29 Nov Gifts & Goodies for the Festive Season
It’s now more than one year since we launched Scarecrow Grocer in Mt Eden, and let’s be honest, it’s been a tumultuous one for all of us. You probably already know that we plunged ourselves into this new venture as a response to the pandemic, believing that the city would suffer terribly, and wondering just how would we keep our wonderful staff employed. I hate to say it, but this fear of a vastly changed city has largely been true, despite enjoying long periods of 2021 in full operation. Now Auckland has done another about-turn, it feels as if the changes afoot are long term and volatile, for cities everywhere.
It is our belief that the social fabric of cities remains important, and we very much hope that the rich art, cultural, learning and visual landscape of Auckland city will beckon you back soon. In the meantime, we are so grateful for our beautiful little Mt Eden Rd store, and the Mt Eden community who have been stalwart supporters since we opened our doors a little over a year ago. Thank you!
Not too many sleeps to that magical holiday season that I think we are all craving, we surely need the joy of celebrating something this year. I must say that the sunshine over the last week or so in Auckland has ignited a newly hopeful spirit, at home at Palm Beach there was a mass of swimmers and sunning skin after the deprivation over spring, so I hope you are all embracing the gifts of the season. Albert Park has been full of chatter, small gatherings and picnics scattered over the green lawns. Sadly, this weekend is a wash-out, but the warmth is still lingering.
In the spirit of the new season, we are now unveiling our Christmas Cakes! These are available BY ORDER in two sizes, 650grams or 1.2 kilos. We are finishing them with brandy and traditional marzipan icing, and they come beautifully packed in a box. You will be able to collect your cake, or have it delivered to family and friends from 1 December. Please do pre-order… and do get your orders in quickly, there is limited capacity in our kitchen – so don’t miss out! If you need a cake without added gluten, do let us know, we can arrange this for you. Some of you will be familiar with our Telle Traditional Marzipan Stollen, these are now also available to order online in three sizes.
Our gorgeous team leader at Mt Eden Rd, Fran, is off to follow her passions and career dreams with a new management role at OXFAM. Do you know the next Fran? If you do, please tell them to be in touch with us! On that note, I’m amazed at the challenges still in recruitment in these times. One might have imagined a deluge of candidates for positions as Covid impacts business, but the reality appears to be quite the reverse, with continued very low unemployment rates. It seems not only farmers and healthcare sectors need more human resources, but the rest of our workforce is also very depleted!
Finally a recipe…
Honey and Pistachio Tart
I’m thinking about all the delicate berries around at the moment, and a slice of this tart is the perfect accompaniment to fresh summer berries. Your plates will be festive in seasonal green and red!
Pistachios are quite delicate in flavour, so choose a delicate honey for this recipe – such as Pohutakawa or clover. Spare a thought for the beekeepers in this weather – the bees have been blown about and the cold spring season will have impacted honey production this year.
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup finely ground pistachios
1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar
115gr unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg lightly beaten
1 spoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp cold water
Pinch of salt
In a large bowl, sift together flour, icing sugar and pinch of salt, add chopped butter. Rub together with your fingertips until crumbly, add finely ground pistachios and lemon rind, crumble into mix.
Create a well in the centre and pour in the beaten egg and cold water. Bring together using a flat-bladed knife (rather than your warm fingers) until pastry forms a ball. (You can mix your pastry in a food processor if you prefer.)
Put pastry ball onto a floured surface and roll to a circle (put the bottom of the tart tin on the bench if you like and dust it with flour and roll pastry directly onto the base). Allow the circle to be large enough to come beyond the sides of your tart tin, it should be about 3mm thick. Carefully lift the pastry into the tin and press gently into fluted edges, poke a few holes in the base with a fork. Allow the pastry to peak up above the rim as it will shrink a little in the pre-baking.
Cover fully with baking paper and put in the fridge to rest for about 15 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Remove chilled pastry and put pastry weights (ceramic weights or substitute with something dry such as rice or dried chickpeas) onto the baking paper and pop tart base into the heated oven for 15 minutes. Then remove baking paper and pie weights, sprinkle ‘fork holes’ with some almond flour to seal them a bit, then spoon in the filling (see below):
1 1/2 cups pistachios
1/2 almond flour
1/2 cup honey
115gr unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup castor sugar
3 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp almond liqueur
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
(Mascarpone or Greek yoghurt to serve, alongsid fresh berries)
Lightly toast the whole pistachios on an oven tray for 2 minutes (be careful, you want them to stay green). Remove and cool.
Heat the honey in a small saucepan until runny, allow to cool. In a bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until smooth, gradually add beaten eggs and pinch of salt, then mix in the liquids (honey, lemon, essences, lemon rind etc). Mix in 1/2 of the roughly chopped pistachios (reserve the rest for the topping later) and 1/2 cup of almond flour. Spoon mixture into pastry base. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove, while warm sprinkle on the rest of the chopped pistachios, lightly press them into the still warm filling.
