Tag Archives: Breakfast/Brunch

Cheese, leek & sucuk toast - chasseur sun grill duck egg blue

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie

Cheese, leek & sucuk toast - chasseur sun grill duck egg blue

Five years ago I fell in love.

There we were wandering about the Borough Market in London when I spotted a cabinet stacked with ready-to-cook cheese sandwiches. Poilâne sourdough, Montgomery Cheddar, Ogleshield, leek, onion and garlic. Such a delightful collection of ingredients.

Snaking away from the small vendor was a constant line of hungry punters, waiting their turn to bite into cheesy nirvana. I had to join them. Wise move as the line of people grew to about 15, and every time the aroma of the toasting sandwiches hit me I knew I was in for something special.

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie recipe

The first bite wasn’t the most pleasant. That bubbling cheese burned my lips, but I couldn’t stop. This thing was freaking amazing! The combination of cheeses was so sharp and delicious, slightly mellowed by the leek and onion mixture.

It’s taken several years, but I’ve made my own version of this toastie. I stuck by the sharp ages cheddar idea as it’s this that really makes the sandwich shine. To ramp the flavours even more I’ve thrown in some beautiful Turkish sucuk.

I adore it every time I have it in restaurants. It’s heavily spiced and intensely aromatic, but the problem is that it’s only available at specialty suppliers; most of which are too far from home.

Then I remembered the MFC Supermarket in Rosebery. Close enough to home and they stock it constantly.

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie recipe

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie - chasseur sun grill duck egg blue

I’ve gone the old fashioned route and toasted the sandwiches in a pan. No sandwich press in this household, you see, so a griddle pan did the trick perfectly. Lots of sizzle, lots of cheesy smoke, a gentle flip and a little more sizzle.

I cooked the slices of sucuk on the pan first. Not only does it grease it up when the oil releases from the sausage, but the delicious oil soaks into the bread when it’s time to do the sandwiches.

Hello flavour!

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie - chasseur sun grill duck egg blue

cheese, leek & sucuk toastie

serves 2

 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, finely sliced (white part only)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
  • 200 g aged cheddar cheese, grated
  • 150 g sucuk, sliced 5mm thick on the diagonal
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • butter
  • caperberries or pickles, to serve

 

Heat a skillet over medium flame and sauté the leek in the olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, a pinch of salt, and continue cooking until soft and opaque. Set aside.

Lay two slices of the bread on a board and divide the cooked leek evenly over each slice. Season with lots of cracked black pepper. Top the leek with half of the grated cheese.

Heat a griddle pan over medium-high and cook the sucuk on both sides. Lay the sucuk over the grated cheese on each half of the sandwich, top with the remaining cheese, then lay the other slice of bread on top.

Lightly butter the top of the sandwich, carefully flip over and butter the other slice.

Gently lay the filled sandwiches onto the hot griddle, pressing down gently with a spatula. After a couple of minutes, or when golden on the underside, use the spatula to turn the sandwich over to cook the other side.

If you want, you can scatter more grated cheese over the cooked sandwiches and put them beneath a grill until bubbling and golden.

Serve immediately with caperberries or pickles.

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

Romanesco & soya bean bruschetta with beet & blueberry chutney

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

Here we are revisiting a vegetable that I consider to be one of the most beautiful around. My previous encounter with it involved a bit of spicy heat, some crunch from fried capers and almonds, with pops of colour from pomegranate and native Australian riberries.

What I’ve created here is another play on colours, textures and flavours. There’s nothing like mixing things up, right?

I’ve kept things on vegetarian side with this one, although some crumbled crispy prosciutto would take it to another level.

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

My freezer has a bag of soya beans in it pretty much year-round. Handy to have, really, tossed into stews and curries, quickly pan-fried with some bacon; they’re quite the resourceful ingredient. All I’ve done is make a simple purée with the soya beans; nothing too glamorous as I didn’t want it to compete with the other layers.

That stash of beet & blueberry chutney I made recently came in use with many things I knocked together in the kitchen – namely with meaty concoctions, mind you.

I’ve topped the purée with the chutney, then crowned it with wedges of the gorgeous Romanesco that I’ve briefly steamed and pan-seared with spices. There’s crunch, there’s salt, there’s sweet and there’s sour. A great little canapé idea, as well!

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

romanesco & soya bean bruschetta with beet & blueberry chutney

serves approximately 4

 

  • 250 g soya beans, frozen – plus extra, to garnish
  • 75 ml (5 tbsp) water
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 Romanesco cauliflower, quartered lengthways
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • baguette, cut into 1 cm slices
  • Beet & blueberry chutney
  • chervil leaves and blueberries, to garnish

 

Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Carefully toss in the soya beans and boil for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Place the warm soya beans, water and ground coriander into a jug or small bowl. Using a stick blender, blitz them into a smooth paste. Check for seasoning and set aside.

Steam the wedges of Romanesco for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place a small skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the cumin and mustard seeds until golden and aromatic. Do not burn! Put the spices and pinch of salt into a mortar, and pound to a powder using the pestle. Alternatively use a spice grinder.

Place a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and carefully lay the wedges of Romanesco into the oiled pan, turning over to coat both cut sides. Immediately sprinkle over a little of the spice-salt mixture, turning when the underside is golden. Sprinkle over a little more of the spice-salt. Set aside as you toast your bread.

Lightly oil the bread and either grill or griddle it, until toasted.

To assemble, spread the soya bean mixture over the toasted baguette, top with the chutney, then the cauliflower. Garnish with a few sprigs of chervil, a few blueberries and soya beans.

Du Liban Bakery interior

Du Liban Bakery & Roasters

People sitting at Du Liban Bakery and Roasters

Warm, creamy tahini flecked with soft fava beans, a few chunks of fresh tomato, some parsley and good splodge of olive oil. This is the ful madames (8.5) – an earthy breakfast dish that’s bound to get the constitution working.

A good dunking with torn flatbread, sip of coffee, I’m in love.

Du Liban Bakery and Roasters

Here we have Du Liban Bakery & Roasters, another relatively new eatery in the heart of Marrickville’s industrial neighbourhood. I had no idea this place existed until it was spotted when looking down the side street after lunch at nearby Roastville Coffee.

“Du Liban”- French lingo for “of Lebanon”.

Kinda fitting, really, considering one of the first things you see upon entry is racks of manaqish with a variety of fillings and toppings. The French bit covers the likes of baguettes and pastries, all available to take away or eat in.

Du Liban Bakery and Roasters

Breakfast at Du Liban Bakery and Roasters

It may be in a relatively vast warehouse, but front-of-house doesn’t have an abundance of seats. A couple of communal tables inside, a few window bench seats and a handful on the footpath. I love that there’s repurposed wood almost everywhere you look – the doorframe, the shelving, tables and benches – even old bakers trays have a new lease of life as table tops.

Breakfast is a step away from the mainstream, as you can guess from the ful madames I mentioned earlier. The kareem little weekend breakfast (8.5) is a shredded omelette, of sorts. It’s delivered room temperature and served with generous slab of cream cheese and toasted baguette. Decent enough, though I’m wondering if the eggs were meant to be on the cool-side.

Coffee at Du Liban Bakery and Roasters

Breakfast at Du Liban Bakery and Roasters

The same eggs come with the Du Liban big weekend breakfast (16.5) – again on the cool-side, with baked tomato, a spiced mince and some rocking potatoes sautéed with butter, lemon and garlic. The menu does mention sausage, not mince, so perhaps it gets broken up in the pan before plating or there was some kind of mix-up. Flatbread and pickles come with it.

The savouries from the cabinet are definitely worth a try. You’ve got to love fresh-baked Lebanese bread, right? A spinach & feta fatayer (4.5) is simple in flavours, yet moist and enlivened with fresh lemon; its open-faced counterpart of fried potato & egg (5.5) also goes down a treat.

We’re yet to try the sweets, but something tells me the knefeh, almond tarts and atayef are no slouches in the flavour department. As for the coffee – blended and roasted off-site somewhere in Marrickville, it gets two thumbs up. So good we grabbed a kilo of beans to take home.

