I know what you’re expecting. The full-blown day of food without a single thing beyond the boundary of this property.
Sorry to disappoint.
The reality is that on this day of days of food, tradition is way older than the twelve year old Food Farm.
That’s not to say that over the last twelve years we haven’t made it our own in both huge and tiny, subtle ways.
There was the time we cooked The Food Farm goose, roasted in the wood fired oven. We’ve also done both wild and farmed rabbit on the big day. Eel caught on the vineyard. And we SO own berries on the big day. New potatoes? Yep, got it. Sides and salads? Aha, tick.
But there are other aspects of the day that pre-date us and this place. I’m ok with that. Christmas Day is The Big One in New Zealand with regards to food culture. Most of us don’t have Thanksgiving, the end of Ramadan or Hanukkah. We’ve yet to truly understand the meaning of Matariki.
So the 25th December is loaded with a melee of both English traditions and Antipodean interpretations. I’m pleased to report the Antipodean interpretations seem to be winning, and every year a New Zealand Christmas table is just that – more of a New Zealand Christmas table.
Our Christmas table is groaning with tradition, and I’m all for it. We’re not alone. The local Waipara Valley Christmas twilight farmers market saw hundreds and hundreds more people than normal, many of them after berries, and the farmers market at the Grown property attracted thousands of people who picked their own peas and potatoes in the paddock in Sefton. I loved every grandfather “no, that’s the seed potato!” conversation. Scores of children who’d never picked a pea or dug a potato converted in a Christmas Eve family moment.
There is so much thoughtful food put on tables. It is no more or less here.
We always start Christmas morning with baked ham and poached Food Farm eggs. This year my father and uncle taught my eldest daughter how to prepare the ham. My father showed her how to glaze it and his identical twin brother showed my left-handed baby how to carve (all identical twins have a right and left handed version).
Meanwhile my mother created the table centre-piece with flowers from her garden. This is a significant part of the tradition of the day for our family. The same vase, and it only ever includes garden flowers.
Bacon rolls. Originally made by my grandmother, now a part of every Christmas table .
And this year the centre-piece was home grown meat chickens. So delicious, slow roasted under ham skin.
And dessert. My mother makes the best meringue/pavlova in the known universe. No hyperbole, just fact. What makes it so special is its caramelized chewiness, no chalky crunch here.
The Food Farm berries collected by us as a hiatus between courses and raw cream make the perfect topping.
While there are special wines from other places on Christmas Eve, Christmas night and Boxing Day, the Christmas Day table is full of wine we’ve made, or those we’ve had a part in.
Favourite this year was the 2014 Greystone Rose which was finished in barrels underwater. This meant a really slow malo which helps with the complexity and mouth feel. I found lovely phenolics and interest in this dry style. Totally my wine of the summer.
So much of the wine and food on the table was part of us. But in more complicated ways than just growing it. Some was important because of the tradition it plays in our family, and the place we find ourselves in.
If we had one wish, it would be that every meal, every day was put on every table with as much thoughtfulness.
Merry Christmas to you all.