It’s been a wee while between blogs. Life gets busy enough at this time of the year without my going and making it busier. I decided I missed journalism too much, so I’m back writing features, as well as my weekly column, for the Herald on Sunday. The first one will – all going according to plan – be published this coming Sunday, but I do get very nervous and stressed when I step back into feature writing again, and wonder why. I’m always sure I’ll be exposed as a fraud.
Meanwhile, I feel the urge to give this Hawke’s Bay company a really good plug for the quality of both their product, and their service – Gourmet Direct. You order on line, or by telephone, and your order is delivered to your door. They’ll often phone to check all is okay. It’s personal, friendly and very satisfying.
I buy most of my meat from Kate (who owns and runs the show) and I can assure you the quality is truly superb. No, it’s not the cheapest meat on the market, but there’s no waste, and I believe if you pay a little more you think carefully about how you prepare it, and you won’t eat it every night. So that’s better for your health.
About two months ago, I bought on special a tenderloin (eye) fillet. It was vacuum-packed, and nearing the end of its three-month aging when I bought it. I think it cost me about $110 and weighed about 2.5kg. I wanted it for a dinner party for 10 people, but that wasn’t happening for another three or four weeks, and I didn’t want to freeze it so I phoned Kate and discussed it with her. She asked if I had a beer fridge, or similar (yes, in the winery) and advised me to put it in there where the door isn’t being opened and shut all the time. I did that, and turned it down to really cold. Then on the night in question I cooked it the Stephanie Alexander way:
Two hours before dinner remove meat from fridge. An hour and a half before dinner heat oven to 220C. One hour before dinner put meat in oven and cook for 20 minutes for rare (which I did) or 30 minutes for medium. Remove meat, roll in a double sheeet of silver foil and keep warm in warming drawer.
What could be easier than that? It was absolutely divine. When I brought it to the table, one of the guests, Farmer Stu, who used to breed Angus cattle, said “I hope that’s Angus”.
“Of course it is,” I replied.
“How do you know?” he retorted.
“Because it was on the packaging. Pure Angus Prime. I only buy my beef from Gourmet Direct.”
Well, after he’d finished his meal he said it was the best beef he’d ever eaten and he would dream about it for the rest of his life. You can’t get better praise than that for beef.
By the way, there was enough left over to feed the QC and I for two more nights.
I have never had any second rate product from Gourmet Direct. I don’t buy pork from them, because we grow our own, but I do buy venison and it’s top quality. I buy lamb and it’s terrific. I have bought pheasant for a treat, and I bought a packet of 25 frozen, prebake croissants which you defrost overnight then next morning bake for breakfast and everyone thinks are homemade. They have all sorts of deli goods – in fact an order form to drool over. Don’t take my word for it, get on line at www.gourmetdirect.com.
They have a wide range of poultry goods, fantastic sausages, and I have bought delicious duck, but I guess I won’t be able to face eating duck for a while because our little family is out and about now: