Two Fifteen…

I have said it before and I will say it again I love a bargain.

Getting a three course meal for two people, for the low low price of $85 is fantastic. In fact I don’t know why all restaurants don’t jump on the band wagon- because I do not  know of one couple who would go out for a nice meal and not buy a drink or three or in this most recent case Mr Lid and I had 3 glasses of wine each and some sparkling water…. making what was meant to be a nice $85 evening a $185 evening, but not an eye lid was batted as it was still a great meal and well worth it.

Two fifteen on Dominion Road has been around for 5 or so years having recently-ish been taken over last May by a lovely couple who now work the floor, it has won some accolades in the past the most recent being Metro top 50 Restaurants in Auckland.

The food was simple, tasty, un complicated, generously portioned,yet under seasoned and  at times trying a bit too hard.

I would go again if just for the bread to start served warm, very chewy with a wonderful crust and the smokiest smoked butter I have ever tried- it was amazing and a lovely way to start the meal.

Mr Lid and I had a hard time choosing starters- we opted for the scallops minus the pork belly which came with a lovely pickled fennel and celeriac puree, and the air dried beef which while plentiful  was weird served with mash and a poached egg? Somewhat lacking in texture and well ummm finesse.

Mr Lid had the Beef main which was Huge, a real mans meal, again a large portion of mash and lacking texture it was gone in a flash and Mr Lid seemed rather happy with his choice, I had the snapper fillet with a herb and prawn risotto- the fish was moist and delicate (served with the skin on which I like but it was soggy not crisp which I find a waste of time) the risotto was a tad firmer than I like yet tasty and again a pinch of salt during the cooking would have made all the difference.

Dessert was decadent the chocolate dolice was rich dense and oh so moorish served with the classic vanilla ice cream and some dry pointless sponge and raspberry coulis, and Mr Lids Apple and Blackberry crumble was HUGE, nothing special although tasty in a nanna kind of way.

If only the chef had known the rule of the world’s most elegant woman, Coco Chanel, was said to have advised the following when dressing with accessories:

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

This rule can be applied to food… especially at Two Fifteen…

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Vinnies

I love finding a bargain.

In fact the other day Mr Lid and I saw something on sale and we had the following conversation…

Mr Lid “Hey look at that, its on sale, we should get two”

Mrs Pot “We don’t need that”

Mr Lid “Yeah I know, but its on sale and you always buy things on sale”

I don’t think its just me, I think it is in every womans DNA to want to get a bargain.

This brings me to our Dinner at Vinnies by Geoff Scott the other night, they do a experimental menu on a Wednesday night that is 7 courses for $70 well worth a nosy I say.

Vinnies is in Aucklands Herne Bay, Chef Owner Geoff Scott trained in London under Albert Roux at Le Gavroche before working in Italy and France before finally landing a job working for Alain Ducasse at his Michelin three star restaurant ‘Le Louix VX’ Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.
Geoff creates modern New Zealand cuisine using respected French cooking techniques, inspired by classic Kiwi flavours and combinations.

The atmosphere is lovely with fantastic art on the walls show casing New Zealand artists, at the moment the work of FLOX are displayed and they are amazing!

It was weird when we arrived as we got asked if we wanted a drink at the bar while we waited for the rest of our table to arrive.. we were led to the bar which had two seats next to a fireplace, lovely and warm but in the main walkway from the kitchen- weird.

The wine list is not huge and it is not cheap- most wines sold by the glass were $13 and over- we managed tho.

The food- this is where I get excited, I know Geoff, and I know his food and it is lovely- he is very good at what he does and loves his job which shows in the little plates of art that we were presented with throughout the evening.

The Amuse Bouche (small taster to get your taste buds warmed up) was a Leek and Potato mousse with crisp leek and black sesame seeds- it was light, tasty, a gorgeous texture and set the tone for the rest of the evening

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First course was Gruff Junction goats curd with Nashi pear and mixed leaves with a burnt honey and lavender dressing- it was lovely and fresh the honey and goats curd are a match made in heaven.

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We were then served a homemade sourdough roll which was warm and crunchy, but to me a little out of place being served between courses not at the start of the meal?

Next up something Geoff was going to work on a bit more so it could be put on the menu- we were glad he said he was going to work on it more as it needed it. Don’t get me wrong it was lovely- Lightly confit Duck finished in the oven on a Hazelnut and potato mash with beetroot and white balsamic gel- it looked like art on a piece of slate instead of a plate- but it was stone cold and not a hint of hazelnut to be found.