Du Liban Bakery and Roasters in Marrickville

Du Liban Bakery and Roasters

  • Du Liban Bakery and Roasters
  • 14 Chalder Street
  • Marrickville 2204
  • 02 9550 3569
  • website
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Breakfast at Cortado Cafe in Lawson, Blue Mountains

Cortado

Cortado cafe in Lawson, Blue Mountains

Ever since some friends moved to the village of Lawson in the Blue Mountains, Cortado has become our coffee go-to by default. We’ve sussed out the local pub – the Blue Mountains Hotel – with its rustic food offerings, and this time around I made sure the camera was handy for our revisit to this relatively new cafe on Staples Street.

The widening of the highway led to the demolition of Lawson’s Mid Mountains shopping centre, but with the replacement building now complete and slowly filling with tenants, the village centre is slowly coming back to life.

Cortado cafe in Lawson, Blue Mountains

Breakfast at Cortado cafe in Lawson, Blue Mountains - feature by heneedsfood

Music producer Tom Charuk (aka The Silent Titan) is the owner of this small village cafe; a Wentworth Falls local that’s been on the cafe scene for 15 years. There may be construction right next door, but nothing appears to be stopping the steady stream of locals dropping by for their morning takeaways or leisurely breakfasts and lunches.

Alto Familia Specialty Coffee is the bean of choice at Cortado, a micro-roaster that happens to be another one of Tom’s babies; roasted here in Lawson. Crafted blends of arabica beans and single origins make for a gutsy drop that shines when there’s not too much milk involved.

Cortado cafe in Lawson, Blue Mountains

Aside from the cakes, pastries and rolls that appear on the counter display, a simple sheet of wall-mounted black perspex is where the rest of the edibles are scribed. Not much, mind you, just a few sandwiches, salads and brekkie dishes that are knocked together in the small kitchen behind the counter.

Breakfast for this pair was a relatively speedy affair – toasted sourdough with avocado & smoked salt (10), with some added jamón and feta for a few extra bucks. Nice, simple and satisfying.

What I was expecting to be served bruschetta-style ended up in toasted sandwich form – the smashed egg, chorizo and chipotle mayo (8) on sourdough. A pretty decent sandwich, especially that chorizo which so happens to be made in Marrickville, Sydney.

I’d love to see more choice on the menu, but with the lack of a fully-functioning kitchen, I guess they’re doing what they can. Who knows what we’ll see down the track?

Cortado cafe in Lawson, Blue Mountains

  • Cortado
  • 11 Staples Street
  • Lawson 2683
  • 0422 081 569
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Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

Roastville Coffee

Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

Will our humble Inner West suburb of Marrickville ever feel the fatigue of having too many coffee roasters? I mean, how many are there within the boundaries of 2204? At least five, I’m sure, so the more the merrier I say. Quite often when I’m at St Peters station I notice the smell of coffee being roasted; wafting from somewhere about a kilometre away in Marrickville. The problem is you just don’t know who’s responsible for it.

No complaints, mind you.

When the better half told me about a relatively new roastery and cafe in the thick of warehouse-ville on Victoria Road, I went in for a little investigating when I had the chance. Opening such a business in what’s pretty much an industrial area means nothing to us city folk. People work there – they need food and coffee. People live nearby – they have the same requirements. The average caffeine addict doesn’t give a toss about location.

Muffins at Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

The guy behind Roastville is George Choutis, a bloke with something like 20 years of industry experience under his belt. His hard work has truly paid off in transforming 157 Victoria Road into a place where you can grab a coffee, a bite and take a sneaky peek at how a boutique coffee roaster operates.

You’re first greeted with a small, open-air courtyard scattered with tables and benches. Perfect place to sit and up your intake of vitamin D. Inside it’s a mood board of glazed green tiles, parquetry, chipboard and amber lighting; with recessed shelving displaying preserves, sugar, local honey, coffee accoutrement and packets of roasted beans.

Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

Pastry chef Libby does a fine job in filling and topping the chiller cabinet with her sweet temptations. Slices, cakes, muffins – you name it. As for the savoury stuff, chef Rumil Binas has put together an all day breakfast and lunch menu that has some little beauties well-worth trying.

Green eggs (15.9) is one of them. When I think of green eggs I imagine scrambled eggs mixed with basil pesto. There’s none of that going on. This is a celebration of many things green – kale, sugar snaps, broad beans and chervil cream – lovingly pan-tossed and topped with two 65° eggs, a light touch of chilli powder and hunk of toasted Brickfields sourdough.

Green eggs at Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

Dirty bird benedict at Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

For those that like a bit of fried chicken with with their eggs, this one’s for you – the dirty bird benedict (15.9). Golden, crispy and moist, the chicken sports two oozing eggs and mild harissa hollandaise. Wowsers.

The lunch menu is a medley of sandwiches, salads, burgers and two mains we couldn’t resist. Yes we’ve all seen the chicken and waffles thing, but how about fried chicken and kimchi waffles? (17). As if that isn’t enough, Kewpie mayo and sriracha come to the party, as does a generous grating of parmesan. The kimchi is already in the waffle batter; something that does render it soggy if you let it sit too long, but dive in quick and there’s no drama.

12-hour slow braised beef cheek (19) is another winning menu entry, and not overly rich as one would expect. The collagen-rich meat melts pretty much as soon as you stick it in your gob, and as you dive into the celeriac purée, mushrooms and baby carrots, it’s happiness central in the mouth.

There’s no denying these guys have become a welcome addition to the Marrickville scene – weekdays and weekends – and good to see there’s some very decent grub to go along with that great coffee.

Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

Fried chicken & kimchi waffles at Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

12-hr slow braised beef cheeks at Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

Roastville Coffee, Marrickville

  • Roastville Coffee
  • 157 Victoria Road
  • Marrickville 2204
  • 02 9560 4802
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Flour Drum Newtown window display

Flour Drum Newtown

Flour Drum Newtown

It may not be the farm he dreamed of building one day, but the spanking new Flour Drum on Newtown’s King Street south is a damn fine effort by Newtown lad and co-owner Johnny Ageletos. Together with his partners Christopher Heaps and Victor Li, they’ve transformed 531 King Street into a cosy eating space that also offers us jams and relishes from Johnny’s Pantry – made by none other than Ageletos himself.

Each of them brings something to the table. Christopher with his previous stints at Bel Mondo, Wharf Restaurant and A Tavola – Victor is well seasoned in marketing, thanks to being creative arts director at an advertising agency; and Johnny’s done the hospitality thing since being a teen.

Flour Drum Newtown

Shredded pancake at Flour Drum Newtown

Corned beef hash at Flour Drum Newtown

Aside from the giant mural that’s commissioned by local artist Scott Marsh, the walls act as chalkboards – displaying the breakfast and lunch edibles that are knocked together by chef Michael Gorski and his offsider Jason.

One of his signatures is the shredded pancake (11.5), an ensemble that’s made for easy one-handed eating. It’s creamed-up with vanilla mascarpone, with juicy strawberry compote and caramelised pistachios.

I was a tad besotted with the corned beef hash (14), a hefty lump of goodness that’s packing in the flavour department. It could be a little rich for some, but coupled with a poached egg and tangy kale salad, it’s a winner in my eyes.

Victor Li at Flour Drum Newtown

Flour Drum Newtown

Baked beans at Flour Drum Newtown

Aside from the relishes and jams, there’s a whole lot of “house-made” going on. All the cakes, pastries and pies, the milk buns, toasted muesli, peanut butter and these insane baked beans (15.5). Johnny takes credit for the beans – and rightly so. Chunks of smoked ham hock and confit tomato with toast from Brickfields.

Flour Drum Newtown

Pulled pork bun at Flour Drum Newtown

The seasonal lunch menu features the likes of soups and salads, burgers, pies and anything else they feel like whipping up. A petite slow-cooked pulled pork (11) burger is juicy and not overloaded, with good crunch from an Asian slaw.

Incase meat doesn’t float the boat there’s a wholesome quinoa & roasted pumpkin salad (12) dressed in tahini with fennel, carrots, cauliflower and pine nuts.

The counter has a small selection of sweet offerings like cakes, tarts and something I couldn’t resist – Mums baklava – made by Johnny’s mum that lives just down the road. Nice one, Mrs Ageletos.

