Loved having our whanau come down this past week. My cousin Princess (named after our Nanny Princess Te Puea Wirihana-Tawake) came through from Coro for a flying visit with her bright as a button wee pepe (who is just the cutest) and her doting Karani or Lollie (Nan's name is still to be confirmed), Aunty Sonia, and to add to the mix, our brother Ronnie from Auckland was also down for the week with his wife Tracy helping out with some whanau matters. Both visits went by so quickly and on Saturday we saw the cuz off, and then that same afternoon the bro. Have been hinting hard out to Augie since then that we might need to do a roadie to Auckland over Summer, a detour to Coromandel, and stop off to see other whanau along the way. Enticing him with the promise of kaimoana, and fishing in Coro. I'll let you know if I am able to coax him into it, I think he is playing hard ball cos hello, fresh seafood.
Managed to jam in lots of Toru Road kai activity in and around the whanau visiting. Sadly my new printer that I purchased a couple of weeks ago died on me and after attempts to fix, via online, and several phone calls to someone offshore - yes we've all had those phone calls, a replacement printer was ordered and arrived a week or so later. Usually I couldn’t give a stuff about a printer, but typical when you really need something it breaks. I make my own labels, just until I get what I want right (I'm continually perfecting things) and so when my blank labels arrived yay, no printer. Thankfully a new printer arrived and after the tedious task of setting up my second printer in a few weeks, find out that the labels I had need a laser printer. So problem solved, next lot of labels ordered today! Whilst super annoying, I did suss out a typo on the label for kimchi pepe size which had 100 grams, when its 200 grams. Quality control issue detected. I also learnt that printing a test page first is useful as well, another handy tip. These are just some of my many lessons I'm learning on this journey which is great, as long as I get them out of the way now. FYI I'm trying to be nice to the printer so it doesn’t conk out on me again.
Took some time out from whanau to attend a Canestrelli (hope I spelt that right - its gorgeous Italian cookies) demo at Med Foods one evening during their Week of Italy with my friend Darlene, and of course stocked up with ingredients for Toru Road at the same time. Love love shopping for good quality kai. The cookies were gorgeous and surprisingly for me, they contained boiled egg yolks which were then sieved, like flour, into the ingredients. Cool aye. They were pretty, and all important, they tasted delicious. They also made some chocolate truffles that night which is right up my alley. Last week I tidied my pantry to realise that I have gone a bit OTT with the dark chocolate (just the good stuff) and have over a dozen bars on reserve, actually atm its 14 bars - I did buy a bulk lot of vegan organic dark chocolate blocks from Bennetto at the Go Green Expo with the intent that I might use them in a dish for Toru Road (still developing/tasting lol ideas). I reckon some of that chocolate can go towards making some chocolate truffles (with coconut cream for our vegan) ready to whip out when friends come around over the festive season. I was wondering what I should do with all those blocks, other than eating them all myself. Another problem sorted, not that dark chocolate is really a problem.
Had a couple of big orders that went out on Thursday and Friday which depleted my kai stocks. Not like me not to have some Kale & Kawakawa Pesto or Horopito Dukkah on hand, so to avoid any crisis it'll be back into the kitchen again this week after orders close off on Wednesday morning to make fresh for the weekend. Goodies for a Christmas Breaky gift pack are also getting prepped and putting these packs together is so rewarding. I just love that I am actually putting together a Toru Road gift pack and it struck me this week how awesome that is. Who would've thought?
This time last year we were at our nieces wedding (Lee & Nate) in Christchurch, then three days later with all our kids and mokopuna in Rarotonga at our other niece wedding (Lorraine & Sam). We haven’t been able to see our kids since, with two trips stalled due to covid, one of them the weekend that the country went into lockdown. With whanau visiting this past week it’s been a reminder of how lucky we are to have family that can traverse the country to see us, and on the flipside of that it reminded me again that this Christmas we won't see our rauru whanaunga that are living overseas, and those that have just visited. It makes me appreciate what we do have right here in Aotearoa, and it made saying our goodbyes to whanau that left this week just that little bit harder.
Heoi ano taku mo naianei
Been dreaming of the islands so much these past couple of weeks. Augie and I were married in Samoa 27 years ago and this week we celebrate 37 years as a couple. Yes the math is right, ten years from dating (and two tamariki in tow) to wedded bliss. On Wednesday last week we had our first official Toru Road Event, collaborating with MaiTui Group for the Wellington Pasifika Business Awards 2020 held at Te Wharewaka o Poneke in Wellington which also happened to be the 9th wedding anniversary for my bestie Darlene from MaiTui Group. What a way to spend her anniversary than with her Maid of Honour doing our first official event gig together, and a Pasifika inspired one at that. I love these meant to be moments. Took me back to her wedding day in the Cook Islands, with memories of that beautiful day, the sun, the ocean, the white sand, the kai, and the warmth of her beautiful whanau, oh and amazing friends (myself included!) As I write this I am so wishing I was back in the islands.