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A sharp and most refreshing palate cleanser of Lemon granitas was presented getting us ready for the main.

Now the main was seafood. A bit unusual, lucky we all ate seafood!

Scallops on a Kingfish mousse with a crab foam (I had had a few wines by now so my remembering of descriptions was less that desirable) baby leeks and watermelon radish. the scallops although small were perfectly cooked, the Kingfish mousse was wonderful and lemony it was like eating air and not overly fishy, the sauce I liked but others on the table found it a bit too crabby? And if anyone ever offers me watermelon radish again I might pass as to me the texture was less than radish more week old watermelon.

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Now onto the sweets-Walnut bread, Quince paste and a Triple Cream Brie- the walnut bread tasted a bit stale and when paired with the cheese an overwhelming taste of socks comes to mind… the table was split two voted ‘yay’ two voted ‘nay’

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Pudding was yummy! It was a warm cake of Apple and spices with small balls of caramelised apple and a toffee sauce, served with sourcream ice cream- it was not too sweet, it had caramel and was dessert so I was happy.

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And to round the meal off- tea with a Yuzu Marshmallow. Yuzu is a Japaneese citrus and I love the stuff it is so tart and flavourful it makes anything taste good- and the texture of the homemade cubes of cloud were perfect.

The night was great, the wine was delicious, the food was fresh and tasty although not as experimental as we thought it would be, but that is Geoffs style- nothing too weird just really good. The seven courses- well if you count there wernt really seven, is a shotglass of shaved ice really a course? Worth the $70 tho and we even got a futher discount after using our Entertainment card- YESSS !




http://www.vinnies.co.nz/

 

 

Botswana Butchery

Date night.

After a long week of work there is nothing I like more than to go on a date with Mr Lid.

Its not that we don’t see each other every night, I mean he does sit next to me on the couch, and our couch isnt that big. Nor is it that I can’t see him due to a lack of wearing my glasses- shhh don’t tell!

It is a chance to dress up, and talk, pretend we are exciting people. Not a boring married couple.

Botswana Butchery near the Ferry terminal down town was our destination this freezing winters eve. It was a bit of a last minute thing making a booking at 6pm for 8:30pm that evening. In my books its not the best sign that they had a table for us, but we were happy they did.

We arrived and had a drink at the bar, the wine list is HUGE! In fact the drinks menu is more of a drinks novel and after too much to choose from we chose what we knew a glass of Cloudy Bay Pelorus and at $18 a glass we knew their wines were not overly priced so we were happy campers.

We were seated, menus given, and left to read. There was a great selection of starters, so much so that I would have been happy with a selection of these for my meal.

We opted for the Raukumara Wild Venison Tartare 24.95 with capers, cornichons, shallots, crisp bread, free range egg yolk and the Ahi Poke $19.95 which was Yellowfin tuna, avocado, mango, chili, sesame soy dressing, crisp wonton.

Both were lovely to look at but lacked seasoning, after a dash of salt the flavours of the Tuna were lifted, there was crunch, wonderful fresh tuna, zingy dressing it was a great way to start the meal. The Venison how ever was over powered by the capers and cornichons leaving us a touch disappointed.

We looked over the complete mains they all sounded delicious but we thought it best to try what the Botswana Butchery are aptly named after- The Butcher Block, which is a build your own meal menu. You select your meat, a sauce or butter (all $2.5 each) then a side be it vegetable or salad, you could go as crazy as you like or if you are struggling to decide the waiting staff are more than willing to suggest options.

We ordered a 250 gram Wild Raukumara Venison Loin and after deciding on getting the 200 gram Fillet Mignon Savannah Angus Grass Fed I panicked when asked and ended up forgetting this and ordered 250 gram Rump Cap Firstlight Wagyu Grass Fed $35.95.

The Venison at $42.95 better be the best darn 250g of meat we have ever tasted- thankfully it was! It just melted in the mouth, beautifully medium rare and was accompanied by the most obvious choice Red wine Jus which was nice but nothing special.

The Rump cap was suggested served medium was not unlike supermarket meat kinda tough and nothing amazing, the horseradish was lovely and spicy and fresh which was a saving grace.

We ordered two sides to go with out meals, a salad of Beetroot, feta, walnuts, soft herbs, cabernet vinegar, e.v.o.o $8.95- was packed with beetroot, it lacked seasoning which seemed to be becoming a bit of a theme, and Cauliflower cheese, jamon crumbs $8.95, we ordered this without the jamon crumb as we don’t eat pork- it was lovely hot and creamy everything a cauliflower cheese should be.

