31 March 2013

Bites & Bobs 31.3.13


Bites




Bracu - I haven’t been here in while, but it won’t be so long until the next visit.  Bracu is nestled among the olive groves at Simunovich Olive Estate & Mikey Newlands is now the head chef, serving up some wonderful seasonal food.  The occasion was the Boizel Winemaker’s Dinner.  5 courses matched with champagne. It was a quite wonderful evening.  The stand out dish for me Xiao Long Bao of Pigs Trotter & Crayfish, yes pigs trotter.  The perfect balance of delicate & rich. A crayfish dumpling topped with the pigs trotter, not so scary as all slow cooked down to to deliver deep & rich against the delicate crayfish.  And this all sat in a pool of savoury broth.



Sabato Cuisine Artisan Awards Cooking Class with Fiona Smith.  This was my treat post 6 weeks of healthy living & what a treat it was.  We ate wonderful food, drank quite beautiful Marisco wines & I left with a bag of delicious loot! 

To start chorizos Garcia tart with piquillos & olives on homemade puff pastry.  Fiona made it look so easy I will have to give it a try.  Next up a flavourful & satisfying salad with farro, smoked yoghurt* & preserved lemons alongside oregano & J.Friend & Co wild thyme honey seared Akaroa salmon.  And of course there was dessert; a gin & Quina Fina Tonic cake.

*Zany Zeus smoked yoghurt....utterly utterly wonderful.  I don’t think I can really express how good this stuff is.  Cool & delicately smoked with manuka. LOVE!

For all the Cuisine Artisan Winner head over here



The Hamptons - pop up dining in the city.  The fresh, brightest ceviche & Salash chorizo & salami on the meat platter.  Traditional Serbian & wonderfully spicy as it should be.  I recommend having a little in one's fridge at all times to spice things up.



Ortolana, Britomart - a little sunlit oasis in the heart of the city.  Ortolana’s philosophy is garden to table with all food locally sourced.

Little Bird Organics Unbakery - all raw, all beautiful, all taste. 


Milse, Britomart - Can’t wait to try here.  Milse will be a dessert restuarant...what is not to love?? 3, 5 & 7 course dessert degustations will be on offer alongside all sorts of other sweet treats. The chef is Brian Campbell & I had this delectable concoction of his at Art Dego....so bring it on!


Cook the Books ...Making cheese.  Another night at Cook the Books & ricotta, queso fresco & paneer were all rustled up, in really no time at all.  If you want to learn how easy it is to whip a batch of fresh cheese for a fraction of the cost of the bought stuff check it out.


I want to make this salad over at Cookie & Kate. The perfect dish to balance Easter & an excess of chocolate & hot cross buns.

Bobs


Seeing: Royal New Zealand Ballet - Made to Move.  3 original works to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The Anatomy of a Passing Cloud, inspired by the Pacific, a fusion of classical, contemporary & Polynesian dance. The second work Of Days more classical & simple & just beautiful.  To finish the crazy Bier Halle. Laughter, lederhosen, a nerd, a flirtatious golden Cuckoo , studs, flirts among the cast of this funny & quite riotous show. If you do get the chance check it out.

Beautiful Autumn.

Watching: Django Unchained....I finally watched it.  Flamboyant, over the top Tarantino. I loved it.

Watching: Banshee on Soho... a little like Tarantino & over the top from the Alan Ball, the Six Feet Under & True Blood creator so you get the picture. If you like a little dark & weird then you will love Banshee.

Got this for Easter instead of egg from Mum & Dad.




And I found these beauties...one of the pleasures of Autumn.







29 March 2013

Lentil & Harissa Soup


I seem to be bumping in to harissa here there & everywhere.  Then there’s a little more inspiration in a recent issue of Donna Hay, harrissa butter & harissa infused oil,  & then I was lucky enough to bump in this tempting Ottolenghi concoction that I feel will need to make an appearance sometime very soon.

If you are not familiar with harissa it is a North African staple traditionally made from red chillies, coriander & cumin seeds, though there are a multitude of variations going from fiery down to mild & fresh .  Additions might include caraway, dried mint, garlic, & sweet paprika. It is usually served with cooked meat or stirred through a tagine or stew to add a wonderfully spicy depth of flavour.  It can also be used as a rub to spice up a roasted or give a little kick to some baked fish.

I do like harissa & picked up this one down at the Clevedon Farmers Market & had a Cuisine Artisan Award Winner harissa in the pantry too. If you want to make your own... or here over at Couscous & Consciousness.

