foodiegemsofwellie

For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather over at KNOW Wellington's Word on the Street Blog or hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…

A beer tour at Whistling Sisters

Whistling Sisters is the new micro-brewery associated with The Fermentery eatery on the corner of Taranaki and Ghuznee Streets.

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Bede and Ange Roe, along with Russell and Elwyn Scott (of The Featherston, Avida and Leuven, to name a few) have significant beer and hospitality experience behind them, so have hit the ground running.

The brewery specialises in crafting balanced beers (as opposed to the big hoppy stuff), and currently have six varietals available. If you fancy the full inside gen, book yourself a tour at 4pm on a Saturday which includes a talk by Bede about the beer process, a wander through the brewery and a beer flight matched to tasty food from the kitchen downstairs. Great fun for $39.

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Their brewery kit was designed and made in Nelson which allowed them to add extra features to give more control over their brewing process, like the malt grind and how/when they add their special ingredients (the fresh ginger and galangal to the Rooty Toot Toot).

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They also don’t pasteurise or filter their beers, preferring instead to allow all flavours to come through untouched. And like to promote the idea of beer as great for food matching, again without the big hoppiness overpowering whatever you’re eating.

All of the beers we tasted were light, clean and very drinkable, with my favourite turning out to be the Rooty Toot Toot ginger sour beer. And I’m not a beer drinker!

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These were the matches we enjoyed, all equally good:

  • A red pilsner with Kraut cheese balls (the eatery is after all a Fermentery)
  • The golden ale with garlic hummus and crisp pita shards
  • The chocolate oatmeal stout with smashed cod and soft pita bread (unexpected but I guess when you think about oyster stouts, seafood and stout have some history)
  • The Rooty Toot Toot ginger sour with pork terrine.

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In terms of the Fermentery side of the business, their philosophy is also to craft their own, and, create dishes that match nicely with the beers.

I have popped along recently for brunch and thoroughly enjoyed their kumara pancake with bacon (although it was a bit early for beersies that day!), and the chip fiend (yep you guessed it) ordered the burger and chips, which he proclaimed satisfying as well.

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I also really like purpose of Whistling Sisters too – the premature death of Karen Louisa from secondary breast cancer (one of Russell and Elwyn’s daughters) inspiring the family to create a research trust, with the profits of Whistling Sisters and the Fermentery supporting that.

So the ‘Sisters’ signifying the closeness of Russell’s two daughters and the ‘Whistling’ signifying the attempt to keep on whistling and looking on the bright side when life gets you down (the Life of Bryan anyone?).

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A great outlook and I wish them well.

Cnr Taranaki and Ghuznee Streets

 

A little Lux at Yoshi

I’ve talked about the Press Hall on Willis Street before, but feel compelled to talk about Yoshi in particular now, a wee gem hidden away down the back.

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Yoshi (the person) and his wife Helen (a kiwi lass) met in Japan some years ago, and ultimately relocated to NZ, where they have been providing us with daytime sushi and bento in Corporatesville for a while on Lambton Quay and Featherston Street. And recently decided to take on the space down the back of the Press Hall.

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Unlike other Press Hall eateries, Yoshi is more like a restaurant with table service, a wide range of Japanese (and NZ) tipples, and in the evening morph their menu to include more traditional Japanese dishes.

The food is authentic Japanese (a rarity in the Wellington sushi market), with Yoshi melding local fresh NZ produce into traditional Japanese dishes. The end result – light, flavourful and healthy food right across the board.

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On the night we dined, we enjoyed the umeshu plum wine tasting flight, followed by a most excellent spicy plum wine that I’d go back just for. And then pork gyoza (excellent balance of crisp and soft), scallop sushi nigiri (fresh and light), inari nigiri (inside out sushi with a tofu pocket enclosing the rice), Karaage chicken with fabulous pink rice and Yoshi slaw (crisp and tender) and the ramen bowl (generous). And finished with Gelissimo’s award-winning yuzu olive oil gelato (if you’ve never had this, its reason number two to go to Yoshi). Without breaking the bank.

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There are a number of touches which make Yoshi stand out from the crowd – their service, making nearly all of their sauces in-house, using the gorgeous Yuzu olive oil in the Yoshi slaw, using a lighter slightly citrusy Ponzu dipping sauce in place of the heavier soy sauces, etc etc.

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And the Press Hall have their own Lux lights going on at the moment too (do check out the second alleyway parallel to the main one, which I didn’t even know existed until Friday night!).

