Tag Archives: food

VOP: Odettes Eatery – a most satisfying dining experience

We’d been keen to try Odettes Eatery ever since it opened and a recent family birthday celebration presented the perfect opportunity for our family group of eight including a five year old. And although it was a VOP (Venturing Outside Ponsonby) it felt like Ponsonby! So Odettes is located at the City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley St and parking was easy (although it was a Sunday!).

It was a Sunday brunch and we were delighted to find that they take bookings for 6 or more – so helpful when you have a larger group.

It is a lovely setting – great décor, plenty of space with a seamless indoor/outdoor flow. Our table was inside but it felt like it was outside. There is outdoor seating with a large (permanent) “gazebo” like structure and even a bit of lawn that you could almost picnic on!

We were pleasantly greeted and seated, water and menus arrived promptly as did our wait person for coffee/drinks orders. No rush with our somewhat lengthy perusal of the menus.

The brunch menu is an eclectic mix of exotica. No eggs bene I’m afraid which is no bad thing when you sight this menu with its strong Eastern Mediterranean influence.

Variously we ordered the Carew Almond Milk Bircher (marinated berries, puffed wild rice and toasted almonds), Smashed Avocado (chilli, rocket, coriander on toasted rye with poached egg & bacon) and Baked Salmon Salad (swiss chard, kidney beans, buttermilk). All were declared tasty and moreish.

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I’m a bit of a sucker for the big brekky and Odettes Complete did not disappoint – poached eggs, whipped feta, heirloom tomato, avocado, bacon on sour dough. I loved it. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked, the whipped feta added a delightful flavour dimension and the avocado was the perfect ripeness – and plentiful. And a special mention of the bacon. Bacon can be very hit and miss but in this case it was perfect – smokey, streaky and cooked just short of crunch – just how I like it.

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The coffee was Millers – not many eateries carry this brand – and it really hit the spot. The staff were friendly, helpful and attentive without being intrusive.

Clare and Joost have done a fabulous job in setting up what for us will be a “go to” restaurant. It’ll be for lunch next time – a quick perusal of the lunch menu had me almost placing an order there and then. Can’t wait to tuck into those Soft Shell Crab sliders and the Duck Pastrami! We’ll be back soon.

All in all it was a most satisfying dining experience. Thank you Clare, Joost and the team.

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The Great Grey Lynn Sustainable Business Walk

Hello everyone. This is my first post for 2015 and, surprise, surprise, it’s not all about food!! And it’s a VOP (Venturing Outside Ponsonby). And as it turns out it was the most interesting and inspiring two hours I spent in a long time!

The invitation from Martin Leach from Ponsonby News said “be inspired and visit sustainable businesses in the Grey Lynn community”. And it was hugely inspiring.

The Grey Lynn Business Association organised a walking tour yesterday aimed at showcasing successful and like-minded Grey Lynn businesses who embrace sustainable business practices.

So I arrived at Bread & Butter Café (34 Westmoreland Street next to Farro Fresh) at 4.30pm not quite sure what to expect. A group 50 fellow travelers was treated to an interesting presentation from Isobel from Bread & Butter and so the journey began.

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With a reputation for being at the forefront of sustainability and organics Bread & Butter only use certified organic ingredients; unbleached flours, wholemeal flours, nuts and seeds that have not been chemically aged or heavily sprayed with insecticides or fertilisers. They do not use additives, premixes, stabilisers and other artificially altered ingredients.

For those of us not completely tuned in to the sustainability/organic ethos it was a bit of an eye opener!

Next stop on the walk was Nature Baby at 433 Richmond Rd in the West Lynn village. They specialise in natural & organic products which nurture both parent and baby.

Nature Baby is a family business established in 1998 by Jacob and Georgia who had a vision where their children could grow up in a pure, beautiful, chemical-free community. More inspiration for us all. Just love the passion.

IMG_7416 A slight detour off Richmond Rd to the Wilton Picnic Patch (formerly the Wilton Street Community Garden) had the group absorbed in the history of the garden and able to sight the fruits (and veges!) of the labour of a dedicated group of volunteers led by well-known gardener and author Fionna Hill (“How To Grow Microgreens, Nature’s own Superfood” and “A Green Granny’s Garden – the Confessions of a Novice Urban Gardener”.

