foodiegemsofwellie

For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather out and about hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…

Seatoun’s new Arcimboldi

In googling Arcimboldi, a new cafe in Seatoun, I came across the Wiki page of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. An Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portraits made entirely of objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. That surely can’t be a coincidence?

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Turns out Arcimboldi is by Alice Hill and Leith Wix, from catering in Arrowtown to community (Italian-leaning) eating and drinking in Seatoun. And indeed there was a very happy sounding Xmas party going on in the back courtyard on the day we visited.

So to lunch.

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We had the option of the breakfast dishes, the lunch dishes or a whole page of pizzas (which I’m informed by someone who’s tastebuds I trust, to be worthwhile).

After much umming and aaahing I went for the gnocchi with tomato, bocconcini and basil; another went for the smoked Kahawai agria hash with poached egg, spinach, peas and herbs (above); and the third went for the toasted red quinoa, tomato kasundi, grilled broccolini, goat cheese, and pickled red onion salad with lavosh. Healthy lot weren’t we?

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All dishes were fresh, flavourful, and nicely presented.

We had been eyeing up the lovely-looking baking in the cabinet too, so ended up sampling a couple of muffins (be rude not to right?). Unlike many cafes who use a microwave to warm their baking, Archimboldi warm theirs in a mini oven so you retain crispness and lightness.

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There was also a wide range of beer, cider, wines, spirits and cocktails with fabulous names like Violet Bramble. Also non-alcs like Monsoon Ginger Beer and Blood Orange sparking San Pellegrino, and I might have spied a Chocolate Martini with a Hershey’s Kiss for next time too. Nice.

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There certainly looked to be a little of something for everyone, and I imagine Arcimboldi will be a welcome addition to the Southern burbs.

24 Dundas Street, Seatoun

Still loving Restaurant 88

We tend to forget the good solid locals that are there are for us year in and year out, through every fad and phase that comes and goes.

So I recently popped back to Restaurant 88 to see how Luke and team were faring, and was impressed as always.

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I like the warm deep red ambience splashed with golden balloon highlights, and the equally warm (and prompt) welcome of the staff.

I also like the new style menu which is very tactile with beautiful pictures (even the chip fiend, who normally steers clear of restaurants with pictures on the menu thought it was well done). It feels a little smaller in number of dishes than previously, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in today’s world of information and choice overload. Stick to your knitting and do what you do well.

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Since I rather enjoy the soothing textures of bao buns I decided to try 88’s Bao Your Way, with sweet pork belly. I found the bun to be light and soft, and an excellent vessel to showcase the pork belly and tangy fresh flavours of the salad and sauces, with the pork belly being all meat and not just strips of fat (yay!). I could have stopped there and been totally satisfied with the evening.

The chip fiend had beef tacos as a starter, which were also pleasing with tender sweet and sour beef and lots of fresh minty flavours. Strong reminders of being in Vietnam.

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For mains I went beef salad with pork, prawn and crab spring rolls, while the chip fiend went lemongrass chicken. Again, lots of light, fresh, crisp flavours with a wide range of textures meeting the Vietnamese concept of balance – spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet, along with a balance of fragrance, taste and colour. What looks simple in presentation can be complex in execution.

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Being always keen to try new things, I decided to give the Vietnamese salty plum soda a go, which I have to admit grew on me during the evening. It is definitely an acquired taste and works better with food than without. But is apparently typically Asian, so nice to go authentic all the way.

I also spied a Chrysanthemum herbal tea that’s on my agenda for next time.

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The restaurant was pretty full on a Saturday night, and deservedly so.

At around $15 for entrees and $28 for mains, its also excellent value for money.

88 Tory Street

 

 

 

 

Lido’s better than ever

I always liked Lido, but after their refit and re-opening they’re better than ever (in my humble opinion!). Although previously relatively plant-based, they’ve gone even more that path, showcasing local, fresh and seasonal in interesting combinations.

I also rather like the blingy brass-look counter, mixing casual with a little sass.

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I had a really, really hard time choosing between the cauliflower cheese; the leek and goat cheese gnocchi; the baked flatbread with ‘many’ greens (that one scared the chip fiend!), ricotta, feta and haloumi; and the green olive, walnut and fresh herb-stuffed kumara fritter with a broadbean, avocado and spring onion salad.

After a round of eeny, meeny, miny, mo (modified for todays sensibilities of course), I settled on the kumara fritter, and was not sorry.

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It was crispy and flavourful and the side salad was super fresh and tasty. As well as nicely presented.

When did veggies become so cool?