Quinoa salad at Flour Drum Newtown

Flour Drum Newtown

Window display at Flour Drum Newtown

  • Flour Drum Newtown
  • 531 King Street
  • Newtown 2042
  • 02 9565 2822
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Newcastle Ocean Baths photography

40 hours in Newcastle

A lavish lunch at Bombini prompted this pair to make a weekend of it. Sure a rental apartment or hotel room in nearby Avoca or Terrigal would have done the trick for a city getaway, but heading further north to Newcastle made the cut.

We touched on the port city very briefly when we did lunch at Saluna earlier this year, vowing to return to see what else went down in this gritty town.

Darby Lane, Newcastle

Sports car in Darby Street, Newcastle

I probably shouldn’t make comparisons to Sydney, but Darby Street reminds me of parts of Surry Hills. Its village atmosphere, its collection of boho stores, buzzing eateries and galleries. Something for everyone, as they say.

Darby Lane prayer flags, Newcastle

Newcastle sunset

Taking its name from one of New York’s earliest street gangs, The Bowery Boys on Darcy Street is a beacon for all things pickled, smoked and cured. Plus a little more, mind you.

Co-owner and chef Steven Zielke has done stints at Table for 20 and Buffalo Dining Club in Sydney, amongst others, teaming with Ethan Ortlipp and Ryan Hawthorne; a couple of fella’s that made names for themselves at the Ivy and Sticky Bar, also in Sydney.

The Bowery Boys, Newcastle

Smoked trout at The Bowery Boys, Newcastle

Good food and decent booze is what The Bowery Boys is all about, and for us, a start on some mighty fine smoked tidbits. Zielke tries his hand at making his own pepperoni, but the bulk of the smoked goodies come from Quattro Stelle and the salumi from Pino’s Dolce Vita, both in Sydney.

The charcuterie selection (21) is a taste-fest of speck, truffle salami, jamón, pepperoni and the most divine ‘dnuja – a spicy, spreadable pork sausage that packs a real punch.

From the protein list, the hot smoked rainbow trout (32) is probably the best I’ve come across. It’s warm, aromatic served whole. A little work is involved, but not much. Simply peel back the skin and dive in. Bloody beautiful.

The Bowery Boys, Newcastle

Should any gents require some grooming, the communal “wet area” provides a tub of beard balm – something for the bearded urban gentries that simply must have their facial growth coiffed at all times. Makes me wonder if it’s also a jar that’s a communal gathering of hairs from different blokes.

Back to something much more appetising, a farro & roasted plum salad (15) is about simplicity, taste and texture. Creamy labne is a nice addition, something that’s much needed to cut through the rich fattiness of the Sichuan lamb ribs (29). Lined up like soldiers, the melting meat and fat is complemented by pickled eggplant and a little black garlic.

Sichuan lamb ribs at The Bowery Boys, Newcastle

  • The Bowery Boys
  • 5/107 Darby Street
  • Cooks Hill 2300
  • website

 

Newcastle street scenes

Blue Door cafe, Newcastle

Spanish breakfast at Blue Door cafe, Newcastle

First breakfast venue on this fleeting visitation was at The Blue Door, down in the civic precinct in the CBD. Early opening times mean early breakfast; a wise move as these guys are heaving by 9am.

Decent coffee and a rather hearty Spanish breakfast (24) served in a small cast iron skillet. It’s a celebration of tomato, beans and chorizo; topped with poached eggs and a side of kipflers.

A much lighter smashed avocado (18) on toast is spruced with feta, cherry tomatoes and spritz of lemon.

Full tummies, it was time to hit the markets.

Blue Door cafe, Newcastle

Breakfast at Blue Door cafe, Newcastle

  • The Blue Door
  • 363-365 Hunter Street
  • Newcastle 2300
  • 02 4929 4988
  • website

 

Fred C Ash Building, Newcastle

Newcastle mural

Newcastle City Farmers Market

Sunday morning, sun was shining and Novocastrians were out at the  farmers’ market stocking up on all things fresh, tasty and hand crafted. Local wines and produce from the Hunter Valley seem to be the highlight, along with a whole gamut of jewellery, clothing, accessories and stuff for the home and kitchen.

Newcastle City Farmers Market

The market sprawls much more than we’d expected, filling two pavilions as well as the areas around them. Wafts of food being cooked fill the walkways; bacon, grilled meats, fried pastry and fresh coffee draw you in to taste and buy.

Held every Sunday 8am-1pm.

Newcastle City Farmers Market

Newcastle City Farmers Market

  • Newcastle City Farmers’ Market
  • Newcastle Showground  Griffiths Road
  • Broadmeadow 2292
  • website

 

Newcastle Ocean Baths

Newcastle Ocean Baths

Newcastle Ocean Baths

Newcastle Ocean Baths

McGourty's, Newcastle street scene

Fortunate Son, Newcastle

Yes, the farmers’ market had a sizeable selection of food stalls, and yes we could have grabbed lunch there, but I wanted to try a place back in Hamilton.

Tucked beneath the Boulevard on Beaumont, Fortunate Son wears a smart outfit of browns and blacks, almost feeling like you’re in a hotel lobby.

The morning crowd is looked after with a very decent spread of breakfast and Pablo & Rusty’s coffee, whereas the lunch punters have bar snacks, smoked and cured meats, baguettes and lunch plates available. The dinner menu looks mighty fine, as well; taking a step up from lunch with the likes of confit pork belly & cured cheek or Pyrenees lamb with sweetbread.

If I was a local I’d be making repeat visits to try just about everything on the menu. Yes, it’s that good. For some reason I kept my gluttony in check and ordered just two dishes.

Fortunate Son, Newcastle

The house black pudding (9) is like none other that I’ve tried. Served in a small terracotta ramekin, there are no defined slices of the pudding. It just seems like one mass of pudding, injected with a fruity purée (peach or apricot?) here and there. Some heavily buttered toast is the only accompaniment, and man, that gorgeous pudding is almost as fine as the purée; far from the granular stuff I’m used to.

The other half tucks into one of the baguettes (16), loaded with rocket, pickles, mustard and house-smoked chicken. That chicken packs a smokey punch.

From the “Grilled & Braised meats”, I head for the bbq beef short rib (26). The great lump of meat tears away with very little effort, is smokey and incredibly rich. A few brassica greens inject a bit of colour and a very tasty cheese & cauliflower “cobbler” has me quietly wanting more. Oh man, those juices and that cobbler. Magic.

Fortunate Son, Newcastle

  • Fortunate Son
  • 131 Beaumont Street
  • Hamilton 2303
  • 02 4961 0512
  • website

 

Newcastle waterfront

Subo review, Newcastle

A few quiet sundowners by the waterfront got us in the mood for our final meal for the day – at Subo, a contemporary dining room on a part of Hunter Street I wouldn’t expect to see a restaurant of such calibre.

Chef Beau Vincent has done stints with Tetsuya Wakuda, Guillaume Brahimi and Warren Turnbull, so you can imagine what kind of edibles turn up on the five course menu. Front of house is managed by Suzie, Beau’s wife, and with years of experience between them, they’ve created a stylish and intimate venue that celebrates seasonal ingredients.

The front room of the restaurant feels a tad gallery-like; pretty much bare walls except for a couple of sculptured wire animal busts and oversized wooden pegs that serve as coat hangers at the bespoke front door .

At the back of the restaurant, past the kitchen, is a detached pavilion-style dining space where things are a little more intimate.

Subo review

When Subo first opened there was the choice of a la carte or five course set menu (82). They’ve done away with a la carte and made it easier for themselves; a simpler process for the diner, as well.

Special mention needs to be made about the bread. It comes from Baked Uprising in Maryville, about five minutes from the restaurant. Served with house-churned butter and dusted with nori, it’s probably a bit dangerous that you can have as much as you want.

Subo, Newcastle

We start with roasted brie that features three types of cabbage – savoy, Chinese and Brussels sprouts; strewn over the creamy cheese with a touch of beurre blanc, dill oil and crisp potato curls. The cheese is the clear winner in this one, dominating the other more neutrally flavoured elements with its buttery richness.

