February is here, and that means not only the season for leisurely late summer barbecues, but also the advent of our local Agricultural and Pastoral show here in the west Kaipara, and the field days to follow. Both are celebrations of the best of rural life, focussing on different aspects of farming. However, there’s one other great thing about this time of year. It’s a brilliant excuse to taste some fresh local flavours on a show-day related road trip.
Of course, this means booking early for some of the more popular restaurants and venues in our locality. There’s going to be a mass migration of visitors descending on the area for both the Arapohue Show on February 9 and the immense Northland Field Days itself at the end of the month, so large parties are advised to give their favourite eateries a call now and avoid disappointment.
It could be said to be doubly true for another forthcoming engagement. A dinner for two is the classic Valentine’s Day date night, and romantics and lovers of gourmet food alike are well advised to pick up the phone before the big day. In Dargaville, the Northern Wairoa Hotel will reprise their famous Valentine’s dinner with a free glass of bubbles for the ladies. Over in Paparoa, the popular Thirsty Tui are also getting into the romantic mood of the season, with an Italian three-course meal of pure ‘amore’.
The balmy weather which accompanies our February 14 means it’s a perfect time to appreciate the Mediterranean flavours of the ‘old country’ in the outdoors.
With gardens growing overtime, it’s also a fine time of year to appreciate some of your own produce — or some of your neighbours’, if you are lucky enough to have green fingered and friendly folks over the fence. There is nothing like the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato ripened in the sun — except perhaps rendering it down with red onions, chilis and garlic to make a thick chunky salsa. Enjoy a garden salad with that other seasonal favourite — fresh fish hooked by the anglers in your family, wrapped up with slices of lime and barbecued. For a quick but indulgent condiment to give seafood some zing, blend together a squeeze of lemon, a dessert spoon of cream cheese, a pinch of lemon pepper, a hearty dollop of sour cream and another of tartare sauce.