Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Selaks “the Favourite” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006

The first thing that struck me about this pale yellow wine was the lovely toasty/mineral nose it had on it with citrus and gooseberry lingering in behind.

To taste it is a very fruit-filled wine with gooseberry and grapefruit flavours shining through.  Whilst a short to medium wine in length, it has a nice crispness and touch of acid.

Very drinkable with enough interest to beg for another taste.  I was half expecting that this wine may be past it being a 2006 but it was fine.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Love a Duck, Northcote

Love a Duck is a dingy looking (inside and out) Chinese restaurant in Northcote that I hadn't been to for years until this evening.  They were very busy and rightly so, since the food was pretty good.  Jane started with the $2 soup of the day that, despite not knowing what half the contents were, enjoyed.  We had the roast duck with vegetables and the duck was tender and lean.  We accompanied this with a Chilli Chicken with Peanuts and Bamboo shoots dish that had nice and tender chicken although I was not particularly fond of the chilli tomato flavouring.  We would return.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

A comparison of fish (from an eating perspective)

We decided that we would do a side-by-side comparison of three different fish today, prepared in exactly the same way (a fillet of each, fried in unsalted butter).  We didn’t put any seasonings whatsoever on them while they were cooking so that we could assess the fish in its most basic cooked state.  We did however try them in a variety of different ways once plated (plain, lightly salted, with lemon and with accompanying white bread).  We even did a blind test.

This is a meaty fish that we found to have little flavour.  With salt however, more flavour was released and it then tasted like standard fish from the Fish & Chip shop (funnily enough).  Within a plain white bread sandwich no flavour was present.
Snapper The Snapper fillet we had was blander than we expected.  We have Snapper a bit, so suspect this fillet may have been sitting around a bit long.  Salt did however bring out more flavour.  This was slightly more meaty than the Gurnard, and like the Gurnard lacked flavour in the sandwich.  It did however have a nicer texture than the Gurnard.
John Dory This was the softest fish of the three, but not flaky.  It has a very sea/fishy taste, and Jane thought it lacked substance and tasted like it was watered down.  This was the best fish in a sandwich, with the fishy taste noticeable.  We would also look to use this in Fish Tacos.  The bread in fact enhanced the flavour.

From this little taste test, we determined that salt is very important for bringing out the flavour, that we should do a test like this again with whole fish, and that John Dory is our friend when it comes to a sandwich.

Photo credits: Flickr Creative Commons, click photo for link to photo on Flickr.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Stafford Road Wine Bar, Northcote Point

We couldn’t be bothered cooking last night so we stopped in at Stafford Road Wine Bar on our way home for a wine and tapas.  This was our second visit, and (as with our first visit) weren’t overwhelmed by the tapas.

The environment is nice, the service excellent, an excellent wine selection, but the tapas just feel like they’re not quite in line with the other excellence.  They’re still good but they’re lacking a wow factor imho.

The beef stew was my highlight although Jane found this a little too rich followed by the meat balls that were also in a rich sauce.  We also had the calamari (which were a little tough), shoestring fries (that were fine), and the morrocan lamb cutlets (that were flavoursome but not well balanced).

We will still go back for wine, but will probably reserve most of our tapas consumption for other establishments.

Prego, Ponsonby

I dined at Prego earlier this week for a celebratory lunch with some work colleagues.  This was my first visit to Prego and an enjoyable experience.  The service was friendly, knowledgeable and professional and the food equally of a high calibre.

We started with breads, pizza and calamari for the table and the bread had a nice firm crust and a soft centre.  As for the pizza the others at the other end of the table polished that off so I can only assume it was good.  The calamari was served with rocket and garlic aioli and the calamari was nice and tender. 

I had the Saltimbocca for my main, which is a lovely chicken scaloppini dish with lemon parsleyed cream and potatoes.  A couple of my potatoes were a little hard, but other than that this was a nice dish.  I also enjoyed the Arugula rocket salad with balsamic and grana padano.

For dessert I had the creme brulee which had a nice crust, however there was no wow factor with this dish.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Ngatarawa Alwyn Chardonnay 2006

Pale gold in colour with a light creamy french oak aroma, this wine from Ngatarawa in the Hawke’s Bay is a full-bodied wine to the palate.

The french oak starts quite soft, but does build up over time with some spicy characteristics which are nicely complemented by citrus and stonefruit flavours.

