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Goldmine

Goldmine

Goldmine (171 Willis Street)

Prepare yourself for a somewhat mixed review. I think my high expectations are what let me down, because overall I suppose you could say the place was pretty good. Owned by the masters at Lamason, Goldmine is yet another CBD venture that has recently opened its doors. It has a very pleasing aesthetic, the food was well presented, and the staff were beyond friendly. My only concerns were the taste of the food itself… and the grammar on the menu (kind of kidding, but not really).

There was a large group of us that went for breakfast the other morning. Now, the brunch/lunch menu looked absolutely fantastic; it had everything on it you would expect to see on that of a hip Wellington cafe’s (think Buddha bowl, smashed avo on toast, Korean glazed chicken burger for example). But the breakfast menu was a little bit disappointing; beyond bacon and eggs, pancakes, and the classic granola and chia bowls, I thought it was a little un-imaginative (again, maybe it was just my high expectations). Fortunately, the staff were extremely accommodating and let a few of us order off the brunch menu (despite being 7.30am on a Tuesday), and even let two of the girls order chilli eggs (a dish that had previously been on the menu, but a revamp of the menu saw it removed), which is an outstanding dish. I had mushrooms on toast with hash – the hash was divine, but the mushrooms were under-sauteed and lacked creaminess. The pancakes were the low-light of the morning though – the maple syrup to pancake ratio was basically non-existent, which created for some serious stodge. The portion sizes were decent though!

The scones in the cabinet looked delicious, and given that the coffee was good I think there is a high chance that I will give it another go. Maybe I’ll go at lunch time and indulge in some smashed avo!

Tanuki’s Cave

Tanuki’s Cave

Tanuki’s Cave (319b Queen Street)

Japanese food, cheap, quirky and convenient – what more could one ask for?! At the upper end of Queen Street, Tanuki’s Cave is a great spot for a pre-dinner show, evening snack or late night visit. It’s grungy, dark and vibrant. Most of the tables are seated around the bar, so I wouldn’t recommend it for big groups unless you can book a table in advance (because you are sitting in a line, next to the people you came with). There is a range of sake’s, beers and wines as well as a few non-alcoholic drinks, and a large menu where everything is priced around $6 – $15. Lots of the dishes come out on skewers, so make for great sharing. The food comes out quickly, so I would recommend ordering a few things between you and just adding on as the food comes out. Make sure you go downstairs when you visit, because there is also a restaurant upstairs. My favourite: the deep-fried chicken and cheese balls (pictured above)!

Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ

Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ

Genghis Khan (25 Majoribanks St)

Genghis Khan is one of those places that I had always wondered about, as I’d walk past it frequently on my way up Mount Victoria. It was seemingly mysterious, tucked halfway up the hill and having never really had Mongolian BBQ before I wasn’t sure what to expect. Upon entering, I was taken aback by just how massive it was. It is exactly like one of those Chinese restuarants around Courtenay Place which seem so ridiuclously huge, with nobody in them. This was much the same, although as the night went on the place certainly filled up – and people seemed to stay for ages.

The menu had a range of drinks (all super cheap – house wine was only $4) and a bunch of starters to choose from. I would recommend skipping the starters and going straight to the all-you-can eat BBQ. For only $21.50, it is such a great deal. It works like this: from your table, head over to the buffet area. Pick up a bowl and fill it with your choice of noodles, vegetables, meats and sauces. There are a bunch of pre-determined recipes written on blackboards if you are struggling with the choice. You then pass your bowl to the chef, who will flash fry your meal in front of you in about 30 seconds. It’s fascinating to watch, the BBQ must be SO incredibly hot. After that you grab your bowl from the chef and take it back to your table. Make sure you bypass the condiment table, where there is a further array of sauces to choose from. Back at your table the waitress will have delivered you some fresh Shao Ping, which is a homemade bread that is kind of a cross between roti and a steamed bun (it goes really well with a bowl of peanut sauce from the condiment table). Once you’ve finished your bowl, you can go back to the buffet, grab another bowl and start the whole process again. As many times as you like!

