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Summer rolls

2 Jan

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Coco’s Cantina

26 May

If you’re a regular at Coco’s, lucky you – it’s the kind of place I’d enjoy weekly if I didn’t have kiddos. And if you haven’t been, do so; the hype around this place is deserved. Damaris & Renee Coulter have created a haven of hospitality, great food and good times betwixt the pokie bars and bottle shops of KRd.
On a recent visit we enjoyed a late dinner of crispy coated calamari (perfectly seasoned and not greasy in the slightest) followed by scotch fillet for him and pork belly for me. Coco’s knows damn well how to cook a steak, and the accompanying anchovy butter managed to not be too salty, but rather just the right umami note to make the steak sing. The slow roasted pork belly was perfection itself, but most delicious to me was the red cabbage beneath it, still slightly crisp and moreishly sour.
I had the Millton chardonnay with my pork and he had a pinot noir and my only wee gripe is that I’d like to see a variety of stemware used, appropriate to the wines.
Portions are generous and, combined with the tick tock of the babysitting clock, it meant we didn’t do dessert this time, but the lovely Damaris talked us into a limoncello before we stepped out into the wet, windy night.

Wants

6 May

– A new generation stainless steel pressure cooker

– To check out the modern Thai cuisine and glam surrounds at Moochowchow in Ponsonby:http://moochowchow.co.nz/MooChowChow/Hello.html

– To go back to Basque Kitchen in newmarket very soon for more of their simple, delicious raciones and some excellent Spanish plonk. Big ups to the baby calamari and the oh-so-naughty churros

– To turn my soil, top up with some rich organic compost and plant out winter vegetables and plenty of mixed salad leaves

– To find some decent-tasting gluten-free bread

Bye Bye Tomatoes

3 Apr

This week I blinked and all the remaining tomatoes on my plants mysteriously disappeared. Well, they had fallen off the vines and rotted away on the ground. I’ve been pretty slack with harvesting from my meagre garden since my second baby was born in mid February. And anyway, when I do harvest, I seldom get round to cooking said produce. Next summer.

Here are some cute golden cherry tomatoes I grew from heirloom seedlings I just picked up at the greengrocer’s down the road. The punnets must have been a mix of different varieties because I ended up with a planter box full of wildly varied fruits: these little gems, larger pale yellow ones with an almost downy skin, red cherry and large red ribbed tomatoes.

My two-year-old eats most of the cherry tomatoes (well, and the other varieties actually) before they make it anywhere near a cooking utensil or salad bowl, but if I had a bunch of these little golden cherry tomatoes to cook with, I’d make a big dish of pasta (orichiette or fusili perhaps) with the tomatoes, yellow and green zucchini, baby green peas, plenty of garlic and a handful of torn basil leaves. Drowning in olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan, of course.

Magnificent Malaysia & Multicultural Auckland

28 Mar

The multi-cultural hub that is Malaysia is home to some of the most varied and delicious food one could hope for. The Indian, Chinese and Malay cuisines work both independently and together to create dishes that are packed full of flavour and have an attitude to rival a teenage dropout. Yet Malaysian food in Auckland has, until now, never really enjoyed a high profile. Sure, KK’s in Epsom is always packed to the rafters, and Sri Pinang in Newton is a veteran on the dining scene, but  they don’t exactly shout it from the rooftops.

So I’ve been happy to hear a lot about Malaysian food in Auckland (and Wellington, where there are a whopping 20 Malaysian eateries) of late courtesy of the Malaysia Kitchen programme, an external trade initiave from Malaysia promoting their restaurants and food products in NZ. If you were lucky enough to make it to the Taste festival in Victoria Park late last year you might have caught Malaysia Kitchen there (I was too busy having an emergency appencdectomy and refusing hospital food), or more recently at the International Cultural Festival in Mt Roskill, this weekend just gone. I was impressed by everything I ate from the four kitchens involved – especially my all-time fave beef rendang, this one from KK. Galangal-y goodness.

The fetsival was a great insight into the many many cultures that call Auckland home. We know our city is the biggest Polynesian one in the world, but here there were proud displays of food and culture from some of the smaller ethnic groups that have made new homes here – Ethiopian, Somali, Burmese, Finnish even. Music, craft, shadow puppetry, and lots and lots of excellent food.

House of delight

27 Mar

My eldest daughter turned two a week or so ago, and seeing as I’ve long had a desire to fashion a cute-as-pie gingerbread house, I jumped on her birthday party as my chance. I figured that while she and her fellows might not give a damn about the house itself, or the many hours that went into its creation (my sister and I were up till midnight making it!), they’d sure as hell be interested in the lollies adorning its precariously balancing walls. I was right. Boy did those mites know how to pick an M&M or ten off the bright white royal icing that did a fine job of acting as mortar. Oh the looks of sheer concentration as they figured out their technique and which lolly to go for next!

So while the lollies were a hit, the house was left stripped bare and slightly crushed. Not about to waste all that gingery goodness was I, so we broke up some of the devastated structure and stirred it through vanilla ice cream to make a kind of cheat’s cookies and cream type thing. 

City Foraging

24 Mar

Foraging’s been in vogue for a wee while now, and there are indeed whole websites devoted to the subject in Auckland alone.  Spurred by a walk to the shops today past fruit-laden feijoa trees in Sandringham, I’d like to contribute my two cents via this blog which I’ll update as I discover new sources of goodness, and ask readers for any tips on foraging for fruit and veg in Auckland City. I’m not going to paste Google Maps links as they take up too much space and look ugly, sorry.

Feijoas – various residential streets in Sandringham including Watson Ave and Hazelmere Rd.

Olives – various residential streets in Belmont including Westwell Rd and Seacliffe Ave. Last Autumn some friends and I collected bucket loads of them, with help from some of the neighbours who popped out with a sheet for us to drape under the trees and collect the olives as they fell. I preserved my olives using the method of soaking them in a big bucket of water which you refresh every day for two weeks, then pickling in a slightly briny solution. I’m not a huge olive fan myself but my husband reckoned they were pretty nice.

Avocados – the avocado orchard beside the Otuataua Stonefields in Mangere used to be a cracker, with a limit of 5 avocados per person, but my last few visits have found the trees bare. Not sure if I’ve just missed the season or what.

Wild fennel – on North Head. Collect after a picnic with the best view in the city.