This wine has a lovely creamy warmth and is drinking beautifully now.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Hong Kong & Chinese Cuisine Restaurant - Birkenhead

It's been an age since we've eaten out at a Chinese restaurant for an evening meal.  Last night we popped along to our local chinese restaurant - Hong Kong & Chinese Cuisine Restaurant. This place is always phenomenally busy, to the extent that we've been turned away before due to our lack of having booked. This time there was one table for two free as we arrived. Phew!

As we arrived, the front table were presented with their Duck for inspection before the chef returned to the kitchen to prepare it as Peking Duck for them. That is of course one thing that does require a forward booking, we'll try and remember that for next time!

We chose 3 dishes - Long Beans, Mongolian Style Beef and Sweet & Sour Chicken.  All were really good - Simon hasn't ordered S&S Chicken since he lived at home I don't think, due to memories of it being overly sweet.  This one was certainly not that. The vinegar was quite strong, but not unpleasantly so.  The beans were great (although was that the taste of MSG I detected??? There was definitely a salty flavour that wasn't salt going on), and the Mongolian Style Beef was lovely - it arrived on a cast-iron cow, sizzling and spitting everywhere.  It had a nice level of spice and a scattering of carrots & onion with it.

 Simon, Green Tea, Long Beans 
and a now very messy table cloth (sizzling, spitting beef to blame).

We paid $49 for dinner.  And we didn't have to do any dishes. I love not having to do dishes. :-)  We will return, next time we'll book Peking Duck I think.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Morton Estate Private Reserve Hawkes Bay Viognier 2007

With apricot and light alcohol to the nose, the texture of this pale gold coloured Viognier felt a little too thick to me at first, but then I found it to be a contributor to a nice warmth.  The wine initially had a hint of bitterness to taste surrounded by apricot and mandarin flavour, but I found the bitterness subsided over time with food.

All in all I think the wine is a nice drop to drink, however I won’t be rushing out to buy another bottle.  If you have a 2007 vintage, I would recommend drinking it now.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Matariki 2004 Quintology, Hawkes Bay

image This evening I opened a bottle of Matariki’s flagship wine, Quintology.  We purchased this 2004 vintage from the cellar door in the Hawkes Bay.

This Gimblett Gravels wine has a beautiful deep red colour and isn’t much to the nose.  In fact, when first opened I thought it had a light paint thinner odour; this did however dissipate over time.

With lots and lots of layered red berry complexity to taste, this wine is very easy to drink.  It is quite tannic, has a medium tail and a hint of sweetness.  Jane in fact initially found it quite sweet on first taste although it can’t have been too bad since she had a few glasses of it!

An enjoyable drop that is drinking well now, but has the structure to support further cellaring.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Clooney (Freemans Bay) is still good

We went back to Clooney again tonight for dinner and can report that it is still up to its fine standards.  I thoroughly enjoyed the “Firstlight Farm Raised Venison with preserved cherries, cocoa mille-feuille, black pudding & licorice” again.

The “Palm Sugar Crème Caramel with spiced quince, fresh fig and pain d’épice” was absolutely divine and is right up there with being one of my top desserts ever.

The other people all enjoyed their meals too.

It’s not a cheap outing, but it is a good experience.

Jervois Steak House & Saloon, Herne Bay

Having had some after work drinks with some of Jane’s colleagues at Dida’s Wine & Tapas Lounge, Jane & I decided to get a bite to eat a couple of doors along at the Jervois Steak House & Saloon.

We wandered in around 9:30pm on a Friday night with no booking and the staff were very accommodating and seated us at the bar whilst they got a table ready for us.  We had a chat with the bartender who was very friendly and before long were whisked away to a table.

We decided to go straight for a main course and decided on a Medium-rare “Steak Fiorentina for two” after querying our waiter (who was very knowledgeable about the menu) as to how it was prepared.  This is a grass-fed 1kg T-bone from the Turihau station in Gisborne, that is cooked at about 320 degrees Celcius (or something like that) and carved for you at the table.  This was one big T-bone and it was very flavoursome, ridiculously tender and was cooked to perfection.  If anything it was probably more on the rare side of Medium-rare but this suited us fine.

We accompanied the T-bone with the “Saporoso balsamic butter” and “Texas BBQ” sauces.  Of these the balsamic butter was our clear preference.  We also had sides of “Rocket lettuce salad with aged manchego cheese” and “Candied kumara baked New Orleans style with pecans” that were both excellent, although Jane found the kumara a little sweet.

I finished up with the Chocolate pudding and Jane had the Honey parfait “sandwich”.  The Chocolate pudding was very flavoursome and rich, and Jane enjoyed the parfait that she describes as a nice, simple and homely dessert.

The environment was excellent, the service was notably outstanding and the meals great.  We will happily return.