Time To Think About Books As Gifts? Ideas From Me.

I haven’t blogged any books for a while. As it is coming up to Christmas I thought I would post a review on 3 books that could be handy as gifts. I read for Hachette NZ and love downloading a book and not really knowing what I am getting. I have read some excellent books this year that I probably wouldn’t have chosen off a shelf but have enjoyed.

 

Wish You Were Here?  By Sheridan Jobbins

 

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Could be for your Sister In Law, your friend who needs a kick in the butt to go on that big adventure or even your heart broken friend?

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book but I loved it. Reading it you can tell that she is in show business as she has a way with words and enjoys a bit of drama. The adventures are crazy, the stories as she travels are amusing and then in the emotional stuff adds to the package. All up, a great read and would make an excellent gift. The kind of book that could be read in a couple of days over the festive season.

 

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Club

By Sophie Green

 

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Could be for someone heading off on summer holidays, a book worm who like the odd easy read to devour over the festive season, I think it could appeal to many.

I read this because I saw something that said it was like a modern Thornbirds. I loved Thornbirds and the hype around it. I can’t remember enough about the Thornbirds to compare the two but I enjoyed both!

This is a tale of what it is like to be isolated in the Northern Territories in the late 1970’s and how friendships form. There is a cross section of age groups and it is one of those books where you feel like you got to know the characters. A great easy read with a bit of drama thrown in.

 

The Little Breton Bistro

by Nina George

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Another relaxing read and dive into some one else’s life story. I would say more suitable for the forty plus in your life.

I enjoyed the life adventure the main character found herself on and the various twist and turns in her story. There were a couple of parts that caused me to stay up way later than I should have done to see what happened and a few audible gasps escaped me. This was a well-told story and I enjoyed reading it. I have been to many of the places mentioned in France but as a child, reading this makes me want to return as an adult.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The End of WOAP 2017. My Last Burger Was My Best Burger. Carrello Del Gelato and The Borough.

So it is all over. I swore I wouldn’t eat any bread with things in it for a while, that didn’t last. Just yesterday I had a Halloumi Burger at The Chippery and it was lovely.

My final two burgers were good ones. My last burger was my winner, it was mad,  incredible and a brain teaser. Anyway, the final burgers.

The Borough

This burger was good, the patty was really tasty and I could tell it wasn’t just beef. The halloumi could have been a bit thicker so that it tasted a bit more. I did enjoy it t.

I had the burger as part of the 2 course with beer menu. The dessert was a little odd, I love a good semolina cake but this was served with a chocolate ganache. The chocolate ganache was more like buttercream and didn’t go with the cake at all.

The main let down was how noisy The Borough is, I was there with a group of friends and we couldn;t hear each other. The service was also terrible. I felt like we were served by my stroppy teenage daughter. It did amuse us though.

The Borough Garage Burger

Pork and beef patty with fried Zany Zeus halloumi, Garage Project La Calavera Catrina hot sauce, beetroot relish and onion in a Nada Bakery brioche bun, with malt vinegar chips.

Dessert

Semolina lemon syrup cake with chocolate ganache.

 

Carrello del Gelato

These guys get a big title. They won my Burger Wars.

I know, a sweet burger? Yep. It was a very clever burger. It looked so much like a burger and that fact hurt my brain. My mouth kept expecting warm and meat but got cold and ice cream. When my brain got the sweet signals it was very happy.

I was stunned, as were my family. They were a bit silly and didn’t get one for themselves but I gave in and let them try mine. The Clareville Bakery doughnut bun was warm and this made it easier to eat the Cookie-crumbed burnt chocolate gelato patty. Everything about this burger came together, the sauces were great and the ‘cheese’ was the perfect thickness.

I finished Visa WOAP 2017 very happy.

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It’ll Be Sweet 2.0!

Cookie-crumbed burnt chocolate gelato patty with Bohemein white chocolate cheese, smoked salted caramel mustard and raspberry ketchup in a Clareville Bakery doughnut bun.

Alpaca And Basque, Visa WOAP 2017

Bin44 Restaurant

I just made a mistake, I google imaged alpaca and now I feel rather guilty about eating such a cute fluffy beast. One had Trump hair, guilt gone.

As a reformed vegetarian, I have surprised myself several times this year with offal eating and big meat meals. I am now impressed with myself and came home on Tuesday night with bits of alpaca in my teeth. Miss Muffin was not at all amused that her parents ate such a fluffy creature and she refused to partake in this outing.

