Local Heart, Global Soul

September 29, 2012

Savouries and Goodies to Take Home…

Filed under: FOOD,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Reviews,Specialty — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and the kids have been very patient out the front of the bakery as they wait for me to complete my tour…

I watch as other savouries: sausage rolls, pasties and the like are sorted out the back and then make my way to the front counter to buy some goodies to take back with us.

Celia has a surprise for me… a gift box with four raspberry buns and some apricot pies!  Wow,  talk about “the icing on the cake”!  To say I’m delighted with our  unexpected gift is an understatement.  Fantastic!  Thank You so much Celia!!!

I’m also clutching the address of the place where I can buy pie forms to bring back to The Netherlands…  this visit has exceeded my expectations on so many levels  that it’s made my day.

The only shock has been walking back to the van parked just a short distance down the street and seeing so many gaps where buildings used to be. Before I got into the car I looked around, closed my eyes for a moment and tried to remember what  used to be in the gaps, with some I succeed but with others I draw a blank. It’s good to see other businesses here open though… and  people, the whole area is busy with people.

No matter what life (or Mother Nature) throws at you,  the owners and staff of Sydenham Bakery and all the other local businesses here  prove that they are resilient and with support from locals they are willing to pick up the pieces and get back to normal as much as possible.

One thing I’m certain about too… once fortified by a pie and a raspberry bun, you feel like you can take on the world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 28, 2012

I’m in Pie Heaven…

Filed under: FOOD,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Reviews,Specialty,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Welcome to my retrospective journal of our trip earlier this year to New Zealand.

Celia of  Sydenham Bakery in Christchurch New Zealand,  is showing me around the working  areas of the bakery.

I tell her that pies are a firm favourite of ours but that since they are not an item that features in Dutch cuisine that I’ve been attempting to make some myself at home, with limited success to date.

One problem that I have is that I can’t find little metal pie forms in the Netherlands, so Celia gives me an address of a catering supplier in Christchurch where I can buy some of the little forms to take home with me.

I did pick some up, they look exactly like these ones do and they are fabulous to use but you have to be very careful because the top edge is very sharp:

…that’s deliberate because once you have lined your pie form with pastry, filled it and placed the top on, all you have to do is to roll your rolling pin over the pie form and the sharp edge cuts and trims any overlapping pastry for you and results in a lovely uniform edge.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I can however attest to the fact that these sharp edges will also cut very nicely into fingers whilst doing the washing up, so baking these with kids would have certain limitations.

The bakery of course bake hundreds of pies per day so their pie forms have been welded into joined sheets so that  dozens can be baked in commercial ovens at a time.

Of course I know there’s no chance of scoring a recipe but after talking to Celia I realise that one of the things I’ve been doing wrong with my pies is that I’ve been using shortcrust pastry for both the top lid and the bottom shell,  when it should be shortcrust for the bottoms and puff pastry for the lid on the top.

Naturally not having a proper pie form also means that it’s no surprise that my versions haven’t been cooking very evenly and that I haven”t  yet got past the problem of the dreaded “soggy bottom”  in my pastry making,  although I did read in one of my cookbooks that baking pies on a rack closer to the bottom of the oven should help with this problem too.  In the meantime I’m in pie heaven… just look at the pie production going on here!  From production to the pie warmers out in the shop front so that customers and come and buy one that’s already hot…   Fabulous!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 27, 2012

Visible Reminders of the Days Life Changed Forever…

Filed under: HISTORY,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For all Christchurch homes and businesses, life changed forever on 4th September 2010 when an earthquake that measured 7.1 on the Richter scale hit just outside the city.

Luckily damage to the Sydenham Bakery was limited and they learned to live with the aftershocks that continued in the following months but nothing could have prepared anyone in the region for the horrific events of 22nd February 2011 when just after lunch a 6.3 quake hit the bulls-eye with an epicentre almost exactly on the city centre.

Although there were luckily no fatalities in the bakery and all staff and customers were safely evacuated, the building needed to be structurally checked and repaired and so baking was temporarily suspended whilst the building underwent emergency repairs. From what I understand a large part of Colombo Street was also cordoned off because of damage or collapse of many nearby buildings the the bakery was not publicly accessible by the front entrance.