Next is the ika shime calamari that’s sourced from Port Lincoln, very lightly roasted over charcoal and served with squid ink crisps. A black pool of squid ink, lemongrass and kaffir lime sauce spills away from the squid tube, with a splodge of deep green nettle purée and light dusting of powdered codium seaweed.

Subo, Newcastle

Grown near the Riverina town of Junee, this small hunk of lamb has been slow-cooked for two days. It’s an exceptional piece of meat, given the glaze treatment with caramel, star anise, coriander and chilli. A creamy parsnip purée and shaved daikon in chardonnay vinegar are the only accompaniments. As great as that lamb was, it was the daikon that stole the show for us. That dressing was incredible.

The first dessert took me back to the early 90’s, ordering one of those frozen desserts from a flip menu at a mediocre Italian restaurant. You know the desserts I’m talking about? The Subo frozen orange is nothing like the rock hard ones I remember – it’s filled with orange ice cream, topped with orange granita and powdered with crushed milk crisps. So refreshingly beautiful.

Finally, we get a tarte tatin like no other.  Butternut pumpkin, to be precise. The pastry is thin and slightly crisp, and chunks of soft pumpkin huddle together beneath a coat of maple syrup and pepitas. An almond milk & chestnut ice cream freshens the earthy sweet-savoury pumpkin. Definitely an intriguing combination.

Subo dessert, Newcastle

  • Subo
  • 551D Hunter Street
  • Newcastle 2302
  • 02 4023 4048
  • website

 

One Penny Black, Newcastle

An early wake-up call saw us at One Penny Black, lining up in the freezing cold to order some rocking coffees and food to boot. Inside was already full – not that it takes much – so beneath fleecy blankets out on the mall it was for us.

Check this for a breakfast plate – wild black rice & quinoa porridge (15). No, I haven’t gone all vegan on you, but you must admit, it looks pretty damn tasty. This is a porridge that requires a bit more chew-time and what makes it shine is what’s happening around it. Poached pear and rhubarb, coconut cream and coconut panna cotta. Kinda like dessert for breakfast, sans the high levels of sugar.

A much more conventional bacon & poached eggs (21) was the other choice, served over grilled sourdough with feta, sautéed mushrooms and tufts of rocket and pea tendrils. Massive quantity of bacon, I should add.

Breakfast at One Penny Black, Newcastle

One Penny Black, Newcastle

Breakfast at One Penny Black, Newcastle

  • One Penny Black
  • 196 Hunter Street
  • Newcastle 2300
  • 02 4929 3169
  • website

 

Doughheads, Newcastle

I thought 7am was a tad early for a busker to be belting out folk tunes on a mall that had only two places open. We were quick to learn that it was the first birthday of Doughheads and the musician was there to set the mood. Talented girl, whoever she was.

I reckon these guys would do fine without the live soundtrack, as the line of 20-odd people trailing out the door was indicator enough that there was something worthwhile inside. Time to jump in and see what all the commotion was about, methinks.

A handful of crafted doughnuts and nothing much more. For our post-breakfast sugar hit it was a vanilla glaze and sticky date, plus a complimentary buttercream because it was their birthday. As far as a doughnut goes, they’re pretty special, and with varying levels of caffeine and sucrose bouncing about our bodies, it was time to hit the freeway.

Thanks, Newcastle, we’re outa here.

Dough heads doughnuts, Newcastle

Dough heads sticky date doughnut with syringe, Newcastle

  • Doughheads
  • Shop 17, 200-212 Hunter Street
  • Newcastle 2300
  • 0408 424 500
  • website
Jeds, Bondi Beach | heneedsfood.com

Jeds

Jeds, Bondi Beach

Some people say that if you want to know where Bondi locals hang out you need to steer clear of Campbell Parade. Perhaps there’s a little truth in that, but with a road that straddles our country’s most famous beach, you’ve got to expect a few out-of-towners.

Not all that far from the beach is one precinct that appears to attract the locals. Glenayr Avenue. A residential area with a fair share of eateries to dose-up on fresh juices, egg white omelettes, coconut milk beverages and açaí bowls.

2026 wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jeds, Bondi Beach

Jeds, Bondi Beach

A casual birthday get-together for the sister-in-law brought us to Bondi; in particular that bustling corner of Glenayr and Warners. Schlepping from the Junction to Jeds is a relatively painless 30 minute journey, but cooling down on arrival came first and foremost – in the form of cold drip, of course.

The digs are Bondi through and through. Surfboards up on the walls, fit bodies populating the tables and chilled beats wafting from the stereo.

Jeds, Bondi Beach

Jeds, Bondi Beach breakfast

Jeds, Bondi Beach

Jeds, Bondi Beach

The brunch menu was what we were here for – an ensemble of Central/South American-inspired plates that stand apart from the normal cafe staples.

The zapatista eggs (18) is all about texture and taste. Scrambled googs topped with crunchy corn tortilla strips, avocado, crumbled cheese and tiny amount of pickled cactus and white corn. There’s a charred green chilli to chomp into along the way, just to incase your tongue needs waking up.

Eggs & chorizo (18) is a classic combo and the specimen at Jeds is no slouch. A squeeze of fresh lime, a little paprika and tomato relish makes for a smashing scramble.

Jeds, Bondi Beach

Jeds, Bondi Beach

Food envy struck across the board when we all spotted the birthday girls BRT (10). A bit of a tasty bargain considering the size, and generously loaded with bacon, roquette, tomato and avocado. Beautiully spiced with chipotle alioli.

And then there’s this fellow that has more of a Japanese accent, rather than Hispanic. Eggs kurosawa (19.5). Another scrambled egg dish, this time topped with soft cubes of teriyaki tofu, a fan of avo, orange segment and nori. Lurking in the depths of the black clay bowl is a bed of warm quinoa, and all together, it’s like a warm hug from an obaasan.

Jeds, Bondi Beach eggs kurosawa

Jeds, Bondi Beach

  • Jeds Bondi Beach
  • 96 Glenayr Avenue
  • Bondi Beach 2026
  • 02 9365 0022
  • website
  • Click to add a blog post for Jed's Bondi Beach on Zomato
Nins bin New Zealand

Nin’s Bin, Kaikoura, Akaroa & Christchurch

With only a few nights remaining on our New Zealand road trip, we could safely say that we were on the home stretch. An hour into the drive south from Blenheim we hit the coast, leaving Marlborough and entering Canterbury.

There’s not a great deal along this stretch of highway other than natural scenery, so when we came across The Store we took it as a perfect place to pit stop and take a breather from the driving.

It’s difficult to imagine that this was once an old tearoom and fuel stop. We were a little wowed on entry, taken by the gorgeous fit-out. Tree stump columns rise into a vaulted, tipi-like ceiling with a roaring hearth taking centre stage. Wood and metal tables, flickering pillar candles and bespoke armchairs cushioned with cowhide. There’s a real cosiness to the space.

The Store, Kekerengu, NZ

The Store, Kekerengu, NZ

There’s a variety of menu and cabinet food – quiches, slices, breakfast and sandwiches – and a variety of locally produced artisan oils and tid bits. A sprawling outdoor terrace takes advantage of the sunshine with patches of garden greenery and lawns offering outlooks to the nearby rocky beach.

The Store, Kekerengu, NZ

The Store, Kekerengu, NZ

  • The Store
  • 5748 State Highway 1
  • Kekerengu 7371
  • 03 575 8600
  • website

 

Ohau Stream, NZ

Seal pup at Ohau Stream, NZ

About 30 km down the coast is another place worth stopping for a short walk into the forest along the Ohau Stream and waterfall. It’s a nice walk but the highlight is what goes on in the pool at the base of the waterfall. During winter months you can catch sight of young seal pups playfully swimming in the pool or hanging out, occasionally fed by their mothers that come up to the pool.

Once winter is over the pups make their way to the sea to hone their hunting skills and learn how to survive on their own. And it doesn’t even cost you a cent to see them.

A little further down the road is the iconic Nin’s Bin. It all started in 1977 when the caravan was parked by the water every day to sell off the local crayfish and mussels. Towing it home each night became a problem when rust took hold, so now it has a permanent home by the rocky beach.

Nin's Bin, Rakautara, NZ

Steamed mussels at Nin's Bin, Rakautara, NZ

The days crayfish catch sits pre-boiled in a styrofoam box with prices scribed on each tail, with offers of being served either split in half and served cold with lemon or warmed with garlic butter. Hot chips and 1 dozen mussels were the only other options on this particular day.

