Good things: September 2015

Like a lot of food bloggers, I get asked to spruik a lot of stuff. Mostly, I don’t do it, not least because I often have no interest in the products they’re flogging. I’d also like to think I have more respect for my readers than expect them to read posts that say ‘look, here’s something I got for free and you didn’t’.

But every now and then I find something that I think really DOES warrant being written about. Here are a few of these things that have crossed my path recently.

I’m ashamed to admit it, because in theory I have a herb garden at my disposal, but this new range of lightly dried herbs from Australian company Gourmet Garden is really, really good.
If fresh herbs go to your fridge to die, half-used (or, like me, you can’t be bothered trekking to the bottom of your garden in the dark to pick your own), then these will be a god-send. Like the name suggests, they’re very lightly dried, so they last up to a month once opened but they’re still ‘live’ enough to taste fresh and perky. There are three herbs – basil, parsley and coriander, plus ginger and chilli. I’d love it if they did hard-to-find herbs like tarragon and dill too, but maybe I should just hurry up and grow my own.

According to conventional wisdom, eating ginger biscuits is a guaranteed remedy for morning sickness. In my limited experience, this is an outright lie. All it did for me was a) get crumbs in the bed and b) make me feel sick whenever I saw a packet of ginger biscuits. It’s taken me a long time to get over that Pavlovian response, but I’ve finally cracked it. Just in time, too, for the arrival of Nairn’s Stem Ginger Oat Biscuits in New Zealand. These are seriously good, with little nuggets of proper stem ginger inside, and a crunchy texture. They’re also not too sweet, and good with cheese. Speaking of which…

…this isn’t new, but our amazing neighbours brought it over last weekend. It’s Ngawi Brie, made over the hill in the Wairarapa by Miles and Janet King of Kingsmeade Cheese. I interviewed the Kings a few years ago and I’ve made a conscious effort to support them by buying their cheese ever since (such a sacrifice).

Last of all, I’ve made a surprising discovery at the other end of the scale. It’s this – Pam’s Cocoa.

Believe it or not, this is the best supermarket cocoa you can buy. It knocks spots off the Cadbury Bournville stuff, which is like light brown dust in comparison. True, it’s not Valrhona, but it’s also much more wallet-friendly. And that always leaves a good taste in my mouth!

What new discoveries have you made this month?



  1. September 12, 2015 / 6:55 am

    Those herbs do look quite appealing. We've used the stuff in tubes by the same folk but found it lacking, and theoretically are going to establish a herb garden but probably that'll happen in about a decade…

    Totally with you on Pam's cocoa – so much better than the other supermarket offerings. Though I would also settle for Valhrona if I didn't have to pay for it.

    • September 14, 2015 / 11:46 pm

      The herbs really are good! I've never bought the tubed stuff because, well, it comes in a tube, but the semi-dried stuff is great. Try it!

  2. September 13, 2015 / 8:42 pm

    I also agree about Pam's cocoa. A friend looked in my pantry yesterday and was horrified at my collection of Pam's staples. Her question was something along the lines of, "So, you can use cheap cocoa to bake with and it doesn't matter then?" Little does she know! 🙂 Same goes for basic vanilla essence. While nothing is as good as Heilala for me, Pam's beats sickly sweet Hansells any day.

    • September 14, 2015 / 11:45 pm

      Yes, I agree there's no substitute for proper vanilla, but I'll try the Pam's one on your recommendation!

  3. September 16, 2015 / 1:12 pm

    I'd really like to try those ginger biscuits as I love nairns oatcakes – I gather Pam's is a kiwi brand – mostly we have cadbury cocoa but every now and then I find something a little better but not regularly available in my supermarket – and I am guilty of limp herbs at the bottom of the fridge so am interested to hear how you find the dried herbs

    • September 23, 2015 / 8:10 am

      Sorry, Pam's is a NZ supermarket own brand, not generally known for being of superior quality. The herbs, however, are great. They work best when going on/in something liquid so they reconstitute slightly – eg I made a kind of fish ramen last week and sprinkled in the ginger, chilli and coriander to great effect. Try them!

  4. September 28, 2015 / 1:02 am

    Lightly dried herbs – a fantastic idea. Shame we can't source them locally in NZ. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  5. October 4, 2015 / 4:42 pm

    Lucy, I like the herb idea. For some reason, I've had very poor results in my herb garden these last couple of years. And those ginger biscuits would go well with a nice cup of tea. I make everything with as little sugar as possible, so most store-bought treats taste way too sweet for me.

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