I could've sworn I wrote about how good the service is in New Zealand when I was home last Christmas, but going through my archives I can't find anything. So, for the record: service is amazing in New Zealand.
It's not just that the people looking after you are nice to you*, although that is wildly pleasant. It's that the people looking after you go just that one step extra. It may put them out a little, but it makes your day exponentially better – and hopefully that gratitude makes helps make theirs better too.**
I enjoyed that tonight in New World in Victoria Park. Popping in for some olives for dinner, I approached the deli counter and asked if they had pitted black ones. They didn't; only pitted mixed olives, so I decided to get those. As I watched, the man serving me carefully spooned around the green ones to give me 100g of solely black pitted olives.
I thanked him profusely, came home, fired off an email to New World, and threw together my dinner. I kept it simple, with a haloumi salad I make often. It's brilliant because once you've thrown the asparagus in the pan you can cut the cheese; once the cheese is in the pan you can wash the lettuce and make the dressing; then you just throw the olives in for a couple of minutes, dish it up and enjoy. It virtually cooks itself.
I was inspired by this recipe, which I then bastardised (of course), leaving out the onion and egg and making a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette for the dressing. This is simple to do; just chop up two strawberries and blend until unrecognisable as strawberries. Combine with about 1tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 2-3tbsp of olive oil, and 1/2tsp of wholegrain mustard. Mix until the dressing's one cohesive whole.
Now's the perfect time for asparagus and strawberries in New Zealand, but if you happen to be living on the other side of the world, New York say, and you were feeling uninspired in the kitchen and were madly after some more recipes, you could easily make this work. Don't buy out-of-season asparagus; it's not worth it. Instead, roast some sweet potato and wilt some kale. Buy an orange, and slice 2/3 of it into skinless rounds. Put this in the frying pan with the haloumi and olives for about two minutes on each side, just to warm through. Squeeze the juice from the rest of the orange into the same balsamic/olive oil/mustard mix as detailed above, and use this to dress the warm salad.
Enjoy, those in New Zealand and those on the other side of the world. May you experience amazing service next time you're at the grocery store.
*I know. Crazy stuff, right?
**Especially good if you go the extra step and let their manager know how awesome they are.