Feeling in the need for a little comfort & a little heat this soup hit the spot. Not to mention the perfect antidote to all those Easter eggs!

Lentil Soup with Harissa

Ingredients

1 kumara (sweet potato), cut in to 2cm / 1 inch cubes
Pinch chilli flakes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot diced
1 tbsp harissa
2 cups red lentils
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup coriander leaves
Juice 1 lime
Salt & pepper
Water

To garnish
Greek yoghurt
Harissa
Dukkah
A few coriander leaves
Sliced red chilli
A little lime juice


Directions

Pre heat oven to 180C/350F

Place the kumara in a baking tray, drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of chilli flakes & season with a little salt & pepper. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until well roasted.

While the kumara is roasting heat the remaining 2 tablespoons in a large saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the onion, celery & carrot.  Season with salt & pepper & sauté for a few minutes until the onions are translucent & the vegetables softened, 5-10 minutes.

 

Add the harrissa & stir everything together.  Cook for a minute or 2 & then add the lentils & the chicken stock.  Bring the soup to a boil & then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are cooked.

Add the roasted kumara & then blend with a stick blender, to smooth if that is how you like it or blend it a little less if you like a little more texture. If the soup becomes too thick just add a little water until you have a more soup like consistency.  Stir in the coriander, lime zest & juice.  Taste & season with a little more salt & pepper if need be or a little more lime juice.

For the garnish swirl a little more harissa gently through the the yoghurt.  Place a dollop on top of each bowl of soup.  Sprinkle over a little dukkah & a few coriander leaves, red chilli & a squeeze of lime juice.  Serve immediately.


Rustic, satisfying & warms both body & soul! Have a great Easter everybody.


If you like this you might like this Vegetable Soup
One year ago Hot Cross Buns

Enjoy!

21 March 2013

Recipes & Pan Fried Snapper with Olives & Preserved Lemon & Herby Smashed Potatoes



I have been loving fish of recent weeks.  We have a wonderful little fishmonger just down the road.  Along with wonderfully fresh fish they do their own hot smoked salmon which is quite delectable, moist & delicately smoky.  This dish must have been inspired by here over at Life’s a Feast & was thrown together very quickly without too much thought on quantities & measurements which brings me to recipes.

I was also reading this post & found it thought provoking on recipes.  It can make cooking a little more of a chore if when developing a recipe or dinner (I use the term loosely) you have to write down precise measurements & quantities.  Not to mention trying to get that perfect blog-worthy photo, especially given that what I am cooking is actually my lunch or dinner.  



After all the reason most of us cook & blog is for pleasure & enjoyment, well it certainly is for me.  For me food is about sharing, enjoying, socialising, experimenting & when I get home from work after a long day  30 minutes of quiet preparing dinner is how I like to relax & let the worries of the day wash way, while I chop & bake & cook.   I don’t want it to ever become a chore, but sometimes if it has been a busy week & there has been no time to give this little blog some attention come the weekend it can feel like an obligation, there’s the pressure to get something up & posted. Though, almost always once I get started, whether pottering in the kitchen or a little quiet time in the morning writing with a pot of coffee, it is not long before I am back to enjoying. I love creating  & the quiet.

rec·i·pe [res-uh-pee]
noun
1. a set of instructions for making or preparing something, especially a food dish: a recipe for a cake.
2. a medical prescription.
3. a method to attain a desired end: a recipe for success.
Origin: 
1350–1400; Middle English to Latin: take, imperative singular of recipere  to receive

So recipes? Should they be a precise set of instructions that will deliver a carbon copy of the photo in that book, magazine or blog? For me I think not & you only have to look at some of the recipes in the old classics, the Edmond’s Cookery Book here in NZ or The Glasgow Cookery Book in Scotland to see that that was not always the case.  Recipes in these books have minimal instructions, soemtime along the lines of “cook until done” & no photos!  

I like a recipe, unless it is baking where more specific instructions are required to avoid disasters, to be a guide, an inspiration. I realise some people like the comfort of a recipe but with the likes of the recipe below, a quarter cup of mixed herbs can be what ever you like.  I needn’t even be a quarter cup it could be more it could be less depending on how much you like herbs or what you have to hand. 

So with my recipes I like to give people options, & I hope a little confidence to experiment & give it a go.  I want people not to be intimidated by a precise list of instructions but have a few guidelines that will show them how quick & easy it is to get something fresh & delicious on the table for supper,  without any trials & tribulations.  Cooking should be a pleasure not a pressure test, we are in our own little kitchens after all & not on Masterchef! 