I wasn’t all that hungry but I couldn’t visit the iconic Nin’s and not eat something. Mussels (18) it was – cooked in a little white wine and served with lemon. I noticed there was young wild fennel growing around the caravan and found myself foraging a few feathery tops to scatter through the steaming mussels. Hot, juicy and sweet. And the setting couldn’t be more perfect.

Crayfish at Nin's Bin, Rakautara, NZ

Steamed mussels at Nin's Bin, Rakautara, NZ

Nin's Bin, Rakautara, NZ

  • Nin’s Bin
  • State Highway 1
  • Rakautara
  • 03 319 6454
  • website

 


Kaikoura


Kaikoura, NZ

Further along the highway, the setting of the coastal town of Kaikoura becomes even more picturesque. Pacific Ocean to one side and the rugged, snow-capped Seaward Kaikoura Range on the other. It may not be the biggest town or have a great deal going on along its main strip, but there’s something about it that makes you want to stay a while.

And that, we did. For a night, anyway.

Kaikoura, NZ

Mayfair Theatre in Kaikoura, NZ

Pier Hotel in Kaikoura, NZ

Kaikoura, NZ

People descend upon Kaikoura for a handful of things – coastal walking, birdwatching and eating crayfish, to name a few. Come to think of it we barely touched the local seafood, but we did partake in one of the areas more popular activities. Not until a speedy spot of lunch, of course.

And speedy it was. A rather standard lunch at Groper Garage in the west end of town. Open chicken sandwich (10) and salt & pepper squid (15).

Groper Garage, Kaikoura, NZ

Groper Garage, Kaikoura, NZ

Groper Garage, Kaikoura, NZ

  • Groper Garage
  • 50 West End
  • Kaikoura 7300
  • 03 319 7407
  • website
  • Groper Garage on Urbanspoon

 

Kaikoura, NZ

Kaikoura is one of the only places in the world where the sperm whale can be seen relatively easily and all year-round. Any guesses what we got up to after lunch? There’s the assurance of an 80% refund should the Whale Watch boat not come across or track down one of these gorgeous creatures, but after an hour of sonar tracking we were in luck.

Hearing about seabirds was getting a tad yawn-inducing every time one flew past the boat. We were there to spot a whale, after all. Things perked up a bit when a sperm whale briefly appeared a couple of times, causing a flurry of excitement and a little relief. I’m sure nobody wants to go back to shore for a partial refund!

Whale watching in Kaikoura, NZ

Whale watching in Kaikoura, NZ

Seals on beach at Kaikoura, NZ

Those that are up for seal-spotting can head out to the Point Kean seal colony just outside of town. We, however, felt the need to stop along the way.

Kaikoura Seafood BBQ is another iconic supplier of edibles along this part of the east coast. They’ve been going at it for over a decade now, pumping out cooked saltwater critters to whoever’s willing to pull over and plonk themselves at one of the few coveted roadside benches.

Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk, Kaikoura, NZ

Grilled crayfish and whitebait fritters at Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk, Kaikoura, NZ

Scallops, salmon, crayfish, mussels and chowder are up for grabs – plus some whitebait fritters that were more egg than whitebait – unlike the ones you can get on the West Coast, which are more about the whitebait.

It was paua fritter (9) for me, sandwiched between two slices of fluffy seeded bread. The paua – or abalone – is sliced so fine that it goes virtually unnoticed in the egg patty; tasting more of hot-plate oil and eggs than anything else.

Paua fritter sandwich at Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk, Kaikoura, NZ

No feeding birds stones at Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk, Kaikoura, NZ

Grilled scallops at Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk, Kaikoura, NZ

  • Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk
  • Fyffe Quay
  • Kaikoura 7300
  • 03 433 9691
  • Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk on Urbanspoon

 

Fish & chips shop at Kaikoura, NZ

Kaikoura, NZ

Dinner options were far and few between on this particular September evening. One of the fish & chips joints or the pub, it seemed. Let’s do the pub, shall we?

Apart from a handful of other diners and boozers it was just us. Monteith’s fans are well catered for in the beer department, a brand that shows its face pretty much all over the country.

The Whaler, Kaikoura, NZ

Monteiths beer taps at The Whaler, Kaikoura, NZ

The Whaler menu features a bunch of tapas-style share plates – the likes of seafood skewers, calamari or soup – and your typical pub staples.

Our Mediterranean chicken (25) is a rustic plate of herbed thigh meat topped with a  flavourful sun-dried tomato and chorizo sauce. Some creamy baked parmesan polenta joins the Med party as well.

A rather enormous plate of bbq ribs (26) harbours some very intense bbq flavour, lumped on top of fries and salad garnish to help lighten the load.

The Whaler, Kaikoura, NZ

The Whaler, Kaikoura, NZ

  • The Whaler
  • 49 West End
  • Kaikoura 7300
  • 033193333
  • website
  • The Whaler Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

Kaikoura beach, NZ

Kaikoura beach, NZ

Waking up early the following morning gave me the chance to walk across the road from our hotel and watch the sunrise. Pretty magical, really, especially with the snowcapped mountains as a backdrop and a long stretch of pebble beach all to myself.

Beach House Cafe, Kaikoura

Pine cones at Beach House Cafe, Kaikoura

Beach House Cafe, Kaikoura

Prior to hitting the road again, it was breakfast at the lovely Beach House Cafe up on the highway. Wooden floorboards, loads of natural light and a choice of cosy rooms to sit in.

Aside from a bunch of cabinet food, the general menu is a very limited selection of breakfast items, soup, salad, souvlaki and a couple of Mexican-style dishes. Really good coffee, as well.

Mine was the hearty lifestyle breakfast (19) featuring scrambled eggs, mushrooms, corn fritters and rather undercooked, crunchy sliced potato. A nice bit of basil pesto herbed it up.

Mr Pancakes went for the usual choice – blueberry pancakes (16) – dolled up with gorgeous grilled banana, toasted hazelnuts and maple syrup.

Beach House Cafe, Kaikoura

Six Barrel Soda Co at Beach House Cafe, Kaikoura

Banana pancakes at Beach House Cafe, Kaikoura

Beach House Cafe, Kaikoura

  • Beach House Cafe
  • 39 Beach Road
  • Kaikoura 7300
  • 03 319 6030
  • website

 


Akaroa


Akaroa harbour

Akaroa

One place that had to make the road trip itinerary is the town of Akaroa. Beautiful French colonial buildings line the main streets in this picture-perfect town that still retains much of its mid-1800’s French heritage.

And what a setting! Nestled on the shores of a harbour that’s actually the filled-in eroded crater of an extinct volcano; one of two that formed the Banks Peninsula.

Akaroa pier

Akaroa street scene

Akaroa architecture

Akaroa can be done as a day trip from Christchurch, but it’s much more fun staying the night, methinks. No time was wasted after booking into our hotel then hitting the streets for lunch. Down on the waterfront overlooking the pier is Ma Maison, a restaurant that harnesses local produce and utilises it well.

Pinot noir got me started at lunch, easing me into the relaxed Akaroa lifestyle and our second-last full day in New Zealand.

Roast butternut pumpkin & lemongrass soup (13) is deliciously silky, vibrant in colour and very lacking in lemongrass. No great drama as it was fine just as it was, toasted bread and all.

The Akaroa salmon (27) was absolutely divine. Three generous strips of perfectly cooked brioche & macadamia-crusted fish over cubes of golden saffron potatoes. Creamed leaks are also in there with a light dribble of mint dressing for a touch of freshness.

Ma Maison, Akaroa

Ma Maison, Akaroa

Ma Maison, Akaroa

Spotting a dessert platter heading to another table prompted me to order one for myself – a citrus assiette (13) featuring lemon brûlée, vanilla mango tart and some rather green lime sorbet. Picking up the tart came with a bit of a surprise when I quickly discovered the filling was actually liquid, narrowly missing wearing it as it poured out of the soft pastry.

We kind of loved the bitter chocolate truffle delice (14) and berry sorbet. Verona chocolate sauce added more richness to the mousse-like cake, but for both of us, the sorbet was the winning element.

