La Bella Italia- Petone Wins Again.

Last night I went out for a meal with a friend. Normally we go to a place where the Mr wouldn’t eat and decided to throw a bit of variety in and head out for Italian. We both like to use the Entertainment Book voucher and that did help with making the decision to go to La Bella Italia.

We met for a sneaky pre-dinner pint at Sprig and Fern. I enjoyed a limited addition red IPA. As it was a Friday night it was bustling and a great atmosphere. After our pint and chat, we walked to the industrial area where La Bella Italia is based. We had booked and on arrival, I was happy we did as it was busy.

My dining partner and I often order exactly the same and have very similar tastes. This time we realised we were both conflicted between two choices. We took the logical route and ordered one of each and shared. Both dishes were delicious and sharing was a fantastic idea.

The dishes we shared were-

Cannelloni di Crespelle -Crepes filled with spinach, ricotta and pecorino cheese with sage butter.

Photo 29-09-17, 7 28 33 PM

They were good and very tasty. Rather than the cannelloni tubes, they were actual delicious crepes. We both really enjoyed these. I would have this dish again and eat it all. The balance was perfect.

Margherita- Fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes – san marzano

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We attacked the pizza before I got a good photo. This pizza was excellent, I think it would be my favourite in Wellington. It reminded me of the pizza I get in my hometown (Brighton) where there is a big Italian community. The base tasted of being cooked in an authentic way, the cheese was stringy and there was a good splash of a decent olive oil. I would go back for pizza.

For dessert, we didn’t share. That is not something either of us would do! I choose the Bombolone. I did enjoy them but I can’t say they left me amazed, they were just good. My dining companion had the Attaccadito and found it a little dry. On the way out I noticed an orange and almond cake in the cabinet and next time I will inquire about that.

We did have a lovely meal and a lovely time. It is a great place for people watching as there is no place to hide and it is well lit. I look forward to going back one day.

Bombolone -A warm cinnamon donut with vanilla gelato

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Come Dine With Me- the Muffin version

At the moment, Come Dine With Me is on at 7pm each weekday evening. I love it, as does Miss Muffin. She really enjoys watching adults misbehave and have things go wrong. She likes to correct their behavior and talk about their food. In the week I had a light bulb moment, why don’t we play that at home? I mentioned it to my family and the next thing we know, Miss M has shot off, with her cookbook and about an hour later appears with a 3 course menu and shopping list. From this we took the hint that she would like to go first, followed by me and then Mr Muffin. After some thought I came to the conclusion that us grown-ups need a handicap. Mine is, I have to cook from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries and Mr M has to not do a curry or anything with rice. That wipes out off of Mr M’s usual and means I have to get reading through the book Santa left me on Christmas Eve.
I will blog each ‘episode’ with a run down of the menu, the food and the entertainment.

Come Dine With Me-

Episode 1

* – Miss Muffin did have minimal help. This was her first experience cooking something she hadn’t seen me do. She was mainly helped with efficiency, things like measuring out spices before hand, pre-cooking the rice and the idea of doing the desert once we had eaten. I also cut the chicken.

She chose the recipes-

And enjoyed eating the food, we all did. The curry was seriously good, the starter was purely her idea and the pudding was to die for.

We were really impressed with the food, her determination and the thought put in. While we ate we pretended to be different people. Mr Muffin decided he was Tarquin Saskatch, a poet lumber jack, I was Charlotte who was very posh and owned everything and Miss was Milly, Santa’s daughter who trained dogs.
The meal really was a success and fun. I am now fretting about what to cook and must present my menu on Thursday.
If you would like any of the recipes, let me know in a comment or at my email (on header).

 Episode 2- my turn

I was given the handicap of having to cook from Nigel Slater’s, Kitchen Diaries. Santa kindly gave it to me on Christmas Eve to help pass the time until the big day. My other challenge was not being super competitive mummy and going all out to win. I am the accomplished cook in the house and so decided to go for a meal completely out of the families comfort zone.
My menu –
Zucchini, dill and feta cakes p227
Slow roast lamb with chickpea mash p62
Passion fruit roulade p389
I forgot to take photos of the starter but the cakes were rather good and I must admit, I did not make chutney. The dill for the cakes was from Kelburn, it grows on the road side which is rather handy. It may be the love child of dill and fennel, who cares? The lamb was on offer, yes, when you think of NZ you think of lamb. Well, most of it goes over seas and it is not cheap to buy.
As my entertainment we played consequences to decide upon our characters, I felt we had rather worn out last weeks post.

I served the meal as suggested in the book. We did enjoy it but were not overly impressed. It was something different and rather in the vain of flash restaurant food. Mr Muffin liked the roulade which surprised me as he is not a fan of cream.
I enjoyed the meal but will not be planning on winning. I was the person on the TV show who cooks the meal they have never tried before and would like to try but not everyone likes it. As I type Mr M is in the kitchen rolling Chinese green onion pancakes/bread. Tonight we will do our scoring and the winner gets to decide a meal out or a takeaway one evening.
Episode 3, Mr Muffins turn
Before I go any further, I must explain the pre-me man. When I met hubby and first opened his fridge and freezer I was a little shocked. The fridge contained coke, beer and some coke. The freezer contained chips and, wait for it, do a drum roll…….. microwave omelettes. Yes, they do exist and you did read right. He has come far and been well educated in the many years we have been together and can now cook. Just thought I would share the background so you can gauge the cooking skills he had pre-me. Anyway, back to the meal.

Mr M’s menu was not allowed to include rice, he cheekily substituted rice for noodles but we let him. His menu came from my new recipe book, Easy Chinese Recipes:Family favourites . It is a great basic book with fantastic ‘how to’ detail.
Green onion pancakes
Orange Chicken with noodles
Jamie Oliver’s trifle

The green onion pancakes were very lovely. There probably could have been a better way to cook them rather than in the wok. A flat pan with a little less oil would have worked better.
The orange chicken was lovely, the chicken in batter was very good. Was not convinced with the noodle match even though they were fresh from the market that morning.
The trifle was good but the custard didn’t set. We still managed to gobble our way through a good portion and fish the best bits out the next day. The trifle had an extra impressive surprise as you can see in the picture below.

The Scores on the doors.
So, after the eating we did the scoring. We each had to leave the room to be scored. The scores are in order of cooking.

Miss came first, then Mr and then little old me.
Miss Muffin chose a lunch at Tulsi Indian with her own Malai kofta,naan and juice. She loves the sauce, not the balls, I have to eat them.
This was a really fun thing to do and I would recommend it to anyone. We enjoyed the anticipation as well as the meals.