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There is an incredible lushness to the Hawke’s Bay spring, and even though we were filming 12 hours a day, staying at the Black Barn Retreats on the banks of the Tukituki River while shooting this episode felt like a holiday.
Being out in the countryside you get a real sense of the seasons, something that isn’t always easy in an urban life. Arriving, as we did, in the full flush of spring meant the asparagus harvest was in full swing. So much produce is available year-round these days, there’s a real allure to this tender spear with its fleetingly short season. I can never get enough of it!
Cooking just-picked asparagus with a beautiful piece of meltingly tender wagyu beef down by the river made me (and the crew) so hungry. There’s something about cooking outside that always whets the appetite and the aromas of the meat cooking gently over the vine-clipping embers were so tempting.
It felt so nice after an afternoon cooking outside, to adjourn inside our lodge at Black Barn to enjoy the comforts of a fire and dinner around a beautiful table. There’s nothing I like more than finding the freshest seasonal produce and getting a bunch of friends together to enjoy it.
For my dinner at Black Barn I served the wagyu and asparagus with a heavenly Tarragon Hollandaise and Crispy Garlic and Thyme Potatoes – both recipes we couldn't fit into the TV show, so you’ll find them on my YouTube channel. I’ve also included a full demo of the wonderfully useful Mediterranean Dressing that I drizzled onto my Artichoke Salad as a starter.
It takes years for an asparagus corm to get big enough so you can start to harvest the spears, but salad greens are a spring harvest that you can be picking in a matter of weeks.
find out more
Want to find out more about this episode? Check out the TV pages of my website for videos, bonus recipes and behind-the-scenes photos.
My new book containing all the recipes from this episode and the rest of the series is available now at all good book sellers nationwide or via my website shop. Buy it at Paper Plus to receive a free biscuit tin – while stocks last!
- Want to meet me in person? I'll be taking my trusty yellow truck and hitting the road between now and the end of December, demonstrating Tui Garden Projects from the show, signing books and cooking up a storm throughout New Zealand and also in Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne – see my full schedule
- Find out more about Season One of The Free Range Cook
- Find out more about Season Two of The Free Range Cook: Simple Pleasures
special thanks to
- Hastings District Council
- Tom from Firstlight Foods
- Janet and Judy from JJ Organics
- Jerry, Diana and James from The Brow