Richard Hammond – A Short History Of The Motorcycle Review And Lunch At Grill Meats Beer.

The sun has arrived in Wellington and it feel like Christmas is on its way. This weekend is a long one in NZ and what a beauty it is turning out to be. Today we have taken the dog to Petone beach, dropped her home and popped out for a very decent burger lunch at Grill Meats Beer. You can see more about that below.

A Short History Of The Motorcycle By Richard Hammond.

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Mr Muffin is a fan of the Motorcycle and has a purple one, when I saw this book available for review I thought it was time to let him has a go at reading and reviewing. With Christmas coming up this may be a good idea for a gift for someone you know?

The book is published in NZ by Hachette NZ.

Mr Muffin says –

A very enjoyable read.
It was like Richard Hammond was on my shoulder reading to me, so if you like the hamster then you will enjoy this.
Amusing, informative and engaging with short chapters making it easy to pickup and just read, i.e. A good toilet book but its really far to nice for that.
Many interesting photos and illustrations
Good for anyone with an interest in motorcycles or even just automotive history.
A great Christmas gift.
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Today I decided we needed burgers, good burgers. We had been to GMB once before and it was time to return and we left very happy we did. The food was damn fine, the service was excellent and we left full of food and smiles.
To start we had the Japanese Fried Chicken with Sriracha Mayonnaise. Me and Mr enjoyed the chicken, Miss was not so sure. I hung onto the mayo like it was my baby, there was no way I was giving that up when I knew fries would soon be arriving.
A good burger is subjective, some like real fancy with all the things, others like the plain and GMB caters for all of these needs without having one of those huge menus. Miss Muffin and I opted for the Classic Beef, she added bacon and I added Cheese. Mr M went for the special of the week as it contained crumbed jalapeños. We were all happy with our choices and I was impressed with the buns. The portion of fries didn’t look like much but was plenty, they were perfectly crisp too.I also added a rather lovely fluffy fried ball of goodness in the form of a Manchego &   Jalapeños Hush Puppy. To keep up with the specials have a look on their Facebook page, it is listed on Tuesdays.
All up, we really enjoyed our lunch and even though we have now used our Entertainment Book Voucher, we will be returning. When the burger urge hits we will be back.

We Tried Out PappaRich In Wellington.

PappaRich NZ opened a few weeks ago in Wellington, it is just opposite the Intercontinental Hotel. Today was our day to go and try it out. To be honest, we left feeling rather underwhelmed and not very impressed with the price.

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We eat lunch out at least once a weekend and our average spend for the 3 of us is $40. This is a meal that is enough to be a main meal and often something like Indian curry, rice and naan bread.This meal cost just over $60 and didn’t leave us full. My Telur Bawang Curry Chicken Curry was $15.90, I think all 3 mains were around this. We had an iced lemon tea each too. There was nothing wrong with any of our meals, they just weren’t exciting. One good thing was Miss M found that she likes beef rendang.

 

 

All three of us thought that there are better places to eat Malaysian food and we would rather give our dollars to the little mum and pops operated restaurants. As I was eating my $15.90 meal I was thinking about the $8.50 Masala Dosa at Pandan.

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Sweet Enough Less Sugar, More Taste- A Great New NZ Baking Book.

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A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this lovely book. If you enlarge the photo you will see that it mentions my birthday buddy, Lucy Mutch from Wellington Foodies. She got to take all the wonderful photos as The Isherwood Sisters who wrote the book live in Wellington. You can find out all about the sisters and the books aim, to reduce sugar here.

Sunday afternoon Miss was baking for her week and I decided to help fill the oven and put a Monday smile on my colleagues faces by baking from the book. I chose the Wholemeal Ginger Crunch. The base has little sugar in and the icing is delicious. To top it all, it was very easy. I do enjoy a good one pot recipe. My colleagues enjoyed the slice.

You can arrange to sell the book for fundraising, I think that is a pretty nifty fundraising idea. So, order yourself the book and have a look and see for yourself.

 

Tahi On Courtenay Place, Now My Happy Place.

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Green Curry With Crumbed Chicken and Mr M’s Basil Chicken.

Last night I had a wonderful night out but very mediocre food in a place I had high expectation of. I don’t want to talk about that because the restaurant will get there and be good when it has got its self together.

My food sulk vanished with a lovely lunch.It was one of those meals that left me with a very big smile. Us Muffin’s love a good weekend lunch, one that is big enough to be a dinner and generally served with rice. Today we tried somewhere new and we are very happy we did.

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Miss Muffin with her Beef Massaman , she loved it.

Tahi is on Courtenay Place on that corner that has been a few things. Yes, it is number one as the name says and the name works really well as it serves Thai food. The decor is lovely and not your average Asian restaurant. You have to go and see.  It was the kind of decor that impressed us old parents and Miss 13. Even the toilets were lovely.

