Venison, root vegetable and stout stew… and navigating a camp kitchen

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Our recent trip to NZ had very slight undertones (subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish) of cooking and/or eating whatever local produce the frozen, undulating, sheep dotted, river covered landscape could offer.

This day we were making our way back to Methven, and the company of our good friends Troppo and Lexi (real names), and we thought it pretty fit that we should cook them a nice hearty, vegetable laden dinner as fresh produce was damn expensive up this way and, well, if there’s one thing you need to be able to afford in this kind of weather it is not fresh vegetables, it is booze – Jesus’s little gift to us to help us stay warm in the cold.

About that dinner.

We finally stumbled on a wee little farmers market in a little sea side town on the east coast, at which one vendor was able to provide us with his home-grown yams, carrots and broccoli, and he was also selling the biggest fricking jerusalem artichokes I’ve ever seen. So big, in fact, I could not even recognise them. When I queried what the name of this strange, palm sized, Anakins-head-when-he-was-crawling-out-of-the-lava looking tuber may have been, the old farmer told me that it was indeed called Jerusalem artichoke and it was grown by another older gentleman up the road (points over shoulder).

“Indeed”, I remarked. “Well I will need to take a couple of those”.

The farmer then packed my produce up for me, I paid him the required toll and we were on our way.

We picked up some Dunedin venison and a bottle of stout from the peeps at Panhead Brewery, and then every item on the shopping list had a nice little tick next to it. We were clearly ready to do some cooking.

You will note my mis en place is in plastic bags. This is so I did not need to carry a box full of crap with me to the camp kitchen where the meal was cooked. “It’s pretty ingenious”, is probably what the other homies in the camp kitchen would have been thinking, and is also no doubt what you would be thinking right now.

Some booze for the stew and some booze for me

There’s those mis en place bags in the camp kitchen

Ready to go… with a big fat side of buttery sautéed cabbage

And a little more booze for me…


NZ VENISON, ROOT VEGETABLE & STOUT STEW

(serves 4)

500g venison shoulder, diced
1 onion, diced kinda chunky
2 carrot, chopped kinda chunky
2 sticks celery, chopped kinda chunky… let’s do all of the vegetables kinda chunky, ay
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fist sized Jerusalem artichoke, chopped
6-7 yam, chopped
½ bunch thyme
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
500ml stout
500ml stock or water
Salt to season

Season venison and brown meat over med-high heat.
Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, peppercorn bag and cook out for 5 minutes.
Add booze and stock, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add artichokes and yam bag and simmer for another hour, or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. If the gravy starts to thicken up too much feel free to add a little more moisture in the form of stock or water.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve it up with a side of NZ’s finest booze.

The Fergburger experience, Queenstown, New Zealand

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The Fergburger experience is a real thing.

Previously I had only heard stories about Fergburger and it’s backyard dealings of quality burger product and accompanying side dishes, and how the burger junkies would come from miles around to get their fix.

This story gets damn good when I tell you it was these rumors and an unearthly desire to try the Fergburger for my own self that had brought me to New Zealand from my home in Australia.

The story teeters back to average-at-best when I tell you that is a complete fabrication… but we went to Ferg Burger anyway…

The folks at Fergburger make good burgers – burgers that are good enough to have the fine people of Queenstown lining up out of the little shop front and into the street for their little piece of Fergy love.

Fergburger really does love us


On the day that we passed through that little city, with it’s “experience Queenstown” and “Snow New Zealand” shops literally outnumbering the people in the streets by 2-1, it was experiencing a little of the ol’ wet stuff from the sky coming down (which was a relatively new NZ experience for us as it was all white fluffy stuff from the skies until now). Was this enough to deter the locals and tourists alike from lining said footpath in search of said Fergy goodness? Fuck no it was not. They were there, we were there and there was also a heap of staff there too – some taking orders, some making the orders and one nice young lady was handing out umbrellas to those in the queue who wanted one. We thought that was pretty nice. “Ferg really does love us”, we comment to ourselves.

The menu looks like this


It was time to eat some burgers.

The “Ferg Deluxe” (14.90) was both of the things it said it would be – it was made by the peeps at Fergburger and it was indeed deluxe. A big bun made next door at Fergbaker, big beef pattie, streaky bacon, cheddar cheese, salady stuff, aioli and tomato relish.
The burgers here are not small by any standards (certainly no quarter pounder) and this one, I thought, was even not smaller still… but as everyone around me opened their very own joyous, plump little individually wrapped meaty gifts, I realized that bigger-than-average was just the burger size around here… and I liked it!

The Ferg Deluxe


The “Morning Glory” (10.00), in stark contrast to its aptly name friend the “Ferg Deluxe”, showed none of the characteristics of an actual morning glory, which was a welcome surprise. It did, however, show many of the characteristics of a quality bacon and egg burger and for only 10 bucks it certainly could not be quaffed at.

The “Chief Wiggum” (14.90) was another moniker in a menu full of quirky burger names which, I’ve gotta be honest, I am truly a sucker for. Pork belly, a hash brown, salady things, aioli and apricot seeded mustard all came together in one of those big ol’ Fergbaker buns for the journey to my stomach. To be honest I think it could’ve done without the hash brown, but it was never going to reach Chief Wiggum status with it now, was it…

The “Cockadoodle Oink” (14.90) – see above comment re quirky burger name, and then I will go on to tell you I think a pig and a chicken are damn beautiful bedfellows on any given occasion (except possibly a more biblical bed-sharing of the farmyard), and this liaison certainly didn’t disappoint. Joined with their other friends the avocado, salady stuff, aioli and tomato relish, they were dressed up to the nines and ready to hit the town… or my face at the very least. Another winner from the peeps at Fergburger.

Clockwise from left – the Ferg Deluxe, the Cockadoodle Oink, the Cheif Wiggum and the Morning Glory. Not pictured – the rest of the menu except for the squid which is in the top left corner


Washed down with fries, onion rings and crumbed squid – I’m not sure why we got the crumbed squid but we got the crumbed squid – our bellies were full as were our toothy grins of happiness.

As far as burger joints in NZ go, Fergburger lets you know fairly quickly why it’s at the top of its game and still attracting a queue that is long enough to impede businesses 3 or 4 shops up the street* rain, snow or shine, as it has been for the last 15 years.

I tip my hat to you, Fergburger. Very nice indeed.

*Luckily for anyone else who may be unfortunate enough to want to open up next door to Fergburger, the next 2 shops up the street are Fergbaker and Mrs Ferg Gelateria (Fergburger’s baking and gelato making arms respectively. Both also well worth a visit too, I might add)