15 November 2009


On the whole I don't really go in for reviews that compare one thing to another, because it feels as though the author is too bored to find words to describe something on its own terms. Don't even get me started on those slightly hysterical NME magazine reviews, you know, "This band sounds like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sonic Youth solemnly making daisy chains and chewing vitamin pills together while Van Halen stand by, clapping slowly." (That said I haven't read NME since 2006, maybe things have changed?)

My point is, Tim and I went to a fantastic Latin restaurant/bar called Amigos for dinner the other night, and while I was there I couldn't help but think it could quite easily be the new Sweet Mother's Kitchen (another eaterie in Wellington, and enormously popular) if only more people knew about it. And then I felt bad, because Amigos was amazing in its own right and was created completely independently of anything else. But it has a similar vibe going on - funky surroundings, food that's authentic, inexpensive, and fun, plus delightful staff. Tim and I both wanted this dish that involved french fries covered in four different kinds of meat with egg and cheese (I know, and it was amazingly good, and yes, they do lighter/vegetarian food too) and the waitress said that we could share one dish between the two of us as they're huge servings. Nice, right? I'm sure most places would try and make you pay the extra money for two dishes without warning you on the size. The food was incredibly good - I'd love to go back and try some of their other dishes. Also on Fridays (and other nights) they apparently have parties and clear the tables and play music and have lots of drink specials. So, lazy writing and all, if you like Sweet Mother's Kitchen, you'll probably love Amigos too. It's right near Moore Wilsons and above Happy at 118 Tory Street (phone 04 385 1222), and open for lunch and dinner all week long. And now you know!

If I ever end up getting offered some kind of mega-million-dollar cookbook deal for this blogging lark, I think I'll definitely have to have a chapter devoted to ice cream. I love it and I love coming up with new recipes for it. Clicking on the "Ice Cream" tag for this blog will back up that statement with cold, sugary fact. With this in mind, remember that time I made Ginger Crunch Slice? Me too! I can't stop thinking about it! In fact I've made about five more batches since that first one I blogged about. Then I thought how the fudge-like ginger icing would make fantastic...ice cream. Yes. The more brain-space I devoted to it, the more utterly genius it sounded. With a little time up my sleeve today I made a small test batch to see if it would actually work. And it really did.

You know what didn't work though? Okay, so I made the ice cream, photo-ing as I went, put it in the freezer to freeze, took it out to take a photo, dropped the container on the floor, and it broke. And all of a sudden we're out of appropriately sized Tupperwear or old takeaway containers. Argh! Fortunately the plantain ice cream from last week had just got finished and so I was able to rinse out its container and transfer the Ginger Crunch Ice Cream into it. By which stage it had softened considerably and I was also considerably covered in it and thus I couldn't really be bothered trying to get a cute finished product photo - but at least there's last week's post with its cute spoonful of plantain ice cream to keep you happy should this gaping hole in my photo essay offend.

It's not a scary recipe at all, despite having the word "ice cream" in its title. Ice cream, like bread and pastry and chicken stock is one of those things that sound so much harder to make at home than they really are. But this particular ice cream took barely 10 minutes. It's the easiest of the hard-sounding stuff.

Spillages are unavoidable. Really.

Ginger Crunch Ice Cream

Makes about a pint. I think. Wikipedia's stance on the pint is a little confusing.

50g butter
2 heaped tablespoons golden syrup
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 cup icing sugar
300mls cream

In a heavy based pan, melt the butter and golden syrup together gently. Once you have a deliciously buttery, caramelly liquid pool, take it off the heat and stir in the icing sugar and ground ginger. Then whisk the cream till it's significantly thickened but not actually whipped into peaks - it should still have a bit of movement and formlessness to it. Using a spoon, scrape the gingery mixture into the cream and mix it in relatively forcefully, to break up any larger pieces of ginger icing. Pour into a container and freeze. You don't need to churn this - just let it soften slightly before serving. And don't drop the container. If you want more of this, as well you might, just use more cream. If you're getting to the stage where you're whipping up say, a litre of cream, you might look at doubling the ginger mix ingredients.

This stuff is extremely good. The gingery mixture seeps into the softly whipped cream, countering its richness with a zingy warmth. Larger pieces of the ginger mixture become all chewy and incredibly delicious once frozen. It just works so well. I can imagine this being a really good accompaniment to fruitcake or Christmas pudding, especially in places (like New Zealand!) where Christmas falls in the middle of summer.

This container no longer exists, and to be honest the ice cream isn't going to stick round for long either.

That said, if I ever do get offered a squillion-dollar cookbook deal, all my ice cream recipes are here for free on this blog, thus rendering the ice cream chapter kind of pointless. Although I guess there's no point stressing over something that hasn't even been in any danger of occurring yet.

Last night Tim and I were fortunate enough to witness the All Whites qualify for the FIFA world cup by winning their game against Bahrain. What's this? I hear you say. Laura, I thought you hated all sports with a fiery passion that shall smoulder eternally! Well, I kind of do. I appreciate that it makes a lot of people happy, that on the whole it keeps you healthy and that it provides a safe environment for young people to connect with each other and learn skills. I think specifically I dislike how sports are forced upon young people throughout their schooling. Sure, some youngsters can appreciate the joy of chasing a ball with a hockey stick or running from one side of a field to the other, but let them come to it naturally in their own good time. Don't force them into PE classes when it clearly makes them sick with misery, and what kind of sick minded teachers still get students to pick people for their teams? If my children - should I ever have them - ever want to get out of doing sports at school, you bet I'll write them notes. ("Yes, young Sebastian does have cramps.")

All that darkness aside, I don't mind soccer, and indeed it can be quite exciting, if a little long at 45 minutes a side. I think it was the romance of the situation that I got caught up in - the last time we've qualified to have a punt at the World Cup was 1982. Ricki Herbert (I love that deliciously flamboyant "i" on the end of his name) was a member of that soccer team and now he's come back to coach the Wellington Phoenix, several of whom also play for the All Whites. We were total underdogs, having been not wildly outstanding in the first qualifier in Bahrain, and not exactly being world leaders in this particular sport. Suddenly every single ticket had sold out - there was barely a visible seat in the stadium, which never ever happens - not even when David Beckham came to town. All things that made for a ridiculously exciting game.

It was an amazing night of intense happiness and togetherness from the crowd and there were a lot of people I knew in the audience - like my cousin Paul who flatted with us last year - who had been following this forever and who were deeply invested in the outcome. Like I said, I'm not into sports but blind passion does make sense to me. I'm not actually a very good sports viewer, partially because I get incredibly bored, but also because no matter which side I'm supporting, I always feel bad for the team that loses. The audience occasionally booed Bahrain which I thought was a shame, given that they were trying to achieve exactly what we were but on the other side of the world and with only a handful of supporters in the audience. It's never fun watching people lose, but all that was quickly forgotten at the sight of the normally deadly calm Ricki Herbert jumping round hugging his team jubilantly. Look him up on Google images - don't you think Will Ferrell should play him in the movie of his life? Apart from the booing and the sadness of seeing the losing team lose, the only other thing that really annoyed me was the presence of streakers at the end. Firstly, it wasn't their moment, and secondly, they weren't even properly nude. At least be committed.

On Shuffle while I'm typing away:

Tim and I were watching Dazed and Confused the other night (oh hi, young Anthony Rapp, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg and half of Hollywood) and found myself listening to Peter Frampton's Do You Feel Like We Do from Frampton Comes Alive! the next day. I'm not even a fan or anything, but there's something about this song...it's so slinky and groovy.

The entire cast recording of the 2008 revival of Gypsy, which is one of the most sharp, polished performances I've ever heard commited to a compact disc. I hope a good production of this comes to New Zealand sometime soon. Seriously, isn't Patti thrilling?