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While usually closing at 7pm, some of the Press Hall eateries, including Yoshi are opening until 9pm next week Thurs 24 / Fri 25 / Sat 26 May alongside Lux, which strikes me as a much more civilized way to eat before or after checking out the lights, than queuing at a food truck in the cold.

 

80 Willis Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinot and Prosciutto

I was recently invited to the Cloudy Bay launch of Pinot May, with a ‘masterclass’ by local ‘platter artisan’ Kate Marinkovich. I like Kate’s style (think Tomboy), so was interested in what tips and advice she might have about styling the perfect platter.

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Pinot May challenges chefs to craft a dish matched to one of their Pinots. Previously this has been a Pinot and Duck match, but this year they’ve switched it up to Pinot and Prosciutto, matched to either the 2015 Cloudy Bay Pinot or the 2015 Te Wahi Central Otago Pinot.

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The Te Wahi grapes from Central Otago are the same grapes as those planted in Marlborough, transported by cold refrigeration immediately after picking to the Marlborough winery, and made using the same equipment and same hands as any other Cloudy Bay Pinot. And yet end up tasting quite different from the Marlborough brethren – a good example of the terroir impact.

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We enjoyed a history lesson from Exec Chef Eric Lee of Foxglove about the history of dry-cured meats with some amusing snippets (being mostly monounsaturated fats, these pigs are often referred to as walking olive trees!) and some new facts (Prosciutto is latin for ‘sucking out’ moisture). I discovered a new favourite Jamón Ibérico from black Iberian pigs raised on the Iberian peninsula of Spain and Portugal.

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So without being a spoiler for the class repeating on Wednesday 16 May at Foxglove (bookings here), I can say that you’ll craft and eat delicious platters, learn interesting information about both Pinot and Prosciutto, and be inspired to see what Foxglove, the Intercon and Grand Mercure put together as their Pinot matches this month.

Running throughout May.

 

 

 

 

The new Black Dog

I recently popped along to the new Black Dog Brewery up Cuba Street to see how it compared to the previous iteration in Blair Street.

Quite favourably I have to say (as a non-beery girl).

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Downstairs is the micro-brewery with lots of shiny tanks, and staff happy to talk to you all day long about their brews, and guide you through tastings.

And upstairs is a lounge bar with some very groovy art, where you can relax and try something new.

The brewery’s stated aim is to ‘create interesting alternatives to the range of beers already available. Some will work and some won’t but if we don’t try we’ll never know. Our mission is to always be interesting and intrepid, always act independently and stay in tune with what the drinkers want’.

In line with that, despite them being part of the DB family, Bar Manager Mat tells me the Cuba Street microbrewery is seen as the innovation hub for the brand where they create to their heart’s content and don’t have to worry about production runs or marketing. When they strike one that ticks all the boxes it then gets passed off to the mothership to deal with from there.

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So, as well as the core beers (like Chomp – their first ever brew – or The Dogfather), you’ll get new ones each season (like the Pug Life an extra pale ale, or Hop Boxer a fresh hop IPA). In fact, when we visited right in the middle of Hopstock, the Hop Boxer had been so popular they were eeking it out in tasting size glasses only until they could whip some more up!

One of the things the staff are very keen on is helping you try something new, starting with what type of flavours in general or densities you like and they’ll whip out various things that might be of interest (for example the Saisson has banana notes, who’d’ve known). If you go away saying you’ve had a great experience and tried something new, they’ll consider their job well done.

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They’re also keen on collaboration with other local businesses, including coffee and chocolate magic with Havana and WCF respectively, food from the Wellington Seamarket next door or Pandoro (beer and barley bread, and pizza bases), and I believe there are other collaborations with the likes of Grill Meats Beer coming soon.

You’ll also find exhibitions by different artists throughout the brewery and bar, acting like an informal Cuba Street Art Gallery (now that’s my kinda gallery!).

Tuesday to Sunday, noon until the wee smalls.

216 Cuba Street

 

 

Enjoying Saffron Haveli

I finally got (a lot of my posts are starting with that lately aren’t they!) to the new Saffron Haveli on Cambridge Terrace, in the old Strawberry Fare premises.

And was pretty impressed with the food quality. I think along with Kera-la-carte this might be one of my fave Indian eateries now.

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After ordering drinks we were presented with feather-light crispy poppadoms with enough salt to be moreish but not OTT. A great accompaniment to the Lychee mint mojito and Indian beer.

