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…

Archive for the category “Events”

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.

Yoshi sign Presshall.jpg

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.

Yoshi decor.jpg

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.

Yoshi plum wine flight.jpg

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.

Yoshi eats.jpg

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.

Yoshi ramen bowl.jpg

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!).

Yoshi lux 2.jpg

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.

Pinot & Prosciutto .jpg

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.

Cloudy Bay wines.jpg

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.

Prosciutto.jpg

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.

Kate plattering.jpg

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.

 

 

 

 

WOAP 2017, here we go….

It’s that time again. The loose-waisted pants are out of the wardrobe. And life is managed by spreadsheet for 15 days.

Aside from just the sheer frivolity of it all though, it’s worth thinking about the theme put to chefs and mixologists – this year, celebrating food as part of New Zealand’s culture – and how you score your eats and drinks:

  • Celebrating the role that food plays alongside other cultural forms such as art, music and creative expression
  • What is New Zealand’s contemporary cuisine?
  • What role does our multicultural society play in our cuisine?
Ghouse pork puha etc

Glasshouse Restaurant’s pork, puha and paua on smokey hangi kumara hash

This is how mystery judges apportion their scores:

  • 15% service (knowledge, timeliness)
  • 15% presentation
  • 15% use of local ingredients
  • 5% beer, tapas or local beverage matching
  • 5% relation to the festival theme
  • 25% taste

Before adding the last 20% from final weighted average public scores.

We of course all have our own perspectives and benchmarks (my pet peeve – if a burger can’t be held in the hands and eaten easily, its not a burger), but it might be interesting to contemplate the above factors when deciding your scores.

WBC spicy crispy pork bao

WBC crispy Sichuan pork bao burger

So far I’ve had one experience at the Glasshouse Restaurant (Thorndon Hotel) where Nona was excellent at describing the dish components and how to maximise the tastes, and one at WBC where the festival theme was reflected in a fusion of Asian/New Zealand styles and ingredients by a renowned chef, Jenny Gao of Shanghai (although I only found that out later when chatting while paying).

And my last piece of advice? Keep your thoughts and probable scores written down somewhere for the first few days, as what feels like a 7/10 might become more or less once you have a few other bites and slurps under your belt to compare to.

Ghouse saus roll dessert

Glasshouse’s ‘sausage roll’ dessert

Lots to think about aye?

So have at it, have some fun and happy scoring (log into the VWOAP site and click the scoring link at the bottom of each Establishment’s page).

And I’ll see you for Slimming September on the other end!

 

 

 

 

 

Have you taken part in the Hutt’s ‘Sweet As’ hot chocolate challenge yet?

If not, you really, really should.

13 cafes, bars and bakeries are taking part in the annual Lower Hutt ‘Sweet As’ hot chocolate challenge, which runs until 30 July, with their drink themed around a main flavour.

It’s not just the city who can run festivals and events!

Cafe Iwi choc cake

Last year’s winning Cafe Iwi chocolate cake

And I got to try two of them over the weekend.

Firstly was Toffie Bakery’s ‘Double shot of mint and chocolate’ – peppermint-infused hot chocolate served with an Old Gold Peppermint mini cupcake with peppermint buttercream icing, and peppermint chocolate as the crowning glory.

Good to see a bakery taking part, and the only one doing peppermint; a take on the after dinner mint Manager Kelsey tells me. The drink had a mild peppermint flavour against a sweetly intense chocolatey-pepperminty mini cupcake on top. And nicely presented.

Sweet As Toffie peppermint

And then came Gotham’s ‘Gotham Kiss’ – raspberry white hot chocolate with whipped cream, pink sprinkles and a raspberry and white chocolate cookie. So this one centred around raspberry.

I am a bit of a white chocolate fan, so was pleased to see more than just the dark variety in the competition, and found this one to be light, fluffy and easy to drink. Again the drink was reasonably gentle in flavour, offset by a more intense cookie.