I do think cooking is about confidence & I was lucky enough to be brought up in a home where dinner was cooked every night & both my parents are great cooks.  Every Sunday Dad would rustle up scones of pancakes for a light Sunday supper post the Sunday roast. And before them my both my Grandmothers, so what I hope is that Toast can bring a little confidence & encourage people to cook more, so I would rather my recipes show how simple it can be, rather than a list of onerous instructions that intimidate. I want people to add a little more of this or a little less of that if they like, to cook for pleasure rather than as a chore.

What are your thoughts on recipes?  Should they be a few simple, almost guidelines or a list of down to the minute instructions?




Panfried Snapper with Olives & Preserved Lemon & Herby Smashed Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

400g Jersey Bennes* Or other potatoes that roast well agria down this neck of the woods, Maris Piper in the UK, Yukon Gold stateside.
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup mixed herbs, chopped (I used thyme, parsley, mint & chives)
3-4 fillets snapper depending on size, or other white fish, again it will depend where you are.
1/2 cup seasoned flour
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1 preserved lemon, flesh removed, rind chopped
16 green olives**

*Jersey Bennes, the quintessential new potato in NZ.

**I’ll leave the choice of olives to you.  I always have some in the pantry to satisfy, my quite frequent, cravings for briny & salty.  Today it was green olives stuffed with feta so that is what went on dinner.




Directions

Pre heat the oven to 190C / 375F

Place the Jersey Bennes in a saucepan with salted water & bring to the boil & cook for 10 minutes.  Drain & place on a baking tray & smash a little with a fork to rough them up.


Mix together the olive oil & herbs & gently toss through the potatoes. Sprinkle with a little salt & place the potatoes in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden & roasted.  It is after all the crunchy bits that are the best.

Cook the fish just a few minutes before the potatoes are ready.  Mix half a cup of flour with a little salt & pepper on a plate.  Dredge the snapper fillets in the flour & shake to get rid of any excess. Set aside.

Add the olive oil & butter to a large frying pan & heat over a medium heat.  Add the snapper fillets & cook for a couple of minutes each side until just cooked through.  A minute before the fish is ready add the olives & preserved lemon to the frying pan. Warm through & then serve the snapper over the smashed potatoes.






This was bright & fresh.  A little of the exotic provdied by the preserved lemon & the olives contributing their saltiness.

If  you like this you might like this Herb Crusted Fish with Crispy Rosemary Potatoes
One year ago Hot Cross Buns

Enjoy!

19 March 2013

Roast Vegetable Frittata



This has been my go to lunch for the last few weeks.  It is filling, satisfying, & good for you. Being a little different each week, depending on what was in the fridge, it has not becoming boring.  I just can’t eat the same thing day in day out, I love food too much & a little variety, for me, is essential.  Every meal I want to enjoy & savour it, I can’t just eat to fuel my body I need to keep me going.  I like food to appeal to all my senses.

One week mushrooms were added another week it was cavolo nero & another a few leeks that were lightly sautéed until softened.  Really you can add whatever vegetables you have to hand.  No feta,  just sprinkle over a little cheddar, gruyere or parmesan.  As for the herbs you have free reign as little or as much as you like.

Roast Vegetable Frittata

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 medium potato, cut in to bite sized pieces
1 medium kumara (sweet potato), cut in to bite sized pieces
1 zucchini, sliced
1 red pepper, cut in to bite sized pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup baby spinach, washed
Pinch chilli flakes
1/2 cup mixed herbs, roughly chopped - parsley, thyme, basil, chervil, dill, oregano, chives...whatever you like
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 feta crumbled
Salt & pepper


Directions

Pre heat the oven to 190C / 375F

Place the potato & kumara in a roasting dish & drizzle with the olive oil.  Season with salt & pepper & place in the oven.  After 20 minutes add the zucchini & red pepper & toss gently to combine.  Cook the vegetables for another 20 minutes or until golden & roasted.  Remove from the oven & set aside.


Whisk the eggs & milk together in a large bowl.  Add the roast vegetables, spinach, chilli flakes & herbs.  Season with salt & pepper.  Gently stir with a large spoon to mix everything together.  Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat & then pour in the egg & vegetable mixture.  Move the vegetables around the frying pan so that each portion will have plenty of vegetables.  Sprinkle over the feta & cook for 5 minutes stove top before popping in to the oven for 10-12 minutes until just cooked through.  Remove from the oven & allow to cool for just a few minutes before slicing & serving.  The frittata can also be served at room temperature.