To accompany the mains we asked the waitresses suggested wine matches as it is nice to venture out and see what someone else recommends. She returned with two glasses of 2009 Rockferry Tempranillo Central Otago $19, it was a lovely mild red but nothing punchy and we were a bit sad that the Venison and Beef called for the same wine. Mr Lid orederd a glass of the 2011 Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir $25 which was spicy almost like a light Syrah, and a glass of 2011 Mount Edward Central Otago Pinot Noir $21 which had warm and earthy a lovely red for the Beef.

We were stuffed, the service was attentive yet not in your face, the Restaurant was busy but overly full, the food was good but very expensive for what was almost home cooking meat and veg.

The wine list was AMAZING and well worth another visit to the Botswana Butchery, where next time we will try the pre designed Mains menu.

Over all it was a lovely Date night with Mr Lid, who would have thought, all those years ago when we met that the then vegetarian would take me to a steak house!!

http://goodgroup.co.nz/botswana-butchery/auckland/

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Flight to Esk Valley

What a bargain! $25 for a evening of wine tasting and supper. Not just any wine tasting either but a tasting run by the Head Wine maker of Esk Valley.
Hosted at Villa Maria out near Auckland’s Airport, the Esk Valley winery from the Hawkes Bay region were about to showcase their wares.
A wine and a nibble to warm up then into a room that was just beautiful with 16 tables all set out with wine and tasting notes.

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Seven wines from current stock and one real treat, Esk Valley wines are wines made with love and respect for true grape varieties and history.
My favorite of the evening being the Chenin Blanc 2011 it was light, with a touch of sweetness and honey. I thought it was absolutely delicious.

The filght was 8 wines ranging from a 2012 Verdelho which is a traditional and famous variety from the Portuguese island of Madeira where for many centuries it has been used in the production of fortified wine. Esk Valley has been New Zealand’s pioneer of this variety, producing a dry style Verdelho from their Hawkes Bay vineyards since 2002.  There was a yummy 2013 Rose which was the best colour I have ever seen in a Rose- it was truly candy pink, tasted of strawberries and was soft and slightly dry on the pallet.

And for those who drink Reds like Mr Lid may I recommend the Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Gravels Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 which was a full bodied and rich Hawkes Bay blend, densely coloured and exhibiting a bouquet of plums, red fruits, dried herbs and hints of oak.

After Tasting the wines Villa Maria had made a small taster dish for supper to match with the Verdelho it was a match made in heaven- Corned beef with a hint of cinnamon- which from now on will be going into my corned beef recipe.

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A Tasting flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, but sometimes as many as fifty, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.

Keep your Ransom, I’d rather stay…

Driving home from up north starving for anything other than a pie- choices are a tad limited. Unless you want to veer off the main road and pop to Matakana but that in its self is a day trip…

We have driven past Ransom Vineyard loads. Finally Mr Lid and I agree to stop for a spot of lunch. Admittedly it was after 3 but we were hopeful.

The parking lot was full- good sign.

We made our way inside and asked if we could have lunch, alas the kitchen was closed but they offered us breads and dips and a cheese board- SOLD.

I like that the cheese board came with options. You could get one cheese for $10, two for $20 or three for $30, you could get all the same cheese or three different chesses- and they were local, from Puhoi just up the road. We went for three as we love cheese, and we went for a breads and dips that was $12 per person which I also think is a nice idea of pricing a platter.

We also opted for a taster of 5 wines (which was equal to a glass of wine) for $12. A nice variety of two whites, a rose and two reds and they all had their merits matched with the food.

Sitting outside was not an option as it was raining and yuk- but it looked the place to be in summer, only a few meters from the vines.

We sat on the deck that was covered in, it was cold but bearable- and when the pizza oven in the corner was cranked up I am sure it would be lovely.

The service was friendly and not too in your face as in a place like that there is nothing worse than being hounded every 5 minutes- we were left to sit and admire the view and watch the cheeky sparrows attempt to steal of a table that had yet to be cleared.

The wine was delicious! We came home with four bottles.

As far a simple platters go- I would order them again. Just the right amount of fuss adding perfectly to the star of the show which was the three cheese’s. There was a port jelly that was sweet and fruity, a fig and walnut log, some amazing almonds that you could tell were lightly toasted in house.