The Sydenham Bakery was quickly back on it’s feet, trading from a temporary shop “front” from the rear of the premises and even with the problems of assess and constant aftershocks, I heard from friends and read on message boards from Christchurch residents that all businesses who managed to take this kind of action were hugely, massively and deeply appreciated.
It wasn’t just that fact that people were relieved that their favourite places were back trading and in business, it was also the underlying reassurance that these businesses were here to stay, that they were in it for the long haul and were not going to abandon the city.

It was also a sign that “normal life” might just be around the corner…  everywhere people looked, there was damage and destruction, seeing businesses working hard to bounce back as soon as possible meant people keeping their jobs, it meant hope and reassurance like a light at the end of the tunnel that “normal”  might be actually be possible again.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For many in Christchurch and for Kiwi’s everywhere, these events signalled the days that life as we knew it changed forever. Like the Sydenham Bakery machinery, we all have scars of some sort or another, but we pick ourselves up and carry on.

That sentiment, and the gratitude for it has been a reoccurring theme that I’ve heard a lot when speaking to friends and family in Christchurch this trip, so clearly it means as much to them as it does to me.

Celia said that most of the quake damage is no longer visible, the bakery floor was completely re-done because of cracks and liquefaction damage,  but everyone worked long hours to make sure they were back on track as soon as possible.

She showed me their pastry rolling machine… it’s a massive piece of kit and clearly exceedingly heavy, but the February quake heaved it back and forward with ease, leaving scars where it hit the wall at one end and a large dent in the end of the roller bed where it connected repeatedly with a thick metal pipe at the other.

It’s a shocking reminder that even if we perceive our man-made machinery to be solid and strong,  they are  no match for the forces of Mother Nature.

Given too that the quake was big enough to push something this big around with ease,  it then becomes a wonder that more people were not killed or injured in that quake.  The strong New Zealand building code and a healthy dose of sheer luck all have a role to play there in my opinion.

And another thing… a machine that rolls pastry!!! Ooooh I soooooo want one!

Forget shoes and handbags, this is the kind of toy I’d have on my wish list! (sadly for me we live way too far away so I’ll have to stick to my humble wooden rolling pin… but  oh, a gal can dream !)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 26, 2012

Sydenham Bakery: History With Cream On Top…

Filed under: FOOD,HISTORY,NEW ZEALAND,Reviews,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Welcome to my retroactive journal documenting our tour of New Zealand, this secton of which was made in January 2012.

Yesterday I explained the personal memories that form my connection with the Sydenham Bakery  in Christchurch New Zealand.

Now I’m back inside and looking at many familiar New Zealand bakery items.

Yes, we are back to drooling over photos of amazing displays of food … but come on, before you berate me: that’s not new on this blog is it ?

More memories flood back as they always will when you remember iced buns or anything filled with cream and the childish sticky fingers that just needed licking after eating, or the dusting of icing sugar that I managed to spill down my front … this one still being as bad a habit now as it was then, and sadly I need to confess that I’ve also extended this particular bad habit  to other foods like pasta sauce (who am I kidding?… if I’m honest…anything with sauce!) and soup as an adult.

The founder of the bakery, John Kuipers came to Christchurch from the Netherlands at roughly the same time as my Father did…

… they came for work opportunities on the other side of the world and plane fares were so expensive and sea journeys took so long that it was more or less seen as a one-way ticket with little or no prospect (before the advent of cheap long-haul flights) of ever returning to the Netherlands.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Their new lives in New Zealand were  therefore  “make or break” and they worked hard to make their businesses work.

There was a study done a while back in New Zealand on why Dutch immigrants of this time made such a high percentage of successful businesses… and apparently it was partly this “there’s no going back” attitude and also the simple fact that people who are prepared to emigrate so far from home into the unknown, are in general already the type of people who are willing to take a larger amount of risk than their peers.

The ingrained Dutch Calvinist work ethic probably helped too LOL.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of supporting and promoting smaller local businesses, which are also often family run establishments and since I also love local history, here’s a dollop of both in one hit… for me finding both together is like the cream on the top of the cream bun… it makes the whole experience even more delectable.

I talk to Celia about the business and notice there’s a nice display about the history of the business on the wall… I couldn’t get close enough to get really good detail but here’s the text (reproduced with permission).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was 1958 when John Kuipers left Holland to start a new life in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He arrived with 30 pounds  in his pocket and a determination to pursue his love of baking.

After working in Linwood bakery for two years, he realised his dream of owning his own bakery, purchasing the Sydenham Cake kitchen at 458 Colombo Street on 1 September 1960.

The cake kitchen has previously been known as “Matthews” and had opened back in 1910.

