Meatless Monday At Hillside in Thorndon.

Last Monday I attended a meatless Monday event at Hillside Kitchen and Cellar in Thorndon. I would like to thank the lovely Posh Lucy for arranging the Wellington Foodies dinner.

As the name suggests, the meal was meat free and thankfully, celery free. It was one excellent meal with course after course of food achievements. As Hillside they like to keep things cleverly simple and surprise. The flavours of each course were wonderful.

I am not going to go through major explanations but just leave you with a few photographs from the evening and a copy of the intriguing menu we were given.

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Sorry the menu got a little crumpled but you can still read it. The egg below was amazing, it was not just and egg. It had a smoked eggplant kind of chutney in the bottom. It was amazing.

The long think in the photo was a carrot that thought it was a steak. If I was blind folded I would have never guessed it was a carrot. The chocolate chip ice cream had potato chips dipped in chocolate and I think I am correct in saying, the ice-cream was potato.

Have a look and enjoy the photographs.

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Wellington On A Plate – what am I up to?

So for a couple of weeks in August Wellington becomes a place of mad crazy food things. It is always rather foodie but for these weeks there are set menus, burgers, baking and events.
This event is Wellington On A Plate.

I am not going to go into any great big detail as you are probably a bit of a food nut any way and can read your way through. I will add any where I visit onto this post and it will grown over the next few weeks. There are bookings I have made and things I am lined up to eat.

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My first eating was a vegetarian burger in a hotel restaurant. Yes, you read right- hotel and veggie.

City Dining & Bar (formally, Wakefields Restaurant)

West Vege Burger  –Kumara, chickpea and coconut patty with Zany Zeus feta and Prana micro herbs on a Pandoro bun, with hand cut chips (V) (GF option)

Friends were coming in from Auckland and Dunedin and we needed somewhere where we could hear each other speak on a Friday night. After much deliberating I chose the West Plaza Hotel with their yum sounding West Vege Burger. The hotel isn’t one of the well known ones in the city, if you are wondering where it is- near  Gubb Shoes and the tourist information centre. The restaurant is just inside the lobby on the left and is in a nice open space.

Back to the important thing- the burger.

It was excellent, very tasty, a very decent size and filling. The balance of flavours were great and the meat was not missed. The patty was a good size and filled the bun nicely and the feta went really well with the other flavours. It stayed together and was finished right down to the last bite by all. The hand cut chips were huge and more like wedges, they too were good. The only little gripe I would have is that we had to ask for sauce to go with it. It arrived quickly when asked for and we were given a dish each and it had a BBQ taste to it. I really enjoyed it. We had great attentive service which was not at all overbearing. If they had this burger on all the time I would certainly go back. Well done City Dining and Bar, West Plaza Hotel.

Milk and Honey- Victoria University, Kelburn.

Starter- Kingsmeade Palliser parmesan and tapioca hot bread roll with house made cultured butter (V)

Main-Roast kumara tart with Tim’s honey, freshly made cheese, thyme from the garden and wild parsley salad (V)

I am lucky enough to work at a bank on the campus of Victoria University. Milk and Honey is opposite my work and I met friends there for lunch today. I didn’t take any photos of my lunch as we were busy chatting and forgot.

I enjoyed the tart and the cheese was great. The stand out piece of this meal was the bread roll, they were cheesy and gorgeous. The only way I can think to describe them is like the pâte a choux but with a more bread based centre. I will try to get the recipe.

Taylors on Jackson

King Of Didsbury – $25
Taylors Pirinoa Station half-pound wagyu patty with hot-smoked wagyu short rib pastrami, Kingsmeade Emmental, jalapeño Russian mayo and house-made pickles. Garage Project beer match: Texas Tea.

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The photos are not the best but they make me laugh.

So, me the not much of a meat eater went for the Taylors on Jacksons burger. I feel that the term burger is underselling this beast but can not think of a better term. It certainly should be King of something.

For this adventure I went with my birthday buddy and fellow Pom, Lucy. We arrived giggling about the idea of finishing this burger, we behaved like food bloggers and took photos before eating and drinking the lovely Garage Project beer match: Texas Tea . I got to show off my flash new camera and get some top tips from Lucy the guru of photography. Anyway, on to the burger.

I have to say this is the burger to ruin all other burgers. I will always compare all burgers to this. The meat patty was cooked to perfection, crisp on the outside with a very decent sized pink middle. The pastrami was delicious and so was everything else. The accompanying spuds were far too Moorish and hard to resist.

With the size of this burger our biggest struggle was the whole saga of- how do we eat this?
We started with the purest approach of keeping it whole. I did OK, Lucy felt she needed a shower. We downed burger and pondered our approach. Lucy went for the very British approach of using the cutlery. I went for the treat it like a cake and cut wedges method. I think I was the cleverest.

I would say we both managed about 2/3rds of both the burger and the spuds. We both ate most of the pickles. We did bicker about who won the eating contest but I do declare a draw.

If you want to try this King of Didsbury you need to phone and book. There are a limited number per night, I say BOOK NOW, you will not be sad. 04 560 4727

I will be going back for the full 3 course menu and will blog that too.

Just have to add a beer photo.

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La Boca Loca

Frijoles Fodongas Burger

Zany Zeus goat feta and pinto beans sloppy joe in an organic blue corn gordita, with spicy wedges and salsa (GF) (V) (Vegan option)

I was very intrigued with this burgers description and its vegetarian status. The idea of the corn tortillas as a bun also got me. I managed to get lovely Lucy to come with me to try it out. Our evening was interesting. The restaurant was busy and the service wasn’t the best and a little odd. It took a while to get a drinks menu and water. The fact that we were sat in the naughty corner (where we belong ) probably didn’t help.

The burger was an actual burger, it wasn’t sloppy, didn’t run everywhere and had a patty shape. We really liked it and it reminded us of  a posh version of the  Spicy Bean Burger that Burger King does in the UK. Everything  went well together and it really worked. The wedges were good but there were not enough of them. Maybe charging a couple of dollars more and padding out the burger a bit more would work.

This burger was good because it was so different. It is another I would have again. It would be good to see the vegetarian burger have its own category  at the next Wellington On A Plate so it can be judged on its own merit.

Thanks for the photo and the laughs Lucy.

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The Final Meal of WOAP 2014-

Taylors on Jackson- Yes Back Again.

Three courses plus a Wellington regional beverage – $65

Starter

House-baked bread with truffle mushroom butter

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followed by Taylors Pirinoa Station wagyu steak tartare with fried chicken oyster, celeriac, egg yolk jam, wild Hutt River onion weed and pickled white anchovy

Main

Taylors Pirinoa Station wagyu with confit potato, onion leaves, tarragon and Louise’s black garlic

Dessert

BFG lemon meringue pie cheesecake with Zany Zeus mascarpone

Beverage

Paddy Borthwick wine, Panhead Custom Ales craft beer or house-made soda

I was the first person to make a WOAP booking at Taylors. I saw it as my opportunity to get the Mr there at last. I booked for four people with friends in mind and they jumped at the chance.

Before heading over to Taylors we met at the new pub on Jackson Street- Queen of Jackson. It is rather lovely in there and a good meeting point.

We headed over to Taylors in anticipation of the great meal I had talked up, we were not disappointed  Some of the menu had changed from the above but had stayed along the same lines. The bread rolls were, as always, delicious and the butter was a hit.

The starter was similar to my visit with Wellington Foodies but has the edition of nori, which was excellent. The portion was big and I was helped out with come of my tartare. We all enjoyed the mix of flavours and the egg yolks were popular.

The main was beef cheek, I had tried this once before when Mr had it and I didn’t like it. That beef cheek was nothing like this one, which I loved. It was so tender and full of flavour. The meat fee apart in a good way on cutting. I can’t remember the full description but do know there was a brinjal mix (eggplant) with breadcrumbs on top of the beef, a carrot remoulade (posh coleslaw) heritage smoked beetroot. I am sure I am missing something. As per usual with Glen’s food, everything on the plate worked. We also had one of each side for the table to share.

The sides were -rocket, hazelnut, chardonnay pear, parmesan /Fried potatoes, local lager vinegar / Green beans, seaweed, lemon butter The larger vinegar was in a spray bottle and a big hit.

We all enjoyed our starters and main and the dessert finished the meal perfectly. At one point I had to laugh as all that could be heard was the clang of spoons against the glass jars. There were four adults trying to get every last little bit with childlike grins on our faces. The dessert was similar to advertised and served in a mason jar like the lemon meringue pie cheesecake. The new flavour was one of Mr’s favourites  desserts-

The new “BFG” parsnip + apple crumble cheesecake.

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It was so good and each mouthful offered a different but similar taste. The serving was huge but we all managed to finish.

The drink choices went very well with the dinner and the service was great. All up, the was a brilliant dining experience and we left agreeing to go back soon. We had a really good night out with fantastic food and great company.

So, Wellington On A Plate is over for another year. There were a few places I would have loved to have gone but just didn’t get to. I look forward to next year and am happy that I have Wellington Foodies to do similar events with throughout the year.

Wellington Foodies

A couple of years ago now I decided that I needed to do something about my love of food. I don’t find evening classes every week on the same evening that attractive. I am more of a burst of learning kind of girl.

I started investigating and my first search was for dumpling lessons. I got lucky, oh so lucky, I found a class run by Vicky from the House of Dumplings and through Wellington Foodies, thus my Wellington Foodie life began.

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Wellington Foodies is run through the Meet-up site/app and there is also going to be an Auckland fraction. Basically what it is  is a place to do those food things you have wanted to do, go to dinner at a random place often with a special touch and a place to fully be understood when you gush over some new food discovery. It is run by volunteers and the baby of the wonderful Lucy Mutch (take a bow).

In the past the classes and events I have attended included dinner at Taylors on Jackson, puff pastry, knife skills and paneer matar with Sushil Ravikumar from Master Chef NZ.

Since I got back from our Hawaiian holiday I have been to two more events. The thing about these Wellington Foodie classes is you can end up doing something you are not sure about but don’t want to fess up to (like knife skills) or get someone to come and give you a class about the food of their country.

The first class was Are You Chicken: The Prodigal Daughter Returns…

This was about the chicken and how to break it down. Many people do not learn this as a kid  growing up. I certainly didn’t as I was a meat hating kind of kid (reformed!).  It was great and I now know that I can buy that reduced free range chicken and get more than a roast meal out of it. Not only did we cut it up, we made Kiev and ate it with a lovely salad made by Rachel. One of the great things is at these events you turn up to a room full of relative strangers, some who you may have been to classes with before and you end up having a blimin good evening.

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Another thing about these Wellington Foodies events is you can come across a blog, follow them on Facebook, marvel at their cuisine, realise that they live in the Wellington area and then heavily hint to Lucy that you really need to learn more about their food. That was how the My Persian Feast a Hands- Persian Cooking Class with Susan Assadi  came about. I may have been the instigator. The blog is My Persian Feast.

In this class Susan taught us about the food of the Persian region , she herself being from Iran. We made dolmeh filled with rice and lamb, marinated feta and Beetroot and mint yoghurt dip. The flavours were wonderful and simple. I will be dreaming about the marinated feta forever and may have planned a dinner party just so I can make it for others.

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This post is mainly about getting up off your bottom and going and doing something, if you are here and like food, I am giving you ideas!

Have fun.

This Week- Wellington Foodies and a Mini Mazzer Coffee Grinder.

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Winning

One evening in the week I was having a Facebook conversation with a friend about my lack of winning luck. The next day I received and email telling me I had won a Mini Mazzer Coffee Grinder for swiping my Countdown Onecard. I am still trying to get over the shock and have figured out how to use this beauty. I had one of the best plunger coffees ever this morning. My winning swipe was for buying Hummingbird Coffee which is my all time favourite plunger coffee. I am now going to buy all the coffee gadgets and enjoy this machine. So, thank you Hummingbird Coffee and Countdown.

Wellington Foodies

My other news this week , I plucked up the courage and asked to become part of something I love. For the past year I have been attending Wellington Foodie Meet Up events. I have really enjoyed everything I have done and the varied people. It is a really great way to get out, do the things I love and meet like minded food obsessed beings. After a bit of thinking and pondering I realised that I really wanted to be more than a participant and asked if this would be possible. I am now lucky enough to be an Assistant Organiser. I am not sure what it entails and I look forward to finding out.

This particularly makes me happy as I do not have any grand plans for food based paid work. I actually rather enjoy being the bank lady at Victoria University and I can use my crazy food mind for good.

Dumplings

I love dumplings, pan-fried/ pot-stickers are my favorite. I made these one and am very proud.

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A friend told me that they are for left overs, yes ma-am, you know who you are . I have put off actually embarking on the making of dumplings as I have a few friends who do it oh so well and I have worried about not being able to get them so perfect and vacuum packed. I decided to get over my fear and jump right in.

I googled ‘The Dumpling House’ as I knew Vicky was Wellington’s own dumpling queen. She is the cheeky lady in the corner at The City Market. Through Google I found a meet up group called The Wellington Foodies and they had a class planned. I joined the site, pondered my ability to turn up at someones house in a mystery location and to walk in to a room full of strangers. Whilst I pondered these facts the class filled up and I placed myself on the waiting list. After a few days I got an invite, I quickly paid before I could change my mind and committed myself.  I am so pleased I did, I had a wonderful evening with lovely people. This all too place in a beautiful private house with a great kitchen. Oh, and being Wellington, I walked in and knew 2 people out of the 8 as they both work on Vic Uni campus where my bank is based. None of the strangers stayed that way for long, we were all a chatty bunch. I can’t wait to go to another meet up.

Vicky came with the dough prepared but taught us how to roll it- through the pasta machine and how to best cut it. She also had the pork filling largely prepared so we could concentrate on learning all of the folds. The recipe for that was very similar to Poh’s on here, Vicky had used just flour for the skins. I am not going to give amazing instruction as you too should find your own way in to the world of the dumpling. Theses babies were steamed in bamboo baskets for around 6 minutes. They were very lovely and served with a special secret dipping sauce along with another spicy numbers. The night didn’t end there.

We made dumplings for pudding. These little balls of stodge with their lovely filling floated in the most delicious broth. Vicky was kind of trying these out on us and they were a hit. The only part we played was in the rolling and making the little round morsels. I have never tried anything like this before and would love to again. If Vicky ever gives in to the cries of, “open a restaurant” I will be at her door and want these again.

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