If you want to know all about the food you can read my Zomato review. If you are in Wellington I really do recommend you go. The food was excellent, the presentation impressed and us Muffin’s left very happy. We will be back soon to eat our way through the menu.

 

 

 

 

 

Wellington Chocolate Factory Tour, Thank You Zomato.

Look at all those cocoa beans.

Last week I received on of those emails that makes any day better, an invitation from Zomato to attend a Wellington event. This invitation was to a tour of Wellington Chocolate Factory. I am not going to repeat the tour and tell you much information , if you are in Wellington you need to go yourself and if not, go when you visit. Even if you just pop in for a hot chocolate and have a look around, it is well worth the trip. The hot chocolate alone will blow your mind as will the chocolate scented air.

On our tour we got to hear the lovely Rochelle express her passion for what they are doing at the Wellington Chocolate Factory and why.  Wellington Chocolate Factory is about very good quality organic chocolate which has been ethically made. They support the people in the process from bean to bar. It would be very easy to sit , nod, look trendy and think – that is pretty cool. It isn’t just cool, it is amazing. To get the full picture and to fully understand their commitment, have a read of their blog –

https://thewellingtonchocolatevoyage.wordpress.com

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At the end of the tour we got to try a section of the chocolates and savour the pieces. Tasting a small piece at a time gave me chance to really taste the flavours. Different beans have different flavours depending upon their origin. I had forgotten how much I love good quality chocolate in small amounts as opposed to the off shelf cheap bars that magically vanish without a thought.

I had a great evening a loved the tour. One thing that struck me was if small producers like Wellington Chocolate Factory do not  go to that extra effort to use cocoa beans of differing varieties the world could end up with just two types of cocoa bean. Imagine just two types of wine with no variation! No thanks.

Wherever you are in the world, but ethically farmed chocolate and give the fame a chance to keep traditions alive and be paid a fair wage. Support local businesses who are going that extra mile to make a difference.

Anzac Bar.

Anzac Bar.

At the end of the evening we were given the choice of bars to take home. I came home with the not yet released Anzac Bar, keep an eye out for it, it is very good. It was a hard choice to make but I couldn’t resist going with the new bar.

Thank you Zomato and Wellington Chocolate Factory

Reviews and my thoughts.

Pondering.

Pondering.

I feel rather conscious that I often post positive reviews about products and particularly, restaurants. I have been pondering this and the reasons why? I feel the need to blog about it, mainly for my peace of mind.

I have one post on here that is very negative about a business, it was such a bad experience that I felt the need to share in hope that it would make others think about visiting there too. My day time boss didn’t listen and wishes he did, he did the same as me and sat there wishing he had gone to the locally owned restaurant not wasted the dollars.

I still feel a little bad about posting a  negative review , after all , this place must suit some people’s needs and employs local people. It is often busy and because people have a different view of eating to mine, this doesn’t make them wrong. However I fight the internal urge to picket outside and demand that people go up the road for a $10 curry with rice and naan.

My expectations when eating out  involve leaving feeling satisfied, feeling comfortable in the place I am eating and having choice to order a variety of meals that it would be hard to cook at home. If you have read and of my reviews on here or on Zomato you will see that I am not about the cost or what the environment looks like or about being seen at the latest in place. I love good food and I love telling others my discoveries. That is just what they are, my discoveries.

My tastes are not your tastes. I am happy to walk in to a dark dingy sticky floor if someone tells me they do a good plate of noodles. It doesn’t make any difference to me if the plate of food cost $8 or $80. What matters to me is it puts a smile on my face and I can plot when I can next return and what I will order.

All up, I wont be doing negative reviews. New Zealand is such a small country and so many in hospitality work so hard to keep their businesses afloat and the opinions on the internet do have an impact on people choosing where to eat. I am happy to influence others when I have good things to say and love reading or hearing what others think. I get real satisfaction when I am thanked for recommending a random out of the way restaurant that people wouldn’t have otherwise known about or considered.

Thanks for reading and I feel better for putting my thoughts out there.

A Hotel Dinner – it was a winner, Chameleon Wellington

I was blown away by this meal. As I had just finished my Auckland adventure and eaten well, I didn’t think I would be impressed by hotel food at The Intercontinental’s Chameleon restaurant. I was wrong, oh so wrong. This has become a date night and a meet the girls option. Even a family celebration meal out as they have a children’s menu.

When walking into the hotel I was very impressed with the recent transformation, I had seen photographs on twitter. The bar looks lovely and the restaurant has had a marvellous upgrade. I was amazed by how different it looked, an open kitchen, clean white decor and a very fancy ceiling that must be sound proofing? The tables are marble and the seats comfortable. It is rather stunning.

