Monday, November 23. 2009
Friday night was The Veils at the stupidly-named San Francisco Bathhouse, but more of that later; first I come to praise the re-opened Espressoholic and their delicious parcels of deep-fried dough.
Many moons ago I used to spend plenty of evenings in the old Espressoholic, and then I started visiting it again; shortly thereafter, it closed in a rather public fashion after the landlord refused to renew their lease. The appearance of a new cafe with the same menu and some of the same kitchen staff was NOT AT ALL SUSPICIOUS, of course; I have been waiting to see the new ‘holic re-open in Cuba Street for some time, and finally got a chance to swing by. It is largely the same place; the food is mostly the same, the prices are the same. It’s all pretty good, really. There are even some improvements: the toilets are a great deal less terrifying, for example.
There’s one delicious addition: the donuts. They’re done kind of like churros; chunks of dough deep-fried and coated with deliciousness, and served with maple syrup and marscapone. The first time I tried them I got four small ones, and on Friday I got a pair that were, as I later estimated for the folks at the Southern Cross on Saturday, about a handful each.
Continue reading ""About a B-Cup""
Tuesday, May 27. 2008
It’s funny how different people can have such different experiences with a place. Wellingtonista are bitching about Esspresoholic; not in the normal fashion I encounter since I moved here 15 years ago because you get cool points for emphasising that you stopped going there when they moved from Willis Street to Courtney Place, but because, apparently, the service sucked for someone.
I will tempt fate by saying this is something I’ve never hit there. In fact, I’ve been rediscovering the place with some joy; a dozen or so years ago I’d hang out there at 3 or 4 in the morning when it was one of the few places still open, or go in during the evening for the delicious-but-pricey food.
Fast forward to now and the food is still delicious (mmmmmm, nachos), still arives in great mounds I struggle to finish (mmmmm, cheesecake), but since their prices don’t seem to have altered in the intervening decade they’ve moved from expensive-but-good to reasonable-but-good. Seriously, when “toast and spreads” in most of Wellington gets you a couple of hunks of bread, a gruding amount of butter, and one flavour of spreadable goo for your $4-$5, it’s nice to get half a dozen spreads and a pile of toast. And, like I say, best. cafe. nachos. ever. And their ever-delicious desserts.
And, most importantly, bonus points for being one of the select few cafes where the staff actually pay attention when I order a fluffy for my daughter, and grasp that an 18 month old does not have the abaility to drink them safely if the person behind the counter heats them to the point they’d blister skin. This is, sadly, an attribute that’s rarer than you’d think. Pointing out the unsuitability of scalding milk for toddlers and suggesting warm would be a better alternative produces annoying sulking at more than a few places.
I still love Esspressoholic even if the cool kids don’t.
Saturday, April 28. 2007
Friday, April 27. 2007
Toward the southern end of Cuba Street, Coco looked quite promising as a lunch venue; the menu was interesting and not unreasonably priced.
There are, indeed, some strong points: the food is delicious, and reasonable for the price. My crumbed chicken and bacon burger was delicious, Maire’s fajitas likewise.
But there endith the good part of the tale. First, a 45 minute wait for food on a lunch menu is clearly for people who aren’t, you know, working or anything during the day. Screwing up the order is never that flash either. And the waitstaff getting snippy when one points out they haven’t actually brought what you ordered doesn’t add to the experience.
We won’t be bothering again.
Friday, December 29. 2006
You say that like it’s a problem, not an opportunity.
Consider that pork fat and potato are always a magic combination. Now contemplate the role of gypsy bacon.
Mmm, two types of pig meat.
So, as before, you slice your potato slices and boil until cooked. While you do that, you dice a slab of gypsy bacon and throw it in a pan with your leftover pork fat from the roast.
Once it’s getting close to the nice crisp finish that bacon ought to have, you start chucking your chunks of pre-cooked potato into the pan, frying them up in the sizziling fats, stirring the whole mess together until the potato is golden brown.
Drain the fat off, serve with token vegetables.
Thursday, December 28. 2006
If you’re like me, you believe pork is the king of meats: Pigs are friendly and delicious.
A hunk of roast pork for dinner for the holidays is a fine thing, but generally you have leftover pork. One thing you can do with it is cold meat sandwiches; another is to join me in the land of heart-attack meals.
Peel and slice up some potato and chuck it in boiling water until it’s cooked to the point where you’d be happy to eat it.
While you’re waiting for the potato to cook, put some of the leftover fats from last nightyou did save the fats, right?and stick ‘em in a frypan. Slice up your cold, fatty pork, and gently heat it in the pan; you want it to sizzle to a lightly crisp exterior, warming through, and for the fat to render down until it’s crispy. Heating it quickly will just burn things, so take your time.
Stir the pork around the pan so it doesn’t burn.
Once the meat is as crispy as you like, fish it out of the fat and drain it. Leave the fat in the pan. Drain the boiled potato slices, and dump them into the pan and fry until golden with pork fat. Ladle the potato out, chuck it on the plate with the meat. Serve with token vegetables.