Ma Maison, Akaroa

Ma Maison, Akaroa

Ma Maison, Akaroa

My preferred choice for dinner – The Little Bistro – was seasonally closed and seeing nothing much was open in this part of town, it was all too easy to head back to Ma Maison.

Panko crumbed fromage (17.5) didn’t need too much to make it shine. It is all about that hot, molten cheese, after all. Simply topped with grape chutney, a bit of salad and smoked walnuts made for a perfect starter.

The seared beef carpaccio (14.5) is another winner – rubbed with herbs and black pepper – topped with fresh horseradish aïoli, beet caviar and cubes of port wine jelly.

Ma Maison, Akaroa

Ma Maison, Akaroa

More red meat followed with the pan-roasted venison fillet (35) rafting on dauphinoise potato in a shallow pool of port wine jus. The juicy meat held up perfectly against the intensely-flavoured pear that was braised with blueberries and vanilla. On its own it would be a beautiful dessert, but something special happened when venison was brought into the picture.

Italian flavours came into the picture with the spinach, ricotta & toasted almond rotolo (31). It received the same plating treatment as the venison – dabs of pumpkin purée and smear of pesto – plus eggplant purée and rocket & parmesan salad.

Ma Maison, Akaroa

Ma Maison, Akaroa

  • Ma Maison
  • 2 Rue Jolie
  • Akaroa 7520
  • 03 304 7668
  • website
  • Ma Maison on Urbanspoon

 

Akaroa pier

For a little while it felt like Akaroa was all ours – no people around – just us and that stunning scenery. Nothing was open for breakfast in the main part of town so we walked over to the strip of eateries (not many, mind you) on Beach Road.

L’Escargot Rouge was already in the swing of breakfast with a couple of locals – one of which even walked in saying “bonjour!”

The breakfast offerings are quite limited but you can “do the French thing” by dosing up on the Parisien breakfast of baguette, croissant, pan au choc with jam & butter, fruit and hot drink.

Whilst the coffee may not be the best around, the croque monsieur (8.8) is much like the ones you’d get on the streets of Paris. Sliced brioche, Dijon, ham, cheese and béchamel. Simplicity at its best.

Mr Pancakes went with a rather steeply-priced homemade toasted muesli (14) with fruit and yoghurt.

Akaroa architecture

Croque Monsieur at L'Escargot Rouge, Akaroa

L'Escargot Rouge, Akaroa

L'Escargot Rouge, Akaroa

  • L’Escargot Rouge
  • 67 Beach Road
  • Akaroa 7520
  • 03 3048774
  • website
  • L'Escargot Rouge on Urbanspoon

 

Akaroa


Christchurch


Christchurch - water wheel

The final stop on our South Island adventure was in Christchurch. Being my first time in the city, I never got to see it before a series of earthquakes led to the decimation of the city after the quake in February 2011.

Today the city centre is a patchwork of gravel quadrants and carparks where buildings once stood, with many remaining structures and building façades in ruin, awaiting their fate. There’s a great deal of rebuilding in progress and it’s difficult to fathom that 70% of the CBD’s buildings had to be demolished.

Christchurch

Christchurch

Christchurch - earthquake destruction

Christchurch - earthquake destruction

One striking building to come out of the ruins is the Cardboard Cathedral – a temporary replacement of the ruined neo-Gothic Christchurch Cathedral – and somewhat of a symbol of the city moving forward.

Eight shipping containers form the walls of the A-frame structure, with 96 laminated wood-reinforced cardboard tubes forming the framework of the angled poly-carbonate roof. It’s an impressive build, even down to the triangular stained glass windows.

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch

Christchurch - mural

Christchurch - mural

Christchurch - sunshine mural

As the city’s arts community drives to get mural colour up on blank walls all over the centre of town (download the free Oi You! app for a street art map and info on the artists), the equally colourful Re:START container mall continues to draw locals and visitors to its temporary shopping and eating precinct.

Opening eight months after the devastating earthquake, this colourful area has breathed new life into the CBD with over 50 businesses in operation.

Re;START, Christchurch

Re;START, Christchurch

Hummingbird, Christchurch

Hummingbird is a local coffee brand that’s already known about town and their outlet at Re:START is clearly a hotspot for people that work nearby. And it’s pretty clear why. Hearty breakfasts, cabinets stuffed with rustic, delicious-looking food and some seriously good cheese & onion scones. They really mean business with that coffee, as well.

Hummingbird, Christchurch

Hummingbird, Christchurch

Hummingbird, Christchurch

  • Hummingbird
  • 120 Cashel Street
  • Christchurch 8011
  • 03 379 0826
  • website
  • Hummingbird on Urbanspoon

 

Christchurch

Christchurch

Exploring the city on foot, we soon found ourselves on Victoria Street, a busy little strip that seems to be a bit of an eating and drinking hub. How about Mexican for lunch?

Mexicano’s kinda doesn’t look like much from the outside. A bunker-like structure at the front of a prefabricated office building that doesn’t reveal anything until you swing open the wooden door. The interior is dark and has a Mexican dive bar vibe to it with an expected Dia de los Muertos theme running throughout – even sombreros and adhesive moustaches for those that really want to immerse themselves.

Mexicano's, Christchurch

Mexicano's, Christchurch

Mexicano's, Christchurch

It’s all about sharing at Mexicano’s – tacos, beans, “hand-hacked” guacamole, quesadillas, charred meats and much more. Neither of us had big appetites that day so it was only a few things that made it to the table.

Street style grilled corn (5) offers a few small bites of cheesy juiciness with chipotle mayo; before a 6-inch adobo chicken taco (8) spread with guacamole, pickled mango and micro herbs.

The star of our mui pequeño lunch had to be the beef cheek barbacoa (26). It’s cooked to fall-apart perfection and is drenched inside and out with a deep, smoky bbq flavour and mild chilli bite. The menu does specify beef rib, but it wasn’t available that day. Fine by me.

Mexicano's, Christchurch

Mexicano's, Christchurch

Mexicano's, Christchurch

  • Mexicano’s
  • 131 Victoria Street
  • Christchurch 8013
  • 03 365 5330
  • website
  • Mexicano's on Urbanspoon

 

Black Betty, Christchurch

Coffee shops are aplenty across the city, and one that we happened to walk past also happened to be one I’d read about previously.

With its close proximity to CPIT, it’s no surprise that Black Betty gets many students dosing up on its espresso, cold drip, syphon and pour-over coffees, as well as cabinet food.

Definitely worth the coffee pit stop.

Black Betty, Christchurch

Black Betty, Christchurch

  • Black Betty
  • 165 Madras Street
  • Christchurch 8011
  • 03 365 8522
  • website
  • Black Betty Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

Fiddlesticks, Christchurch

Heinekin at Fiddlesticks, Christchurch

The final night of our South Island adventure was seen off in casual style at Fiddlesticks, a place buzzing with locals filling up on after-work tipples in the separate bar or supping it up in the dimly lit restaurant. It’s bistro-style through and through, with touches of astro-turf, recycled wood and vertical greenery.

Reading the all-New Zealand menu makes you feel like there’s much to love – from nibbles to tastes to more substantial main courses.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect with the goat cheese, ginger crisp beetroot (13) but when it came it all made sense. Balls of soft cheese interspersed with brandy snap-like ginger crisps and tiny dabs of beetroot emulsion. The ginger and cheese combo absolutely nailed it in the flavour department and some added truffle honey was its final sexy caress.

Fiddlesticks, Christchurch

A subtle sourness from artichoke came through in the lemon linguine (23.5), perfectly complemented with briny white anchovies, wilted arugula and caper-pistachio pesto. The lemon was a much needed element due to a hefty dose of oil shimmering at the bottom of the bowl.

It was the crumbed haggis that drew me to the lamb shoulder (33) – tender nubs of spiced offal pudding that almost stole the limelight entirely. Golden cubes of swede joined shaved fennel and feta, bringing crunch and creaminess to the rather rich lamb.

Fiddlesticks, Christchurch

Fiddlesticks, Christchurch

For dessert, a white chocolate custard (16.5) comes with torn pieces of chocolate sponge. The hero of the dish is beautiful blood orange sorbet sitting on crumbled ginger soil.