Roasting the vegetables adds a lovely depth of flavour & I the kumara adds a wonderful sweetness.  Adding the herbs to the egg mixture just before cooking lets them keep their bright, herbal freshness & I welcome a little fire from the chilli. I find a little spice it always good to liven things up a little.  

If you like this you might like this Cracked Wheat, Roast Pumpkin & Feta Salad

Enjoy!

16 March 2013

{Just Photos} Raw at Cook The Books & a Fruit Salad with Nut Crumble




raw adjective, raw·er, raw·est, noun
  1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot
  2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture: raw cotton.

The other week I went to a raw cooking class, or should that be preparation?, at Cook the Books.  It’s not really something I have dabbled in but my curiosity was piqued.  Raw food appeals from a good for you perspective, it’s bright, fresh & nourishing.  I think incorporating a little of it every now & then is great, but I would most certainly miss the un-raw.  Imagine in the depths of winter & not being able to tuck in to a comforting casserole or not firing the BBQ up over Summer & that is before we get to ice cream & baking! Life without ice cream would be way too sad, & I mean the really deal with full fat cream & eggs.  So it is not something I would have any desire to practice long term but a little dabbling now & then is all good & a great way to add a dose of healthy & nutritious in to your diet.


At the class Felicity & Grant rustled up a tempeh & peanut spread with sprouts, 2 soups, a fresh salad, paella & dessert.  Yes you never, ever leave Cook the Books feeling hungry & after this class you just overflowing with nutritious goodness.

First up tempeh & peanut spread with sprouts. Tempeh is fermented soybeans & is traditionally from Indonesia.  It is made by a natural culturing & controlled fermentation to bind the soybeans in to a sort of firm cake like form. As it uses the whole bean it delivers protein, fibre & vitamins.



Next a couple of soups. Firstly the Triple Tomato.  Perfect for this time of year as you want perfectly ripe tomatoes to make the most of this soup. Rocket adds a peppery note & fresh thyme a little earthiness to this wonderfully bright & fresh soup.



Second the 5 Cs Soup.  That would be cucumber, coconut milk, coriander /cilantro, cashews & curry.  It is chilled & refreshing with a little spice & certainly perfect for the never ending Summer we are having here in Auckland.  



After soup we moved on to salad & paella. A Grate Grate Grate salad to be precise.  Simple but beautiful, mounds of grated beetroot, celery, carrots, broccoli & parsnips all with their own dressing.  Cider & umeboshi* vinegar for the beetroot, lemon & yoghurt for the celery, garlic for the broccoli & orange for the carrots.  The parsnips would have had a lemon & turmeric dressing but we are in the wrong season here in NZ & with it being a raw salad the freshest, sweetest vegetables are essential.

*Umeboshi is a Japanese plum vinegar which you should be able to get in health food stores or Asian grocers.




And along side the salad a Rawegan Paella, a spectacular looking dish.  Cauliflower, parsnip & jicama can all become “rice” & tempeh the protein.  Add to that red peppers, fresh herbs & a little seaweed for a taste of the sea & you have “paella”.



And to finish a little Carob & Cocoa Fudge, a little sweet treat.




It was an interesting class & we also came away with Raw Food Kitchen by Dunja Gulin, which will provide a little raw inspiration when I feel the desire to dabble.  It is full of bright & colourful dishes that are easy to make at home. The other draw back of the whole raw diet I find is some of the preparation.  Lots of sprouting, fermenting & soaking are often required & can make it all quite involved, but in this book there are many dishes that can easily be whipped up in a home kitchen.  Raw also quite nicely fits in with my healthier living programme as being unprocessed you get the full benefit of all you are eating.

One dessert that jumped out was the fruit salad with nut crumble.  A simple, pretty fruit salad doused in a date, orange & *mirin syrup & topped with a nut & honey crumble. This dessert would even by dinner party worth, the perfect light, but sweet treat to finish off a meal.

*Mirin is a Japanese rice wine that you can get at Asian grocers.