The space is really big; it can accommodate some seriously large groups. The staff were also very lovely – very friendly and helpful when explaining what to do. I think Genghis Khan is certainly one of those hidden Wellington wonders – but people that do make the visit, would almost certainly bookmark it as somewhere to return to.

Scarborough Fair Chicken

Scarborough Fair Chicken

Oh my goodness, this recipe of Chelsea Winter’s is absolutely to die for. The first time I tried it my flatmates had cooked dinner for my boyfriend and I, and as it was cooking we could just smell the delicious herbs and bacon and creaminess wafting down the hallway. The dinner was a raging success, and we have made it quite a few times since. It’s quite a simple dish, but it needs to be served with something, such as pasta, potatoes or bread – as it is essentially just chicken in a cream sauce. Alongside a green salad or something fresh, it is a dish sure to win many hearts!

Collect

  • 3 T oil
  • 150 – 200 g bacon, chopped
  • 1.5 kg chicken thighs (this is a must! I tried chicken breast once and it dried out SO quickly)
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 garlic
  • 1/3 c sage/rosemary/thyme
  • 1/2 c white wine (or lemon juice added at the end)
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 2 t Dijon mustard
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5 c cream

Create

  1. Heat oil, cook bacon and set aside.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Using the same pan, sear the chicken on both sides and put to one side.
  3. In more oil, cook the onion, garlic, herbs and cook until soft. Add the white wine and turn up the heat.
  4. Reduce, add stock, mustard and bay leaves.
  5. After a few minutes of infusion, add the bacon, chicken and cream and cook for a further fifteen minutes (just long enough that the chicken is cooked).
  6. Serve with pasta/mash/rice/vegetables/bread – you name it, it works!

The Old Quarter

The Old Quarter

The Old Quarter (39 Dixon Street)

As a massive lover of Mr Go’s and Chow, I was always destined to be a fan of The Old Quarter. Named after the Old Quarter in Hanoi, the menu is exciting, innovative and certainly ‘modern’ Vietnamese. The chef has come from 16 years at Chow, so you can expect food of a similar nature; fresh, funky and delicious.

The Old Quarter is nestled amongst a shoe shop and a Mexican restaurant. It used to be Satay Kajang, a Malaysian BYO restaurant that had certainly seen better days. The Older Quarter is a drastic improvement; it is no longer dark and dingy, rather there are modern comfortable booths, bold wall decor a bright, bustling atmosphere. The staff are friendly, happy and attentive, more than willing to offer their recommendations for dishes and serving sizes.

The menu was broken up into sections (bao, curries, salads etc) and you should expect to pay between $14 and $20 for most of the dishes. We were advised that the array of food we had ordered would be ample; which was a shame because I would have quite happily ordered more. Between us we ordered the pork bao, the crab bao, the cashew peking duck, the salt and pepper calamari and the pork three ways (spring rolls, patties, and fried).

I’m one of the world’s biggest fans of bao, and this bao was no exception. The crab was exceptional (I had been unsure about it when we ordered it) but the spicy mayo really cut through the richness of the fried crab. The pork was incredibly flavoursome, and the coriander finished it off perfectly. The other meals were all great too.

If you are in the mood, there is a bunch of cocktails available (including a vietnamese espresso martini) and a decent sized dessert list. We wanted dessert, but there was no way we were going to be able to fit it in. Maybe next time!

 

Thai Lagoon

Thai Lagoon

Thai Lagoon (8 Alexander Road, Raumati)

For a romantic getaway, Raumati is just the place. There is so much more going on here than anyone ever told me, and if I knew we would have made this trip a whole lot sooner.

For a romantic (and delicious) date night, I highly recommend Thai Lagoon. The staff are so accommodating and fuss over you just to make sure everything is perfect. The prices are really reasonable, and the portion sizes were decent. We had a great time choosing our order, because the menu was typically huge. This was seriously some of the nicest Thai I have had in a long time, and I certainly didn’t expect to find it in Raumati!

Make sure you book, because the Saturday night we went it was literally booked out.