Sweet As Gotham white.jpg

And to whet your whistle further, here’s a few others you still have time to enjoy and vote for (images below courtesy of Sweet As Hot Chocolate and Sweet As Hot Chocolate’s Facebook page, where you also vote).

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If you doubled up some days you’d still be able to grab the Sweet As passport and get a stamp from each entrant to enter the prize draw at the end of the challenge (details on the cards). Check out the full list of participants here.

So get drinking folks, there’s still 7 days left….

#wellyonaplate best of the rest 2016

A few others that stood out in addition to the ones I published last week.

Being places you shouldn’t forget for general food and drink experiences:

  • Apache – all of their food is fresh, light and flavourful (this their Bang to Death chicken burger with kumara bim bim)

Apache bang bang cix2

  • Bangalore Polo Club – always a great place for a drink with dramatic decor and peanut floor polishing (this their Churchill Toast cocktail – very good flavours, and visually appealing)

Bangalore Churchills Toast

  • Capitol – again always fresh, tasty and often with a wee twist, especially brunches (this their Cavolo nero and ricotta ravioli with burnt butter and sage – best crispy sage I think I’ve ever had)

Capitol ravioli

  • Charley Noble – even if a bit noisy at times for dining, their bar is a delicious stop with excellent service (this their mocktail with ginger and vinegar – surprisingly very moorish. Vinegar just might be an ingredient we see more of)

CN mocktail.jpg

  • Portlander – don’t be fooled by the steak theme, the small plates and desserts out of kitchen are often very memorable (this their ox cheek donut with beetroot and jerk salsa, and their chilli basil panacotta with tomato vanilla syrup)

Portlander ox cheek donut

Portlander basil chili panacotta.jpg

 

  • Sterling – new kid on the Terrace from the Egmont Street Eatery folks, with the same high standards and a wood-fired oven (excellent pork belly, and wood-fired roast pear tart with coconut sorbet)

Sterling wood roast pear coconut

  • 1815 at Wellesley – sometimes sliding under the radar, but turning out interesting fare (this the crispy pig ears with mushrooms three ways)

Wellesley cripsy pigs ears.jpg

As I’ve said before, we’re pretty darned lucky in Wellington with the quality and profusion of eating and drinking opportunities.

Thanks Welly on a Plate for bringing more of them to the fore.

 

#wellyonaplate 2016 first stand-outs

Ten days in.

Best burgers:

  • Egmont Street Eatery’s Sichuan two-tooth – an excellent mix of flavours and textures, very appealing visually, and interesting crispy tentacle side.

ESE two tooth sichuan

  • Artisan’s Longbush ‘spam’ burger- delicious house spam, tender marshmallowy crumbed brain, and superb house apple and pineapple salsa. Excellent fries too, although we didn’t detect any of the advertised chilli butter on them.

Artisan longbush spam brains2

  • Louis Sergeant’s Le Canard du Roy – rich confit duck and crispy greens in the perfect brioche bun (many of the brioche buns are falling between a smidge and a lot short in my view this year) and superb duck fat fries.

LS Le Canard Du Roy

Best DINE dishes:

  • Larder’s Elk with celeriac, smoked onion puree and greens – tender, lovely textures and colours, executed exceptionally well.

Larder elk

  • Glasshouse’s Pork shoulder apple crumble with custard and blue cheese gelato – the best element of surprise to date (mains looking like desserts and vice versa), with excellent flavours and textures. Followed by the equally good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Glasshouse pork custard

  • Egmont Street’s Sunset blue, baked feijoa and house gingerbread – simple but very effective flavours and textures.

ESE gingerbread blue baked feijoa

  • Gelissimo’s Five flavours of fun – the roast chicken dinner flight tasted just like roast chicken, carrots, peas, beetroot (unforuntately!) and hokey dessert. Watch out for a new nut flight this week.

Gelis roast dinner

Best cocktails:

  • St John’s Elitist martini v2 – superb champagne popsicle, lovely flavours in the drink, and a bit of theatre.