Finally - Charlotte Gainsbourg's new song IRM from her album of the same name is as super-listenable as anything else she's ever done. I like how it takes its time commiting to a particular direction, and you can really hear Beck's sound on the production which is no bad thing. Plus she's gorgeous.


Title of this post comes to you via the amazingly good Primal Scream album Screamadelica; I've said it before but there is never a bad time for this album, incidentally it is particularly good in summer and therefore would also make an ideal accompaniment for ice cream. Find it if you don't have it!

Next time: I found more plantains at Moore Wilsons! Rejoice! Not sure how I'm planning to act on this but I think...more ice cream.


  1. Anything that makes you as happy as that icecream has to be good for you! Now you have mentioned it as a Christmas dessert I am seeing it with little chunks of dried fruit - maybe figs and apricots - plumped up in some ginger wine and stirred through.

  2. Love the title!! Looks delicious (as frikkin' always) Hope to see you two shortly! Yay summer and ice-cream.

  3. That ice cream sounds so good, I can't wait to try this one!

  4. It's commpletely unseasonal for me to want ice cream right now. But I think the ginger in this has won me over. I've always steered well clear, but after braving curds I figure I can do this too! Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. I LOVE the Youtube link via Twitter. Did you beat the mix in time with the music or is it clever editing? Looked for you in the crowd at the All Whites Bahrain game but ..... a bit hard to distinguish anyone really.

    Looking forward to trying the ice cream recipe. I have a bottle of Reserve Green Ginger Wine courtesy of a recent godmotherly trip to Adelaide and am wondering if a little alcohol interference would make a pleasant difference to the mixture...

    Ditto on the sports.

  6. Foodycat: Ice cream does make me truly happy, actually! Dried fruit in ginger wine would be AMAZING. I bet my mum would go in for that...

    Scotty: Yay! Likewise! It would fill me with...GLEE...to see you again!

    Sam: Cheers :)

    Pen: No worries- give it a go, it's so good, if a little unseasonal for the northern hemisphere :)

    Mum: Definitely clever clever editing there from Jason. Took about an hour to film all up. Cute huh? Also, Green Ginger Wine would definitely be a welcome inclusion...

  7. Yum! looks awesome, as usual. And I too love the title.

  8. hi Laura, I found your blog while looking for the Nigella banana bread recipe (I'm moving house and all my cookbooks are packed already...). Am also a big Nigella fan but a bit lazy so am loving her Nigella Express stuff.
    Anyhoo...tried your Ginger Crunch icecream and while the flavour was good I obviously didn't let the icing cool enough, or perhaps didn't whip the cream thick enough? So the whole lot melted together and the icing sunk to the bottom of the container. Hmmm - still tasty but not very attractive! Any hints for next time?

  9. Charlotte - thanks for trying my recipe but sorry to hear it didn't work so well for you!! I would say yes, definitely let the gingery mixture cool down first before mixing it into the cream. Will have to add this detail to the recipe :) hope it hasn't put you off, thanks for speaking up :)

  10. hi Laura, thanks for that - in hindsight and re-reading the recipe I realise that your icing would have cooled perfectly as you hand-whisked your cream. I used an electric beater for my cream so didn't have the built-in cooling time in my "prep". You would think I could work that out for myself... Definitely not put off tho as the flavour is ridiculous as your mate pointed out!
    cheers, Charlotte
    PS Well done on the SST mention!

  11. I'm making this for the second time now, and it is delicious! Going to pair it with a good old fashioned feijoa and apple crumble. Yum! I've also made your peanut butter chocolate ice cream, which was a big hit. I mixed it up the next few times and did it with ghana peppermint chocolate and also a milk caramel version. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  12. I'm making this for the second time, and it is amazing! This time I'm pairing it with a good old fashioned feijoa and apple crumble. I've also made your peanut butter chocolate ice cream, which was a huge crowd pleaser...the next few times I mixed it up and made it with dark ghana and peppermint chocolate, and then a caramello version too. Thanks for the inspiration!