John began in 1961 with a little money and a big loan. Turnover in the first week was 120 pounds a week and withing four weeks it was up to 240 pounds a week.

With one shop assistant, Connie Sharp and a part-timer in the bakehouse, Beverley Brewer, John worked long hours starting at 2 in the morning and finishing at 5 at night.

Hans, John’s son joined the staff in 1978 and Paul MacGibbon began as an apprentice in 1982. The following year, with the bakery bursting at it’s seams, John purchased the present site at 424 Colombo Street.

Tragedy struck in 1985 when a fire took hold and completely destroyed the bakery at 458 Colombo Street. With 24 hours the staff were operating from premises at Sandyford Street and within 18 months a new bakery was set up at 424 Colombo Street and business returned to normal.

In 2002, at the age of 65, John decided it was time to retire and Hans took told of the reins. Paul then joined Hans in partnership in 2008.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So… This is “Front of House” as far as the bakery is concerned.. but I have a treat in store, because I get to go ‘out the back” where the best of the action really is…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 25, 2012

From That First Raspberry Bun Until Now… Sydenham Bakery.

Filed under: LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Specialty — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When I first started my first  job in the centre  of Christchurch. I was still living at home and would walk the length of Colombo Street to and from work.  I  therefore passed the Sydenham Bakery twice a day and would look fondly in the shop window as I went past.

My Grandparents, and sometimes my parents, used to stop there every so often to buy soft white,  raspberry buns, apricot pies, Boston buns or slices but only as a really special treat, so for me…  a typical sweet toothed kid, treats that happened not nearly often enough!

I worked all week in town, walking every day past the bakery and at the end of my first working week  the “pay lady” did the rounds and handed out a very small,rectangular brown envelopes to all the staff.

Inside mine were the bank notes of  my first pay, a few coins at the bottom to complete the balance and a crisply folded  pay-sheet that detailed what I’d earned Gross, Taxes paid and the Net balance. The figure on the bottom line wasn’t particularly much but there was more cash in that tiny envelope than I’d ever held before in my life.

I was so proud of my first pay-packet,  dreamed of saving for world travels and walked in the direction of home as if on air. I walked over the Colombo Street over-bridge,  the railway tracks were  busy with trains, freight wagons and carriages and Christchurch’s main  (err…only) Railway station with the tall clock tower was a short distance away.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There were the favourite shops that I would pass in Sydenham on my walk south… the  second hand furniture shops, the photographer’s,  the printing place,  Church, Post office and park with Nazareth House in the distance and on this occasion I knew I would be making a special stop on the way home from work.

I entered the Sydenham Bakery and after a short deliberation bought a raspberry iced bun.  It was my first purchase my my first weekly pay and I was as delighted with my new financial independence as I was with my iced bun.

It’s the sort of day you remember all of your life, and every time I walked past Sydenham Bakery I would look in the window and remember that day and that feeling with a smile.

Since my wages were low and my travel dreams were large I forwent the bus and walked to and from work every day except  the very worst of winter days,  saving my bus fare and watching my travel fund grow. Every now and again I would go inside the bakery and try something new… eventually the apricot pies caught my attention and became as firm a favourite as the raspberry buns.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Years later, when my planned three month trip to the Netherlands to renew my Dutch passport unexpectedly became a more than twenty year residence, my visits to Sydenham Bakery were confined to infrequent visits back to Christchurch, but I was still in the habit of leaving their premises with a purchase of raspberry buns and apricot pies in my hand.

Then the earthquakes came and kept coming… I was as stunned and shocked as all New Zealanders, both at home and abroad. In September 2010 I was relieved that there was no loss of life, In February 2011 I grieved along with the nation as two people I knew perished amongst the 182 fatalities.

Also gone were many of my favourite haunts, and uncertainty reigned about businesses damaged and if they would stay and rebuild or move on to other places.

I contacted Sydenham Bakery via  an internet noticeboard and expressed my hope that they were all ok and wondered if  they intended repairing their damaged premisses:  telling of my fond memories and first pay-packet purchase. To my surprise Celia from Sydenham Bakery contacted me with an invite to visit her next time I was in New Zealand. We’ve been in email contact during the intervening months and set up this appointment.

So here I stand outside the Bakery… so many memories and emotions of past years and recent events, so many of the familiar surrounding buildings have been demolished.  Time to go inside…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 10, 2012

Dutch Roots Still Growing Strong a Long Way From Home…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We were due to leave Napier but out of the window of the car I spied a shop called “The Frying Dutchman”  …

What an great name!