We then dove straight into mains with a Malai kofta, and a chicken special. The kofta were silky and light in a nicely dense sauce. And the chicken special was very tender and flavourful, despite being kiwi hot. No flavour ruinations with the temperature increases here.

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Haveli means a mansion or hall where families live and eat together, and there were certainly plenty of families and groups dotted around the restaurant.

The service was courteous and friendly, and all in all, we rather enjoyed ourselves.

25 Kent Terrace

PS. They look to do a roaring trade in take-aways, so if you’re short on time or fancy eating at home, that’s another option.

The Press Hall Eateries

I recently checked out the new Press Hall Eateries in Willis Street next to Ti Kouka, so named because the site was originally the press hall for the Evening Post.

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The quality of the eateries is good with local favourites like Fratelli, Tommy Millions, Yoshi, and others. And the decor nicely done.

I decided the best way to sample the Hall was a progressive early dinner (most eateries open til 7pm), so started at Aroha’s plant-based cuisine, moved to Mad Mex for mains, and then took Fratelli home for dessert.

Aroha’s plant-based cuisine includes dishes like a smoky seitan vegan burger (wheat protein, so beware those with gluten issues), vege curry with rice or roti, and vegan power bowls, for $12. I decided on the $6 satay kebabs as an entree and found them tasty, with just the right amount of flavour and texture in the satay sauce.

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We then trucked onto Mad Mex and shared a chorizo quesadilla and loaded Baja fries. Watching the chorizo being flamed in the background, and the quesadilla being made in front of one’s eyes is always a satisfying experience, and both dishes were pleasant and fresh. I loved the booth decor and the guava soda that went alongside.

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And then because I’m a fan of Fratelli, and a progressive dinner isn’t complete without dessert, we took home salted caramel cannoli, piped with filling right in front of us. The custard was delightful, the right density and flavour, and the cases satisfyingly light and bubbly. There my happy belly rested.

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I’m planning on heading back to Yoshi for lunch or an early dinner as they have a separate restaurant-like area down the back which would be ideal for a working lunch or early evening dinner away from the masses.

They are also the only sushi and bento business in the city run by a Japanese lad, and you’ll find more genuine dishes like udon and karaage here.

7am – 7pm weekdays, 9am – 3pm Saturdays.

78 Willis Street.

PS. Keep an eye out for an upstairs bar opening soon run by the Hanging Ditch team.

Oodles of cool at Coolsville

I was out walking recently and tripped over Coolsville Trading Post at Hataitai. And what a groovy place!

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Turns out to be part of the Bambuchi family, with most of the food coming out of the kitchen across the road (shows in the quality), and includes a good number of alternatives for those with dietary restrictions – healthy grab’n’go food, in compostable and recyclable containers.

Because I was on a long walk, I felt totally justified in having two dishes (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), and thoroughly enjoyed both the kumara and egg nest, (nicely crisped in a toastie machine and not sogged in a microwave) and the salmon noodle salad. Along with my friends moose and bear at the table!

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Both were fresh, flavourful and satisfying. And the coffee was also well made.

There’s both cabinet and menu options, with many of the dishes named after random people like Lisa and Bart Simpson, or people from the Bambuchi family like Richie, Oliver or Tommy.

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The gifts range from artisan to quirky homeware, which I confess I made good use of (a mojito candle anyone?), and on the food front included Nice Blocks, Hakanoa traditional ginger beers, local O manuka honey chocolate (it’s really good, you should get your hands on some), and Joco glass keep cups, among others.

This is soooo going to be one of my favourite walk routes now!

Daytimes 7 days.

3C Moxham Avenue, Hataitai

Monte Cervino

If you didn’t catch my Monte Cervino post over at Word on the Street, here’s the link.

Monte Cervino is the new iteration of Matterhorn in Tory Street (the old Lonestar building), and differs from Matterhorn by being a bit more casual and Italian-inspired (the Italian ‘face’ of the Matterhorn!).

MonteC bar

The food is still the quality you’d expect of Sean Marshall, albiet a little simpler, and the service still has the Matterhorn vibe – a whole lot of groove, a little bit laid back, and a couple of handlebar moustaches to round it out – so there’s a whole lot that feels familiar.

The environment is light and bright, and its an easy place to pop by for a drink and bite, full meal, or even just dessert in the bar if you so fancied.

