It seems like a long time ago, but in reality it was only back in April that I launched my Share the Love campaign to get New Zealanders together for potluck gatherings over the winter months.
I urged busy Kiwis to flag the stress and expense of formal dinner parties and instead invite their friends and family over for casual – even impromptu – meals, with everyone chipping in to share the load. Better still, if they shared a photo on my website they could be in to win a weekend in Wanaka, including lunch at my place.
It didn’t take long to realise that I’d hit a chord. Soon people up and down the country were posting photos of their potluck parties – you can see the hundreds of amazing entries, including the winners, here.
And so a couple of weekends ago, ten lovely winners flew in from all around the country for a weekend in Wanaka with a special long lunch Ted and I hosted at our studio by the lake. We had the most wonderful day – the weather gods pulled out all the stops with a bluebird day, crisp and clear, Lake Wanaka Tourism provided some wonderful local activities for our guests to enjoy, Air New Zealand provided the airfares and I (with the help of a couple of kitchen fairies) cooked up a storm. This time
I didn’t ask anyone to bring a plate – I figured it was my turn to spoil the people who had really brought this movement to life!
At the start of spring down here there are only a few overwintering vegetables, and the rabbits and quail have had a good go at eating most of them, but I managed to gather beets and carrots, onions and garlic from the store, some rocket and baby spinach, parsley and a few hardy brassicas. I picked everything that I could for our menu of recipes from my Share the Love winter annual, opting for shared family-style platters – a mix of antipasto nibbles to start, including a tasty Turkish Beetroot and Feta Dip, followed by two stellar make-ahead slow-cook meals partnered with salads and orange-baked yams, and two make-ahead desserts. Aside from tossing the salads there was nothing that required any
last-minute attention, so even though it wasn’t potluck per se, it was one of the easiest feasts I’ve ever put together.
Each of our winners was a passionate foodie, and I felt so privileged that they had enjoyed sharing recipes from my winter annual with their friends and family. In my world there’s nothing better than sharing food and friendship around the table. I believe food is the glue that bonds people together,
and what was most wonderful about the weekend was the lasting friendships that evolved between
the winners in the course of their Wanaka adventures and the long afternoon we spent exploring my garden and enjoying a meal around our dining table.
Everyone said that the trend for potluck entertaining had changed their lives, making it so easy to
get together with the people that matter in their lives and reconnect around the table. It was the best validation I could ever have had. May the spirit of potluck reign on!
For more great potluck recipes see my website or my winter annual Annabel Langbein A Free Range Life: Share the Love (Annabel Langbein Media, $24.95)
Raising a glass to new friends around my dining table with the winners of my Share the Love Potluck competition.