New Zealand, Travelling, Wanaka
comments 18

New Zealand: A Day in Wanaka Cooking with Annabel Langbein


One of the problems with doing what you love and writing about it – and believe me there are a few – is that sometimes you are so consumed doing things, it is difficult to find the time to write about it.

Take my trip to New Zealand this time last year. Only 8 days, too brief, but packed with brilliant and inspiring things. So many, that while I was there, I was so busy *doing* that there was very little time to write. I did manage two postcards, here and here, before moving on to Hong Kong (and doing so much doing there too, that I have yet to write about that also, which is ridiculous, as I booked a stopover in Hong Kong so that I could relax and slow down for a bit).

I was watching Saturday Kitchen this morning through jet lag goggles, when I spied lovely Annabel Langbein cooking, and was immediately transported to cooking with her in her kitchen in Wanaka, New Zealand, last year.


Annabel Langbein is a food writer, cook and tv chef from New Zealand. She has been writing (and publishing her own) cookbooks for years. She is an advert for self publishing. When she decided that it was time to pursue TV, she also did that herself, putting together a TV crew with her husband, and in the process ensuring that everything she did was exactly as she intended. She has been hugely successful and is a household name there.


I can see why. Annabel’s food is packed with flavour and beautifully simple. The hallmark of Annabel’s food is the bright and fresh flavours, food that is healthy and light, that is easy to recreate at home. She combines ingredients in ways that you might not have thought of, in the process inspiring her readers to eat better at home.


Annabel is interested in real food, so much so that when we ate lunch we had her own homemade halloumi cheese with New Zealand lamb and beetroot. This was right up my alley, my own book has a few recipes for homemade cheese, and I am forever trying new ones at home. It was terrific.

We picked vegetables from her beautiful garden overlooking Lake Wanaka and sunflowers for the table. She grows a beautiful variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers, it is magical, which you can see from the photos.


To my relief,  she said that when she first started in the food writing business, she put on a lot of weight. I was surprised, she is so trim and healthy now, and I thought, phew, it isn’t just me! I was a (UK) size 10 when I started, and I have climbed a bit since. I am working on it, it is amazing how far it can go before you even notice, and I am getting back to normal now with exercise. Dieting isn’t for me, although I am being more sensible.



Annabel’s books are wonderful. She isn’t well known in the UK yet, but I think it is only a matter of time before that changes. You can get her book The Free Range Cook on Amazon. Check out her website too.


If you love to cook at home, and if you are reading my blog you probably do, I would recommend that you get it. Also keep an eye out for her new book which is out soon.




  1. Hello Niamh – it’s really great that you champion other cooks and writers so generously. Annabel’s food does look wonderful. Thank you for bringing her to our attention. I’d love to know whether you get to all these places on your own (very resourceful) steam, in which case you should be championed and celebrated too!

    • Sophie, I was invited on a press trip by the New Zealand Tourist Board along with another journalist, as stated when I travelled there, and in my NZ posts (links within this post). I write freelance as well as on this blog. My trips are a mix of commissions and my own personal adventures, usually the latter. Annabel very kindly gave me her time.

      As regards to championing other people, well, of course. I am very lucky to be surrounded by wonderful and inspiring food and travel writers and love sharing their recipes and stories on here.

  2. Oh, I think you are way too self-critical, Niamh, especially about your weight! I met you in Montreal and you looked great–healthy and happy! And quite frankly, I was relieved to see you weren’t 90lbs (somehow, I don’t quite trust skinny cooks!)

    • Hi Cathy, very kind of you to say, thank you. And very pleased you liked the Montreal demo! :)

  3. Sarah Burdon says

    Hi Niamh. We had the pleasure of meeting you when visiting Annabel. Loved your article. Now I have your blog so I am looking forward to following you around. ciao ciao Sarah (Lake Hawea)

    • Hi Sarah! Lovely to hear from you. Thanks so much and hope to make it back to Wanaka some day :)

  4. Jan Inwood says

    Enjoyed reading your blog. I live in NZ, and are lucky enough to have met Annabel Langbein at two of her cooking demos, and just love her books etc. I often cook her recipes, and today I baked her beautiful sampler biscuits. I hope you make it back to our beautiful country one day, and get to see more of this paradise we live in

    • Thanks Jan! I hope to make it back too. So much more to see and to taste there. Wonderful place :)

  5. Candice says

    I just love Annabel. I use her books like a bible. Sticky days pudding. TO DIE for. Sent all my family in UK her cookbook for Xmas.

  6. I thought Annabel was great on Saturday Kitchen. There are far too few women on that show; as much as I love it, it can sometimes get a bit like a boorish old boys club. Which leads me to ask: why haven’t you been on yet?! I think the general British viewing public is ready for bacon fudge.

Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)