We wanted to create a warm Pasifika feel to the settings with no table the same – same but different! From the front table to the back of the room each setting had pieces from our collective whanau and it was with a good heart that we left them there for others to enjoy. 25 table settings for a crowd of 250 were created. I loved it and feedback tells me that others enjoyed it to. I so appreciate that I am doing something that I love, with whanau, with my bestie, what more could you ask for! We have some more events booked that we are working on and I can’t wait to collaborate again on the next one.
It’s been busy in the Toru Road Kai office as well. Finally, yes finally, have got my labels sorted for Vegan Kale & Kawakawa Pesto, Chocoholic Granola, and Kimchi with Watercress. Horopito Dukkah was done and dusted a few weeks back, and so was the granola – but needed a new label for our newest Chocoholic Granola which is really good - I am biased but yes it’s worth putting it in the cupboard for breaky, or even dessert, and yep its minus the fat content that can be associated with granola or muesli - all natural goodness with the addition of cacao nibs, premium Dutch cocoa and NZ manuka honey.
We’ve just finished our first jar of Toru Road Kimchi with Watercress which usually takes an age to get through but I’ve been adding it to my vege broth with rice noodles that I often have for lunch, and piling it with a cooked breaky whenever I get the chance. Keenau was eating kimchi on toast the other day, that is a bit too far for me but he reckons its delicious. Kimchi is worth trying, specially if you are into good gut health, this certainly promotes that, and the addition of watercress is so good – maybe that’s why I’m loving this kimchi so much.
With a promise of free Vegan Kale & Kawakawa Pesto for life, Keenau has come to my social media rescue and is taking the reins in that space for a little bit, and is teaching me some tricks so that I can then take it back on. I know its torture for the boy but I am doing my best and am learning bits and pieces as we go (he knows he already had free pesto for life anyways so he is humouring his mum (or putting up with) me 😊. We’ve also been looking at what Christmas packs we can put together as we lead up to the festive season and whilst it’s just a bit too early for us to get the whanau together to put up our tree, we will have some Toru Road goodies ready for Christmas and look forward to bringing you them.
I’m thinking about which pics to put up from our Pasifika event, there are so many to choose from, I just loved every setting, but I’ll just do a couple and you can check out more on our Toru Road Events page. At the same time in my head I’m singing a song and thinking about my late father-in-law (also named August by coincide lol) Gus Betham. He would sing this many a time in only the way he could, makes me miss him, and the joy he brought the last time we were in the islands with him, on our wedding day. I'll leave you with a couple of verses from that Harry Belafonte tune and a few pics from the event:
This is my island in the sun
Where my people have toiled since time begun
I may sail on many a sea
Her shores will always be home to me
Oh, island in the sun
Willed to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest, waters, your shining sand
After a fermentation process, we're now ready to introduce our newest addition Toru Road Kimchi with Watercress to our store cupboard. I admit, I used to chuck that fermented side dish added to my korean rice omelette (first tasted at a lil mall near Queens Street in Auckland) to the side of my plate and think what's up with that! Now that I'm on the good gut health journey I pay more attention to my kai and kimchi has become a staple in house. Our kimchi has the same asian flavours that kimchi advocates will enjoy with the kiwi addition of Watercress. If you haven't tried kimchi before we have a pepe size, but if you are a full-on fan like us, then the whanau size is for you.
Another exciting addition is our Toru Road Chocoholic Granola. Whilst the granola we first started with was great, I thought that it needed to be a bit more spesh. Cacao Nibs, and Dutch Cocoa, along with NZ Manuka Honey are special additions to our granola. Super delicious and nourishing, and of course no additives or preservatives, and did I say chocolate?
We've also got our Toru Road Horopito Dukkah label done, yes. I know good things take time - I may have said that once or twice before. Finally there is a label on the packet. It looks so much cooler with a label, like ten times better!
Had an awesome day out with my younger sis on Friday last week at the Food Show. Oh, in foodie heaven. Three trips back to the car overloaded with kai. Got some great show special goodies to test out for inclusion in our products, some really good olive oils, I brought a giant size bag of hemp seeds lol, tasted some gorgeous honey, along with lots of organic kai which is right down my alley. Very cool to see so many local producers there. Looking forward to the Go Green Expo which is in Wellington this weekend as well. Augie & Keenau are coming with me this time so perhaps they might hold the reigns a bit, or on the upside at least carry what I get. Looking forward to exhibiting there next year.
And then on Saturday our boy Keenau was in his first RFN boxing match at the Lower Hutt Event Centre, so proud of him, he was outstanding and came away with the win. You can follow him on Pasifika_Wolf go take a nosey he's right into looking after himself, and his health, and he tastes absolutely every Toru Road product - providing me with genuine feedback which I appreciate and try my best to take on board, but sometimes Mum knows best, or can't hear him properly :)
Super excited for our first official Toru Road Event next week, so much so that myself and my collaborator on this one MaiTui Events have prepped and packed our event containers already to go, with just a little list of to dos to add on the day. Can't wait to share pics.
Hei kona ma