St Johns Elitist Martini4

  • CGR’s BGR – a clever take on the burger and beer competition. A warming mulled beer with a delicious head (can I say that in public?), and a sweet side elevated to outstanding by the addition of mature Moore Wilson Linkwater cheddar.

BGR at CGR

  • Burger Liquor’s Smooth sailer – a classy soda with excellent Zany Zeus cream and baby ice cream sammie.

Burger Liquor smooth sailor

And the header pic – one of The Library’s sweet slider surprises. Also definitely worth a visit.

Bring on the next seven days!

WOAP 2016…

I’m not usually this quiet for this long huh?

I’ve been salivating over the Wellington on a Plate (WOAP) programme for 2016, trying to shortlist what I most want to try.

And trotting round all the new bars in the city (a post on those next week for you).

So to WOAP, here are my observations:

Ram shop burger

The Ramen Shop noodle burger, 2015

More interesting burgers this year, with quite a few new players to the game. Some of the ingredients that popped out at me:

  • yorkshire pudding bun (Furnace, Trentham)
  • Creole spiced meat and crispy grits (Coco at the Roxy)
  • house-made cashew bun (Apache)
  • lasagne toppers as buns (Scopa)
  • monkey gland sauce (Butcher and Brewer, Petone)
  • ghost chilli cheese (Hideaway)
  • kangaroo in a wattle bun (The Larder)
  • foraged seaweed (The Ramen Shop)
  • grilled lambs liver (WBC)
  • turkey breasts as buns in a turducken (Five Boroughs)
  • eel (Kelburn Pub)
  • soft shell crab (Coene’s Provisions, The Olde Bailey, the Crusty Crab food truck)
  • pork belly with octopus (Zibibbo)
  • beetroot in EVERYTHING!
Concrete cocktail

My favourite cocktail last year – Concrete (bacon and maple)

More cocktail players, with a variety of entree/main/dessert tapas:

  • 10th Year Delight – rum, lemon, eggs and sauerkraut with the remains of a rueben on the side (Hawthorn)
  • Shogun – Japanese whisky, plum brandy, sake and mirin (phew!) with local sashimi (WBC)
  • the Elitist Martini V2.0 – citrus martini with liquid nitrogen-charged champagne popsicle (St Johns Bar)
  • BGR – salted caramel rum with orange juice, spices, red wine and cardamon spice foam, with a dessert burger of macarons, Wellington Chocolate Factory patty and aged cheddar (CGR Merchant)
  • A Regional Tale – bourbon with dessert wine and chocolate bitters, limoncello, thyme liquer and champers, accompanied by bone marrow fudge, oxtail and almonds (Matterhorn)
  • you need to like grapefruit (beware those on some types of medications!)
  • a whole section of mocktails, some just tame versions of the above, some totally separate concoctions.
Portlander WOAP licorice

Portlander’s liquorice cheesecake, 2015

Changes to the DINE menus so that restaurants can offer a festival dish on its own at lunch-time (i.e. don’t need to have 2 or 3 courses, and will be able to dine quicker), with many offering different lunch and dinner options:

  • the theme this year is ‘element of surprise’
  • again, many new players to the game
  • some super-cheap options – $15 dish and beverage at The Kanteen (NZ Post House) and Southern Cross
  • a good few unique Gelissimo gelato flavours at various restaurants – American pale ale gelato (Backbencher), blue cheese gelato with a pork main (Glasshouse Rydges Thorndon), rose petal (One 80 Copthorne Oriental)
  • and a good bit of craft beer flavouring – Panhead Blacktop Oat Stout cheesecake (Backbencher), Garage Project Aro Noir stout gravy (Bethel Woods), Tuatara Dubbel-braised beef short rib, and Panhead Canhead Hardtail Henry Oaked Stout ice cream (Little Beer Quarter) and more
  • also a bit of vegan – seitan ‘steak’ (Bin 44), jackfruit with beans, kumara and pickled snap peas (Little Beer Quarter), walnut and mushroom meatballs with beetroot noodles and coconut bacon (Southern Cross), tamarillo tarte tatin with feta panna cotta, onion marmalade, rosemary and chocolate dirt (Glasshouse, Rydges Thorndon) and more
  • and the most unusual menu in entirety – free range crispy pigs ears wth black garlic and mushrooms three ways, free range pork brawn dumplings, and Wellington Chocolate Factory cacao and pig’s blood mousse with sweet pickled walnuts, praline and pear (Wellesley) – crikey!