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Much needed refreshments at this stop were provided by Simon from All Good Organics whose Karma Cola, Lemmy Lemonade and Gingerella really hit the spot.

From the garden to the roaster, our next stop was at Kokako Coffee Roastery located at 606 Great North Road, Grey Lynn. Eight years ago owner Mike Murphy purchased a rundown coffee roastery and turned it into a hugely successful business that has sustainability as its primary focus. Mike and his team are strong advocates for Fairtrade and the ethical procurement of their green beans, cocoa and sugar. All Kokako Coffee and Drinking Chocolate has ‘third party verification’ from both Fairtrade and Biogro NZ, to ensure it meets stringent Fairtrade and organic certification standards.

The bonus at this, our last stop, was the food and refreshments – much needed, especially by Martin Leach from Ponsonby News and I, after the uphill walk! Thank you to Kokako Café (just across the road in the old Grey Lynn Post Office building) for providing the fantastic dips and bread – the basil pesto was awesome. Interesting how the numbers on the walk grew significantly at the fueling stop!

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At this stop we heard from Mike about the history of Kokako and the philosophy behind his business. Next up was Simon from All Good Organics who have completely embraced the Fairtrade ethos.

Wendyl Nissen, well-known magazine editor in a previous life talked about “Wendyl’s” range of products which are all handmade at their Grey Lynn shop and 100% natural. They have all their ingredients listed and contain no fillers, chemicals or synthetics. They all use simple ingredients like baking soda, soda ash, borax, vinegar and oxygen bleach.

Finally Grey Lynn Business Association Chair Jennifer Northover thanked everyone for attending what was for me the most interesting two hours I have spent in a long time.

So in two hours I went from novice to convert. Inspired by the commitment and passion of the individuals and businesses that have embraced the ethos of sustainability, organic ingredients and fairtrade principles I will have a very different view in future of what I buy, where I buy it and what’s in it.

These businesses are making a real difference. You can too by buying right.

VOP: Waiheke – Lunch at Cable Bay Vineyard & Restaurant – Faultless

This is part two of our celebratory weekend on Waiheke Island.

Having got established in the lovely house we’d rented for the weekend (Waikare), had coffee and food at Café Delight and dined at Oyster Inn we were ready for the big lunch at the Cable Bay Vineyard & Restaurant. Deb had been particularly keen to try Cable Bay and as it was her/our anniversary she got to choose!!

Anyway the family party of 8 set out by taxi van on a rainy and cold Saturday. Cable Bay has a gorgeous setting with panoramic views of the gulf.View

We arrived to a very welcoming greeting from the duty manager/maître d’ Alan and were seated at a table near the floor to ceiling windows that had it been a fine day would have yielded a splendid view out over the water.

Still a lovely fire provided much needed warmth and atmosphere and we were soon perusing the menu.

A bottle of champagne promptly arrived (Deb’s favourite Veuve Cliquot, ordered secretly by Rebecca) and we were soon toasting the special event.

Menus in hand we then proceeded to scan the wonderful offerings. The fact that it was lunch time meant not a jot as I ran through entrees, mains and desserts – this was going to be the full monty.

Quel choix!!

To start we liked the look of everything so we decided to get one of each: Green olives, pickled garlic, rosemary, orange, fennel; Freshly Baked Ciabatta, EVOO, whipped butter, tapenade; Duck Liver Pâté, sherry jelly, almonds & brioche toast and Salted bluenose brandade, lemon peel, parsley & sour dough.

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And just in case you didn’t know, EVOO stands for extra virgin olive oil – I knew that!! And of course you did know that brandade was an emulsion of bluenose and olive oil – of course you did!

Despite the wind and rain outside we thought we were in heaven at this stage. A wonderful array of flavours and tastes and we hadn’t even got to the entrees!

More awful (in the nicest possible way) choices to make for the entrée. Variously we had the Cured salmon, crème fraiche, squid ink, cucumber, grapefruit, fennel; Braised game & carrot open ravioli; Roast artichoke, crayfish, shitake, bresaola (air-dried, salted beef), truffle jus and local oysters, chardonnay vinegar sorbet & lemon.

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I had the crayfish dish which was absolutely divine. Everyone else declared their choices exquisite.

It couldn’t get better surely!

Crikey this is turning into a long lunch and an even longer story haha.

Time for the mains.