There are bunches of add-ons to pimp your breakfast if you so desire (including some meats), and some interesting entrees and extras at dinner – bombay potatoes with tamarind and coconut chutneys, giardiniera Italian pickled vege relish with the smoked warehou pate, and brugge cheese ripened with beer.

And lots of options for vegans, vegetarians, dairy-free and other people with dietary restrictions.

Lido menu

I am so going back very soon for the orange-ricotta pancakes with poached tamarillo, biscuit crumb and mascarpone. Sold.

81 Victoria Street

7 days and 5 nights (dinner Tuesday to Saturday)

Qilin tea house

I rather enjoyed my first sojourn to Qilin teahouse for a late pastry and iced tea lunch.

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I’m going to borrow some of the Qilin website words here, because they sum it up pretty well:

  • a large range of flowering, premium and house blend teas served hot, iced or in latte form
  • exciting flavours like Iron Buddha and Qilin Chai
  • nitro coffee and homemade kombucha on tap
  • Asian nod on the food menu

There’s even a little tea running through some of the food – I spied fresh mozzarella, basil pesto and black tea drizzle on sourdough. Goodness.

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I went for iced tea since I’d been running around – the Jasmine with basil, strawberry and hibiscus. Very flavourful and very, very refreshing.

Well known and local ingredients like Lewis Road butter, Zany Zeus, and Fix & Fogg are dotted throughout the menu, as well as interesting Asian components like dragon ball, peking style mushroom and onigiri rice ball, and house-made ingredients like bacon jam.

Qilin pastry

The Xian roast pulled lamb bun sounded like a lunch with my name on it sometime soon, with a side of flowering tea methinks.

8/64 Dixon Street

7 days, daytime

EAT well, live well

That’s the philosophy of the new EAT on the corner of Wakefield and Cuba.

My first three visits have all been worthy, as they should with Laurent Loudeac (formerly of Hippopotamus, QT Museum), and John David (of Cin Cin) at the helm.

EAT confit & roast pork belly

Despite the French and Italian hands behind the wheel, the food is all modern contemporary, with just a little French and Italian showing through in the sauces or dish origins  (poached Waitoa chicken breast with veloute cream and polenta, or vine tomato tart with Clevedon buffalo milk curd, basil and balsamic).

My first visit was a group dinner for 16 so we organised a fixed price feast of shared dishes to simplify things for the kitchen and give us an opportunity to try a bunch of things (a most cunning plan!).

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My faves were the goat cheese Boursin tortellini with walnut and watercress, and the confit and roasted pork belly with caramelised apple, carrot, wilted savoy cabbage, jus and mustard (at top). All had the level of delicacy we’ve come to expect from Laurent, and showcased local, fresh and seasonal products.

My next visit was a chicken pie at lunch, also very well executed with a rich hearty taste to completely satisfy.

And my third visit was dessert on a girls night out, which also hit the mark nicely (below the Whittakers chocolate creation of a few weeks ago, rather than the apple tart that I totally forgot to photograph).

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This is a place to come and eat slowly to appreciate whats put in front of you, not a place to rush in and out. My only gripe is that the place is pretty noisy when full, being all flat surfaces; perhaps that will be remedied with time.

EAT is open in the mornings for pastries and coffees, and gets fully under-way food-wise for lunch and dinner. And you can buy gift cards. Helloooo Christmas!!!

128 Wakefield Street

Open 7 days and nights

People’s coffee in Lukes Lane

I popped by the new People’s Coffee in Lukes Lane this weekend, their first flagship in the CBD (the mothership being in Newtown).

And liked what I saw. The food reminded me a lot of the Leeds Street Bakery (the Shelly Bay Baker instead), and the decor a lot like Goldmine by Lamason on Willis Street.

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We happened along while various toast specials are on the go around town, so figured it’d be rude not to sample their beetroot pickled eggs on toasted Bakers rye with turmeric almond butter, beetroot pint beans, fennel pickle and fresh rocket. Phew!

It was spectacular to look at and a very good balance of flavours and textures. If you’re in the area, get this under your belt forthwith.

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We also sampled Esther’s chocolate almond butter and orange marmalade on sourdough, which was certainly pleasant but might have been enhanced with a little banana on top to add a light fruity layer against the tackiness. No doubting the quality of ingredients though.

I like that they’re using the Oatery’s granola too, another tasty Wellington venture.

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People’s coffee is all about sourcing organic and fair trade through long-term cooperative partnerships, so you’re doing the world a service by popping into People’s for your fix of java.

Cnr of Lukes Lane and Taranaki Streets

 

 

 

 

Well helloooo….