So, the burger. It was another, ‘is this a burger?’. There was shredded meat and no patty. After a few bites I simply didn’t care, it was bloody delicious. I had questioned BIN44 staff previous to WOAP and was told that alpaca was a strong meat and would be mixed with a little bit of pork. What ever the meat was, it was lovely. A dressing of mango and lime was on the side and went well with the meat. The bun was also excellent and held the burger really well, no soggy bottom at all. It didn’t come with a side of fries but there was a jalapeno popper and two polenta fries on the top. Oh, those polenta fries were dreamy.

All up, this ingenious burger is my winner. A 10/10 for daring, taste, beer match and the whole package.

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Death From Above Burger

Garage Project Death From Above-braised alpaca loin with Brussels sprouts slaw and mango lime dressing in a Pasteleria Sans Rival hop-infused bun with polenta chips

Matched w Garage Project Death from Above.

 

Basque

How have I not been in here before? What a lovely place and very much my kind of joint. It has many choices of beer and tapas, I need to go back.

This burger was another different to the norm, made of cheese and a croquette. I love both of these things. It was a good burger and the fries were fab, really good seasoning. I did feel like the cheese could have been a little stronger tasting and maybe a bit of iceberg lettuce could have moistened it up a bit. It was very enjoyable and I would have it again. We all agreed it had a great burger to patty ratio.

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The Cheese Musketeers

Three cheese: Aged cheddar, Zany Zeus smoked brinza and mozzarella croquette patty, smoked chipotle relish, red cabbage slaw, green tea aioli and jalapeños in a Zaida’s milk bun, with paprika fries (V, NF, Pesc).

Visa Wellington On A Plate 2017 – More Eating.

I have managed to eat at home three times in a week and one of those days I had had a burger at lunch time. I am enjoying eating out but do have that holiday feeling of over indulgence. Don’t worry, I will carry on for the cause!

One thing I have learnt this week is, I do not know how to use my camera in dim light. Please excuse some of my photographs, I tried but eating is more important than the right shot in the dark.

Salty Pidgin

I had a real issue getting photographs in this lovely spot and you will have to just picture the food, sorry.

I’ve been wanting to come here for a while now but just haven’t made it. Now I have, I will be back. It is one of those neighbourhood restaurants with great food and atmosphere. It was really cold the night of our visit and the open wood fires were a lovely touch. Even though Brooklyn isn’t where I live, I would travel and be the designated driver.

This visit was with 4 girlfriends. We had been told we had to order off WOAP menu and get the Crispy Cauliflower, it was very good. I can see myself going back to have that and explore more of the menu.

Festival dish

Oxtail ravioli in rich onion broth with Kingsmeade Manchego, FINZ hazelnut wafer and cress

One of my party had the burger and she enjoyed it. The rest of us went for the Oxtail ravioli. It was delicious. Everything on the plate worked and I considered picking my bowl up to get the last bits of the broth out. It made me want to come home and explore my recipe books for similar dishes.

Dessert

Coconut semifreddo with Fix & Fogg peanut crumble and lime jelly (DF, GF)

The dessert was unusual and not something I would usually pick from a menu. I liked that, trying something different is good. It was certainly refreshing after the main.

I left feeling like this place is a real find.

Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant

I met my eating crew here. The burger intrigued us and we had high hopes for something different. Alas, we left unimpressed. We did get great joy out of watching a young man who was struggling with eating cauliflower and he seemed to be doing it to impress a young lady.

The main gripe at the table was the lack of cauliflower, it didn’t fill the bun and this was disappointing. Double what was in there would have worked better. Also, we found the mash very underseasoned and couldn’t see why it went with the burger. Some spicy crispy spuds would have worked better. Our opinions were made clear to the bar and they were happy to get feed back.

 

 

Kāpiti Fried Cauli (K.F.C)

Original recipe fried cauliflower with homemade vegan ‘jack cheese’, mayonnaise and lettuce in a Pandoro Kaiser bun with slaw, mash and Parkvale Mushroom gravy (DF, NF, Pesc, V, VV).

 

Monterey

This was my sneaky lunch time burger with some of my eating crew. Monterey does the best onion rings in the city and I do love their burgers. It is one of my spots for making sure I use the Entertainment Book voucher.

Their burger entry is different from others and it was very tasty. Our eating conversation involved discussing if it could be counted as a burger as it wasn’t a patty. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with the delicious beef or pretzel roll, but is it a burger? If they had this on their menu I would get it again and encourage others to try it for a change.