Fruit Salad with Honey Nut Crumble, adapted from Dujja Gulin’s Raw Food Kitchen

Serves 6

For the nut crumble
100g hazelnuts
100g brazil nuts
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

For the fruit salad
125g Kiwi berries halved or 2 kiwi, peeled & diced
125g blueberries
125g raspberries

For the syrup
Juice of 6 oranges (About 1 1/2 cups juice)
8 dates, pitted
Juice of half a lemon
4 tbsp mirin



Directions

For the nut crumble; roughly chop the nuts & place in a small bowl.  Add the honey, vanilla, cinnamon & salt & mix well to combine.  Place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

For the fruit salad, place all the fruit in a bowl & mix gently together & set aside.  To make the syrup place all the ingredients in a food processor & blitz until you  have a smooth syrup. Pour the syrup over the fruit & chill in the fridge until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes.

To serve place the fruit salad in individual bowls & top with the nut crumble.

This would be the perfect sweet, yet light treat at the end of the meal.  The syrup is sweet but not too sweet.  The dates provide a richness & the orange a little zesty fruitiness.  The real treat though is the nut crumble, this would be on the terribly moreish end of the scale.  Crunchy, nutty & sweet from the honey & vanilla, all off set with just that little pinch of salt that makes all the difference.  Think what salt does to caramel & you are in the vicinity!




If you like this you might like this Roasted Pear with Almonds & Vanilla Ice Cream
One year ago Black Bread
Two years ago Chard & Kale Falafal with Lemon Tahini & Sumac Sauce

This is also my entry for Sweet New Zealand being hosted by Lesley over at Eat Etc...



Enjoy!

12 March 2013

Seafood Stew & Garlic Bread




This stew can look quite spectacular & believe it or not it can be rustled up from start to finish in less than half an hour.  It is adapted, just a tad, from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals & if you felt it a must to cook by the timer you may be able to to do it in 15 if you were very, very organised.  I cook to relax so tearing around the kitchen to meet a 15 minute deadline is the antithesis of why I cook. For  me a quiet half an hour or so in the kitchen is how I like to unwind after a long day.

I am loving this book, it is great inspiration for week night dinners knowing that you can have something new & tasty on the table pretty quick smart.  I like how there are no surprises, I annoy myself when I find something I really want for dinner & I seem to have missed reading the one step that requires hours, whether marinating, chilling or simmering & would mean dinner at midnight rather than 7! Why is it that one step I seem to miss??  So knowing that a fresh, tasty dinner will be on the table in under half an hour work for me.  These are also healthier than the norm, & with my recent stint of healthy living I love that this book does include the calories.  It really does highlight that with just a few little tweaks really good food does not need to be calorie laden.  It fits in with the kind of balance I like to have, a little of everything in moderation.


This seafood stew would have looked even more spectacular with a couple of unshelled prawns, but they were all sold out.  A few shell free jumbo prawns delivered the prawn component.  The treat or indulgence of this dish is some crispy garlic bread on the side to mop up all the sauce. It is a little less calorie laden than the norm, a little olive oil replacing all that butter but delivering garlicky, crispy & golden garlic bread.  On the sauce if you can give it a little more time I would, I find any rich tomato sauce benefits from a little slow & low cooking to allow the flavours to develop.

Seafood Stew with Garlic Bread, adapted slightly from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

Serves 4
Ingredients

For the Garlic bread
1 grainy roll per person
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp oregano leaves
For the Seafood Stew
1 bulb of fennel, roughly chopped
4 anchovy fillets
4 spring onions, trimmed & roughly chopped
1 fresh red chilli, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
125ml chicken stock
700g passata
350ml boiling water
1 small bunch of fresh basil
400g terakihi or other white fish
16 mussels* scrubbed, clean and debearded
8 large raw prawns, deveined

*I used NZ green lipped mussels which are quite large, so if using smaller mussels feel free to toss in a few more.
For the Sauce
1 clove of garlic
1 pinch of saffron
3 heaped tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
½ a lemon

Salt & pepper




Directions

Pre heat the oven to 220C / 420F

To make the garlic bread cut deep crisscrosses in each roll.  In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, garlic & herbs & then rub a little in to each roll. Season with a little salt & pepper & place in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden & crisp.

For the sauce place the fennel, anchovies, spring onions & chilli into a food processor & blitz to a puree.  Heat a casserole dish or large pot over a medium high heat & add the olive oil.  Add the puree & saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic & the chicken stock & cook for a moment or 2. Pour in the passata & the water & stir.  Throw in the basil leaves & season with salt & pepper.

To prepare the fish cut each fillet in to even sized pieces, just a little bigger than bite sized.  Add all the seafood to the sauce, place on the lid & bring to a boil for just a few minutes until the seafood is cooked through.