I’m sure that’s enough to well whet your appetites. Bring it on!

 

Wellington Food Show giveaway

It’s that time of year again folks.

The Wellington Food Show is returning to Westpac Stadium from 20-22 May 2016, with the latest and greatest from Wellington and around the country. Over 100 exhibitors, 14 live cooking demonstrations over three days, countless new ideas, and new products to add to your shopping lists – what more could you ask for? (and I guarantee you’ll come away with a full tummy too).

The Wellington Food Show have kindly donated  a gourmet prize pack valued at $140 to give away, so you can attend and be inspired. The prize includes 1 x double pass to the show, and a goodie bag of exhibitor products as below. The tickets will be made available at the door for the lucky winner, and the goodie bag shipped to you.

WtgFoodShowHamper

To enter, simply email your name, street delivery address (where best to send that goodie bag should you be the lucky winner!), and contact phone number to heatherc@hcnutrition.co.nz, with ‘Wellington Food Show’ in the title, by 5pm Tuesday 17 May. The winner will be selected at random and notified by email on Tuesday evening 17 May. I will also post the winner’s name in the comments section below so you can check back to see who won.

Conditions of entry:

  • Open to NZ citizens only.
  • One entry per person.
  • Your contact details will be deleted after the competition has been drawn, and are not retained or used for any other purpose.
  • All other costs and expenses not specifically listed as part of the prize pack are solely your responsibility.
  • The prize is non-transferable and no substitution or cash swap is permitted.

Have a wee peek at what’s going on at the show, get your entry in, and note that you can get tickets online at the best rates also. Access to all show features and cooking demos is included in your ticket.

Game on.

 

Pinot May – Tequila Joe’s

2016 is the inaugural Catch Pinot event, courtesy of the Visa Wellington on a Plate team. To celebrate the pinots that come out of the Wairarapa region, restaurants across the region have free reign to match them to whatever food they like. To be as creative as they fancy.

CATCH-PINOT-BANNER-2-620x420

Given I like the unusual and slightly out-of-the-box, my first stop was Tequila Joe’s (more below), but some of the others that take my fancy are:

  • Afrika’s crocodile tail gumbo – crocodile meat soaked in lime juice and grilled, with wok-fried maize and salad. With a Pencarrow Pinot Noir.
  • Coco at the Roxy’s glass of Paddy Borthwick Falloon Block Pinot Noir 2014 with a culinary cocktail bringing together a new way to experience Pinot Noir – a modern fun cocktail experience with molecular gastronomy and a side serving of childhood nostalgia (intriguing!).
  • The Larder’s duck confit with pomegranate molasses, confit gizzards, roasted cauliflower, liver and chestnuts. With a Porters Estate Pinot Noir.
  • One80’s masala lamb cheeks, sago sandige, and mango mint chutney. With a Russian Jack Pinot Noir.

So Tequila Joe’s. A fun Mexican taverna and cocktail bar near the corner of Vivian and Tory. I’d spotted their maytag fries (never heard of them) with Applewood smoked bacon (ditto) and exclusive gorgonzola bleu cheese sauce, matched with a Paulownia Estate Rose 2014. Definitely in the I-can’t-imagine-how-that’s-going-to-work category.

The Rose was so delicious on its own, I damn near hoovered it all up before the dish arrived – off-dry and with plenty of body and flavour, so a more intense Rose than I’d expected – but I did manage to control myself and enjoyed it with the dish as well (and the ‘Death Rides a Pale Horse’ blonde ale we sampled was pretty fine too!).

