Friday 30 December 2011

Cobar Restaurant, Days Bay (Wellington)

Last night we had a lovely meal out at Cobar Restaurant in Days Bay. This is not an area I am used to going to for a meal in Wellington and chose Cobar based on it having high reviews on dineout and the Cobar website containing information about the source of their ingredients, which is often a good sign that a restaurant takes pride in their food and respect for the ingredients.

We were a party of six and made extremely welcome from the moment we arrived until we left. The service was friendly and professional in this nicely decorated restaurant that has a magnificent outlook across the harbour.

Cobar has an extensive selection of quality beers and wines, and I started with a Tuatara IPA before moving onto a Cotes de Rhone (that was enjoyed by all).

To start we had some marinated olives and spiced almonds, and also the sourdough bread with homemade dips and olive oil with balsamic vinegar. These were all good.

I had the Kingfish entree which was accompanied by an artichoke and potato salad, micro-greens and salmon caviar. This was pretty good although I felt the kingfish could have done with a smidgen more seasoning.


Jane opted for two small plates instead of an entree; the kingfish and salt and pepper squid. She enjoyed both of these although wasn’t too sure about the squid batter and thought it may have had a bit too much cornflour. The squid was however beautifully tender and I enjoyed the small portion I tried.

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Another dish enjoyed by our party was the Prawn cocktail with sesame prawn toast and prawn mousse.


For my main I had a beautifully tender lamb rump that was accompanied by a lovely sauce, asparagus and what I think was a butternut puree. This was a lovely dish although the puree was a little on the sweet side. Having said that I would happily have this dish again.


Jane had salmon for her main that was accompanied by some lovely beetroot fritters. The salmon whilst flavoursome may have benefited from being a little more rare.


Others thoroughly enjoyed the beef fillet and said they would happily have this again.


We finished with a birthday cake we had brought along and some coffees. The coffees were good, and so was the cake for that matter.

We will all happily return.

The Cornerstone Bar, Blenheim

We found The Cornerstone to be a busy bar in Blenheim that was quite noisy due a Hens party whilst we were there, but it contributed to a nice relaxed vibe. We started with a plate of mussels (in a white wine sauce) and chips; the mussels were overdone and the chips were limp and soggy.


For my main I had the fish of the day, which was blue cod and was accompanied with prawns, mussels, salad and rice. The blue cod and prawns were nicely cooked and flavoursome. The mussels were also thankfully significantly better than the entree and very enjoyable. The rice felt a bit lost on the plate and the salad was basic but perfectly fine.


Jane had the Coq au Vin and found the chicken to be beautifully tender and falling off the bone. It was a basic dish that whilst okay, she wouldn’t order again.


La Veranda at George Michel, Blenheim

Lunch at La Veranda consists of a menu that mainly has platters. Jane and I both decided to have the Fruite de la Mers (i.e. Seafood platter).


The platter, had a fresh prawn cocktail, salmon dip, caper-berries, creme fraiche and dill and a salmon tartar. This was accompanied with bread. It was a simple but nice platter and I enjoyed all of the parts.

Not surprisingly, the platters did arrive very quickly once ordered, and other than the first platter having some difficulty getting to Jane and portions enjoying Jane’s dress the service was good.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Raupo, Blenheim

Breakfast alongside the river in Blenheim is a lovely way to start the day, and Raupo is perfectly positioned with a good quantity of outside seating to do it justice.


We were one of two tables in the cafe when we first arrived, so were able to chose an outside table with great views along the river. The decor inside, although we only briefly passed through, looked to be very stylish.

I had the Eggs Raupo for breakfast, which consisted of Poached eggs on Brioche with a Tomato Hollandaise with Smoked Salmon and Greens. I did wonder if it would be a bit too busy in terms of flavour, and it was slightly, although in general I enjoyed my meal. It was apparent that Raupo takes pride in the quality of their meals and the ingredients they use. The accompanying trim latte on the other hand was a bit burnt.


Jane had the big breakfast done with gluten free bread and found it to also be good, although the scrambled eggs weren’t great.


The service was pleasantly friendly and the food arrived in a timely manner.

Quench Restaurant & Wine Bar, Blenheim

We ate out at Quench restaurant on Boxing Day in Blenheim. Located at Chateau Marlborough this restaurant was one of the few that seemed to be open on Boxing Day in the area.
I started with a venison dish that came with a beetroot salad. The venison was nicely cooked, but was lacking in flavour. The beetroot salad was flavoursome and the highlight of the dish.


