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Monthly Archives: March 2010

  • New Zealand, Part 3

    After an emotional goodbye to Maria and Tanah, we started heading south, through the centre of the north island. The breathtaking landscape made up for bits of culinary desolation, where small towns have little to offer, apart from an always descent flat white and a range of savoury pies, the Kiwi equivalent of the British sandwich. We visited the area of Rotorua, a unique centre of geothermal activity where boiling geysers erupt through mud and streams of steamy water flow through newly created volcanic valleys. The active volcano Ruapehu was reluctant to show its snowy peak to us until the last minute, when the clouds lifted to reveal its full glory. Closer to Wellington, in little Greytown, was the culinary highlight of our road trip from Auckland. It was our breakfast at the French Baker, where we had exquisite croissants and the most delicious Parkvale mushrooms on toasted sourdough. This was pure perfection, created by the admirable Moise Cerson, a French chef who had married a Kiwi girl and set up a wonderful bakery of top standards and a cosy and generous atmosphere. In Wellington we met Hilary, ex-manager of Ottolenghi Notting Hill, a good friend and a true Wellingtonian (with all the local know-how). Hilary took us to lunch at the famous restaurant Logan Brown, where we had paua (local abalone) ravioli with lemon and coriander. It was superb. In the evening we went to Zibbibo where Anthony Shone, Hilary's boyfriend and head chef, spoilt us with some of his creations. Ortiz anchovy salad with caviar, orange, fennel and radish sticks to mind. Our one day in the windy Kiwi capital was... how to put it?... filling.
  • New Zealand, Part 2

    We next headed to Whangarei Heads, a stunning area on the eastern coast of the northern island, about 2 hours drive from Auckland, where our friend, Maria Dallow, has a beautifully charming beach house. Our weekend at Maria's "bach" was a total heaven. We went swimming in the stunningly clear sea, trying to catch the shoals of dolphins that make regular appearances, alas, without much success, despite Maria's Maori dolphin call. It was also a culinary wet dream thanks to Maria's friend, Tanah Jane Dowdle, an expert in anything food and wine related, and to the constant flow of seafood supplied by Maria's generous neighbours. From the freshest kingfish imaginable (see picture), Tanah prepared Ike Mata, a kind of ceviche originating from the Cook Islands and consisting of whatever was left of the fish that we didn't eat while Peter was filleting it, coconut milk, lime and chilli. Superb! We were also thoroughly introduced to the local clam, Pipi, that we picked ourselves from the water bed during low tide, shucked and then ate as the most sensational spaghetti vongole Tanah made using kamut pasta. The seafood extravaganza, always accompanied by the finest New Zealand wine or Tanah's cocktail of choice, just didn't want to end. The highly popular Kiwi delicacy of whitebait fritter was probably the pinnacle. (By the way, New Zealand whitebait is a completely different kettle of fish, excuse the pun, from what we have in the UK and absolutely fantastic!)
  • New Zealand, Part 1

    Haven't been blogging for a while due to a long anticipated trip to New Zealand and Australia, where food, naturally, was very much the focus. We started off in Auckland, where my friend, Peter Gordon, has Dine, an elegant restaurant serving his signature fusion food with much flare. Peter's friends and colleagues made us feel at home in seconds after a attending a proper Kiwi barbecue, with the moistest grilled lamb, a huge selection of fantastic local wines and, finally, an alcohol ignited burst of Maori/Kiwi sing-along. I would have stayed longer in Auckland if there wasn't so much more we wanted to see. Before leaving, though, we had the most gorgeous breakfast at Dizengoff, with the perfect flat white and poached egg.
  • Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

    In May 2010 Yotam Ottolenghi published his much anticipated Plenty, a collection of recipes many of which appeared in different forms in his New Vegetarian column in the Guardian's Weekend magazine, plus plenty of new vegetarian dishes. All the recipes are true to the Ottolenghi form: vibrant, daring and highly original, with fantastic new photography by Jonathan Lovekin. Signed copies are sold at all of our branches.

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