The maytag fries are a crispy waffle cut fry imported from the USA (took a month to get here), as is the Applewood smoked bacon, while the bleu cheese sauce is made just for TJ’s. Because the Rose was richer than expected, and the smoked bacon and bleu cheese more subtle than expected, the flavours actually met and melded well. The waffle-cut chips gave great texture and crunch against the softer bacon, with the only issue being the bottom chips sogging before getting to them (I can confirm the plate was clean at the end though!).

And it would have been rude not to finish with the recommended apple cinnamon churros, right? Also light, crispy and flavourful. And refreshingly different to the norm.

So there you have it, a match that I thought couldn’t possibly work.

Here’s the full line-up of offerings to whet your palate further.

 

 

Burger Welly 2015 cook-off

Burger Welly logoI’m not sure I’d previously noticed a final cook-off to determine the Burger Welly winners each year after the public eating and voting is done. Apparently over 9,000 WOAP eaters voted this year, which gave the top 5 for each of the best burger and best burger/beer match competitions (the beer match using any of co-founder Garage Project’s beers, with some brewed just for the competition).

I was invited along to Le Cordon Bleu last night to see the cook-off in action, with the three judges being Chef Francis Motta of LCB, Davey McDonald from Ortega Fish Shack (on behalf of Garage Project) and Tara Nyström (who won the public competition to be the third judge).

Burger Welly judgingThe most important thing (other than who won) is that the finalists are all encouraged to continue producing their burgers for the next couple of weeks if possible, so keep an eye on all of the below venues for more opportunities.

The winners for 2015 were:

  • The Laundry for the matching competition with their Smoke Jerk Chicken Burger and Red Zeppelin beer (pink lemonade and red pilsner influences). The judges said both were excellent on their own, but enhanced each other together.
  • Egmont Street Eatery for the burger alone with their Cheese, Beets and Meat. The judges said they liked that it was a traditional burger, but done with a Kiwi smoky twist.

In no particular order, the finalists were….

Arborist Rooftop Bar and Eatery with their Ba Ba Baaa Ba Ba Bar Lamb burger. They started from the Garagista big hoppy beer and chose big meaty flavours to go with it, including pickled cucumber to cut through some of the richness. And those parmesan fries were damned fine.

BW Arborist

Charley Noble (last year’s champion burger) with their Ebisu fish burger. This one was about showcasing Japanese flavours alongside the smoky fish, inside a squid ink bun.

BW Charley Noble

Egmont Street Eatery with their Cheese, Beets and Meat beef burger. They’ve house blended three cheeses, smoked their own beetroot relish and pickled their own onions.

BW ESE

Grill Meats Beer with their Chook N Swine, Fire N Spice chicken and bacon burger with chilli fries. The secret ingredient being Mamia’s hot Ethiopian relish from a local Kilbirnie lass. Matched with GP’s White Mischief salted white peach soured beer (I can vouch for the beer, delicious – any leftover stock may be available at the brewery shop).

BW GMB

The Laundry with their Smoke Jerk Chicken burger and Red Zeppelin beer. Layered chicken fillets and smoked chicken remoulade with crunchy slaw out of a caravan kitchen. I believe there’s a little tamarillo flavour lurking around in there too.

BW Laundry

Five Boroughs’ Some Sort of (venison) Burger. The name inspired by a review in the past where one friend talked about how much her friend had liked ‘some sort of burger’ at 5B. Includes foraged wild blackberries against wild venison with truffled cheese and again, squid ink buns.

BW 5 Boroughs

Cafe Medici’s (last year’s burger beer match winner) Smokey and the Lambit burger. Using all local Wairarapa ingredients including pinot jelly and Claireville Bakery buns, the lamb burger was paired with crisp polenta fries which looked pretty darned fine.

BW Medici

Ti Kouka’s Apocalypse Now Longbush pork burger. Again big flavours designed to complement GP’s Death from Above beer, including ginger ale bacon, a dab of bbq bourbon glaze, Asian lime and coriander, Japanese chilli oil, pickles and a side of crackling.

BW TK

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