Jane started with a prawn, mango and avocado salad that was accompanied with fresh coriander and found that it was lacking in flavour, and would have benefited from better quality ingredients.


I had the beef fillet for my main and found it cooked to rare (as requested). The fillet was presented on a bed of potato and Portobello mushrooms. The dish tasted fine however it was lacking any wow factor and lacked any depth of flavour.


Jane had Salmon on bed of egg noodles and a few veges. The salmon was beautifully cooked but she found the dish was a bit ho-hum.


We had an accompanying salad that was heavily dressed although I quite liked the flavour of it, up until I found a hair in the salad. When we pointed out the hair to the waitress and asked her to let the chef know, she didn’t even attempt to apologise. Other than that the service was good and the food arrived very quickly.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Wellington to Picton

We decided that since the weather was good we would head over to Picton on the ferry from Wellington. These are a few of my favourite pics capturing the beauty of the day and trip to Picton.









Makara Beach, Wellington

I can’t recall having ever been to Makara Beach before and we chose a magnificent day to go and check it out. We headed to Makara Beach via Karori and arrived to a very rocky beach basking in the sunlight and no wind. Apparently it can be very cold and windy here.


We headed along the coastal path


to some beautifully clear water and rock pools where a few people were swimming, although they were mostly in wetsuits. The flat island in the background is Mana.


An old building and equipment were to be found further around on the path.


Jane took the lead through the wild flowers


and further along the path.


After a bit of rock hopping, the South Island could be seen in the distance.


We then decided to head back

P1020228_026and captured a few pictures of the nearby wind farm along the way.


It was an enjoyable (albeit hot) walk on a lovely day, with very few people around.


I am keen to head back when there is a big storm some time.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Flavour Deli, Birkenhead Point

After an hour of gardening I decided to head out for brunch at one of our local cafes. This was only the second I had been to Flavour Deli and I was impressed with our last visit which must have been about 6 months ago. This time however wasn’t as impressive, but it still rates as one of the best cafes in the Birkenhead area.

I was happily able to get one of the few outside tables, and on a lovely day like today sitting under the shade of the large veranda, which covers the whole footpath, was a superb place to relax and read through the paper whilst I awaited my meal.

I noticed that they had a Coffee and Eggs special for $11.50 Monday-Friday so decided to give this a go since I just wanted something light. I went with scrambled eggs and a trim latte.

21122011232 The scrambled eggs were done in what I will call old-style, being soft and fluffy, but unfortunately they were lacking a bit in flavour. They were however accompanied with a lovely relish which when combined with the eggs and some seasoning of salt and pepper the eggs were improved although all-in-all it was a bit disappointing, however for the price it was still good value for money.

My trim latte (a Roasted addiction blend) finally arrived after I had just finished my meal, despite being ordered at the same time; they did however apologise for the wait. Surprisingly it was also actually delivered in a cup and not a glass. It was however good.

I will return, but will order something different.


Sunday 18 December 2011

Shore Rd Cafe, Remuera

Simon saw a tweet earlier this week that Tim & John of Benediction and more recently Jafa fame, had opened a new cafe on Shore Road, called Shore Rd Cafe.  So we headed along there this morning to show our support and say hi to Tim again. They always do a great job and it's nice to see how they've tweaked things in their latest ventures.

The environment was great, quite spacious and a good outdoor area (although squally showers today meant we chose to seat inside). We did notice it got really noisy once the place filled up and I ended up moving to sit beside Simon rather than opposite him as I really couldn't hear him anymore!

Simon had the French Toast, which he said was good. I forgot to ask him how his trim latte was (my Americano was really good).

I tried the green fritters - which was a fritter stack of spinach fritters, bacon, hollandaise and a poached egg, all on a bed of rocket leaves. It was nice, although I'd probably not order it again.  Not because there was anything wrong with it, just the fritters were pretty basic, and they've got enough other stuff on the menu that appeals.

Tim was ever the excellent host, giving us the coffees on the house because 'we haven't seen you for ages'.  It's nice to be recognised, and to be rewarded for loyalty.