If you know me you will know that I always go for the pork and the Free range pork, parsnip cream, braised quince, swiss chard, mustard was just sensational and perfectly matched with the Cable Bay Vineyards Syrah 2012. I really like parsnip and am rather partial to quince so there were so real bonuses with this dish.

If you Deb you will know that she always goes for the fish and the Line caught fish, roast cauliflower, mussels, caper, lemon & nasturtium did not disappoint – moist as it should be (and often isn’t) and flavoursome.

The rest of the gang variously chose Beef fillet, braised shin, black garlic, charred onion, leek, brown butter potato; Merino lamb rump, green wheat, carrot, date, yoghurt & chestnut  and the Spelt & potato gnocchi, walnut milk, grilled cos, broccoli, maple.

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They all sounded wonderful, looked amazing and the tastes and flavours were sensational. It doesn’t get better than this.

And we still had dessert to go!!!

No, well this was actually where a bit of sanity prevailed.

Given the special nature of the event, I had ordered in advance what turned out to be a gorgeous decadent chocolate cake which had the added bonus of being able to be cut to requested size. Deb was in charge of portion management and the first slither was handed to me. I said “that waver thin piece can’t be for me”. She said “well it should be” and it was passed to someone, could have been any of the others, for whom it was more than adequate!!

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Soon it was time to depart – they needed to set up the dining room for dinner haha so our long lingering gorgeous lunch came to an end.

We literally loved the whole Cable Bay dining experience. Wonderful and warm service – nothing was too much trouble. Unbelievably superb food. One of those “we’ll always remember” experiences. And full marks to Cable Bay for being so helpful in organising the celebratory cake. They made our big day very special. Thank you Alan, Josh and Liz.

Can’t wait to go back.

So if you’re looking for a superb outing, a day trip to Waiheke for lunch at the Cable Bay Winery & Restaurant could not be beaten. In a word – faultless

Gusto Italiano: An Italian Italian

Gusto at Three Lamps has been one of our favourites on the strip for a long time. Good food, friendly service, nice ambience. It’s what I would call an Italian Italian – a more classic Italian restaurant – somehow more authentic that other offerings.

So in need of somewhere to go at that end of P Road it was an easy choice. We’d actually VOP’d and been for a drink at our friends Al and Juls’ house in St Mary’s Bay!! And we had our friends Barry & Jan with us – refugees from Wellington who also have a place in Herne Bay – more interlopers you see.

Now Gusto take bookings which is great so in we go at the appointed time to be greeted enthusiastically as always by Armando. Gosh it makes a difference when the maître d makes a bit of a fuss. That’s the second time in a week if you recall my Prego review.

Normally I’d be up for the BRUSCHETTE FANTASIA (Four flame grilled ciabatta slices rubbed with garlic, dressed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper) but this night no one else wanted starters which can be a bit awkward if you’re the only one!! So sadly no bruschetta!

Armando delivering a complimentary garlic pizza bread went some way to allaying my disappointment.

I can sit for ages drooling over menus and this one was no exception but I set my mind early on on the SCALOPPINE AL PROFUMO DI BOSCO (Milk white veal scaloppini pan braised in butter with onions, white wine, fresh herbs. Served with button mushrooms and seasonal vegetable, topped with truffle pesto). Barry ordered the same.Veal

Deb had Risotto del Giorno (salmon risotto special)Risotto

and Al, Juls and Jan all had the RAVIOLI BURRO E SALVIA (Made in house fresh pasta pillow shapes, filled with mixed mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto, pan sautéed in a sage butter sauce finished with shaved parmesan).Ravioli

A fantastic array of authentic Italian fare and everyone declared their mains to be excellent.

So I said, as you do, what about dessert. Same response as the starter – no thanks. Damn I ran the very real risk of going without dessert as well. Fortunately there were a few coffees ordered so after tossing up between the TIRAMISU and the PANNA COTTA I sneaked in an order for the Dolce del Giorno – MIGNON CANNOLI – wafer pastry with fresh ricotta, candied fruit, chocolate, pistachio and a pinch of vanilla & cinnamon – exquisitecannoli

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Can’t keep away from Gusto. We were back there last Friday night to use up a voucher before it expired – yes I’m a grabonegroupontreatme user!! It was a three course meal which gave me a chance to have the BRUSCHETTE FANTASIA which I missed last time and for Deb to have her favourite CALAMARI IN PADELLA (Polenta coated calamari rings, pan sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with garlic and parsley accompanied with Gusto home-made mayonnaise).bruschette - Copy