…clearly it’s a take-a-way / fish and chip shop, but we have to get going to our next destination so we aren’t stopping this morning.

We have a giggle because in back in Picton we saw a bakery called the Picton Village Bakery which if the decoration of the building was anything to go by, was also run by Dutch people.

Between the late 1940’s and mid 1960’s New Zealand saw a wave of immigration of Dutch people, many of them in trades.

My father was one of them… that’s how I get to have a multicultural family history.

Now that I am back in New Zealand not only as a citizen but also as a Dutch “visitor” it suddenly hits me what an influence the Dutch have had in New Zealand  over the decades.

We didn’t get to stop at these businesses this time but who knows… another trip, another day…  more time…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 15, 2010

No Name, No Ideas …Just a Visual Clue to Get Me Started.

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are in Vila Nova de Cerveira at the medieval fair.

We round a corner and there is not just a stall, but a massive oven standing a little back from the pavement and a baker in medieval garb busy baking.

What he is baking is an item I’ve never seen before, and they are mega  busy since there is a queue at least three deep at the counter of the stall next to the oven, everyone is eagerly waiting for the next tray to make it’s way from the oven to the front of  the stall.

The queue is so big that it looks like I’d have to wait for the next lot to come from the oven so clearly these are insanely popular.   … and Yes, I tried to ask but the guy shook his head  with a smile and didn’t seem comfortable attempting any English.  It looked rather like bread but it didn’t smell like bread, so I’m left wondering.

I am determined to try and find out these are… if anyone knows and can give me a clue then wonderful, I’d massively appreciate your thoughts.

Meantime, here are photos of the baker hard at work and the gorgeous deliciousness  being served up….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 4, 2010

When is a “Pasteis de Nata” not a “Pasteis de Nata”?

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

You know me by now… I’m a brazen hussy when it comes to investigating food. Well OK, certainly less of the hussy but it’s true that I’m no wallflower when it comes to asking questions about new culinary discoveries, or taking photos of food we find in our travels.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So…  we are walking around Porto, Portugal and  I spy a bakery.  I’m not hungry since we have just had lunch, but it’s food and it looks interesting.

I’m inside in a jiffy and try and ask what things are… the man smiles and is busy with customers, so I point to my camera, tell him I lovvve Portuguese food and ask if I can take photos. He looks bemused, smiles and kind of nods,  so I take that as a “Yes” and  quickly grab a few photos…

It’s now my mission to try and identify some of these lovelies and to see if I can unearth some recipes so that I can make them.

One of the delicacies on offer I already know well:  “Pasteis de Nata” is an eggy custard filling parked into a delicious puff pastry case, baked and best served warm according to some.

I also adore them cold, so is the serve warm advice just because some people simply can’t wait long enough to let them cool down? or are they afraid that if they don’t eat them warm then they will miss out as the hordes surge past them to grab one of what must be one of the worlds most divine little pastry desserts?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… or do they indeed really just taste better warm?

(in the photo at right, they are in the middle of the front row)

So when is a “pasteis de nata” not a “pasteis de nata?”

Well, you are allowed to call them by their original and “proper” name of  ” Pasteis de Belem” only if you are getting them there (in Belem), if you get them anywhere else  in Portugal (or elsewhere in the world) etiquette decrees that you must call them “Pasteis de Nata“.

So, “Pasteis de Nata” is not a “Pasteis de Nata”, when you have the supposed “real thing” e.g. ” Pasteis de Belem” as you stand in Belem. the original recipe there is secret, and many people swear that they could pick out an original from the generic “others” in a blind taste test  in an instant.

True or not, who cares?, as far as I am concerned you may scratch out both names and scribble “divine” in their place and still leave everyone happy.  Well, Ok, the purists  may well object.

I’ll have to do some digging for a recipe in my Portuguese cookbooks, make these sometime in the near-ish future and will be forced to do both a warm out the oven, and cold taste test so that I can see for myself  if the purists have a point.

Sigh, what a task, but I suppose someone’s gotta do it. Sacrifice…? well maybe my waistline will complain, but I’m sure that my taste-buds and stomach will be singing Hallelujahs  loud enough to drown out any murmurs of  “must exercise some self control here” . If not, I will be forced to eat some more until all dissenting noises are subdued.

In the meantime I have photos of various items on the bakery… for research purposes you understand.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…and if you are a Foodie, you will totally understand.

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