Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Zealand Egg Burger

Back in the late 70's when the NZ'er was at uni (university) he used to frequent Gibb's Burger Bar in Palmy (Palmerston North) he would play Space Invaders with the Aggie's (Agricultural students) grab an egg burger and then head off in the ute (utility vehicle) to a party. Every single word is abbreviated in New Zealand - I have a theory, it's a way of speaking without a hint of seriousness, a way to keep things light and easy........anyway back to the egg burger. 

Montauk is all about seafood but sometimes a burger really hits the spot and this summer I sampled some good ones; the Navy Beach burger has a delicious bacon 'marmalade' and The Gig Shack on Main Street makes a mighty juicy bison burger, these are very fine burgers indeed, but for me nothing quite beats the strange combination of a fried egg on top of beets and meat; the New Zealand egg burger. It works best if the beets are tinned and in my opinion the egg should be only slightly sunny-sided over, of course many sauces can be added, in the absence of ketchup (on Labor day) we used my homemade brown sauce and mayonnaise, we also shoved in a slice of homegrown tomato and a piece of crisp lettuce. It's a mammoth of a burger with a riot of flavors and one that requires a lion's roar for that first bite - not for the dainty eater.

I cheated and bought my burgers from Gosman's Market, my favorite place to shop for groceries in the summer, they have the freshest flipping fish, top quality cuts of meat and the cheese selection is fantastic (Humboldt Fog) it's our own little slice of gourmet heaven down at the docks. 

New Zealand Egg Burger

tinned beets
mayonnaise/ketchup/brown sauce
fried egg

If making the burgers from scratch use good quality ground meat such as Angus beef and be sure to add Worcestershire sauce to the mix. I used brioche rolls from Gosman's, they are oversized and accommodate all the fillings, they are even better when slightly toasted on the grill, kaiser rolls or ciabatta would work just as well. The all important egg; fry it to your liking but make sure you know your dinner guests well if you're going for the runny version!

The Stacking Order
Put mayonnaise on the bottom bun followed by lettuce, then the burger followed by tomatoes then the beets followed by the egg, then your choice of ketchup/brown sauce, put the other bun on top of the stack and open wide. Choice.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Sad Journey To A Beautiful Winter

I left Montauk on a 90 degree day, it was one of many this Summer, good for the hamlet and good for the tomatoes, a day later I arrived in New Zealand to a cooler temperature and much sadness. My Mother-in-Law died suddenly on July 12th, she was a vibrant 77 year old and I don't think she ever had an idle moment in her life. There would be no Stonecrop without her (and her husband Denis), she weeded, moved rocks, planted trees, kept the books, made the lunch, attended every important event at the vineyard, harvest time, meetings about irrigation, the list is endless and she did all of this in addition to taking care of grandchildren, visiting friends and family in need, volunteering for various groups in her community, she never forgot a birthday or anniversary..... and there were many, each year many cards and letters were thoughtfully and beautifully written and posted to various destinations around the world.
Margaret lived on the Parewanui Road just outside of Bulls and it is here she created a magnificent garden which she lovingly tended to for over 37 years, it is lush with native New Zealand trees and shrubs, she loved her rose garden and she had special roses that came from her father's garden.
She had lemon trees, tangerine trees, a feijoa bush that my husband planted in 1981 and a huge fig tree.
Margaret made an assortment of delectable goodies with the bounty from her garden; jams and chutneys, damson gin, stewed Washington apples and she made the most memorable and exquisite cakes.
People in New Zealand are very generous with food and this generous spirit is overflowing after a terrible loss, after the funeral family and friends gathered back at Parewanui Road, there were hearty pumpkin soups, pies and date loaves, meals were put in the freezer in the garage; chicken casseroles, lamb and potatoes, pikelets, egg and bacon pie, this was all done quietly without any fuss or anyone wanted to take credit, just with kindness.
It was Winter but there were flowers blooming in her garden; stunning camellias, large pink ones and dramatic reds, erigeron was sitting pretty at the front of the border, there were lemons and tangerines on the trees. Gardening continues in New Zealand during the Winter unlike here where we shut up shop, it can be a bit chilly but not 'hats and gloves' chilly. Early morning after a frost is particularly beautiful; looking out of the kitchen window - a diamond dusting over the hinoki tree and the lawn leading out to the paddock past the pohutukawa tree.
I have long been excited about gardening in New Zealand and especially with native plants; muehlenbeckia, corokia cotoneaster, (New Zealand has more divaricating plants than any other country) Marlborough daisy, Chatham Island forget-me-nots, puka, rengarenga, hebes, coprosma, and then there are the magnificent trees; totara, rimu, kauri, kowhai, karo, pohutukawa, rata, manuka, lancewood, coprosma, puriri, to name a few. These are the ones I have become familiar with over the years, from visiting gardens like Otari in Wellington, my friend Wendy's stunning garden in Blenheim and our own native garden that Margaret and Denis started for us at the vineyard.
For many of us who love to garden it's a place to find peace and solace, it's also a special place to be close to our loved ones who spent years digging in the dirt, moving this plant 'here' and that plant 'there' watching a seedling become a mighty tree, anticipating the blooms on a favorite shrub, scratching that persistent itch - the joy of gardening.
Before I left to return to Montauk we spotted two Tui's in the puriri tree, Denis told me 'they pair for life'.
See you in the garden Margaret.