As you saw from my last post, the Big Guy and I are in New Zealand. I have to tell you, it is spectacular here, although I was very surprised to find that some of the foraging is pretty similar. It’s autumn, and the trees are groaning with rowan, elder, apples, and the fattest haw berries I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t expecting these plants to be so similar, given how far away it is. I also bought a Forager’s Treasury by Johanna Knox and on looking through, most of the wild edibles are very familiar from a Northern European perspective. Luckily, it seems that most of the poisonous plants are also the same, which is handy.
We have also been bowled over by the people here. Everyone has been friendly, welcoming and have gone a little out of their way to be helpful. The lady in the supermarket told us how to get the best bargains, and went the extra mile to find out where we might buy harissa. The petrol station attendant caught us up on the international news and gave us a free cookie each.
But by far the nicest thing that anyone has done to date is the fisherman we got talking to. We have a campervan, but in our first days here, we got caught out by jetlag, and simply could not drive onto our intended destination, so we had to book into a motel en route. As is common here, the gentleman in question was friendly and chatty, and we got talking with him over breakfast. It turned out that his parents were both Dutch, so we chatted about the differences in life here and at home. As we were leaving, he tapped on our window and offered us one of his catch. We were stunned, but he very kindly kicked off the gourmet element of our trip with a fresh trout. He had three fresh, and two that were being smoked in a local smokehouse, and he was heading out that day to get some more. This was no small fry, either. He gave us the smallest of his catch, but it still weighed in at just under 3 kg. It really was beautiful.
I spent the entire day thinking about how I was going to cook that trout. My foraging book was helpful, because it mentioned that wood sorrel can also be found here. So, I planned to look for some, and make a cream and sorrel sauce to go with the trout. Unfortunately, where we had chosen to stop for the night, on our way to Milford Sound, offered up no wood sorrel. We had chosen it specifically because we could barbecue there.
Luckily, I had a back up, because I had the foresight to buy some dill when I stopped at a shop for potatoes. So, a plan was born, for a gourmet meal, made with basic equipment, to be served under the Southern stars. We have eaten many gourmet campsite meals since; including succulent lemon and pepper lamb, venison and mushrooms, and even shakshuka for breakfast. But that trout, which served us three hearty meals, plus a little more to pick at was the nicest.
The first night, we barbecued the trout and served it with a green salad with mayonnaise. Served with a nice local Riesling, that we had cooled down naturally. The the leftovers kept nicely in a couple of ziplock bags in the cool box (which also had a big bag of ice), and made excellent omelette, and went nicely with pasta in a creamy sauce, with more dill.
You can’t get more gourmet, or more generous than that. Thank you very much, kind stranger!
Recipe: Campsite Trout
1 large trout or salmon
2 egg yolks
Juice of half a lemon, plus more to taste
About a quarter of a small bottle of plain oil
Salt and pepper to taste
15 g fennel, finely chopped (I had to do mine with scissors, due to the very blunt knives I was dealing with)
Wash the trout and pat it dry with kitchen towel. Season the cavity of the fish with salt and pepper, and put the dill and lemon slices inside. Barbecue for about 40 minutes on a camp barbecue that is too high off the coals. If you are doing it on the barbecue at home, then you can put the fish closer to the heat source, and so it will take less time. Turn once during cooking, so it cooks well throughout.
I have previously only made mayonnaise with a balloon whisk, so I was worried the fork would take ages. Now I’m sure this won’t work if you are trying to whisk egg whites for meringue, but the simple fork makes surprisingly speedy mayonnaise.
Whisk together the lemon juice, egg yolks and a little salt. Gradually add the oil. My tip is to add a little, then make sure it is thoroughly whisked into the egg before adding more. This way, the mayonnaise is less likely to split.
Once the mayonnaise is thick and glossy, taste it. You may need to adjust for seasoning, and possibly add more lemon juice to get the right balance of flavours.
Finally, chop up the dill. As I said, I resorted to some scissors, because the knives I had were less than sharp, but you chop yours however you like. Add it to the mayonnaise and mix well.
Serve the fish with a nice green salad, some simply boiled potatoes and a lot of the mayonnaise. Best served under the stars, but this is still good, even if you are forced inside by the weather.
16 responses to “Generosity and the Art of Gourmet Camping”
How heavenly ! those words Southern stars conjure up such excitement, I think this was quite the nicest camping post I have ever read 🙂
Thanks Joanna. It is quite the nicest camping I’ve ever done 🙂 I have been bowled over by people’s generosity here
I never thought I would commit this to “print” I want to go camping 🙂 Looking at those dishes and that setting – wow!
It has been wonderful. Such a wonderful setting.
And I’m pleased to report that camping doesn’t have to be all eating tinned food, and sandwiches 🙂
That is a lovely story, and some great dining. Sometimes I think when we are left to our own resources is when we come up with the most inspired and interesting meals.
Hello Hilda! We were very lucky to succumb to jetlag on this occasion, weren’t we? I knew the dish needed to live up to the generousity
I like your approach to campsite cooking… so much more sophisticated than a pan of pasta and baked beans. Enjoy the rest of your trip!
Thanks Sarah, I think that I would go stark raving mad living on beans for three weeks. One Pot Meals for the win!
Fresh fish eaten outdoors – that is a meal that takes a lot of beating and yours sounds delicious. The kindness of strangers, eh?
Yes, amazing, really!
Wow! I absolutely LOVE your gourmet campsite meals, especially the fresh trout sitting so pretty on the barbecue. Bet it was scrumptious!
BTW, was there a message in the bottle? Ha ha …
Love the landscape!
Yes, the message was drink me! 😉
It looks so good. And how lovely to get a trout, there are some truly nice people!! 🙂 It looks as if you are having a great time.
Thanks Petra. We’ve had such a brilliant time. In the last stretch now, but I hope there are more adventures to come
Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time. We loved NZ and spent six months wwoofing and hitchhiking around it – many years ago now. We had a fantastic time and met many lovely people. Enjoy the rest of your travels.
I was reminded of you just now as I am making dandelion honey again.
Thanks choclette! It’s always been magical before they filmed Gandalf down here! I have found a natural and biodynamic vineyard I wouldn’t mind wwoofing on.
It really seems weird to be thinking about going back to spring, having been rootling around for berries these past few weeks, but it will be worth it for dandelion honey. Thanks again for introducing me to it