Hi honey, I’m home!

I know these are nothing whatsoever to do with Wellington, but I wanted to share a few of my fave eats from recent travels in Europe and Japan:

The fruit soups of Hungary (raspberry)

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Tender apple pie after a cocktail cruise on the Danube

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Dining at Steirereck in Vienna, absolutely deserving of its world top 50 status (in my humble opinion, lol!), and equivalent to my best ever eating experience at Blue Hill at Stone Barns out of New York City

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Rustic and flavourful mustard soup in Amsterdam

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The patisserie wizardry of Le Meurice in Paris

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Possibly the world’s most expensive mocktail near the Eiffel Tower (25 Euros, $45 NZD!)

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Sensational hand-crafted clotted cream at a farm chalet in the Swiss Alps

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Beautiful pistachio pasta in Zadar, Croatia

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Zucchini flower and anchovy white pizza in Rome

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The street food of Sicily

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A gorgeous citrus souffle at the Michelin Starred Vistamar in Monte Carlo

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Sensational scallops in Valencia

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Rustic and authentic Valencian paella

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Traditional Catalan piquillo pepper and anchovy toasts

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Gorgeous tuna stuffed local tomato at La Blanca in Llafranc, Spains Costa Brava

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Melt-in-the-mouth tender miso beef tongue in Tokyo

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Groovy gelato presentation in a number of places

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Oh my belly!

 

 

A wee hiatus…

I am about to blast off for the northern hemisphere for four months this weekend (lucky me!), so there’ll be a wee hiatus until November.

But thought I’d leave you with a few foodiegems from the last couple of weeks….

Shed 5’s duck pithivier pie and chocolate raspberry truffle (header image)

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Pickle & Pie’s Blintzes, OMG to die for (please universe, I don’t mean that literally)

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Moss Caff’s real kumara fries

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Brunch and Burger’s waffles at Paraparaumu Beach (yep by the 50-50 folks, both definitely worthy)

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Who knew Barrack was a burger boy??

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Bellamy’s by Logan Brown’s melt-in-the-mouth seared tuna

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Artisan’s very beautiful and tasty high tea

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And finally, gorgeous birthday cupcakes from a dear friend…

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Au revoir til November.

The greatest of the latest

I’ve been a little distracted by selling a property with a short move-out date, but I’m back now with a summary of the recent openings I think are worthy for different reasons…

Lola Stays

Lola has a very appealing new decor (the old Vista on Oriental Parade), and is a sunny, very pleasant place to wile away time over a leisurely brunch or scone (excellent cheese scones!).

If you lived around Oriental it’d also be a very easy place to pop in for a wine and nibble on the way to or fro.

Full write up here.

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7 days 7am til late.

Lulu Bar

This is a bar and eatery inspired by Hawaii, with Pacific twists throughout – from the tropical plants under grow lights, to a very smart poke dish, and rum flights.

Also check out the large mural in the bar out back, very cool (and yes the former Ancestral warm concrete seats still exist).

Full write up here.

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7 days from noon for the bar, 7 days from 4.30pm for Oceanic eats (full restaurant side).

NOTE – Boom burger right next door is also theirs (shared kitchen), so if you fancy your burger sitting down with a beer, order and enjoy it inside Lulu.

Bellamys by Logan Brown

This is iconic dining – you’re getting the Logan Brown expertise from service to plate, in one of the most iconic NZ buildings, while rubbing shoulders with the power players (two of my three visits I spied MP’s at other tables).

At very reasonable prices too I might add.

Full write up here.

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Tuesday to Friday, lunch noon to 2pm and dinner 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Via Parliament’s main security / tour desk entry. NOTE – Bookings required 24 hours prior so they can provide numbers and names to the security desk.

1154 Pastaria

The latest venture from the Bresolin lads directly opposite Scopa, focusing on simple, traditional pasta dishes done well.

Upstairs the team make all the pasta by hand, downstairs they pass it through cooking, saucing and plating in a streamlined flow, so that it almost could be labelled pasta fast food.

Beware you need to order at the counter, and seating is a matter of luck in arriving when there’s a space at a table somewhere.

Full write up here.

1154 Tortelloni

7 days 11am til late.

Sugar Flour

Pastry and art combined. This is something everyone should make an effort to get to at Kilbirnie.

Young Maxine (seriously, I think she started patisserie straight out of nappies) slaves all week to make gorgeous works of art that sell from 10am to 3pm Friday (or until sold out prior), and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 4pm (or until sold out prior).

Full write up here.

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Hours above. Get in early.

Phew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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