I went along with Lucy from Wellington Foodies, she had received the meal as payment for taking photographs of food. I got to be her very lucky plus one and to eat from the new menu. The menu is a little different from the norm, you can choose any of the plates and which order you would like your plates to arrive in. I would happily have just one plate and some sides or have two as I did this time. I would always have dessert.

The service was both professional and friendly, the way good Kiwi service should be.

All photos are taken and owned by Lucy from Wellington Foodies.

The Food

To nibble we had a very nice warm house-made roti with sesame and coconut hummus.

We moved on to our first 2 plates, both were excellent.

My gnocchi was beautiful and the sauce was similar to my pasta in Auckland . I think it had more flavour to it and I preferred these flavours.

Lemon thyme gnocchi, roast butternut squash, Pecorino & dandelion pesto, wild garlic & ginger butter.

Lemon thyme gnocchi, roast butternut squash, Pecorino & dandelion pesto, wild garlic & ginger butter.

I even tried pāua , a first and it was rather nice. Just look at how beautiful that plate of food it is. To me , the taste was similar to raw mushrooms. Lucy finished her plate, as did I.

Sous Vide south coast paua with Portobello & needle mushrooms, snow peas, artichokes, ginger & green shallot vinaigrette.

Sous Vide south coast pāua with Portobello & needle mushrooms, snow peas, artichokes, ginger & green shallot vinaigrette.

We then moved on to what we decided on to be our main. This choosing when to eat plates off the menu seriously grew on me. For our mains we both went for game.

This ordering game meat is a new thing for me, the red currants attracted me. I loved the venison. It was like having a very good roast dinner and all the components went together brilliantly. I will have problems moving past this dish on my next visit.

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Venison loin with roasted parsnip, creamed spinach and redcurrant.

Lucy went for duck, I am not a duck fan but I tried this, it was good. The puree was lovely and Lucy cleared the plate.

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Twice-cooked duck breast with orange kumara puree, saffron, basil & orange dressed broccolini and garlic chips.

We also had a side salad, it too was beautiful. We didn’t get far through it and I don’t have a photo. It was a fresh Asian influenced salad and I would choose it again – Aromatic green salad, green mango, coriander, bean sprout, mint, ginger and black sesame vinaigrette.

We ate, oh how we ate. We also laughed, had a very good dinner and a lovely time. We finished full but managed to read the desserts menu and we managed to eat them. I was particularly greedy but I did let Lucy have a morsel or two and I tried her choice too.

Lucy had picked her choice while photographing the food a few weeks ago. It was a stunning looking dessert and was lovely.

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Chilled mango custard, roasted coconut ice cream & passionfruit jelly.

I couldn’t resist the description of the Petits fours. You just have to see the photo to know why, they tasted as good as they look and were all delicious. This was one of the most beautiful dessert creations I have ever been served, I felt like a kid in a lolly shop and was smiling like one too. Just look –

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Petits fours : macarons, chocolate mousse tulle, house made chocolate truffles.

To summarise, I was seriously impressed. The interior, the service, the menu concept and the food were all wonderful. It is a brilliant location and the people of Wellington need to go and try this food. They have a children’s menu that has good options, Miss 11 has already chosen what she would like to eat, I’ll keep you posted.

Boom, boom shake the room- Boomrock on a Facebook win!

I had the best day off on Friday and the best day out with my twitter found friend, Nikki. Both Nikki and I have a knack for winning things, I am successful on the odd occasion and Nikki is a champion winner. This time I was the winner and decided Nikki had to come with me as she is so kind at sharing her prizes. This competition was a like and share affair –

“Today is Boomrock’s 17th BIRTHDAY! Thanks to Sweet Bakery & Cakery for these delicious cupcakes! To celebrate we are giving away two tickets to the C J Pask Winemakers lunch on Friday the 28th of November. Like our page & share this post to *WIN*. Competition ends 10th November 2014. All entrants must be over 18”

And on the 10th November –

Congratulations to the winner of Boomrock’s birthday competition! Emma  has won two tickets to our CJ Pask Winery winemaker’s lunch hosted by the lovely Kate Radburnd. Kate will share her stunning wines that are matched to an incredible four-course lunch by resident chef, Mark Hartstonge!
Emma can you please get in touch to confirm your booking.

YES! I WAS THE RIGHT EMMA.

Our day started with getting picked up locally and driven in a fancy vehicle with automatically opening doors. We chatted along the way about where we were going and what exactly Boomrock is and where it is. Being driven was a very nice touch as wine was involved in the day and those roads are rather windy.