Ubud

Ubud

We left Nusa Lembongan at 8am and caught a ferry to Sanur. From there, our pre-organised taxi driver (courtesy of our Lembongan hostel) met us and drove us to Ubud. It only took about 1.5 hours, so we were there by mid-morning. Our Air BnB was lovely, and our host organised for us to be picked up almost immediately and taken on a tour. We went to a number of spots across the course of the day, and our driver Gede would just wait for us at each spot.

First we went to the Tegallang rice fields in Gianyar. This would have to be one of the most photographed sights of Bali, and it was easy to see why. Loads of people (unsurprisingly) but still worth the trip. We actually ate lunch at a wee restaurant overlooking the fields, and it was such a beautiful setting for a meal. It was a really nice way to appreciate the fields from afar, because there is not much else to do there besides walk around the fields (and then you are right up close). After lunch we headed down into the terraces; it was extremely hot and I was very glad for my waterbottle. We probably spent about 45 minutes walking around and taking plenty of photos.

From here we headed to Tirta Empul Tampaksiring, a temple where people go to bathe and be cleansed in the holy water. The queues were massive, and to be honest the water looked pretty grotty (especially when filled with so many bodies) so none of us were keen to get in. We ended up walking around for a bit and then moving on. Leaving the temple actually required walking through so much market space, where the vendors were all highly competitive and almost confrontational. I think we all actually ended up buying something – probably mainly to shut them up! It was definitely fun though, and provides for an interesting experience.

 

From here we went to Mount Kawi. This was a temple with a lot of steps! We noted that both temples we had visited had made all four of us (i.e. the boys included) cover up our shoulders (they lend scarves). We set off down the steps (sooooo many steps) into a wee temple valley, where there were lots of temples (slash remains) surrounded by pretty dense bush. It was rather beautiful. The hike back up the hill was much harder, and we were very relieved to see a sign for ice-cream as we approached the top.

The last stop of our tour was Monkey Forest. It was such a cool experience, and that’s coming from someone who is extremely hesitant about monkeys. It is quite a big park in which you can just wander around and watch the monkeys play. You can also buy food to feed them (they will happily climb all over you) but I was much happier watching from afar. They can get pretty aggressive – I would definitely recommend leaving your valuables in the car (sunglasses being a classic example of things they love to pinch!).

Ubud was certainly the most cultural feeling place we went to. There is some very cool markets and shopping generally. There are loads of places offering massages, and The Yoga Barn is certainly famed for its yoga and all round zen habitat. I think that of all our destinations in Bali I thought Ubud was the most interesting and had the most to do (with the obvious omission of no beach). The food was also extremely delicious (check out that post here).

Feijoa cake with lemon icing

Feijoa cake with lemon icing

Feijoa cake tends to go down alright, and when it’s that time of year, I’m always looking for something different to make with the excess of feijoas. This cake is pretty easy, and tastes delicious!

Collect

  • 125 g butter
  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 c mashed feijoa pulp
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 T hot milk
  • 2 c plain flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3/4 c icing sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • 25 g butter
  • 2 T hot water

Create

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C fanbake.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add mashed feijoas and mix lightly, ideally retaining some of the texture.
  5. In another bowl, stir baking soda into hot milk, and then add it to the feijoa mixture.
  6. Sift in four and baking powder, and fold until combined.
  7. Pour into a greased cake-tin. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
  8. Leave in tin for 10 minutes before putting on a cooling rack.
  9. Once cool, make the icing. To do so, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice, second measure of butter and hot water into a bowl. Add extra lemon if you want it more tangy. Spread over the cake.

 

Mama’s Homemade Muesli

Mama’s Homemade Muesli

I absolutely ADORE the muesli my mum makes. I have tried so many times to replicate, because surely, how hard can muesli be! And although I have made loads of delicious muesli in my time, none of them ever seem to replicate what my mum makes. Finally, I managed to coax the recipe out of here, and part of the reason I actually wanted to post it up here is so that I can never lose it again. I made it yesterday, and after this weekend is over I’m going to have to start rationing it if I want it to last (because mind you, it’s pretty darn expensive to make!). Of course, if you use this recipe you can mix it up as you like – for example swapping out the apricots for other dried fruit, or including extra nuts and seeds.

