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You don’t go to Masterclasses to be served up what you make at home

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
Javier Codina and meSavour New Zealand has established itself as New Zealand’s premiere food and wine event. Now held annually and in Auckland at the Langham Hotel 2008 through to 2010, it’s a showcase of talent, local and imported, featuring a range of Masterclasses, tastings, special event dinners and themed lunches. It caters to the cheffing brigade as well as home cooks. Real food – that is fresh, mostly locally grown, cooked from scratch, presented with little more than the individual chef’s panache, featured prominently in this year’s May programme, but a touch of molecular gastronomy, you know, foams and spheres and things made with gel, got tongues wagging in some classes. Javier Codina from Gianni’s restaurant in Brisbane certainly got a reaction when he fried angel hair pasta BEFORE cooking it – an old Catalonian trick he reckoned.  
The pasta was then cooked with a sofrito (gently cooked vegetables) of Javier's Angel Hair Pasta, Sofrito, Shellfish Deglazed with Tio Pepe & Picada Ali-Oligarlic, capsicum, onion and tomatoes, and lobster stock streaked with saffron. Not your average dinner party dish this one.
Javier’s Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Salted Cod Brandade, Pil Pil Sauce & Apple Petite SaladSalt cod is a little hard to come by round these parts, too, but Javier somehow managed to procure a couple of sides of it which he desalted and mixed with potato and olive oil puree before stuffing it into piquillo peppers. The peppers were topped with a truly remarkable petite salad of green apples, coriander (cilantro) and coriander seeds, lemon juice and olive oil. I have made stuffed piquillo peppers, but sans salted cod, using smoked fish, and it is a stunner. Next time I’ll try it with a crisp and sharpish green apple topping a la Javier.
 Govind Armstrong from Table 8 Restaurant, LA, also caused a stir. Everyone, just Govind Armstrongeveryone, who attended his class was going home to make his cauliflower couscous. Govind whizzed the cauliflower into little beads in a food processor, blanched them then finished them in a pan with sizzled shallot and stock. The result? Tiny little ‘cous cous-like pellets’ of flavour-filled caulifower!

If you’re bored with your repertoire of dishes, get yourself off to a cooking class. Shabu shabu beef, Yuzu flavoured sushi, NZ Furikake crackers, Wasabi leaf & shiso salad with Pickled ginger foam anyone? No? Thought not, but you can always pop in to the George Hotel, Christchurch and have Andrew Brown whip this one up for you.

 Govind Armstrong and me on stage 
This years’ presenters included Philip Johnson from e’cco restaurant in Brisbane and Greg Malouf from MoMo restaurant in Melbourne, along with our own top team of chefs Andrew Brown (George Hotel), Paul Jobin (Pure Tastes), Jonny Schwass (Restaurant Schwass), Michael Meredith (Merediths) and Jason Dell (Blanket Bay). The programme was bulked out with the irrepressible and exceedingly knowledgeable Tony Tan, Stephanie Alexander, stalwart of the Kitchen Garden Foundation (a programme teaching kids and schools how to produce food and cook it), Claire Aldous, Food Editor of Dish magazine, zany television presenter Peta Mathias, Faith Willinger, exponent of exceptional Italian food, Master of Wine Jane Skilton and other renowned wine experts, Anthony Dias Blue (Exec Dir. San Francisco International Wine Competition), Martin Tillard (vineyard manager, Camshorn), John Trail (Pernot Ricard Wine & Spirit Trainer) and Patrick Materman (former NZ Winemaker of the Year).