I'm back, and I'm down under

Hi FTC/former Chowhound gang

It’s been a crazy few years. I’ve left Portland and have migrated to Taranaki, New Zealand with my family.

We’re still getting the lay of the land.

There are some bright spots here- were in dairy country, and virtually all the milk here is grass fed (and yet oat milk remarks popular!) There’s a raw milk vending machine in a shed snack on the middle of a dairy pasture (look up “Beach Road Milk”, which is fantastic).

Sadly there are lot of issues with the food in New Zealand. First, it’s quite expensive. Often there are only a handful of suppliers for any particular product. Today, for example, I couldn’t find pork lard better the main producer stopped making it yet years ago. I did find it at the local Mediterranean import shop in the freezer, but it was 180 grams for $11. Still, my Cornish pasty pastry demands must be met and I paid the price.

More disturbing is that although there already to be lots of fresh bread bakeries, there’s a company called “bakels” which provides bread mixes to the vast majority of bakeries. It’s very hard to know by looking whether a bakery really makes their own bread, or if it’s from a mix. I became friends with a local baker who told me this- he makes sourdough loaves from starter, but most other bakeries in town use vinegar as a shortcut to fermentation. It’s quite sad. Even more sad is that my friend’s bakery recently went out of business after a surprise illness and refrigerator failure was too much for the business to bear. So one of the few true bakeries in New Plymouth has gone away, leaving most of the others to continue profiting off their bakels mixes.

There are a couple of good wood fired pizzerias here, one of which is certified Napolitano style (Black Sand Pizza). The other, Ms. White, makes a dozen varieties of very respectable pies.

Sadly, the diversity of immigrant cooking is limited here in New Plymouth. There’s a bunch of Punjabi/kiwi style Indian restaurants including a South Indian restaurant that serves meat on their dosas(!) (Called “arranged marriage”). There’s a decent enough Cantonese place that roasts they’re own charsiu and duck, and a place called Laughing Buddha that inexplicably prepares hard-to-find 地三鲜 and a really faithful version of 麻婆豆腐。There’s also a few Thai options, all standard Bangkok fare. The sushi… Oh boy, the sushi. It’s all premade in cabinets for takeaway. That seems to be the way kiwis have learned to eat sushi here. Fresh prep of sushi is reserved for restaurants in bigger cities. We do have a proper restaurant called Sushi Ninja with a sushi train, but one time we went and ask they had were various versions of fried chicken sushi. No fish. (Apparently there was a problem with the supplier). And we have not a single Korean restaurant here (though we do have a Korean grocery, fortunately).

We’ve had much better options in other cities in New Zealand. Dominion road in the Mt Eden neighborhood of Auckland is a mini San Gabriel Valley with lots of very good options. And we had some good Korean food in the North Shore of Auckland. In Christchurch we had some really good A5 wagyu at a Japanese hibachi restaurant.

No idea if anyone is here from NZ, but I’m happy to have a chat and geek out over that local food scene, if you’re out there.


Great to hear back from you! Best wishes to you in NZ!

Permanent or temporary move ?

Hey taster. Long time

Curious, with all the lamb there, can you get really good quality lamb suet/ kidney fat.
I would think a good local butcher should be able to get it for you, cheaper, fresher, and that’s the purest fat you’re going to find on the animal

Hi Jerome

While there are lots of butcher shops here, many of them are chains and won’t do special cuts for you. The local one here in New Plymouth is TLC Meats, and they’re not bad although every time I ask for chuck eye steak I’m pretty sure they just give me chuck.

There’s a constant debate in NZ about how we send the best stuff abroad, and at a lower cost somehow. The best way to get good lamb in NZ (especially the more flavorful hogget, which is not sold at butchers or supermarkets) is to have relationship with a local farmer or sheep owner, which in most parts of NZ is very feasible. Lots of people own “lifestyle plots” which are semi-rural homesteads within reach of the city, and people there often have sheep to keep the grass down. Maintenance is easy as you just pay someone to shear them 2x year, and otherwise they take care of themselves. There are slaughterers that will come over for a fee and process your sheep for you, if you choose. Butcher shops and supermarkets tend to have relatively ordinary cuts (often named quite differently, for example “ribeye” is called “scotch fillet”). Though I did not that duck fat is extremely easy, common item to find… but not schmaltz for some reason. I’ll ask about lamb suet on my next visit.

Permanent, as far as I’m concerned :slight_smile: