This Week I’ve Mostly Been……

I am sorry, only a few of you will know Jessie from the Fast Show but it speaks the truth.

My friend Lucy suggested that I should have the title Professional Scoffer and that left me feeling happy. I will take that title and I am tempted to get some business cards made saying just that. She did make the comment after we had had a rather marvellous High Tea at Gear Homestead in Porirua. There will be more about when my review is published on the High Tea Society  or you can check it out yourself.

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Talking of the High Tea Society, you can see two more reviews of mine with Lucy’s photo here-

Intercontinental Lobby Lounge

Martha’s Pantry

This week I also went for dinner at Hillside Kitchen in Thorndon with a group of friends. It was a Meatless Monday dinner and we had a feast. I am still amazed at how nice the onion flower (that awful weed) tastes, how pretty a purple carrot with a bit of orange carrot looks when arranged as a rose and a chocolate tart can contain tofu and you wouldn’t know. Oh, one last one, those teeny tiny lemon meringues….. how do you get them that tiny and not crush them when filling?

Here are a few pics. Hope you had a good week too.

Thanks you for letting me borrow your pic Nikki.

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Visa Wellington On A Plate, 2016.

It is August and the need for baggy pants is here. From 12th- 28th August Wellington is even more about food than usual as Visa Wellington On A Plate takes over the city. This post will be about my eating over the 2 and a bit weeks.

Welcome Home at Logan Brown.

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So, last night I had such a good feast at an event. The event was Welcome Home and at one of my favs, Logan Brown. If you are in Wellington I urge you to go, there are tickets available still for 23-25 August and at $99 a ticket, it was well worth it.

The evening was about eating food from Wellington’s newest ethnic communities. You can read the official story here. I am not going to describe all of the dishes as that is part of the evening but I will leave you with some photographs. This food was between two of us and we both really enjoyed the whole huge meal. Everything was beautiful and I have a new love of rehydrated tealeaves. If you want to see the menu it is here.

 

My first Burger Wellington, Arizona – Danny’s Champion Pheasant.

Arizona’s own pheasant patty with pistachios, house smoked garlic butter, gorged raisins and Capital Produce celeriac remoulade on a Brezelmania saffron burger bun. Garage Project beer match: Hakituri (+ BEER $30)

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I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while and he suggested a few burgers, this was my pick. I have to be honest and say I was a little bit hesitant about trying a pheasant burger. Pheasant isn’t new to me but I hadn’t tried it for years. This burger is not 100% pheasant, it has a bit of chicken and the pistachios mixed in. This makes for a very tasty patty. The whole burger was good but did have to be eaten fast before the celeriac remoulade soaked through the base.

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The polenta fries were an added bonus, there wasn’t any mention of them on the Wellington On A Plate listing and they were good. The beer was a great beer match. All up, I enjoyed this burger, the beer and bonus polenta fries. It was interestingly different.

Artisan Dining House – Longbush ‘SPAM’ Burger and a Magical Dessert.

Longbush ‘SPAM’ patty with Meat Direct crumbed lambs brain and homemade apple and pineapple relish on a bun, with chilli butter potato peels.

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By golly, such a British thing to say but so fitting for both the burger, the dessert.When I first read the menus for Visa Wellington On A Plate Artisan was the first place I purposely searched for. MacLean Fraser is a chef I admire and know will produce interesting food. No run of the mill patty would appear on this menu.

Today I tried that burger and the amazing potato peels and would give it an easy 10/10. The patty and relish went so well together, the fruit working with the SPAM perfectly and the bun was light and fluffy.

I returned home telling Mr Muffin that he may need to come back with me and fully embrace the SPAM. My ulterior motive being to have the dine menu and that mighty fine and crazy dessert again. That dessert, a bowl arrives looking a tad strange with a layer of white chocolate, warm sauce is the poured on to the chocolate and the magic begins. I will leave my description there as you need to form your own opinion. Only a few days left now, get ringing to book your table -phone 04 462 3770.

I dined with my fellow Brit, Lucy from Wellington Foodies who took the wonderful photos.

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I Am Still Alive!I Have New Chins And Stretchy Pants.

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See the chins?

I am still alive and I really do have new chins and stretchy pants. I also have lots of stretchy dresses. I have been shopping rather a lot.

Us Muffins are currently in Brighton, UK visiting family. I have also been to Barcelona, Spain and up to London for a jaunt with my best friend.

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Harrod’s Baklava

We have eaten out so much since we left New Zealand. Also we have bought things from the supermarket and eaten all the pre-prepared food we fancied. In NZ we do not get a lot in the way of ready prepared so the Marks and Spencer Food Hall is very novel to us. Just today we had a marvellous M&S lunch which included empanadas, mac n cheese bites and French fancies.

 

Me and Miss Muffin have both had birthdays and celebrated with friends and family. Miss turned 13 and chose Thai for her dinner. We went to a proper back street pub in Shoreham By Sea and had a lovely Thai meal with lost of family. She even had a Choccywoccydoodah birthday cake that was rather wonderfull and topped with marshmallows.

My choice was a Chinese restaurant that is a fixed price and you order until you are full. A table of ten of us got through a fair amount of food. My lovely mum made a cake and that was a lime drizzle sponge. It was very good. The indoor firework instead of far too many candles was amusing and turned many heads in restaurants.

Barcelona was marvellous and we enjoyed a lot of tapas. The we in this case was me and 4 girlfriends who I have known forever. Padron peppers were a favourite and I even tried octopus.

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Tapas

 

London was also great. Me and my oldest and bestest friend extended her trip to Brighton so we could go together and do all the food things. On arrival we walked to Harrods and explored the food hall. I have always wanted to try their baklava and chose 4 pieces, the total was £5.05 and I was rather cheeky and paid with a £50 note. The man serving did ask if I had my Harrods card with me. We also did Fortnum and Mason’s, laughed at how many NZ products were for sale. Had cake for lunch and a very special dinner at Ottolenghi’s at Spitafield. The next day we visited Spitafield market and Borough market, both were good. Borough had our heart as it was so very foodie and we had Dosa. Dosa is always good.

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Brighton has a new Mexican and we just had to help the native Brightonians out by trying it, Wahaca was excellent and has a lovely atmosphere. In Brighton we have also eaten very lovely Persian at Shandiz Persian  and enjoyed being daring and having Faloudah for dessert along with baklava. Indian food has also been consumed and much British pub grub. This morning we had a greasy spoon fry up breakfast, writing this I see where the chins have come from.

I am sure there is plenty more eating ahead of us, we are looking forward to the blueberries in Canada.We have a few days left in the UK and will be in Vancouver for a few days before returning home to NZ.

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Degustation at Jano.

Last night I went to Jano on Willis Street with three lovely friends. You may be looking puzzled and pondering where on earth Jano is in Wellington? It is up the top end of Willis Street in a cute yellow cottage that was once Citron.

For me, it was one of those places that you think you must try and then you forget to go. This time I remembered and my friends and I made a concerted effort to book a table. We were spurred on by the Entertainment Book voucher and the fast approaching end of the 2015/16 book. We all left feeling very happy that we made the effort and felt like we had had a special meal out.

I have to say, we were not easy customers. If a song could have played as the four of us walked in I am pretty sure it would have been Taylor Swift, I knew you were trouble when you walked in. We were not intentionally awkward and we were very much accommodated.

Out of the four of us, two of us wanted to know what the menu would be and two of us didn’t. I was on the not wanting to know team. Eventually , we came to a compromise and the two fuss pots specified what they didn’t want. These demands included no dairy, no lamb and no raw meat. Each person was given the right meal for each course . On top of that each plate was also impressive. The only gripe through the evening was that some of our party felt the need to season some of the plates. I would put this down to personal taste. The salt and pepper grinder was worth asking for just to have a play.

The service through out the evening was brilliant, right down to the French accent. Jano really is a lovely bistro with the whole package. Go on, stop putting it on your list. It is certainly now one of the tops on my must use the Entertainment Book voucher list and my fancy meal out list. I hope they are part of Wellington On A Plate this year.

Here are a few photographs of my courses in the order they were served. The degustation was 7 courses and these were taken from the A La Carte menu. It is a great way to broaden your horizons and eat things you may not have ordered. I wouldn’t have picked the venison or the pork and they were my favourites.

Just look at the cutlery and plates, aren’t they lovely too?

 

 

A mango and vodka amuse-bouche , a lovely palate cleanser.

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Jano Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Goodbye 2015, The Year of Leaping Food Hurdles.

 

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At the beginning of this year I decided 2015 was the year of eating.

My aim was to get over my meat based phobia and just eat things without over thinking them. As 2015 comes to a close I am happy to report that I had an excellent eating year and jumped food based hurdles. However, I still do not like bacon despite trying it over and over again.

In 2015 I was lucky enough to have two events that enabled my trying new things.

Our family trip to Cairns and Port Douglas meant trying all things Aussie. My birthday was spent stroking wallabies and later eating the furry cute things. Now that is something I never thought I would say. We ate many a strange Aussie thing at Ochre that night. Green ants are nice and crunchy.

The second event was attending the Wellington on a Plate Roman Feast at ARTISAN. Not only was that an excellent night out but a brilliant way to try all the things. Mr Muffin is still talking about the event and how we will be booking whatever MacLean Fraser is hosting. That night brings a smile to my face as we had such a wonderful feast and laughed so much.

In 2015 I was discovered The Chameleon Restaurant. That was all thanks to my friend (posh) Lucy. It was there that after 14 years of living in New Zealand I finally tried Paua. I was actually surprised I liked it. I think the beautiful presentation and gentle slicing had something to do with it.

Another New Zealand food I tried was Mutton Bird. I would like to thank Ms Forde for cooking it. I did try but just couldn’t like it.

2015 was a great food year and an all round great year. For me it was also marked by an achievement, my first year in 6 years with out a visit to the tube of doom, otherwise know as an MRI.

So, as we leave 2015 I wish you and yours a happy new year.

My eats.

Mutton bird

Lambs Brains

Lamb Sweetbread

Paua

Scallops

Crocodile

Emu

Kangaroo

Wallaby

Green ants

Pigs trotter

Pig head

2015 also was the year Miss Muffin overtook in height. I knew this day would come but I didn’t expect her to be just 12 yrs old when it did.

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Roman Feast – Visa Wellington On A Plate Event At ARTISAN Restaurant.

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Roman Feast – Visa Wellington On A Plate Event At ARTISAN Restaurant, Bolton Hotel. Executive chef, Maclean Fraser.

When I first browsed the Visa Wellington On A Plate brochure this event sprang out at me as I had recently eaten at ARTSIAN Restaurant and loved the food. A series of events, including my declaration to try offal this year, saw me and Mr Muffin attending. We faced up to the challenge of eating all the things put in front of us and had an excellent time whilst doing so. We throughly enjoyed the whole experience.

Our evening began with a wait in the lobby, a chalice of mulled wine and a trip up the stairs to find the normally rather ordinary looking restaurant turned into a Roman themed eating den. The light was mainly from candles and all kinds of greenery, citrus fruit and grapes decorated the tables. The chairs and beds arranged along the banquet style tables were draped with blankets and cushions. The whole place looked very different to my last visit. The seating was an informal affair and we got to choose where we sat. We picked a mighty fine group to spend our evening with. Two of our party had travelled from Auckland just to attend the event and another pair were from Palmerston North.

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Each place had a name card, I was The Perfect. We soon got talking to our table as the ice was broken with our cutlery being thrown over our shoulders onto the table and the menu presented. It was announced that there were no rules when you dine like a Roman and shortly after that the feasting began. All evening the food was served in very generous portions, the wine flowed and a festive atmosphere remained. Mr Muffin declared that whatever event was to be held at ARTISAN with chef Maclean Fraser, we will be attending it next year.

Where else can you go to an event and hear these lines?

“You have demolished the chicken but you do still have some in your beard”.

“I will take the pigs teeth home for Miss Muffin and the snout for Milly dog”.

“I don’t know what the bits are but I am telling myself they are walnuts……..they are walnuts?”.

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You wouldn’t want to be a vegetarian at a Roman Feast! I have mentioned before that I am not a big meat eater, all that changed at this feast. I ate meat, trotters, brains and various other parts of animal that I probably don’t know about. Best of all, I enjoyed it. It was a great way to leap over the offal hurdle and into the world of a proper meat eater. I feel I earned my badge last night and enjoyed getting it.

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To begin we had delicious warm bread with a side of full fat milk. The hint of honey made dipping the warm bread in milk a little less strange and it was good.

Picentine Panem Picentine bread with milk and honey.

Picentine Panem Picentine bread with milk and honey.

Aliter Haedinam Sive Agninamex Caldatam. Hot goat stew with coriander, cumin and liquamen.

Aliter Haedinam Sive Agninamex Caldatam. Hot goat stew with coriander, cumin and liquamen.

The goat stew came next, it was delicious. The goat was in cubes and there were no bones, previously when we have had goat it has been off the bone. This dish changed my mind and I would now buy and cook with goat. This was a fragrant dish and reminded me a little of Malaysian rendang. The liquamen, we discovered, is a fish sauce used by Romans and is similar to Asian fish sauces.

Porcellum Farsilem. Trotter stuffed with chicken and livers with truffle sauce.

Porcellum Farsilem. Trotter stuffed with chicken and livers with truffle sauce.

