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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…

Archive for the tag “Wellington on a Plate”

#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!

 

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

WOAP 2015 highlights…

So far anyway.

  • The Concrete Bar Levin the Dream cocktail of bacon infused vodka, banana liquer, and maple syrup with a fabulous quail egg, bacon, chorizo and potato rosti.

Concrete cocktail

  • The Burger Liquor Tipsy Lamb burger – small but perfectly formed, with good quality lamb and tangy flavours. No sides, but only $14.Burger Liq tipsy lamb
  • The Ramen Shop Pig out on Ramen burger – gently flavoured and fabulously crispy. Again no sides, but only $10.Ram shop burger
  • The Lido caramelised carrot and walnut pudding with thick Zany Zeus yoghurt on their DINE menu – flavourful and sweetly moorish (their burger wasn’t bad either actually, see below).

Lido carrot cake

  • Beervana, for an excellent way to try many things, and with fantastic nibbly food (thanks Martin!), and Garage Project’s White Mischief beer brewed for Burger Wellington (with a lightly peach-infused flavour and much mischief on the can) – pictured below with the Lido’s smoked warehou sambal burger. Lido white mischief
  • The Little Piggy goes to Night Market event at Cafe Polo. A great evening of fun, even if our favourite dish didn’t win the pig and pickle competition (the winning slow roast pork hock with BBQ kimchi, coriander and crackling on char grilled flat bread below), and we didn’t win the masterclass for 6pax draw.

Polo white kimchi flatbread

  • The Foxglove DINE menu dessert choux burger with pears, hazelnuts and ginger nut ice cream (yep my sweet tooth is showing)Foxglove choux dessert burger
  • The Portlander Hunter Games venison burger and their DINE menu Apple Sourz and RJ’s liquorice cheesecake.Portlander WOAP burgerPortlander WOAP licorice

Portlander (and their 2015 VWOAP pleasures…)

Things come in threes right? I’ve unexpectedly ended up at Portlander three times this week. Go figure.

Portlander lunchAnd looking back, I’m feeling pleasure about all three visits.

Firstly was lunch with a friend (why would you pay $10 for a panini at a crowded cafe when you could pay $15-$18 for a delicious salad at a serviced restaurant with a nice ambience?), secondly was an invite to a sneak preview of their VWOAP 2015 DINE plates and burger and thirdly was to someone else’s drinks (thanks for the guidance on the Japanese whisky Antonio!).

Portlander scallopsAlthough primarily a steak restaurant, Portlander do offer up dishes for a wider audience – seafood chowder, seasonal salads, soups, a range of burgers, and even some vego options (on the autumn menu there was both a smoked tuna and a vego kedgeree).

You will of course still find signature items like the Wakanui eye fillet (90 day grain finished Angus and Hereford Canterbury cattle), T-bones, venison, the daily seafood catch etc, with the most popular combination still remaining oysters, steak, and something chocolate to finish (and if you must have fried eggs on the side of your steak they at least will be truffle fried).

Portlander wakanuiPortlander like to use local product wherever possible (Otaki free-range pork, Palliser lamb, Zany Zeus smoked brinza) and are also conscious of recycling and managing food waste effectively. As an example they partner with Kaibosh to re-use the rest of the potatoes left over from the hand-cut chunky fries. Cool.

Because they understand the need for local support, Portlander host a range of regular events like ‘chic chat’ lunches for women with inspiring women speakers, sport-associated events (Melbourne Cup long lunch in November), and also have a free-membership Prime Club with a range of one-offs like masterclasses, whisk(e)y tastings, 2:1 lunches prior to Xmas, etc. They’ve also just announced a Backyard Cricket Long Xmas Lunch (yes you truly are going to play cricket) in conjunction with the Westpac stadium. Busy people.

Alongside all that, Portlander are a regular VWOAP contender. After getting to taste them all (I know, but someone’s gotta do it…) the dishes I’m still thinking about are the Hunter Games burger (wild venison patty, smoked bacon, cheese and cherry relish), the Yellow Brick Road Ora King Salmon main (cold smoked salmon on crushed
potato, house preserved lemon and extra virgin olive oil), and the RJ’s liquorice baked cheesecake dessert (individual baked cheesecake with apple sourz sorbet).

Portlander WOAP burgerAnd if you have the wild venison main during VWOAP, you’ll be given co-ordinates to an online map showing where your particular deer was caught by a shy local hunter (via QR code I believe). Can’t get much stronger provenance than that.

Portlander also have a significant drinks menu, featuring a large range of whisk(e)y’s, bourbons and cocktails (even a separate whisky cocktail section), and I like that wines can be purchased by the half glass.

Portlander is definitely not your usual hotel restaurant.

In Rydges on the corner of Whitmore and Featherston Streets.

Portlander WOAP licorice

Portlander WOAP pnut sw

Wellington on a Plate 2013 (Part 2)

And so it continues.