Collect

  • 5 c rolled oats (the whole-meal ones are great, slightly more chunky than just the plain ones I would normally use for porridge)
  • 2 c bran
  • 2 c long threaded coconut
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/2 c rice bran oil (or olive oil is  fine)
  • 1 c dried fruit (I use apricot)
  • 1 c chopped nuts (I mainly use almonds and cashews, with a few hazelnuts/walnuts/macadamias thrown in for good measure)
  • 1/4 c pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 c sesame seeds

Create

  1. Set oven to 150°C fan bake/grill.
  2. In a baking dish add the rolled outs, the bran and the coconut. Melt the honey, add the oil and pour the mixture over the baking dish. Toast until golden.
  3. Take out and add dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Add back to the oven but keep a very close eye on it so that it doesn’t burn!
Jano Bistro

Jano Bistro

Jano Bistro is somewhere I have only been twice, and both occasions have been for Wellington on a Plate. After they were shortlisted as a finalist last year (and eventually going on to win the Festival Dish award) we really wanted to eat there and were so delighted with our meal that I couldn’t wait to go back in 2017. I went with different friends this time, none of which who had been to Jano before. Between the four of us, we basically ordered two of everything in the menu below, and shared where we could.

Entrée

The choice of tinned spaghetti or At the Beach (feat seafood)… interesting. I was unconvinced before we went there, but was intrigued to try both nevertheless. I ended up favouring the seafood dish (somewhat surprisingly actually), which had cured salmon, a corn and saffron broth, and rēwena bread croutons. It was absolutely delicious, and the small amount of paua present gave me the opportunity to try it (chewy) without it being too overbearing on the dish. The tinned spaghetti was also very tasty, very creamy and the truffle flavour was quite strong. It came with a transparent tomato jelly disc (it kind of looked like a contact lens!) which was a peculiar addition.

Jano’s Canned Spaghetti: Tomato, spaghetti, parmesan, truffle

Main

The Festival Dish was vegetarian (again). It had spectacular presentation, it really did look like a BBQ. The beetroot and chickpea sausage rolled in quinoa was absolutely mouthwatering. The L&P dipping sauce, and L&P jelly cubes were both unique; tasty, and it was nice to have something to dip the sausage into (even if it did just taste like L&P). There was an absolute excess of beetroot in the dish, which meant that it certainly wouldn’t appeal to everyone (it didn’t at our table anyway). I personally really rated the dish, all of the elements sat nicely together.

Festival Dish: BBQ: Beetroot, chickpeas, quinoa, watercress, L&P

The other option was the Friday night takeout. This dish sure made up in meat where the other option lacked! There was a deep-fried chicken croquette (which was my favourite element on the plate), a potato puree (oh-so-silky), a dried crispy noodle, a kimchi slaw (which was in fact quite potent, some of the others didn’t like it) and a chicken galantine with a crispy topping.

Friday Night Takeout (inspired by classic takeout favourites): Organic chicken, prawn, potato, gochujang, dangmyeon

Dessert

As per usual, dessert for me was the real winner on the night. The Soy Flat White was absolutely, positively incredible, and the pavlova was tasty and beautiful and all things great. At the start of the night they asked us for our names, and when the coffee came out with our names written on it, we understood why! The bottom layer of the flat white was a chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate puffed rice and finished off with a coffee and soy mousse. It came with a piece of coffee and chocolate brownie, which was so rich and fudgey it virtually melted in your mouth!

The pavlova was a sphere, filled with manuka honey ice-cream and surrounded by a almond crumble. The pavlova itself was kawakawa flavoured, meaning that overall the dessert was very light feeling and fresh tasting. Although I am definitely a chocolate kid,  and the idea of the flat white was epic, I think this dessert sat with me the best. 10/10 on all counts for both desserts!

Pavlova: Mānuka honey, almond, milk, kawakawa
Flat White: Flight coffee, Whittaker’s 72% Dark Ghana, Soy

It was a great night at Jano. The food was yummy, the portions were possibly a bit small (the eternal problem with fine-dining!) but the staff were super lovely and engaging. It is such a cute spot, that I really would like to eat there on an occasion that isn’t just WOAP!