The warm poppy seed cake (16) was exactly that. Nothing ground breaking, really. Some pashmak gave the dish some visual interest and dabs of sour meringue was more akin to crème fraîche. I could only assume the yellow smear on the plate was the promised citrus panna cotta, taking on the texture of a pasty gel.

Overall a rather decent dinner spread.

Fiddlesticks, Christchurch

Fiddlesticks, Christchurch

  • Fiddlesticks
  • 48 Worcester Boulevard
  • Christchurch 8013
  • 03 365 0533
  • website
  • Fiddlesticks on Urbanspoon

 

NZmap5

All other posts from this South Island trip –

Sea kayaking at Kaiteriteri

Nelson, Kaiteriteri, Takaka, Blenheim

Staying in Nelson for a couple of nights meant we could relax and explore the region without having to think about too much driving. Hold on, there was still a bit of driving involved.

The city centre is compact enough to be easily navigated by foot – loads of shops, restaurants, cafe’s and more than enough micro breweries than you can poke a stick at. It’s no wonder this is New Zealand’s craft beer capital, and we sure had our fair share.

Nelson, NZ

Nelson, NZ -Trathen's Building

Our first stop, however, was more coffee-related – down on the waterfront at The Styx. Yes they do have local craft brews on tap, but the coffee addiction needed tending to. Love their enormous cheesy scone and flourless orange cake.

The Styx, Nelson, NZ

The Styx, Nelson, NZ

The Styx, Nelson, NZ

  • The Styx
  • 272 Wakefield Quay
  • Nelson 7010
  • 03 548 1075
  • website
  • Styx Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

 

Nelson waterfront New Zealand

Nelson, NZ -waterfront Boat Shed Cafe

Nelson, NZ - Light mural

Nelson, NZ

Harry's, Nelson, NZ

A great place to sample some local craft beers is at Harry’s, at the top of Trafalgar Street. More familiar bottled beers are up for grabs, but if you’re up for trying the local brews, there’s a rotating selection of local beers on tap.

Harry's, Nelson, NZ

The dark, cavernous space is very cosy and on cold winter nights you can settle in front of the roaring fire and get warm with a drink and a bite. The menu is predominantly pan-Asian and extends from prawn toast to curries and noodles.

Grilled warehou (28.5) sits atop a pile green tea noodles, wok-tossed with vegetables you’d expect to see in a stir-fry. Soy, lime and ginger give it the Asian touch.

The braised beef short ribs (29.5) are much more complex in flavour, with meat falling clean off the bone. Star anise is the dominant spice, permeating through to the spinach and shiitake mushrooms the ribs rest on. Whole cloves of soft and sweet garlic are scattered throughout with crispy and chewy rice cakes that add a nuttiness to the dish.

Harry's, Nelson, NZ

Harry's, Nelson, NZ

For dessert, the steamed ginger pudding (12) is light in texture and has a slight ginger bite, nicely contrasted with the sharp bite from crème fraîche and juicy poached mandarin.

A mild spiciness comes through in the chai crème brûlée (12), the smallest specimen we’ve encountered. At least we had spiced plum, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and tuile because the brûlée was gone in a flash.

Harry's, Nelson, NZ

  • Harry’s
  • 296 Trafalgar Street
  • Nelson 7010
  • 03 539 0905
  • website
  • Harry's on Urbanspoon

 

Nelson, NZ - antique store

Nelson, NZ - dog on bike

Morrison Street Cafe, Nelson, NZ

Breakfast cafe of choice went to the Morrison Street Cafe in the centre of town. Pretty much every dietary need is catered for at this bustling eatery, and the counter laden with house-baked goodies is pretty irresistible as well.

We loved the wholemeal pancakes (17.5), a very generous stack layered with sautéed apple and a star anise-spiced syrup for an extra boost of flavour.

There was a whole lot of promise in the lambs fry (17.5), all sauced-up with bacon, silver beet and onion. Gorgeous flavours in the sauce, but it was totally let down by being overcooked. At least there was a damper-like bread to make up for the liver that wasn’t eaten.

Buckwheat pancakes at Morrison Street Cafe, Nelson, NZ

Berry slice at Morrison Street Cafe, Nelson, NZ

Morrison Street Cafe, Nelson, NZ - lambs fry

Morrison Street Cafe, Nelson, NZ - bircher muesli

Bircher muesli (11.5) fans can go wild with the enormous bowl of oaty goodness, laced with almonds, pear and blueberries. Sweet dukkah and banana lovingly top it all off.

Or perhaps a stack of corn fritters (17.5) and spinach topped with avocado and cottage cheese. Some chunky tomato salsa vamps it up a tad.

Trying at least one of the baked treats from the counter was a given, and the dark chocolate cake with lemon curd did the trick beautifully. Impossibly moist, a little sticky and totally addictive.

Morrison Street Cafe, Nelson, NZ - corn cakes

Morrison Street Cafe, Nelson, NZ - chocolate lemon cake

  • Morrison Street Cafe
  • 244 Hardy Street
  • Nelson 7010
  • 03 548 8110
  • website
  • Morrison Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

Java Hut, Mapua, NZ

A relatively short drive from Nelson is the small town of Mapua. Visitors tend to gravitate to the wharf with its shops and eateries, but nothing was really open on this particular morning.

We never quite made it to Sublime Coffee in Nelson, but we did chance upon this little place in Mapua, owned by the same folk. The Java Hut it just that, a tiny shack that pumps out the java to locals and anyone that needs a caffeine top-up. There’s little room to kick back with your takeaway cup of coffee other one of a handful of coloured stools at a communal table, or the sun chairs outside.

Java Hut, Mapua, NZ

Java Hut, Mapua, NZ

Java Hut, Mapua, NZ

  • Java Hut
  • 84b Aranui Road
  • Mapua 7005
  • website
  • Java Hut on Urbanspoon

 


Kaiteriteri


Kaiteriteri beach, NZ

Barely half an hour up the coast is the tiny hamlet of Kaiteriteri, a bit of a hotspot to those that love their camping and wide open spaces. With a stretch of golden sand and clear water as beautiful as this, how could you not want to immerse yourself?

We were here for a little kayaking, but before anybody’s feet got wet, it was lunch time first and foremost.

One of three places in Kaiteriteri was open for lunch on that particular day, so making choices wasn’t all that challenging. Gone Burgers it was.

Gone Burgers, Kaiteriteri, NZ

Gone Burgers, Kaiteriteri, NZ - juicy burger

Fish & chips and nachos are up for grabs at this little takeaway, but something tells me it’s the burgers that most people come here for.

It was the pretentious cow (14) that got my fingers all sticky. Juicy beef patty with fried egg, caramelised onion, bacon, beet, green tomato relish, aïoli, cheese, lettuce and tomato. Talk about a mouthful. Absolute perfection.

The chicken classic (11.5) may not have been as elaborate but it still packed some goodness. Seasoned chicken breast, cheese, tomato, relish and aïoli.

Gone Burgers, Kaiteriteri, NZ

Gone Burgers, Kaiteriteri, NZ

  • Gone Burgers
  • 2 Inlet Road
  • Kaiteriteri 7197
  • 03 527 8041
  • website
  • Gone Burger's on Urbanspoon

 

Kaiteriteri, NZ - sea kayaking Able Tasman National Park

Kaiteriteri, NZ - sea kayaking Abel Tasman National Park

Thanks to Kaiteriteri being one of the key gateways to Abel Tasman National Park, it was an ideal spot to head straight to it via the water.

Sea kayaking is a very popular activity in these parts, and one of the easy circuits takes you from Kaiteriteri Beach, past Ngaio Island to Split Apple Rock. Loads of fun out on the water and onshore exploring nooks and crannies in the rocky headland.

Split Apple Rock, Kaiteriteri, NZ - sea kayaking Abel Tasman National Park - beach cave

Split Apple Rock, Kaiteriteri, NZ - sea kayaking Abel Tasman National Park

Ford's, Nelson, NZ

Back in Nelson, one restaurant worth noting is Ford’s. Located in the upper Trafalgar Street precinct, it’s a classy establishment that feels casual at the same time. Fab service, as well.

