As a baker, I'm always looking to learn something new.
I wanna know how to make that pastry and roll that dough and present the perfect cake. I want to interact with other bakers and find out why they started doing what they do. I want to inspire others and in turn be inspired. Too much to ask for? Too bad.
So when I saw on Facebook that the magazine Taste was having a Taste Techniques series in Auckland, I was incredibly interested. There were three events over three weeks all over the city. The Butcher, The Baker and the Pasta Maker. Now I'm not too fussed about meat and I know how to make pasta so I decided to go for the baker event. The website talked a bit about baking breads but didn't really give an explanation other than to say who the featured chefs would be.
So I booked my ticket and convinced my parents to take a day off work and drive the 3 hours to Auckland to go and have a look. The event was in Ponsonby which is an area I've never been to before but I have to say that I liked the feel of the place. The actual event was held at the Ponsonby Market which is all indoors and consists of different stalls (we'll get to that later, hold on!) The event cost me $30 plus $2.80 admin fee and then the cost of travel which I didn't even bother to ask my dad because I would have felt guilty afterwards anyway. We didn't stay the night but made the trip back the same day and I'm really pleased we did because we had work at 6am the next day.
So let's start off with the arrival. We got there early and the doors weren't open yet. There were a few girls standing around with clipboards dressed incredibly casually with no idea what was going on and when I asked for one of the free parking vouchers (otherwise it's $4/half hour!) I got a blank stare and then they rushed off for 45 minutes to find someone who knew what I was talking about. By this time, my parents were sitting stubbornly in the car refusing to move from their parking spot and protecting the car from any fines we might get.
We were eventually let into the market. A few of the stalls were still closing up like the fresh juice stand and the meat stall but otherwise it was locked up and fairly dark inside with chairs pointing towards the set. We were offered a glass of wine, orange juice or water and then allowed to wander around a bit. I was terrified of taking photos and it wasn't the most comfortable atmosphere I've ever been in. The chefs were talking to a few of the crowd but they seemed to know them already from the Butcher event and didn't seem too keen to introduce themselves to the new comers and make friends.
The fruit and veg stalls that were still out were amazing. The colours were beautiful and I loved looking at the different varieties on offer. I love farmer's markets so this was something that definitely appealed to me and as I was just getting into taking photos, servers arrived with the canapes we were promised.
There were three all in all. One was a pizza base with pumpkin and gorgonzola and it tasted a bit like old feet. I know the cheese is strong and probably an acquired taste but it wasn't for me and the base was like eating a soggy biscuit. There was also an avocado mash and crab meat canape which I avoided because I don't eat avocado. And then there was the polenta crispy cake topped with a caprese salad (the colours of the Italian flag) which just made my night. We were all seated after that and I got to sit next to a lovely lady called Emily whose boyfriend's parents live in the same town as me.
We started off being shown how to make a pizza base and how to turn it into foccocia as well. This was probably the closest thing we got to the bread described on the website. The chef is Italian and he clearly wanted to show off his roots with this recipe. The one thing I found incredibly off putting was his manner with the crowd. One woman asked a lot of questions (and who wouldn't?!) but the chef became irritated and grumpy with her and even snapped when she dared to put her hand up. A little rude in my opinion. The woman did pay to be there and it is her right to ask questions rather than go home without a full understanding.
The next chef made us a jaffa Brazil nut tart. This I found the most interesting. I found his tips and tricks with pastry to be incredibly useful and I've used them since (I'll pop a post on about that later) so that was definitely worth it.
Now this is all I will say about the actual demonstration because I felt it wasn't really what was advertised and probably if I had know that this was the extent of the baking, I wouldn't have gone. It cost me a lot of money to sit there while they fiddled around. The demo also ran late by almost 45 minutes which meant that we only got home after midnight. I don't think they took everyone into account at all.
The highlight of the event was probably the mid-demo break. We got served more wine, orange juice and water and new canapes were brought around. This time it was a dessert. The first was a wafer cone with a biscuit disc base and it was filled with sweetened whipped cream, cranberry jelly and was painted on the outside with white chocolate and seseme seeds. It was absolutely amazing. I would have eaten 10 of them if I had been standing closer to the kitchen. There was also a mini-macaroon which was strawberry flavoured with a chocolate buttercream center and it was topped with gold dust which I got all over my hands and all over my face and it would not come off!
Stoneleigh Vineyard and Ceres Organics who were both present in the bag.
You can see all the things I got in the goodie bag and there was also a notepad and pen provided so we could take notes. I took one note. It was about a fruit that was mentioned by Emily and apparently they're delicious but only available in April so I'll have to wait to try those.
Overall, I felt a little disappointed at the event and I found myself wondering why I had gone. The goodie bag was worth more than my ticket (nothing was a sample, it was all full size) but I was really looking forward to some enthusiastic baking when really it was just two recipes that I could have found online with a YouTube instructional video.