Oh,  and the fries were excellent. They were nice and crispy with lovely flavours.

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The Steinbeck

Beef slow-cooked in Kererū Moonless Stout with bacon jam, Kāpiti Pakari aged cheddar, jalapeño, crunchy greens and aioli in a pretzel bun, with Cajun fries (NF).

Matched w Garage Project Loral Royale

 

St Johns Bar And Restaurant

I didn’t get any decent photo’s here with my camera either but I did get a decent belly full of food! This was another burger free evening and a very nice grown up meal out. This venue was picked because of the main being something neither of us would have at home, a plate of brassicas. In case you haven’t guessed by the choice of dinner, I was out with another friend and not Mr Muffin.

The main was delicious, a little more of the Zany Zeus halloumi would have been good. It was a lovely plate of nicely cooked veg and dressing. A refreshing dinner in the midst of burger meat!

The dessert was perfect, it oozed in a way that would please even Ramsay. The Carrello del Gelato raspberry sorbet impressed too.

 

Selection of brassicas with grilled Zany Zeus halloumi, roasted lemon purée and kale shards (GF, V)

Whittaker’s 72% dark chocolate fondant with Carrello del Gelato raspberry sorbet.

Queen Of Jackson

Another night out, another burger. We love this pub and often visit before heading somewhere else for dinner. Last night we stayed and ate.

This burger is huge, we saw many people giving up and using a knife and fork. Shame on them! It was squashable and we did the cut in half and use our hand’s method. For someone who isn’t a big meat eater I was worried that I might not enjoy this, I did. My only gripe would be that the bottom of the bun got rather soggy. I loved the pulled pork and came away thinking how I must perfect it myself in the pressure cooker.

I do apologise, my photo could have been better.

Photo 19-08-17, 9 33 16 PM

Trump Tower

1/2 pound beef patty with pulled pork in bourbon sauce, cheddar, pickles, iceberg, tomato and Queen Lizzy’s burger sauce in housemade milk bun (GF, NF)

Wellington On A Plate 2017 – Let The Eating Begin.

A confession, I started a day early with a cheeky try of a burger. It was the Thursday and I was invited along to be Lucy from Wellington Foodies plus 1. It was a very good start and a nice surprise. I must confess that I hadn’t paid much attention to the Sojourn at The James Cook Hotel when looking at the WOAP guide. Next year it will be one of the first ones I look for. Lucy had the main menu and proclaimed that gorgeous too.

Sojourn Cafe and Bar

The burger was different (in a good way) and very imaginative. Only a few will get this but it reminded me of a meaty spicy bean burger. I would certainly recommend this and would go back. The dessert was amazing too and was of a very high standard, up there with the fancy French place.

Photo 10-08-17, 8 29 00 PM

The Burger, CCC Mexi Tower

Tortilla-crumbed chilli con Carne patty with lettuce, tomato, guacamole, hard goat’s cheese and sour cream in a mole burger bun, with kūmara chips and chipotle mayonnaise (NF).

Matched w Garage Project Hāpi Daze

The Dessert

Photo 10-08-17, 9 02 19 PM

Mascarpone bavarois with rhubarb and strawberry pâté de fruit, mixed berry gel and rhubarb crisp.

 

Hippopotamus Restaurant

I picked the Hippo as somewhere to go for a fancy meal with Mr Muffin. The 3-course menu appealed to both of us and this was a minor miracle.  The food was delicious and of the high standard you would expect. The service was terrible and it certainly didn’t feel like the special evening out we were aiming for. We left a bit sad to be honest and feeling like we were a bother.

Anyway, onto the food.

Entrée

We both had the soup. It came with the dry ingredients in a bowl and the liquid was poured at the table. It was delicious.

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France meets New Zealand: Marmite-based onion soup (V)

For main

I went for the gnocchi and Mr opted for the pie. For some reason, he didn’t get a syringe of tomato sauce in his and we realised after eating that others had this. Both courses were excellent. I may have a little pie envy but the gnocchi was very me and I ate some of the perfect pastry from the pie.

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Kūmara gnocchi, cauliflower purée, Lot Eight olive oil and grated cheese (v).

 

Photo 12-08-17, 9 36 52 PM

The Humble Kiwi Pie: Black Dog beer-braised Wairarapa wild venison leg and Parkvale Mushroom (NF)

Dessert

Oh my. I had a posh Jaffa cake and it was divine. I may have not stopped thinking about it. Mr had the Milk and Honey, I can’t tell you anything about it as I didn’t get a look in.