Ford's, Nelson, NZ

Ford's, Nelson, NZ

And the food. Contemporary New Zealand fare through and through, from the tasty peppered seared venison (19) with poached pear, gorgonzola and walnuts, to the divine house-smoked fish ravioli (17). The one large ravioli is lovingly doused with brown butter and capers, with crispy leek and herbs for crunch.

Ford's, Nelson, NZ - ravioli

The deliciousness continued with the thyme & orange confit duck leg (36), wedged upright on celeriac purée and green beans. And that sauce – a dark chocolate jus. Yep, it was pretty special.

The mixed mushroom risotto (26) packed just as much flavour, if not more. Roasted portabella played the hero and the rice was perfectly cooked, with a chive crème fraîche slowly melting into the warm mound of earthiness.

Ford's, Nelson, NZ - confit duck leg

Ford's, Nelson, NZ - mushroom risotto

  • Ford’s
  • 276 Trafalgar Street
  • Nelson 7010
  • 03 546 9400
  • website
  • Fords Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

 


Takaka


Takaka, NZ - street scene

A little town worthy of a day trip from Nelson is Takaka. Getting there by car is scenic, to say the least, but those that suffer motion sickness may want to prepare for it. The drive involves a very windy road over Takaka Hill – or Marble Mountain – taking in gorgeous panoramas as well as around 250 bends.

The town itself holds onto its hippie past with a firm clutch. Bright colours decorate buildings and shopfronts, tie-dye and dreadlocks adorn some of its locals and organic is the theme almost everywhere you look.

Takaka, NZ - street scene

Takaka, NZ - market

One such organic place is The Dangerous Kitchen, a magnet for in-tune-with-mother-nature locals that add to its laid-back vibe. From brick oven pizza and burritos to house-made V & GF-friendly edibles in the cabinet; it has a menu that’s driven by local produce from ethical suppliers.

No gripes with the exceptional fair trade coffee and a big two thumbs up with the killer orange and almond cake.

The Dangerous Cafe, Takaka, NZ - coffee

The Dangerous Cafe, Takaka, NZ - gluten free cake

The Dangerous Cafe, Takaka, NZ

  • The Dangerous Cafe
  • 46 Commercial Street
  • Takaka 7110
  • 03 525 8686
  • website
  • Dangerous Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

Pupu Springs, Takaka, NZ - rainforest boardwalk path

Takaka is the gateway to the Golden Bay region, and whilst we didn’t make it that far up the coast, we did drive along the coastal route to Wainui Bay northeast of town.

A mere 7 kilometres from Takaka are the Pupu Springs – officially known as Te Waikoropupu Springs – home to the worlds clearest spring water. As rain decided to shower over us, we trudged along through the serene forest to the gushing spring. I couldn’t help but notice the wild edible vegetation like flatweed and watercress, resisting the urge to forage and nibble as we walked the boarded trails. Ok, perhaps I had a little nibble of the watercress, straight from the spring.

Pupu Springs, Takaka, NZ - ferns

Pupu Springs, Takaka, NZ - forest boardwalk path

The building that stood out the most in Takaka, for me, was the Telegraph Hotel. I’m always up for supporting rural pubs like this – a grand old building that first opened its doors 100 years ago – so deciding on where to have lunch was taken care of.

Inside it’s your typical country pub. Sepia coloured photo’s from years gone by up on the walls, bench seating all ’round and locals playing pool, sipping on lager or feeding pokies.

No gastropub food here, folks. It’s either roast of the day, a burger, nachos, a wrap or soup. Plus a few things from the kids menu and what we ordered. A BLT (9.5) done club sandwich-style and fish & chips (14). Really good fish, mind you.

Telegraph Hotel, Takaka, NZ - old country pub

Telegraph Hotel, Takaka, NZ - fish & chips at old country pub

Telegraph Hotel, Takaka, NZ - old telephone and country pub

Telegraph Hotel, Takaka, NZ - old country pub

  • Telegraph Hotel
  • 2 Motupipi Street
  • Takaka 7110
  • 03 525 9445
  • website
  • Telegraph Hotel on Urbanspoon

 

Marlborough Sounds, NZ - boat on water

Marlborough Sounds, NZ - secluded cove


Blenheim


Blenheim, NZ - poppies and magnolia petals

The 2-hour drive from Nelson to Blenheim takes you through mountainous terrain, along the stunning Queen Charlotte Drive and down through the seaside town of Picton.

So here we were in Blenheim, the heart of the wine-growing region of Marlborough. World famous for its sauvignon blanc, we didn’t even make it to one vineyard, although we did drink a little vino. The town itself is pretty quiet and can be navigated quite easily, and not being sure whether it was normal, but there weren’t many people about.

Blenheim, NZ - lattice work shadow

Blenheim, NZ - The Ritz Chambers building

Blenheim, NZ - church and pagoda

Word had it there was a place in town that did the best pies, so naturally we drove on out to The Burleigh to do some investigating.

This tiny coffee shop-cum-deli has a nice little collection of European cheeses, South African bintong, baked goods and quality food items. And it looked as if we’d arrived just in time. They were almost out of pies! Rather than offer a huge variety of pies, the varieties available were limited to three. That means one thing, right?

Order all three.

The Burleigh, Blenheim, NZ - best pies in New Zealand

The Burleigh, Blenheim, NZ

The ever-popular pork belly pie was the one I’d heard about, and wowsers, it’s something special. Firstly, that pastry is serious business. And that filling – a little sweet, loads of it and if I can make comparisons – it’s very similar to what’s inside Chinese char siu bao.

The steak & blue cheese pie has large chunks of very tender meat, a little gravy and a generous amount of cheese. Sensational.

The jerk chicken pie may not have shone as much as the others, but it was still decent enough with its spiced chicken meat filling.

Well-worth investigating.

The Burleigh, Blenheim, NZ - best pies in New Zealand

The Burleigh, Blenheim, NZ - best pie in New Zealand

  • The Burleigh
  • 72 New Renwick Road
  • Blenheim 7201
  • 03 579 2531
  • website

 

Ritual Cafe, Blenheim, NZ

It’s all about artwork depicting 1960’s pop culture, tiki paraphernalia, formica tables and mismatched chairs at this downtown coffee shop. Ok, perhaps it’s also all about brilliant certified organic coffee that’s roasted onsite, and a menu we never got to try.

The breakfast menu ticked all the right boxes, but we soon learned they weren’t open on the only day we needed them to be. At least we got to try that beautiful coffee.

Ritual Cafe, Blenheim, NZ - drinking coffee

Ritual Cafe, Blenheim, NZ

  • Ritual
  • 10 Maxwell Road
  • Blenheim 7201
  • 03 578 6939
  • website
  • Ritual Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

Blenheim, NZ - car mural and The Corner Stone bar

The Yard Bar & Bistro, Blenheim, NZ

The last night on this leg of our trip was spent chilling with drinks at The Corner Stone and moving on to The Yard Bar & Bistro for food.

Be it drinks and nibbles in the bar, out in the back garden or inside by the fire, The Yard Bar is all about playing things casually.

The Yard Bar & Bistro, Blenheim, NZ

The Yard Bar & Bistro, Blenheim, NZ - garlic pizza bread

Pizza takes up a good chunk of the menu so I thought it’d be fitting to try something to nibble on during beverage hour. Garlic pizza bread (10.5) sounded promising – garlic, parmesan and sea salt – but the only thing that made the cracker-like pizza was the cheese and a little greenery.

The regular menu is like something you’d see at a decent pub, only less to choose from. Think vegetarian cannelloni, pork belly and S&P squid.

The crispy skin salmon (25) on egg noodle and red curry broth reminds me of a very thick laksa when you’ve eaten all the soup and the solids remain. Somehow the salmon just didn’t belong with overcooked noodles and curry.

The beef cheek (23.5) hit all the right spots. Slowly braised in black beer and served over kumara & carrot mash, with a hidden prize of creamed spinach. That was one fine bit of cheek.

The Yard Bar & Bistro, Blenheim, NZ -salmon dish

The Yard Bar & Bistro, Blenheim, NZ - beef cheek

  • The Yard Bar & Bistro
  • 30 Maxwell Road
  • Blenheim 7201
  • 03 577 5266
  • website

 

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