I don’t know what I expected but it didn’t look like this in my head. I think I was expecting something standing up and looking rather frightening. This looked far more like a sausage and was a lot more appealing than the picture in my head. However, this dish was still the first real eating challenge of the evening as it was different and the little trotter could be seen. I may have had a little nervous giggle or two. At our table we dug in. It was delicious and amazing. The trotter skin formed a casing for the filling as it had been deboned and then stuffed with the chicken and livers. The truffle sauce was a wonderful addition. It was excellent watching other people eat and how they handled the end. I ate to somewhere near the end of the trotter and others ate around and left a tidy mound of nails and bone.

Pullus Farsilis. Chicken stuffed with spelt, chopped meat, ginger and brains.

Pullus Farsilis.
Chicken stuffed with spelt, chopped meat, ginger and brains.

A whole small chicken was shared between two people. Yes, you read correctly. The chicken was placed on the table and a carving knife stabbed into it. This touch was funny as it was things like this that kept the evening amusing. Every group around us tackled the carving last differently. Some carved delicate slices off, other shared directly from the bird and we cut it completely in half.

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The stuffing with the mystery texture.

This was a big small bird. The stuffing was challenging to some as there were unusual textures. It may have been the brains or simply the spelt. Whatever it was we ate it and a few mantras of ‘it is just walnuts’ could be heard. I really enjoyed it and Mr Muffin was amazed that the taste was familiar enough that he must have had it somewhere before.

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Aliter Porcellum. Roast whole pig head carved banquet style with endive salad.

Being served half a pigs head between three was a very new thing to all. When it was put down it looked like a pretty ordinary cut until your eyes adjusted and realised that yes, that was a snout, there were indeed eyes and you could turn it over and have a good look at the inside of a pigs head.

Mr Muffin played dentist and removed the teeth.

Mr Muffin played dentist and removed the teeth.

Much laughter was had around the whole room as this head was tackled. The pork meat was different and the crackling was excellent. It was very crisp. A member of our end of the table was challenged to eat the snout and whilst finding his way down he discovered that the snout holds some very good secret meat. Next time you are served a pigs head, don’t forget to find the secret snout meat. He also had a little try of the snout. We weren’t that brave and brought ours home for our dog. She loved it.

This dish was the end of the meat courses and we were feeling rather full. Those sitting on beds had a nice lie down and a Roman rest before dessert.

Having a rest.

Having a rest.

 

Before dessert was served dry ice with the scent of vanilla refreshed the air. It felt like it cleansed the palate too.

Dulcia Domestica Et Pira. Wine poached pears and almond stuffed dates with honey and yoghurt.

Dulcia Domestica Et Pira.
Wine poached pears and almond stuffed dates with honey and yoghurt.

This was delicious. I loved all of it. My ultimate favourite was the date stuffed with almond. I expected a marzipan type of texture but it was exactly what it said, an almond in a date. I had to convince others it wasn’t the stone. A few people around us had left when the meat finished (strange, I know) so we helped finish their desserts too. The dessert , served with a glass of port was a fantastic end to a fantastic evening.

Thank you Maclean Fraser, ARTISAN restaurant and the Bolton Hotel.

Gr8 Tandoori – At Last, Somewhere To Lunch In Lower Hutt.

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Gr8 Tandoori, Lower Hutt.

Today my little family went to a new Indian restaurant in Lower Hutt and I am pleased to announce, we loved it.  It was delicious and full of fresh spices. It is in a funny little spot and well worth finding. If you come out of the mall at that crossing where you can cross all the ways, walk in front of Cash Converters and go left in the little parking lot. It is next to the Cheesecake Shop.

When we walked in it looked fantastic and smelt wonderful. The decor is modern Indian and lovely. The seating is tables and booths and the kitchen open to view. Our visit was for Sunday lunch as they have a special lunch menu and we love our Indian lunches. They are good value and include rice and plain naan bread for around $10.  You can upgrade your plain naan for a $1 and add a soft drink for the same amount.

This time we went straight for the main but on our next visit we will certainly try some starters. Miss Muffin was very Kiwi and ordered a Butter Chicken (mild) with a plain naan, Mr M had the Chicken Balti (Indian hot) with a plain naan and I used the opportunity to eat some cauliflower and had Aloo Gobi with a garlic naan. The portion sizes were large and the serving bait dish was stacked full of food, the portion of rice was also a very good size and the naan were big and very fresh.

We all enjoyed our food. Miss Muffin finished most of her meal in record time. Mr Muffin liked the heat of his curry and the fact that the naan was not dripping in oil or butter. I loved the freshness of my cauliflower and potato and the taste of cumin. This was a very successful lunch stop and we will be back. We often struggle to find somewhere we want to eat in the Hutt at lunch time, problem solved. I think we will soon be going in the evening to meet friends who love their Indian food too.