All in all a good meal, just as we have come to expect, we will return, we will recommend to others and we will take friends along.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Delicious, Grey Lynn

It had been several months since our last visit to Delicious, and tonight we felt like Italian so headed along to what turned out to be a vibrant, full restaurant. There wasn't a table available when we arrived (they don't take bookings) so we decided to have a drink at the bar while we waited. They had a good selection of wines available by the glass and we settled in with a couple of glasses of Italian wine.

About 30 minutes later we were seated and pondered what to eat from the menu. We started with some olives which were accompanied by a soft and fresh focaccia bread that was very flavoursome.

I then had a gnocchi with gorgonzola, walnuts and rocket dish. The gnocchi was fluffy and soft and not rubbery at all. I enjoyed the dish although by the end I was feeling like a change from the gorgonzolla.

Jane had the pappadelle with braised lamb shanks, tomato and porcini. She found that this required additional seasoning and after a little salt and pepper felt it tasted a bit better, but that the lamb shanks weren't as rich in flavour as she would have liked.

We accompanied our meals with a small salad of rocket, balsamic vinegar and parmesan that consisted of quality ingredients.

The service wasn't the fastest although considering the restaurant was busy it was acceptable and the wait staff were reasonable although quite task-oriented and rushed.

Sunday 4 December 2011

BaByQ Burger Patties

We received an invitation to a 'BaByQ' recently - which is kind of a non-clucky version of a baby shower (aka - a typical kiwi BBQ shortly before the birth of the hosting couple's baby.

I pondered what sort of fun we could have with the theme and a friend suggested baby burger patties.  I nearly abandoned it, knowing said couple have a charcoal bbq, but decided I wouldn't worry about the details and would just go for it. Here's the well received result.  If you're wondering, the 'nappies' are made of haloumi cheese.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Tatsumi Modern Japanese Cuisine, Newmarket

Jane & I had heard that the highly praised Tatsumi had moved to Auckland from Christchurch due to the earthquake. Last night we decided to try them out at their location in Newmarket.

The restaurant is nicely lit, has lovely decor, music quiet in the background (there was cabaret at one point), a nice ambience and professional wait staff.

We were presented with an amuse bouche from the kitchen to start that was a nicely seared tuna with a lightly chilli-avocado puree.P1020185_002

We then both started with a Miso soup and the Assorted Appetizer. The assortment included six different appetisers, including a tofu and fungus salad, marinated snapper, smoked venison with blue cheese and a balsamic drizzle (this was a combination that worked surprisingly well), a fish dish that had a nice level of chilli to spice, lotus fruit that had a nice texture, and beef tataki with a balsamic jelly. These were beautifully presented, tasted nice and were well balanced in flavour.P1020190_003

I couldn’t go past the Soft Shell Crab salad on the mains. The crab was beautifully tender and it tasted like it was spiced with white pepper, the accompanying salad was also well seasoned with a light chilli flavour, and the tortilla provided a nice crunch. The crab was however unfortunately not very flavoursome detracting from what was otherwise a superb dish.P1020193_005

Jane had a beautifully presented Spicy Tuna Roll that had magnificently soft tuna however we both found the tuna to be lacking in flavour.P1020194_006

For dessert, Jane had an Apricot Seed BlancMange and Jelly, accompanied by Kohu Road Vanilla Ice-cream. This was a lovely dessert and Jane claimed to be the highlight of her meal.P1020196_001

Friday 18 November 2011

Te Awa Pinotage 2005 Hawkes Bay

Almost black in colour when looking at this wine from the side, this wine has a huge nose of dark berry, and light leather.
To taste I am shocked by how acidic it is. The acid is drowning out the berry flavours beneath and it is definitely not well balanced. I will give this wine the benefit of doubt and say it's not as it was meant to be and I should have had it earlier.

Monday 3 October 2011

Coopers Creek Marlborough Pinot Noir Gibsons Run 2006

I last reviewed this wine (same vintage) back in August 2010. Just over a year on, here's my thoughts.

Deep red in colour this wine has a beautiful plum, cherry and berry bouquet. Packed with plum and berry flavour and earthy characteristics it also has an acidity that I feel is slightly on the high side. It is quite a dry Pinot Noir, which I quite like and it has minimal tannins. I'm not particularly enjoying it now and given that I wasn't particularly taken with this wine in August 2010, time has not done it any favours and I do wonder if it would have been better its more youthful days.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Clearview Estate Semillon 2008, Hawke’s Bay

semillon Non Vintage_001This light golden coloured wine has a slightly odd nose consisting of a lot of oak and a bit of vanilla. I was a bit dubious by the nose as to what it would be like but was pleasantly surprised to find it was lovely to taste. It has tropical flavours that are balanced with a light honey/vanilla flavour and a touch of acid. It is probably nearing the end of its life and I would not suggest cellaring any longer and in fact I should look to drink the 09 soon too. Having said that, there is a lot of complexity and intrigue that is begging me to have a another taste.