For main I had the ARROSTO DI MAIALE (pork belly marinated with rosemary and white wine, seasoned and slow roasted, dressed with a sweet & sour tomato sauce, served with pumpkin mash & mesclun salad. TDF.pork

Deb had the POLLO ALLA GRAPPA (free range chicken breast braised in butter with onion, Italian grappa, cream & parsley and served with excellent seasonal vegetables. I had a little taste – loved it.chicken

Time for dessert – well we’d paid for it so…. back to the CANNOLI I’m afraid – excellent again and Deb’s PANNA COTTA hit the spot.panna

Another fantastic night at Gusto and the service was topnotch as always. Thank you Armando. And now he’s starred in Ponsonby News. Check out the great article about this authentic Italian restaurant. Love it.

Orphans Kitchen: It’s fantastic – if you’re game!

We’ve been meaning to go to this new Ponsonby Rd eatery for some time now having been given a voucher for my bday!

So we went last Friday night and what a treat. Tom & Josh have done a wonderful job with the set up. I love the high tables & stools – it gives it a communal eating feel which is quite European but Kiwis don’t seem as keen on it, as you are, in effect, sharing what is a cosy space. More on that later.

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It’s a small menu with 4 “smallers” and 4 “largers” and 2 desserts but this was not a problem. It was a menu which with my choices proved to be quite gamey and delightfully so.

For smallers Deb had the ora smoked salmon, celeriac, granny smith and horseradish which she pronounced as somewhere between delicious and sublime. I had the alpine merino tortilla, feijoa, millet & sheep’s milk yoghurt which I pronounced delectable. You don’t come across hogget on a menu very often but it was beautifully cooked and of a mild gamey flavour which made the dish quite unique. Sorry about the photo below – I’d eaten the first tortilla before I remembered to take the photo!!

Entrees

For mains, sorry largers, Deb had the beef rump with aubergine, black garlic & backa which was very tasty. I had one of the tastiest meals I have ever had with the wild boar boilup, kumara, doughboys, watercress and flax seeds. It was sensational. Served in a large bowl in the cooking juices, they give you a spoon to get the last drop. Again, on the nice side of gamey, or was that pleasantly smokey.

Mains

There were two sides to choose from so we had one of each: Tina’s wedge salad and kumara chips with smoked sour cream. The wedge salad is in the photo above – Tina had obviously smashed open the iceberg lettuce and poured a delicious dressing over it.

Two desserts so we had one of each. A divine dark Valrhona chocolate, tamarillo, black cardamon and …oops took a photo of the dessert menu and missed out the bit after “and” haha, and a TDF Banofee with young coconut and banana.

Choccy Pud

Banofee Pud

For me the meal was 11 out of 10. Such wonderful tastes and eclectic combinations. Friendly and attentive service (thanks Ana) and it was nice to see Josh on the floor serving and chatting – you don’t see enough of that in Ponsonby restaurants – but that’s another subject for a blog posting!! And I did a quick trip to the kitchen to thank Tom and team for the wonderful meal – not enough of that done either!

Oh and back to those communal tables. We had 3 couples on ours and we ended up having a most interesting chat to the ones nearest us. You can if you want to or not if you don’t. Sometimes it’s nice to share a conversation as well as a table.

And finally Tom tells me they’ll be changing the menu soon. I said leave the boilup on the menu or there’ll be trouble!!

Can’t wait to go back.

YQ for sweet brioche at Ripe

So I’ve started with what I thought was a funny headline. Now I have to make sense of it! So there are three parts to this.

YQ is a great new app that means you can order remotely from a favourite store and then pick up. In this case it’s Ripe my local coffee shop/deli. I place my order for a coffee and sweet brioche on my phone. Then I walk 50 metres from my house to Ripe and by the time I get there the coffee and brioche are ready and paid for – the app automatically charges my Visa! Cool eh. There are lots of Ponsonby/Grey Lynn food and coffee outlets listed on YQ. Go for it – it’s convenient and fun. Although you do get some funny looks from people waiting for their order – “oi how come he’s getting his coffee before us”!

Oh and Ripe’s berry & white chocolate brioches are the BEST