Journal

Ponderings and musings on the topics of eating, drinking and sharing

Opera Kitchen: a real power house

Today is the day! Opera Kitchen is reopening in a newly loved, grand old building, a few strides up from where we’ve been for nearly a decade.

This is a real treat for us because it’s a stunning building that’s been empty for as long as anyone can remember. The Municipal Power House was built in 1912 but there is no record as to who designed it, or built it. It was part of the much larger electric power board, which filled the whole block.

We dug through the city archive and found this description for all you fellow architecture-geeks:

The building is in a forthright Edwardian neo-Classical style appropriate to its original use and era and it has architectural values for this. It is a distinctive element of infrastructure that is a significant part of the history of both the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board and the development of Hastings and the wider area. It is also a significant remnant of Hastings from the period prior to the 1931 earthquake. The Power House played an important role in Hastings enabling many households to receive electricity for the first time.

It sounds like, back in the day, this place was vital in getting families energised. We’ve come full circle then, because now, with Opera Kitchen in residence, we’re doing the same thing, but with coffee, juices and fresh-out-of-the-oven goodness.

So now that the old power house is cranking again, come on in to get powered up and raring to go.

 

 

 

It’s about the chocolate

With Easter on its way it’s important to understand why we get these few days off: to be contemplative, in the loving arms of our family and friends, to consider what’s important, sacred even…

You understand this is about chocolate, right?

Chocolate has a long history as an item of great value, to be cherished and honoured. For devotees, Easter is a time of great celebration and reverence.

But mainstream purveyors of the hallowed hollow egg have desecrated the sacred bean. Followers must look further to feed their desires.

We understand so we’re doing our bit to bring quality product to the common people.

At The Picnic we honour chocolate and all it can evolve into. Like Pukeko eggs. Beautiful bon bons filled with surprises. Teddy bears. Teddy bears holding eggs. And choco pops with fried eggs on top!

Worship at the altar of yum with The Picnic this Easter. Life is too short to eat bad chocolate.

Quality Chocolate

Chris Mirams is our pastry chef at The Picnic and he’s in charge of all our chocolate work. He always says that quality work comes from quality ingredients. When it comes to chocolate that means using Valrhona.

Valrhona has a long and interesting history and it’s an outfit that’s set a benchmark for not just quality of product but for how we think about chocolate. Valrhona was the first chocolate maker to label their product with its percentage (of cocoa solids) and its origin. That origin has become all important and specifically in ensuring chocolate comes from a single origin rather than a rag-bag assortment of where ever was cheapest. Single origin chocolate links the product back to the growers and the plantations, meaning authenticity of product, trace-ability and accountability are all paramount.

The chocolate industry suffers in the way many luxury, high end industries do from exploitation and corruption. Valrhona was the first company to extricate itself from that and begin talking about their product in terms similar to wine and coffee, where it comes from, its credentials, the year it was grown, it’s ‘vintage’.

The iconic black bags of couverture, pellets and pearls are labelled with exotic names like Xocopili 72% and Araquani 72%, Guanaja 70%, Caraibe 66% and Tanariva 33%. They come from plantations in places like Ecuador and Madagascar. There’s a great respect for the people who grow the beans and the places that rely on the chocolate industry as an important part of their economic sustainability.

Valrhona was established in 1922 in France by pastry chef Alberic Guironnet. It’s been through a number of owners since then, taking its most recent name from a blend of Valley and Rhone where it originated. It’s a company with a strong tradition and with quality as its driving value. At The Picnic we choose to use it because of that quality. It means we can make the very best chocolate work. But also we support and respect the way the chocolate we make can be traced back to the people who grew the bean. When you taste our chocolate work you are validating a long history of quality craftsmanship, but also paying homage to the all the people and all their various skills that have worked so hard to make that mouthful possible.

Sugar Day

Maybe your day is Wednesday or maybe you save it for the weekend, but more and more people are circumventing sugar and keeping this simple pleasure to just one day a week. Then on that day, you treat yourself to the best and only the best. No rushed moro bar in the car for this sugar-free devotee.

Make The Picnic your place to unleash the sweet beast: You know you’re in for a treat when you see our display cabinets shining with Gold Cakes. We call them Gold Cakes because each little lovely sits on its own gold disc. Flavour combinations change weekly but which ever you choose you know your one sweet treat this week is worth it, and the flavour-memory will last through to next time.

You might save yourself for a few delicious chocolates, each with its own party of flavours happening inside. You might eat a donut. Or a cruffin – these are a specialty and they change everyday.

Sharing the experience is another lovely way to celebrate deliciousness. Call it a date and meet up with a mate. A quick sandwich at your desk can be balanced beautifully with a long black and a verrine. And because verrines are served in a jar make your sugar day last by eating half for lunchtime dessert and half for 3pm energy slump.

We change our flavours to suit our mood and what’s good from our suppliers. Check Instagram for flavour updates or just come in on your sugar-day and we’ll see you right.

At The Picnic we celebrate sugar by treating it well and using it cleverly. We sweeten in tandem with spice and sharpness, bitterness, citrus and sour. Sugar shouldn’t shout. It doesn’t need to. It plays a similar role to salt – and sometimes the two work together – in supporting other flavour profiles to be the best they can be.

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Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
info@operakitchen.co.nz
+64 6-870 6020

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