They fell in love with New Zealand, especially Oamaru and after being offered a job as a chef they decided to stay and make New Zealand home. 

Pablo worked at restaurants around the Otago region before taking over as head chef at Cucina 1871. About two years ago the opportunity came about for Pablo and his wife to buy the restaurant. They changed the name to Cucina, upgraded the decor and changed the food style to what it is now. 

Pablo’s style of cuisine is a reflection of what he grew up eating with his family every day. Part of his family comes from Italy and the other part from Spain, so when he mixes these two influences with his Argentinian culture, his style of cuisine gets very interesting. . . 

Oamaru is blessed with several restaurants where diners are guaranteed delicious food and wonderful service.

Riverstone Kitchen a few kilometres north and Fleurs Place to the south are the most well known.

Cucina, at the entrance to Oamaru’s historic precinct, facing the southern end of the town’s main street is just as good.

Beef + Lamb’s media release on the Ambassador Chefs:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have announced their five Ambassador Chefs for 2019 to act as figureheads to drive innovation and creativity within the foodservice sector. The appointments follow the announcement of the 173 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award holders for 2019, with the ambassadors selected from some of the highest rated restaurants during the assessments.

The five selected for the coveted roles are; Andrew May (Amayjen the Restaurant, Feilding) Freddie Ponder (Tables Restaurant, New Plymouth), Jarrod McGregor (Rothko at Sculptureum, Matakana), Pablo Tacchini (Cucina, Oamaru) and Scott Buckler (No. 31 Restaurant, Hanmer Springs). . . 

The Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chefs’ roll of honour looks like a who’s who of Kiwi culinary trailblazers, with the quintet following in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s most celebrated chefs. Peter Gordon, Ben Bayley, Sid Sahrawat, Kate Fay and Rex Morgan are just a few of Aotearoa’s finest that have featured in an ambassadorial capacity for Beef + Lamb New Zealand over the 23 years of the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards. . . 

Lisa Moloney has been Food Service Manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand for over 12 years, overseeing the Ambassador Chef programme. Lisa said: “This year’s ambassadors have been selected not just because they are fantastic chefs, they were identified because of their creativity, dedication and excitement for cooking with beef and lamb. 

Their purpose is simple; to inspire a network of likeminded chefs to move forward, try something new and showcase what amazing creations are possible with beef and lamb.

Kiwi food fanatics looking to sample the very best the ambassadors have to offer will be able to attend an Ambassador Series Dinner, hosted at each of the chef’s restaurant, with each chef being paired with a Platinum Ambassador Chef to create a unique beef and lamb dining experience.

The Excellence Awards and Ambassador Chefs give recognition to the chefs who highlight beef and lamb on their menus and do it superbly.


365 days of gratitude

December 27, 2018

A friend was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. The initial outlook was bleak but the prognosis is looking better now.

I phoned for a catch up with him and his wife yesterday and during the conversation we got on to Cucina, one of our favourite restaurants and decided to go together tonight.

Over delicious food, with the warm and efficient service we always get, we chatted, laughed and reminisced.

TOnight I’m grateful for good food, good company and good friends.


365 days of gratitude

December 20, 2018

Beef + Lamb NZ announced the annual Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards recently.

The Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards are New Zealand’s longest running culinary awards originally established back in 1997. For 23 years the Excellence Awards have been acknowledging the skills, expertise and talent of our greatest chefs. New Zealand is renowned for its world-class beef and lamb by locals and visitors alike. The intention of the Excellence Awards is to further extend the remarkable New Zealand food story by seeking out and acknowledging the great work our chefs do to contribute to this. The restaurants who currently hold the 2018 Excellence Award have not been compared with each other in the assessment process. Rather, they have been judged on their individual merits and style of cuisine. So, whenever you see the prestigious gold plate hanging on a restaurant wall, you can expect tasty, skillfully composed and superbly presented beef and lamb dishes.

Among this year’s recipients, again, was Cucina in Oamaru.

We ate there this evening and, as we’ve come to expect, received a very warm welcome, excellent service and delicious food using fresh local ingredients for all of which I’m grateful.

 


365 days of gratitude

June 24, 2018

Sunday lunch with friends, but not an ordinary lunch, it was Cucina’s Argentinean long lunch and it was delicious:

Spicy soup with chorizo and chick peas; two pasta dishes; apple slaw, carrots, beef short ribs and lamb cooked over a fire followed by ice cream with dulce de leche and whisky, an alfajore, two wee eclairs and quince in a short pastry crust.

It was a very pleasant way to pass a Sunday afternoon and I’m very grateful for it.

 


365 days of gratitude

January 31, 2018

It was 36 degrees when I drove into town this afternoon.

On the long list of things I didn’t want to do in that heat was cook dinner and I didn’t have to.

We went to Cucina with friends, where we’re always assured of delicious dinner.

Someone else did the cooking, did it superbly and I”m very grateful for that.


365 days of gratitude

November 16, 2016

Oamaru hosted a minor Argentinean invasion tonight.

We took our three Argentinean visitors out to dinner and were joined by a fourth.

We chose Cucina, which is owned by an Argentinean couple and by coincidence three of their compatriots were sitting at the table beside us.

Tonight I’m grateful for delicious food in delightful company and the serendipitous meeting of so many people from Argentina.


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