Serve warm with yoghurt or mascarpone and fresh summer berries.
Scarecrow Christmas Cakes
Baked by our in-house patisserie chef, Scarecrow Traditional Brandied Fruit Christmas Cakes come in 2 sizes, with a choice of regular, or no gluten added and packaged & wrapped in a Scarecrow Gift Box. For yourself or a loved one, teacher or colleague, they make gorgeous gifts too! Please note, our Christmas Cakes must be pre-ordered, and will be ready for delivery or collection from 1 December. Orders close 15 December & last day of delivery is 20 December. Get this one thing ticked off your list now!
Vintage Christmas Napkins
This Christmas, we’ll be doing away with plastic-wrapped serviettes and replacing them with a 4 pack of beautiful Vintage Cotton Christmas Napkins. True, there is an extra step in washing these after use, but the beauty of bringing them out each year will become a lovely seasonal tradition. Nothing beats quality, and these are absolutely the best. Available in 2 designs, Holly or Botanica, they’re so pretty there’s no good reason not to use them every day! Available in-store or online.
With 2 stores full of the finest NZ made cheeses and cheese board accompaniments, we’ve made entertaining a breeze by hand-selecting a range of Cheese Platters to serve anywhere from 6 to 20+ guests. These include all the goodies you’ll need to WOW at your next get-together. Order online to collect in store or have delivered across Auckland.
Make up a Charcuterie Board
If you want to create more of a Charcuterie Board we suggest adding to your cheeses the Wild Venison Salami from Gathered Game and Scarecrow Duck Prosciutto, Gravlax or House Smoked Salmon. With a few days notice we can prepare bigger quantities of the salmon and duck if you’re hosting a larger gathering. Just call or email us to place your order.
We guess you are planning some celebratory evenings with friends, colleagues and family as we approach December, with delicious platters and drinks to accompany these gatherings. We have created some Cheese Selection Platters to make your prep quicker. Have you noticed how much the cheeses improve as the evening progresses? (If there’s any left!). This is because the cheeses are opening up (like a good wine). So, we suggest you start the occasion off just right by preparing your cheeses. Here’s what James Thomas from NZ Cheese says about this:
“It is very important not to serve your cheese when it’s too cold as cold cheese can taste bland and inert. As a general rule of thumb you should bring it out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to serve it. You should keep your cheese wrapped whilst it is coming up to room temperature, to avoid any risk of it drying out. If it is especially warm you should reduce the amount of time the cheese is out of the fridge accordingly.”
At Scarecrow we suggest you allow 2 hours of ambient room temperature in anything up to 23C, if it’s hotter than that, 1 hour will be enough. In the past people would use a cheese safe, typically a small timber shelving unit with wire mesh, to allow the cheese to breathe. If you live in a cold area you can leave your cheese out in a cool, safe place overnight.
Take a look at our cellar to select some delicious wine matches. Partying local this year!
You might be thinking ahead for the perfect wines to accompany your festive meal. Try our Passage Rock Perfect Pair, a duo of award-winning red varieties grown and produced in our very own Waiheke Island paradise. Looking for something sparkling? Crisp and dry? Perhaps a local craft beer to start. In the Scarecrow Cellar we have a quality selection of NZ made wines, ciders & beers, many of which are organic, vegan and/or biodynamic. See our range online or call into 811 Mt Eden Road to peruse our cellar shelves.
More Gift Ideas
Every day we welcome an array of new, artisan, NZ made products through our doors. Pop in to either store to find unique items to go under the tree. If time is tight, our Gift Hampers range will delight even the trickiest of friends or family members. Have a bird lover in the family? Choose the Birds of a Feather Hamper! For those with green thumbs, send a Grounded Hamper. View our full range online or talk to the team for inspiration. It is so exciting to see the stores buzzing & brimming with new products we know you’ll love.
Here’s to shining sunflowers and sassy garden roses, nestled in rustling summer grasses to toast this Kumeu River Chardonnay, a Kiwi Classic from the award-winning Brajkovich family. We have a brilliant new selection of bouquets paired with a beautiful drop for the holiday season, appearing soon on our website. The perfect way to send some sunshine today or any day to those you’re saluting!
Channelling the vibe of hazy hedgerows and plump juicy berries, this loose and vibrant mix of flowers is eclectic and bold just like the hazy Hop Salad IPA that we have paired it with, from 8 Wired Beers. Quench the thirst of your favourite hops-lover when you send them this buzzy Hop Salad duet. Order online from the Florist department for pick up in store or delivery across Auckland.
A year ago we welcomed a breath of fresh air into the Scarecrow family. Many of you will have been greeted by Fran’s friendly face and expert guidance while visiting Scarecrow Grocer over the past 12 months. We are sad to be farewelling Fran in early December, but equally thrilled to know she will be embarking on another of her passions in a new position with Oxfam. Which means we are looking for a superstar replacement to fill Fran’s boots. Please email us if you are looking for a rewarding, community-focused, customer-facing role. We have just the thing!