Photo 29-11-14 6 04 12 pmAs we arrived first we got to explore and chat with Kate from Pask Winery and enjoy a lovely glass of Kate Radburnd Berry Blush Rose 13 in front of the open fire. Yes, it is just about summer but it was a windy day and the logs burning smelt like an English Christmas. The whole place looked like Christmas and it was beautiful. After a while we were joined by the rest of the group who were over from Nelson for their Christmas function. They were a great bunch and not at all your typical bunch of accountants.

Before sitting down for food we had the opportunity for some extreme golf, the top prize being a party worth up to $75,000. Nobody won. We did some clay pigeon shooting, I think I only managed to hit my very first target out of 10 but I enjoyed the challenge.

So, to the food and wine. It was scrumptious.

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I am not going to go into great detail, you can see the menu and see the food and even see the wine we had with each course. All of the food was beautiful and matched perfectly with the wine, I really did get an understanding of what matching can do for both food and wine. In one of the photos below you can see the difference between the Syrah and Pinot Noir.

Hearing Kate’s passion for what she does was lovely. Pask Wine and its various off shoots sit in the middle bracket of wine and are certainly now going to be my purchased wine for taking and serving. My Christmas shopping will certainly involve a bottle or four.

Going to Boomrock and experiencing this day was truly wonderful. I now plan to fully launch myself into finding all my single friends partners so I can attend weddings there. I would certainly go back for an event lunch and would suggest the trip out to others. My plans for 2015 will include visiting Pask Winery and maybe even attending one of their food events. So may 2015 be full of weddings, wine and trips to Hawkes Bay.

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Overnight Waffles, need to keep this recipe safe .

Last school holiday, after some volunteer street collecting for Breast Cancer, I decided Miss Muffin deserved a treat and I could be kind enough to help her with the eating of her treat. Yeah, shoot me, I love to reward with food.

We had walked past and talked about the little hole in the wall that is The Little Waffle Shop. We had heard about this place and when the waffle of the day involved berries, chocolate and Oreos we could not walk past. I think it was $7.50 (NZ) so not at all pricey for the delicious dream it was.

The waffle was a perfect batter with the yeasty taste and not over sweet. It was both crispy and fluffy and yum. It reminded me of my perfect waffle in Luxembourg Gardens in central Paris. Growing up in Brighton we were very close to France and a pop across the ocean was nothing.

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Having this waffle renewed my love of the waffle. I have owned a few waffle machines and lost the love of them with the last one. I paid out for a decent make and after 6 months ended up returning it as it would not cook properly. The company was midway between the release of a new machine and getting rid of the model I had, I took a cash refund. Luckily enough, at the mall the other day I saw a machine on offer for $30 and just had to have it. This sparked the search for the crispy, yeasty and fluffy waffle batter recipe. I stumbled across the right one first time and with a bit if tweaking have reached perfection. This recipe needs to be stored on this blog as the paper copy is not looking the best. That copy was from here.

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Overnight waffles

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Overnight Waffles

1 tsp instant yeast

2 c flour

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

120 grm melted butter (cooled)

2 c milk at room temp (warm slightly in microwave)

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

Day before-

Mix dry ingredients and stir in the milk, butter and vanilla

This does make a runny mixture which needs to be covered and left over night, I have been leaving it out on the side but will start putting it in the fridge as we move into summer.

In the morning-

Turn on that machine

Split eggs, mix egg yolks together and add to overnight mix

Whisk egg whites until soft peak stage and fold into the mix

Cook according to your machines instructions, don’t forget they contain yeast and will fluff up.

Notes-

with the latest batch (made on Friday night) we had some left over for Sunday morning. This older mix had been kept in the fridge and made very good waffles still. I may consider starting these on Friday morning, adding the egg on Friday evening and keeping in the fridge overnight to use Saturday morning.

When we cook them we do a tag team, whoever takes the waffle puts the next batch in for the next person. Waffle relay, now that is my kind of sport.

Trying sugar that is not sugar, Nativia

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I was very lucky to be sent some Natvia to try. I have been looking at it on the supermarket shelf and pondering it existence and as the sugar debate was a popular topic in New Zealand this week it seemed a good time to give it a try. I have also read a bit on the subject and been a bit of a sugar witch for a while now. Miss Muffin knows how to read a label and checks anything going into the shopping trolley.

Being me, I debated internally what to make and ended up going back to my first idea, a basic chocolate cake. I used a simple recipe so we could really get to taste if it made any difference or not. And…………………

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We couldn’t. I would not have known that the sugar wasn’t the conventional white kind. It tasted fine and like a chocolate cake. I was very impressed. In the near future I will give Natvia a try with other recipes and will be interested when the icing sugar makes it to New Zealand.

If you want to read more around the whole sugar debate google away and have a look for thins relevant to you. It is frightening.

This bog here has some nice images to keep you going- http://garethsworld.com