This week included the Hummingbird Craydaddy burger, the Le Cordon Bleu Haute Cuisine du Terroir, and the Ti Kouka dine set menu.  Mmmm mmmm.

Craydaddy

The Craydaddy burger didn’t quite reach the score of the Moolander or High-5 sliders of last week, but was still pretty good.  Their hand made bun was delicious, the cray tender and fries suitably both crispy and feathery. There could have been a little less mayo in the burger for this kid to showcase the cray even further, but I freely admit to a low tolerance of fatty things so I might just be the minority on that thought.

The LCB evening was fantastic, interesting and long.  The intended three-hour event took nearly five and I’m sure all parties were feeling it by the end!  The students did a superb job, with each of the seven courses (plus palate-cleansing gorgeous pear granita, so really eight) hand-crafted and effortful.  LCB ham hock terrine

Dishes included warm goats cheese gougeres, ham hock terrine (check out the presentation in the glasses),  confit pave of salmon larded (stuffed) with smoked eel, roast breast of qual on duck ballontine, snail and parsnip millefeuille, and on it goes….

The point to the evening was french food matched with both a french bordeaux and a Martinborough equivalent at each course (other than first two) for comparison of old to new world.  The winemakers each introduced their wines and spent the night doing a kind of speed dating around the tables to chat to guests.

LCB wine colours

It felt like there were many courses with pinot noirs (but in reality only three), a kir, a gewurtztraminer, chardonnays, and a sticky/method traditionelle comparison finale with the dessert.  Such pretty colours in the glasses at times when comparing.  My favourites – the french chardonnay and the Palliser Estate Methode Traditionelle with the cassis bavarois.

What a big and wonderful effort from LCB. Look out for other events from them in the future.

 

And Ti Kouka?  Quintessential, clever Ti Kouka.

My picks from the ‘dine’ menu (as the burger had run out, doh!) – Wairarapa Eco Farm Jerusalem artichoke soup with pulled Longbush pork and Zany Zeus smoked yoghurt (so I still managed to get some of that delish pork!), and pear and ”Willis Street” sticky honey pudding with Pinnacle Grove walnut crunch.

Ti K artichoke soup

I think I now rest.  As do all the providers who’ve worked like crazy people to bring us this wonderful event.

Long live WOAP!

Wellington on a Plate 2012 highlights…

The ‘Juices Flow at the Love Shack’ long lunch.  Especially the potted rabbit with Lavender’s Green roast lemon chutney on Ortega’s ciabatta, and Lavender’s Green lemon curd tart with liquorice ice cream (unusual sounding and looking, but amazing together in the mouth). And especially sharing it with one’s best friend.

The Schoc white chocolate and Soprano lemoncello fondue with strawberries and madiera cake at Beach Bablyon.

A fitting follow up to Kingsmeade Emmentaler cheese fondue to start!

Pecha Kucha Imbibe at Downstage Theatre.  Hilarious, heartwarming and thought-provoking presentations.  Best $10 spent in a long time.

The sweet burger at Artisan – Sweetness Incarnate – Whittaker’s chocolate marquise with a poached EcoEgg meringue, mango purée and lime jelly on a doughnut bun, with shortbread shoestrings.

Unfortunately the best laid plans went awry and I didn’t get to the Fratelli sweet burger to compare (but bring on some more sweet burgers next year….).

The Doctors Degustation at GP.  7 courses of pub grub through the ages with modern twists + 7 locally crafted beers. Really really good.

Food well exceeded expectations and some of the craft beers had been brewed especially for the event.

Favourite dishes being the pork and picked walnut sausage rolls, the fish’n’chips of raw tuna loin with citrus salad, flashfried whitebait and potato chips/sticks (sorry very low light environment with no flash), the delicate seafood lasagne of crayfish, mussels, prawns and clams with a crayfish bisque, the potted game bird with pistachio nuts set in clarified butter with Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black beer bread, and the deconstructed meat pie (slivers of venison back strap with tiny sweetbreads, duck livers, lambs kidneys, and a roll of pastry encasing bone marrow, completed by truffle game jus).

Favourite beers of the night being the Tuatara Ardennes Belgium style golden ale with NZ hops, orange fruit and spices (yeah, yeah, its a girl thing), the Kereru Moonless Black, pouring pitch black (but not thick) with roast coffee bean and chocolate aromas, and the Black Dog Brew Co Rich Bitch black forest gateau beer (truly tasted like berries and cake).

And to finish, the Hop Garden’s Casablanca Kid burger. Superb.
Moroccan-spiced wild Wairarapa goat patty with roasted aubergine, couscous (square you can see at top), lettuce, tomato and harissa sauce in a toasted Brezelmania bun, with handcut chips and weissbier aioli.
And now, New York, New York for me.  I may or may not blog whilst there, but will share some highlights in due course….

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