Friday, 31 December 2010
Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Pane & Vino (warning - you'll need to mute your volume or pause the track if you don't like streaming wav while browsing!!!)
Firstly, let me just say that Tito is one of those amazing individuals who defines the term 'larger than life'. He is a force of a nature, a bundle of energy, a caricature of Italian-ness, and while I'm fairly confident that almost every time he spoke to us it was in Italian, his accent is so very present, that even his english was fairly Italian! I love to see any business owner with his level of passion and utter love for what he does! He is never short of a heartfelt smile, and regularly sings along with whatever modern or classic Italian track is being played, while he easily moves from waiting, to cooking, to serving, to barista, to convivial host! I could go on all night, but I really ought to get to the food!
We decided to share the special starter of the evening - a classic bruschetta with garlic, buffalo mozzarella, tomato & fresh basil. This was absolutely delicious. Loads of garlic, but beautifully balanced, the mozarrella was lovely, and the tomato full of flavour. The bread itself was a smidgen burnt on the edges, but every mouthful was so good, I almost forgot about that.
Next, Simon had the special ravioli of the evening - a carrot & parmesan ravioli with a tomato & beef ragu and parmigiano reggiano - this was rich, hearty and packed with flavour. Oh - I should also mention that we ordered a 1/2 litre carafe of their house-red-wine - a montepulciano. This was served classic trattoria style from a jug, in standard table glasses. I did mention this was traditional trattoria style didn't I?!
Ok, back to the main course - I decided to NOT order pasta, seeing as I really do enjoy making my own, and would rather try something that I'm not planning on doing at home. So I settled on Calamari ripieni alla viestana - whole squid stuffed with bread, egg, parmesan, garlic, and cooked in a tomato & white wine sauce. The sauce, like Simon's, was rich and bursting with flavour. The squid was unexpectedly tender, and very good. I would order this again. It was served with a small salad and a basket of bread - which was perfect for mopping up the last of the sauce. We also had the steamed green veges with garlic, which was a bowl of green beans this evening.
As we were finishing our meal we saw a pizza at another table and it looked absolutely amazing - we may yet be back later this week for pizza!
I overheard another diner ordering tartufo for dessert. We weren't planning on having dessert, however I can never find tartufo on menus in New Zealand and it was one of my favourite dining memories from our time in Italy, so we did decide to share one of these this evening. It was really very good, but we are glad we shared a single dessert rather than both ordering something!
For something a bit different to end on, I ordered a Maretto - an espresso shot with lemoncello. I'm not sure, but it tasted like it was almost a half & half ratio of coffee to lemoncello! Good thing Simon was driving methinks! I'd never thought of pairing coffee & lemoncello - it was surprisingly good!
Yes, we will be back, we will take others with us and we will recommend Pane & Vino to friends.
Sunday, 26 December 2010
Friday, 24 December 2010
Thursday, 23 December 2010
This is a very deep red (bordering on black) coloured wine that has a light plum aroma. On the palatte, the plump body consists of plum and cherry flavours, a medium tail, and a wine that was not as soft as I expected. The sharpness and acid did soften a little once aired.
It was okay, but I do wonder if it would be better in another year.
Monday, 20 December 2010
Very dark in colour, this stout from the Epic Brewing Company is an international collaborative brew between NZ and the UK that is aged in oak and not for the faint hearted.
On her first taste, Jane’s description is very apt.
"It’s like chewing on a board of smoky cedar. Ohhh, but it has chocolate at the end of it."
It has a nice chocolate aroma, a very strong smoky cedar & malt flavour with medium-long duration. For my taste buds, it’s a bit too heavy and bitter (I see it’s 6.8% alcohol, so that will be a contributing factor), but that may be more a statement of where I’m at on my stout journey.
The beer did accompany chilli remarkably well, and Jane is quite happy to drink it again.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
We had a very disappointing meal out at Cardrona Speights Ale House in Mt Eden last night. We have been here in previous years and had good meals, but last night we were there with friends as part of the quiz and it was definitely not flash.
I started with a Porter to drink which I thoroughly enjoyed. For my main I had the Drunken Steak which I requested to be rare. The majority of the steak was in fact medium-well and the sauce wasn’t anything special. Jane had the Pig Hunter, which is a huge pork loin; she enjoyed the dish. Others at the table had the salmon (described as the most tasteless salmon they had ever had) and a beef salad, that had more kumara than anything.
For dessert I decided to have the Chocolate Mud Cake and Jane had the Cromwell Crumble. 45 minutes after placing our order I went and asked if they were far away and then proceeded to cancel the orders about another 10 minutes later. We got our refund but they did insist of bringing the desserts anyway and were very apologetic (which was good). The Mud Cake however came without the fudge sauce but the Crumble was good.
So, all in all not a great night of food and we won’t be back in a hurry.
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
492 New North Rd
(parking out the back!)
I do like the environment, and particularly the big outdoor benches. We sat inside on Sunday - it was reasonbly busy when we arrived, although got progressively busier and noisier during our brunch! You certainly couldn't say the place has no vibe!
Their menu is a little different to the norm (a good thing!), but delightfully flexible, so if you like your traditional eggs bennie, or scrambled eggs with bacon, you can build pretty much whatever you desire. Simon and I both had the Bruschetta with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, feta, spinach & basil pesto, Simon also had a side of spicy kransky. We'd both definitely order this again. One of our brunch companions had the Crumpet with dates, poached pear & orange ricotta - and a side of poached egg because that's what she felt like! I love that this was no hassle - I do get frustrated with cafes that are unwillingly or incapable of deviating from the exact menu. And the final meal at our table was the aptly named 'Isle have it all' - aka the big breakfast! It's safe to say we all enjoyed our meals and would more than happily return.
Love the flexibility of this cafe, the food is great, fresh & delicious, and the coffees seem dependable. We will return and we will recommend to others.
My resulting salad was fresh, vital and delicious. I really enjoyed the different textures - from the crsip fresh veges to the smooth avocado and the meaty cannellini beans.
Cannellini Bean & Fresh Vege Salad
1 small red onion
1 head of baby cos
1/2 red pepper
small handful fresh coriander leaves
1 can cannellini beans - drained
2 T good quality olive oil
2 T lime juice
1 t garlic crushed
1/4 - 1/2 t ginger
- First make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a shaker or jar and shaking. Alter seasoning to taster.
- Build in the bowl in the following order (so the beans and avocado don't smush through the salad):
- very finely sliced red onion
- red pepper cut into thin matchsticks
- cos - I removed the white cores from each leaf then used a plastic lettuce knife (to prevent the leaves from browning) to cut into thin curly bits
- roughly chopped coriander leaves
- freshly cracked black pepper
- pour the dressing through a fine sieve (the garlic will have infused through, and it's better without the lumps!) over the salad and toss at this point
- now add the cannellini beans and the diced avocado and gently mix before serving