The bread (supplied from Loaf) was tender and not dry, olive oil pressed from local olives from Ransom and surrounding vineyards was fruity and fresh went lovely with the dukkah, and the dips were yum. A simple dip of mashed green peas, some carrot hummus and a beautiful smokey babba ganoosh.

We left with full bellies and a smile on our faces knowing we had some yummy wine to drink when we got home. We would love to try the actual lunch platter they make but if need be we would settle for the cheese board and dips. Which I forgot to mention were served on platters made from old sections of wine barrels!!! They were for purchase and we will be returning for one or two.

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http://www.ransomwines.co.nz/

http://www.puhoivalley.co.nz/

Hallertau Microbrewery

Hallertau microbrewery is miles away. I won’t lie even for us and we live out west. If you have a sober driver on hand it could be a nice place for a leisurely lunch or a cosy night out by the fire drinking beer catching up with old friends.
We sat on the undercover deck and on a cold day it was lovely and warm.
The boys ordered a tasting paddle which was 5x 100ml glasses of beer that the brewery was currently producing (well 4 beers and a seasonal cider)
Food wise, it was a bit all over the show- the menu read really well and sounded homely and comforting- it just didn’t follow through. The chicken and leek hot pot ended up being meatballs in a tomato sauce, the cauliflower bake was cold in the middle- like fridge cold, instead of warm cheesy goodness, the braised beef krokets were weird- maybe I’m just super fussy as my family have a tradition of making krokets, but theirs were stringy. Next the prawn taco- it was spicy, but really bitter and with four over cooked chewy prawns poor Mr Lid was left disappointed with his choice.
Now desserts… 2 out of 4- not the most awesome odds.
Espresso creme brûlée was said to be amazing- so much so I didn’t even get to smell it before it was devoured!
Mr Lid a avid cheese lover had a terrine of 3 cheeses with beer jelly- it was like all the end scraps of cheese stuck together with more cheese- it was a huge portion tho, so if you like cheese and love cheese rind you will love it!
Chocolate molten cake- was a cake with sauce on top not inside- it was nice but again a bit if a let down.
Lastly the olliebollen with chocolate sauce and cream- this was yum. The chef must be Dutch as olliebollen are a Dutch doughnut that my Oma used to make at New Years.

We had a voucher so we got $50 off the bill- making it a tonne of food and drink for a reasonable $100 per couple. Our tummies were full full full but we weren’t excited or satisfied that we had just eaten a memory. In fact I’ve forgotten it already.

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http://www.hallertau.co.nz/

This is not another ice cream parlor.

This is not another ice cream parlor, nor is it another gelato shop, this is a place of excitement, experimentation and exquisite textures and flavours.

Gianpaolo Grazioli, “Giapo” is a clever man. A man with a vision and a man who loves to play with his food.

An ice cream here is not just an ice cream. It is made fresh daily to assure you get the lightest, creamiest, freshest tasting product and I am sorry if all you want is a plain boring cone or cup. Every flavour comes with well thought out toppings that add texture, depth and a bit of a story.

Take the Kiwifruit sorbet for example- it comes layered with homemade raspberry jam and crisp meringue – a take on the good old kiwi favourite dessert the pavlova. Or the lemon sorbet the most safe most unassuming of all the flavours comes with a cloud of fresh candyfloss, some polyhantus flower and a mandarin pate de fruit!

There is nothing boring or expected about Giapo’s  selection of the day, today there was hokey pokey.. with crisp bacon enrobed in white chocolate…. dark chocolate with blue cheese, rum- which had a real kick and was topped with its own freshly baked macaroon with rum ganache.

I got to see the man himself in action today making his newest creation Risotto Milanese. With Saffron, Onions and Parmesan- I could eat this by the tub!! Do not and I repeat Do not be put off by the title! The ice cream is subtly infused with saffron and undertones of white wine marry blissfully with the crunch of puffed rice coated in a buttery, onion jam and parmesan coating- its slightly savoury but its oh so delicious.

It is $5.5 for a single or $7  for a double it is worth every penny in fact it is worth more, where he can source organic he does- even growing his own hazelnuts in Christchurch, this man does it for love, for passion, for fun, for his customers, for his family, for himself but not for the money- the sheer attention to detail gets over looked by many, but those of us who pay attention to what we are eating will notice the care that goes into every serve.

Open 7 days a week 11:30am- 11pm or until the ice cream sell out at 279 Queen Street, Auckland. Right next to the Civic Theatre.

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