On the menu

In New Zealand we produce lots of butter, but only standard butter is available in supermarkets. If you want a cultured butter you have to buy imported butter - which is ironic for a major dairying country.

A handful of producers make cultured artisan butters but, unless you live near one, it's hard to get.

However, Lewis Road Creamery is now making enough to supply the country.

Chefs Peter Cullinane and Andrew Railton's Lewis Road Creamery started making artisan butter in the eastern Bay of Plenty from a nearby farm of Jersey cows, which produce milk high in butterfat. However, they couldn't produce enough to supply supermarkets because they couldn't get enough Jersey milk as it is mixed with milk from other breeds.

Now they have managed to mimic the flavour of their artisan butter by blending two of Fonterra's export butters, a heavily cultured butter produced for the Middle East and an uncultured butter produced for the European market, resulting in a butter that is lightly tangy and still sweet - rather like butter used to be.

Lewis Road Creamery butter in lightly salted and unsalted versions is now available in good supermarkets.

•  Proper Crisps, the people in Nelson who produce simple, old-fashioned crisps fried in small batches and spun to remove much of the oil, have come up with a new flavour, rosemary and thyme. They are delicious and very morish.

• Trish Gibson, a farmer's wife from Hawkes Bay, made and sold baked goods at the local farmers market when times were hard on the farm. They were so popular she expanded to selling to supermarkets. But her problem was what to do with the yolks of the eggs left over from her pavlovas so, at the age of 74, she decided to venture into the world of gourmet ice cream. Earlier this year, she won several awards in the annual ice cream manufacturers' competitions and now they are available in supermarkets around the country.

I particularly enjoyed the Christmas pud ice cream with Christmas pudding pieces mixed in a brandy ice cream. There's also a tropical calypso flavour and a delicious, gluten-free chocolate log that can be served frozen or thawed - just the thing for the festive season.

•  The EasiYo people are expanding their range. Recently, they came up with a vanilla smoothie, and now they have Yoghurt 'n bits, a Greek yoghurt base with freeze-dried fruit. The mixed berry version has good flavour, but the berries float to the top or drop to the bottom, leaving a delicious topping for the first one in.

I'm looking forward to trying the cranberry and coconut flavours next.

•  Handy for taking on holiday or just as a cupboard stand-by, Danny's long-life pita bread keeps for about 30 days unopened and it doesn't need storing in the fridge as it is packed in a protective atmosphere. You just warm it or toast it to soften it before using. Danny's has now introduced an olive-flavoured version to its range.


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