For the saffron yoghurt place the garlic on a pestle & mortar with a pinch of salt & the saffron & give it a good bashing.  Add the yoghurt & lemon juice & muddle it all well together.  Set aside until you are ready to serve.

To serve, first discard any mussels that have not opened & then season to taste.  Scatter over a few basil leaves & a few dollops of the saffron yoghurt & serve with the garlic bread.




The beauty of this dish is that it feels like quite a decadent treat with all that fresh seafood, but in actual fact it is packed full of all that is good for you. The tomato sauce is made all the more fragrant with the basil, lending its almost citrusy fragrance to complement the seafood. And the piece de resistance that crunchy herby garlic bread, made all the lighter with just a little olive oil rather than butter, so it could even be argued that it is also good for you!




If you like this you might like this Mediterranean Seafood
One year ago Raw Power Salad
Two years ago A Glut of Tomatoes

Enjoy!

09 March 2013

Auckland Eats: Little Bird Organics Unbakery & Ortolana


A trio of tomatoes
In the last couple of weeks I have had some delicious & good for you food. Food that tempts, tantalises & delights.  I finally made to Little Bird Organics Unbakery & came across Ortolana, a new restaurant at the Pavilions in Britomart.

Little Bird Organics Unbakery

First was Little Bird Organics Unbakery for lunch. I have been a fan of their macaroons for quite some time! They are delectable little treats made from raw cacao, coconut and vanilla, then sweetened with agave nectar and a hint of maple. The raw cacao delivers not only lots of antioxidants but also bliss chemicals!  I can certainly attest that after one of these macaroons you do indeed feel very happy.


At Little Bird everything is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, organic, raw, vegan and without any refined cane sugars.  So what they serve is both delicious & full of goodness. On our visit there I had the trio of tomatoes.  A tomato & hazelnut soup, an heirloom tomato salad & a stuffed tomato packed with herbs & mushrooms. Bright, fresh & full of flavour, not to mention pretty as a picture. Almost prettier was the sprouted bread with avocado & kraut.


The tomato soup was all creamy tomato, the salad bright & fresh & the stuffed tomato all herbal.  It really was a beautiful lunch, for the eyes & the tastebuds.  

And it did leave room for dessert.  We’d spotted a stunning looking tart in the cabinet, a berry tart to be precise & it was far to beautiful looking to resist.  A nut & date base filled with coconut, topped with a berry coulis & raspberries.  I am not sure I can even begin to tell you how good this was.  The base nutty & sweet, the filling creamy, luscious & coconuty & then the berries providing just the right amount of tart.  The best dessert I have had in quite some time...sublime is the word that comes to mind.


Little Bird Organics Unbakery
385 New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland
8am - 2.30pm Tuesday - Friday
8am - 3pm Saturday
Closed: Sunday / Monday

Ortolana

I’d read about Ortolana, just opened at the Pavilions in Britomart.  It is a little oasis in the middle of the city centre. What really appealed was the garden-to-table dining.  The menu focuses on fresh produce sourced from their market garden & orchard out west in Kumeu.  It is open all day & we were their for breakfast on a sunny Friday morning.  




On offer juices, smoothies & frappes, which I have heard are a must try & certainly passion fruit & pear and watermelon & mint were both very appealing. Also on the menu iced teas & homemade sodas; passionfruit, cucumber & juniper, watermelon & lemon on offer, again all very tempting & I’ll definitely be trying on my next visit.  I went for my usual long black, a requisite to kick start every day.  It was strong & black just as it should be.


To eat, it was smoked mackerel that immediately caught my attention.  Back home in the mother country mackerel is widely available, but it is not something I see here in NZ.  It is an under rated little fish, but when fresh out the ocean it is just a delicious as trout, another one that is sadly a rarity here in NZ. At Ortolana it is house smoked & served with soft folded egg & sorrel.  The eggs were perfectly cooked & the mackerel smokey, but delicate.  



My breakfast buddy had the young romano, zucchini & herb omelette, bright & fresh & really the perfect start to a Friday morning.  Next it may have to be a frappe alongside warm garden greens, soft egg & heritage tomatoes unless I am back for lunch & then there are all sorts of temptations on offer; summer garden vegetables bagna cauda, pork hock rillettes, beetroot, cumin feta,& hazelnut lasagnotte & the lardo roasted potatoes would be a must.


Ortolana
The Pavilions
31 Tyler Street
Britomart
Auckland
027 230 4561
Open Monday - Sunday 7am - 11pm