MonteC motto

I’m eyeing up the zucchini, lemon, pine nut and assiago pizzetta (naturally leavened sour dough base) on my next visit, along with Nonna’s fritole. And another of the very interesting cocktails. This one ‘The Alps’ with pine cordial….

MonteC Alps

Open 7 days lunch and dinner.

66 Tory Street

50-50 at Pram Beach

I have been told a couple of times to check out 50-50 at Paraparaumu Beach, and OMG, it was really excellent.

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The decor is very austere, with three pictures on one wall, and simple brown tables in one big oblong room. But don’t be fooled.

Helen Turnbull (opened Rata restaurant in Queenstown for Josh Emett, also best emerging chef at Hummingbird in the 2014 Capital awards) crafts her dishes at a big kitchen bench at the end of the room, while long-time Wellington bar personality Eddy Kennedy runs the front of house as smoothly as a well oiled machine.

The menu has only four dishes per course to choose from, and you can go a-la-carte, or do a 6 or 9 course dinner ($75 and $95 respectively) where Helen presents from across the menu, or have a taste of everything for $120. So lots of choice in how you eat.

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Among our group of three, the stand-out dishes were all of them. But of particular memorability were the amazing flavours of the aubergine entree which the biggest vegetable-avoider of the group fell in love with (me too for that matter), the crispy pork belly with both fantastic crispness and tenderness, the super crispy but feathery roast tatties which appeared by magic with the mains, and the unusualness of the nectarine tart.

The drinks list is also small, but as you’d expect with Eddy’s background, interesting and well formed. We enjoyed The Bone Line Waipara non-typical chardonnay (was described well and double checked with us at ordering), and at $11 per glass was good value.

The beers include a Lakeman Primate pilsner, Kereru Come By Shepherd’s low alcohol ale and Duncans stout (to name half of them), and the non-alcs Kapiti chemex coffee, strawberry Sichuan fizz, apricot and tarragon iced tea, again all interesting and a little different.

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This is definitely a place all foodies should try, and do book as they’re getting really busy.

Wednesday to Saturday evenings (note closed as a one-off this week 21 to 24 Feb).

27 Maclean Street, Paraparaumu Beach

Pomelo surprise

I had heard good things about Pomelo Kitchen and Bar  on Oriental Parade, but when we finally got there this weekend, it totally exceeded expectations.

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The views, of course, are fantastic from those giant windows looking directly across the harbour and city, and the decor is light and fresh.

Co-owners Lily and Laili Chin started from a takeaway background in the Hutt Valley (among other things), and have obviously been hiding their light under a bushel.

The food very much made me think of Comes and Goes at Petone, both in terms of quality and presentation. Being ‘pan-Asian’, the ingredients draw from many cultures – Thai yellow curry, Vietnamese tiger prawn salad, Chinese pork dumplings, and much more.

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The signature soft shell crab with coriander, chilli mayo and slaw was a first for the chip fiend, and he thoroughly enjoyed the delicate flavours of the crab on its own, as well as enhanced with the chilli mayo.

The caramelised eggplant with tamarind, Sichuan pepper and sesame seeds had a very thin crispy batter, without any inner sog, and was nicely enhanced by the sweet sauce and sesame seeds.

The slow braised Angus beef ribs fell off the bone, the yellow curry with lotus chips was the best I think I’ve ever had, and the spiced poached pear with coconut custard was a light fresh finish.

Every dish supported the main ingredient to shine, and was melt-in-the-mouth where it should be, lightly crispy where it should be, firm where it should be, and fresh. Even the hand cut kumara fries were an excellent showcase of kumara (and rather fab dipped in the yellow curry!). Impressive.

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There’s a rather cute wee bar down the back, with a lit marble base and wooden slab top, and a couple of wee tables for a quieter eat if you fancy (the main room is pretty noisy with flat surfaces, especially when there’s a big group celebrating nearby).

The drinks include a range of specialty green teas in addition to the normal teas and coffees (Yame, Chiran, Shira ori), a chili hot chocolate, a sticky chai latte, a large list of non-alcs (including specialty sodas and kombucha), some interesting-sounding cocktails (the Hulk, the Drunken Buddha), champagne from Champagne, a good range of NZ wines, local craft beers, a sake, and a couple of spirits. Phew!

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I think I’ve found a new favourite for evening wanders.

From 5.30pm Tuesday to Sunday.

232 Oriental Parade (above Beach Babylon)

 

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