Oh, and save the delicious pork fat. There’s more to come.
Thursday, July 27. 2006
Remiro Bresolin is dying. Maire and I have had our wedding reception and every anniversary at Il Casino; from a selfish perspective I’ll be very sad if it dissapears from the Wellington restaurant landscape, but not half as upset as the owner’s family must be.
Sunday, May 28. 2006
Despite the glass walls and a (mild) winter’s day the cafe was comfortably warm; that’s an improvement in many Wellington cafes tat seem to regard heating as an optional extra. The seats are a delight, as well; again a point of difference from the many venues that seem to have either hired designers who think comfortable seats are a sign of aesthetic failure, or owners whose business plan involves finding chairs from a decomissioned school.
The staff were attentive without being cloying; they also seem to have the flipside of the Midnight Espresso vat, the bit that pumps out good, pleasant staff (I joiked many years ago, about the time I stopped going there, that Midnight seemed to have a vat they grew identical surley altrna-chicks in; said clones all sported sneers that told customers they were too cool to be working in cafes, and customers bore the brunt of the toxic personalities).
Bolognase on cibatta with sauteed potatoes and fried pancetta as extras was delicious; the pancetta was fried enough to be crisp, but not so much as to lose all flavour and juice. The potatos were perfect, neither fried to the point of being chips, or left undercooked and solid in the center. The bolognase itself was rich, with a wonderful smokey, almost tobacco, flavour.
Maire had pasta with West Coast wild boar, which was sweet and tasty.
Prices are reasonablethe full meals are at the top end of cafe prices, but given that the quality is better than many restaurants around town, they look like a bargain. The lunch menu is a very decent pricethe bolognase on toast was $7.50, for example.
The only caveat is that the food takes longer to arrive than most cafes. On a relaxing Saturday this isn’t a problem. If you’re looking for a heat-and-eat experience, head elsewhere.
I plan on working my way through their menu.
Sunday, May 14. 2006
I went for a wander through Hataitai and down to Roseneath to have lunch at the excellent Feast cafe today, and hauled a camera along to see what I could see.
Looking past the Miramar Peninsula and Somes Island to Eastborne:
Somes Island has been used for a variety of purposes over the years, including an internment camp for Germans and others of suspect loyalties during World War I, and a quarantine station. It’s currently administered by DOC.
On this tip of Miramar is the Massey Memorial:
This is a mausoleum containing former populist prime minister William Massey; popular at the time, he is today rememberd for the class war he waged via Massey’s Cossacks, and (rightly or wrongly) being directly responsible for breaking the quarantine that had protected New Zealand from the 1918 influenza.
You can also see the Eastborne ferry running through the murk. Workmates who live in Eastborne wear by it as the most civilised way to move to and from the city.
The Hataitai castle:
OK, so it isn’t a castle, and it’s probably closer to Greta Point than Hataitai proper. But if you mention the castle a goodly number of people will no what you’re talking about; a sprawling manor-style house with broad lawns, sitting on a Mount Victoria foothill all its own; a cable car runs down to the road below.
The Door to Nowhere:
Wellington is hilly, and our streets are narrow with poor parking. This leads to some parking solutions than in other places would be remarkably novel, but here are fairly commonplace:
(Feast, sadly, was jam-packed, so we had to pass up their fine service and excellent fare.)
We decided to give Boulôt a try; it’s a restaurant set up by the Bresolini borthers, sons of Remiro Bresolini of Il Casino fame. It’s a more casual affair than Il Casino, and with the three of us (Maire, Carla and I) ambling in on a Friday evening we were still able to score a table, something of a pleasant surprise.
There’s a bar with a reasonably broad cocktail menu, an impressive kitchen visible to the customer (with a large, wood-fired pizza oven); there’s no obnoxiously loud music (a staple of too many Courtney Place bar/restaurants).
The service was good; when Carla ordered a long black, meaning a Founder’s Long Black beer, and got a coffee, the staff replaced it with a the desired beverage without any argument about who said and heard what; someone was always at the table when we needed them and not bugging us when we didn’t.
The food itself is very good indeed; we kicked off with a shared garlic pizza between us, which was delicious; this was a favourite of mine at the departed Europa cafe/restaurant on Oriental Parade, and Boulôt do it well.
For mains I went for the Pizza Rustica, a basic tomato, cheese, and proscuitto topping on a thin crust. The base was delicious, the topping exquisite. The proscuitto is added post-cooking, and is extra-tasty for it; the pizzas appear to be made on the spot. It was huge, and easily defeated me, derailing my plans for dessert.
Maire had confit de canard on cassoulet, and pronounce the duck perfect; Carla had a rigatoni which demolished her.
Carla and I split a bottle of an Italian desert wine (Nivoli Asti); mildly sparkling and not too sweet and syrupy. Maire had a quince tart that was, apparently, perfection.
All and all I was very pleased; at $147 for the three of us it’s in the middle of Wellington restaurant prices.
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