rootsrestaurant

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Our garden is in spring mode, sprouts, roots vegetables, seedlings, propagation by cuttings… It’s a lot of enjoyable work preparing the soil and compost to get the most of the garden in the next 6 month. We have all the beds and terraces planned, so now with over a year old managing Roots garden we have a better knowledge of the sun and winds that could affect the harvest in a good or bad way.
We are confident, this summer it will be better than the last one but there is still a lot more to do to get to our goal of local gardens in the Lyttelton harbor.

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Our bread is a love story. I started the sourdough mother the week after the earthquake almost 3 years ago, since then it has been like a baby for me. There is a special attachment to it because we eat bread almost every day and we have been sharing the starter with so many people that we feel like we are sharing a little more than just water flour and bacteria. Freshly milled flour, whole wheat and rye, sometimes purple wheat, but it is always so rewarding making bread by hand, naturally fermented over three days, and baked at high temp.

Tofu, crab, avocado, early spring garden.

I ate tofu and many soy derivates for one whole year, I was on a treatment with a vegan diet when I was 7 years old because of health problems. I will never forget tofu so I thought that it would be nice to make my own with NZ grown soy. It worked really well for the first attempt of silken tofu. So far we want to find the best way to serve it, savory or sweet, warm or cold. We have tried all of them with different ingredients all of them with products grown close by and with our own approach to taste. This one with crab was a sweet thing all together, lemon and honey vinaigrette with all the vegetables created a nice texture and fresh feeling on the palate.

Why Cook it Raw

Simple… I know nothing and I am thirsty to know more.

I see how the world is changing and every day I feel more responsible for what I do and how it could affect my future. My two year old daughter has opened my eyes even more than ever, how will her life be in 20 years time? It is something that comes and goes through my head but I know I have the opportunity to create an answer for that. The answer starts now and not tomorrow.

We live in community and we create community, every human relation that I can connect with gives me the opportunity to build a bigger and stronger inter-relationship with my environment, people and nature. I would like to take every chance in life that I am able to absorb knowledge knowing that time is the only thing that can limit my life experience.

My work is food, but I like to refer to work as passion, and I love what I do, it is that passion that connects me with people that has taken me to where I am now. I am a curious person and I dont want to give for granted what I could get from nature with my hands, each day I make a new menu and find more people growing incredible seasonal produce, visit the farms and walk the land. We live in an abundant and beautiful country where the raw products should be highly respected. On the plate there is the story behind each ingredient, that of nature, nurture, and love. A gift, a legend, one worthy of passing on. 

I firmly believe that if we get together as people that respect and care for our environment we can create a better future building a foundation for an essential and basic need that is eating good food.

Garden, Spring 2013

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So far, for this summer (from seed), in the terraces, raised and pots:

New Zealand Potatoes

  • Kowiniwini
  • MoeMoe
  • Waiporoporo
  • Karuparera
  • Huakaroro

Radishes, Raphanus Sativus

  • Cherrybelle
  • French Breakfast
  • Round Black Spainsh
  • Purple Plum
  • German Giant

Basil, Ocimum Basilicum

  • Greek Mini
  • Cinnamon
  • Red Opal
  • Thai Siam Queen
  • Dark Opal
  • Fino Verde
  • Corsican
  • Spicy Globe
  • Mrs Burns Lemon
  • Amethyst

Carrots

  • Scarlet Nantes
  • Paris Market

Lettuce, Latuca Sativa

  • Ice King
  • Buttercrunch
  • Freckles
  • Miners

John Whiting, Woodfield Gamebirds

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Game birds, that is what he has been doing for the last 15 years. He breeds partridges, guinea fowls, pheasants and quails (Japanese and Californian). 

I meet him over a year a go, when we were doing our supper clubs and I was in the first stages of building a good list of suppliers, it was the end of the season so I just got the last 10 guinea fowls. Amazing experience to pluck those birds (last time for me was doves in Mugaritz 2009) served the leg including their claw in a private party of 20 (saying farewell to lifelong friends who were out to sail around the world after loosing their business in the 2011 earthquake)… there are people who remember that party just because of that dish. 

This year we manage to get 20 guinea fowls, 15 japanese quails and 10 pheasants. Even the feathers got used at my daughter’s pre-school. We order birds on the weekend and he delivers them on thursday, the day after the kill, we hang them from 3 to 7 days, we pluck them, clean them, separate the gizzards, and then we decide what to do with the meat. Amazing and surprising taste and texture, it is not a normal item in restaurants (here) so we really want the people to know about these birds. Sometimes we get to show the fresh bird to the customer so they can understand the work involved and why we do the whole process. 

Woodfield Gamebirds is a small operation of one person, less than 40 km away from the restaurant, he normally sells the birds to hunting lodges around the South Island and we are the only restaurant that serves what he cares for with his hands.

I asked John if there is another restaurant using his birds… No… why? There are restaurants always calling me but they don’t want to do the job that you do. I know why.

Avoca Garden

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I meet them at their farm two months before the february earthquake, I heard a lot of stories about them which intrigued me to go and see what they do. Janice and her daughter ran their Cafe on site and Hans worked the farm, so imagine, everything super fresh, incredible and unique from a 30 year old organic, biodynamic farm. They have many dreams and great visions like building a workshop/school for people wanting to learn how to grow food. Then the earthquake happen and everything changed. 

Over 2.5 years later they still work in the farm, but with a restricted entrance to their property because of possible rock fall form the hill and still waiting for a real answer to their situation. They sell their produce at the farmers market and we pick straight on the farm when we need. Avoca Garden is 6 km away from us, and we know how much they care for their work. They love it, but now it is getting hard for them because of the uncertainty of their property where for over 30 years they have created their biodiverse edible garden of eden.

The best table grapes, artichokes, quinces, jerusalem artichokes, radishes, feijoas, and peas are from this farm, for us they are seasonal treats that we feel lucky enough to have for our Restaurant.

We really hope that everything works out in the best way for them. 

Chris Carty, Bycroft Artisan Meats

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This is Chris, he loves what he does, being in the farm surrounded by nature, family and in his butchery. 

He is the one in charge of delivering to us the best lamb we have ever tried (last saturday night a couple was saying that the lamb tasted as if it was aged for a long time, No, it has only been killed seven days prior). He believes that the big part of the flavor in meat is because of the way the animal is killed, for that reason for him it is very important that the animal is in a peaceful environment without any stress and with the right people.

Nothing to hide, he is a welcoming person when we visit Bycroft Farm in Waikari, 90 km from the restaurant. He and his family take us around the paddocks, talking to us about farm lifestyle and their ideas for the future. He is not the only reason for our visit, the road to Bycroft is beautiful, rivers, mountains, forests, and incredibles views in the horizon. We feel jealous, in the good way, but we feel so happy that he has being working with us since the beginning, and every time he brings our lamb on his shoulder, he shares stories and always passes on to us some tricks about butchering.  That’s an important skill for us, it has grown my understanding about meat and why we should use less of it. Using meat as a flavor instead of an ingredient.