From a wine and food pairing perspective, the wine worked surprisingly well with a pumpkin and chilli soup that had a good dose of butter in it. This drew out vanilla/butter characteristics of the wine and was still nicely balanced.

Te Mata Estate Viognier Woodthorpe Vineyard 2007

With oil and a bit of acid to the nose this wine has a lovely golden hue and huge legs at 4 years of age. To taste the acid is too strong and I should really have opened it earlier (I knew I was pushing my luck a bit). I recall drinking this wine when it was younger and it was significantly better.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Raw Carrot Soup - recipe

I just haven't eaten enough fresh live food this weekend, so I really couldn't face the thought of having a meal based on lamb tonight.  I had a raw soup recipe bookmarked that I've been wanting to try for a few days, and Simon didn't seem to mind the idea of raw soup for dinner. 

This is inspired by Uncooking 101's Creamy Garden Chowder recipe.  Thanks for the inspiration! 

My drizzling skills need some practice!

Raw Carrot Soup

for the soup
3 large organic carrots, peeled and chopped roughly (my chunks were about 2cm long)
3 stalks of celery in 4cm lengths
1 clove of garlic - use a small clove, or just 1/2 a clove (I used a really big one and it was seriously overpowering!)
1/2 red pepper
1/2 cup filtered water
1/8 cup olive oil
1 spring onion
1/8 t himalayan sea salt
for serving
extra olive oil for drizzling
baby tomatoes for garnish (or whatever you have on hand)
pepper for garnish

Throw all the soup ingredients in a blender (and I don't use a vitamix, just a good quality kitchen blender), and blend until smooth and slightly warmed - but not too much!

Pour into bowls, drizzle over olive oil, garnish, crack some pepper and serve!

Simon thought it would have been good chilled and with coriander.  I'll give that a go next time.  And yes, he completely cleaned up his serving and said he'd happily eat it again.

Jack Tar - Bar & Restaurant Review

Today was such a glorious day that we decided it was high time we checked out the newly redeveloped Wynyard Quarter.  Simon had a quick look for recent reviews of the various restaurants down there before we went, and fortuitously also saw a note from a colleague who had eaten there this morning.  The comments seemed to all be of the nature of 'expect teething problems'.  So we went with the expectation of probably needing to wait and maybe not having the most polished of service.

We spent an absolute age trying to find a carpark, and in hindsight we probably should have just gone straight to Simon's work carpark, or, had we have realised earlier, we could have used the Wilson's carparks for $5 - their signs didn't make it terribly obvious that they had a seperate weekend rate.  Next time though!

We wandered around for a bit and commented with relief that finally there is more of the waterfront being made use of in Auckland. The whole area was absolutely heaving with people, and rightly so - it's a beautiful place for a day out in the sunshine, right along the waterfront with loads of access through to the viaduct, a huge kids playground and paddle pool, and some oversized deck chairs further along for the adults.

After browsing through all of the insanely busy restaurants and bars, we headed back to Jack Tar and lurked near a table that looked like it was soon to vacate, and headed off other hopeful patrons!  We ordered a seafood platter to share, a small salad of tomato, olives & feta and Simon had a garlic pizza bread.

The seafood platter had prawns and freshly grilled fish in a garlic butter - both absolutely delicious, shaved smoked salmon and seared tuna, a couple of fresh oysters, mussels and some lemon curry seasoned smoked fish.  It was all really good, and a great size for 2 people to share.  The salad was good, although quite small.  Simon enjoyed his garlic pizza bread, commenting that the thickness and cookedness was really good, but that it was a little light on the garlic.

Our wait time was possibly a little extended and it did take some time to actually get someones attention to take our order, but the service was certainly pleasant, and hopefully these are simply symptoms of it being new and insanely busy.  Hopefully they'll improve over the next couple of weeks in the lead up to RWC.  That said, we certainly didn't have a negative experience and we would definitely return.  All of the food we saw being delivered to other tables looked really good.