 

Milk & Honey: Hokey pokey, ANZAC biscuit crumb, burnt honey crémeux, buttermilk sorbet, thyme, honey gel

– or –

Jaffa: Whittaker’s dark chocolate mousse, orange curd, chocolate soil and orange marmalade

 

Five Boroughs

This burger was a bit of a whim, a friend mentioned how they had plans to go but could only book if there were 6+ people. I offered us up as the extras and a table was booked. Five Boroughs was buzzing on a Sunday night and the service was friendly and efficient. The burger, oh the burger. Another clever take on the basic meat patty. The chicken roast as a burger worked very well. This is one big burger and we all adopted our own methods. I went for the cut it in half approach. I must tell you that this a whole meal and between 7 of us we managed about one portion of fries. It was good to have them and dip them in the gravy.

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Flippin’ the Bird

Roast chicken patty, Sunday roast vegetable hash, caramelised onions, mayonnaise and smoked brinza on a sage stuffing bun with chicken gravy (NF).

Matched w Garage Project Hakituri

My List-

Salty Pidgin

Southern Cross

St Johns

Queen of Jackson

Basque

The Borough Tawa

Bin44

There are plenty more places I would like to add if I get the time.

 

 

 

 

 

Manual – The Button I Now Know How To Use On My Camera.

After 3 years of having a fancy camera, I have finally learnt how to use it for food photography. I have enrolled for evening classes a couple of times and they have never happened as there weren’t enough people. When I saw the very fancy Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand had a 2-day weekend class I decided to jump in and get it done!

The weekend was fantastic, it was spent in their space in Cuba Street, Wellington. I loved it. The first day we talked about the food photography and how to use the camera. The Sunday we took photographs of actual food cooked by some of the Le Cordon Bleu students, photographed them while they cooked and ate their food.

It isn’t easy to learn as an adult and I am a long time out of school. I am no expert (yet) but I plan to be. I would recommend this class, it is by no means cheap but is very informative and a great way to learn.

Here are a few of my favourite photographs. They are not perfect, I love them and I am proud of my progress. My next step is to take the camera out of the house and to buy Photoshop.

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30 Day Entertainment Book- Excellent For Your New Zealand Or Australian Holiday.

Kangaroo and cheeky fantail.

15% off at Australia Zoo.

This is not a sponsored post, just passing on my knowledge (I can be thanked in food! )

The Entertainment Book is a New Zealand and Australian thing. It is sold by charities or organisations and a fundraiser and is fantastic. I have included it a good few posts as we get it every year for the Wellington region. As mentioned in a previous post, we got one for our holiday in Port Douglas and Cairnes a few years ago.

Lamb Pizza

25% off the bill at Miss Moneypenny’s, Noosa Heads.

Previous Entertainment Book Posts.

This year there was a new idea, a 30-day book. I say book, we used the fab App.There isn’t really a book. With this new feature you can pick a start date and you have 30 days from then to use it. This came at a perfect time for us as and our family holiday to Noosa and Brisbane (Brisbane 17/18). It was easier to use in Brisbane but we got great use out of it and not only did the Entertainment Book save us money but it also saved our sanity.

Chicken Laab

25% off at Phat Elephant, Brisbane.

On the App there is this fabulous button and I was mocked by my family for my love of this button, it is called, Near Me. It finds where you are and pulls up the information for all the things around you with offers in the book. It is great. Many of our eating decisions were made based on if they were in ‘The Book’ or not. This wasn’t just for saving money but because if a place is in The Book then generally they are used by locals and worth a visit. Some you may have not have even noticed or gone to if you were an average tourist. We went to a lovely Italian we wouldn’t have visited otherwise and ventured more out of Noosa Heads because we had ideas of what was there.

We used our Book not just for food but for adventure too. We went on The Wheel Of Brisbane because The Book got us 50% off. Our Australia Zoo tickets were 15% off and booked online.

The Wheel of Brisbane

50% off The Wheel Of Brisbane. My selfie.

I have been passionate about The Entertainment Book for a while now and I often tell people about it.  I do like to feel as if I am clever and saving a few dollars here and there. We paid $30 for 30 days and gained this amount in savings in 2 days. It is so worth it, even if your family do mock you every time you stand still and shout, ‘I’m just going to press near me’.

Our value received was calculated by The Book to be $245.

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