First tastes of Spring

That taste of the first asparagus of the season – is that Spring? Or is it lamb? And that delicious contradiction of enjoying the bouncing of baby sheep in the fields around us and equally enjoying the taste of them served up with fresh mint.
Your first spring mouthful can set the standard for the tastes of the season to come. Get inspired and shout your tastebuds a treat with our Spring Feast @ Smiths on Friday 23 September. Book your place at info@operakitchen.co.nz.
Asparagus, Lamb, Whitebait, New Vintage Wines, Picnic Puddings, Shared Multicourse Dinner. $55pp

Dessert Bar best bar none

Fads are like butterflies. We net the nice ones, keep them in our collection, and so fads become classics. Others we admire but leave to float off. One that we have added to our offering is the dessert bar. It’s particularly perfect for weddings – although other celebrations benefit from this way of delivering deliciousness to guests –  and here’s seven golden reasons why:

  1. Nostalgia

Celebrations are about throwing out the everyday, being a bit silly and fun, dessert bars can help you re-acquaint yourself with your inner child. Our dessert bars are bespoke so we can bring back your halcyon days in a sweet and tasty way.

  1. Personality

A particular passion for hundreds and thousands? A penchant for peanut butter or nutella? Crazy over caramel? We can incorporate your favourite flavours into a dessert bar that suits your tastes and your style.

  1. Theming

Tying dessert into your event theme is a clever way to bring clarity to your vision. Colour choices or flourishes that reflect your special day mean there’s an overarching, integrated style that represents you.  Plus when everything is tied together the impact is unbeatable.

  1. Gifts and favours

Gifting a slice of your special day is a great way to thank your guests. With dessert bars there’s all sorts of ways to let people enjoy the spread and take a little something away for later. Whether it’s boxed favours or individual treats, dessert bars can serve up the perfect way to say “Thanks for being part of this special day”.

  1. Mix and mingle

Bite-sized morsels from a range of flavours can give your guests the opportunity to circulate through your party. With so many friends to reconnect with a selection of desserts that allows people to pop in a mouthful then chat is perfect.

  1. Portions and dietary requirements

Supporting guests to eat the way they want is an important part of playing host. There’s a range of reasons why people choose to eat, or not eat, certain things and we can work with you to make sure everyone is catered for. Another choice people make is to limit their portion size, or indulge on a special day. Whether you’re playing it safe or letting it all hang out, with a dessert bar we’ve got you covered.

  1. Diverse tastes

There’s no better way to cater for a wide range of guests and their diverse desires than with a dessert bar. You can have a number of different flavours, all available in one place. Chocoholic or fruit freak, nutty over berries or an affogato aficionado, we’ve got your yumminess needs sorted.

IN THE CHRISTMAS MOOD

We’re in the Christmas dip, half way between the two festive seasons. With the rise of mid-winter Christmas we’ve got a great excuse to don a frock and pull a cracker with friends. But it’s also a great time to start thinking about where to hold the end-of-year office bash. It doesn’t need to be just chips, beers and crepe-paper streamers in the photocopy room, it can be candlelight, fine cuisine with matching wines, ambience and a little bit of decadence.

The Christmas ‘work do’ needs to be more than simply the obligatory get together before the real festivities begin, it should celebrate a year of hard grind, commitment to the cause, the highs and lows of work life. We spend 2000 hours a year working, we should get to have a real shin dig to mark that.

Good places go fast and November/December bookings can be mad, so get in early. Book a venue – we have Opera Kitchen, Parlour Projects and Smiths – to host your team, then spend the next few months looking forward to enjoying the evening.

Anything for cake and bubbles

Do we celebrate enough? There are moments in our lives we celebrate an awful lot: there’s the string of 21st, then weddings forever, then births but do we find enough reasons to celebrate beyond these set plays?  If celebration means cake, or bubbles, then both of those things are worth thinking up more memorable moments for.

50th birthdays. A trip to Italy. A completed degree. A child leaving home (finally!). Let’s pop a cork to that!

A new job. A new home. A new grandchild. A new puppy. Why not share cake with a friend to mark those occasions?

And let’s go even bigger on our yahoos. Cake isn’t always enough. Let’s have lunches, dinner parties, surprise morning teas. Let’s all shout each other flowers.

One of the nicest parts of doing what we do is witnessing celebrations in people’s lives. Today we helped a woman hide a bouquet in order to surprise her friend after they shared brunch together. Often we don’t know what the celebration marks. But it’s a simple privilege to see the happy faces, the big smiles, yes sometimes a tear or two. Your celebrations become the warm moments in our working day, it’s a nice thing to be part of.

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.

 

 

 

Art Deco picnic in style

Art Deco Weekend is on this weekend in Napier. It’s our annual excuse to dress up and eat with the nice china.  And we all know nothing goes nicer with Art Deco than a picnic hamper full of goodies.  The Great Gatsby Picnic is a highlight of the Weekend so do it in style!  It’s Sunday 21 Feb from 1-5! This year, add a contemporary twist to your annual Art Deco outing with a box of yummies from The Picnic.  It’s up to you what to include but here’s what sounds good to us (for two): 2 tomato and mozzarella galettes, 2 ham and cheese croissants, 2 verrines, 2 small salad boxes, some chocolates and a bag of bite-sized cookies, all packed inside a pretty picnic box ready to go!  Come in to The Picnic or call us on 06 651 0194.

Bareknuckle BBQ Friday Night Pop-Ups

Auckland escapee Jimmy Macken is ‘popping up’ at Smiths on Fridays, starting 18 Dec and cruising on through the summer. Jimmy is Mister BBQ, Texas style. He’s a master of the art with a big-rig ‘pit’ he uses to authentically ‘bbq’ ribs, brisket and pulled pork. It’s a style of cooking Kiwis flirt with but it takes time to get right, not just cooking time but years of practice, time to tweak technique and perfect secret recipes.

Smiths is stoked to have Jimmy in the house, he’s big on energy, with big flavours to match. Come down and try ‘em: Friday 18 Dec, then 3rd, 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th January. It’s a Friday night cook-out with craft beer, picnic treats, ice creams on sticks, brownie with dairy whip, caramel corn.

Book a big table and round up a posse!

Eat My Lunch

Who doesn’t have a culinary crush on Michael Meredith?! Right? Well now the eponymous chef of Auckland’s Merediths is showing his altruistic side by coming on board Eat My Lunch, which gifts a lunch to a child with every gourmet lunch sold.

The initiative has just won the Excellence in Social Innovation prize at the 2015 NZ Innovators Awards and rightly so.

It’s a worthy cause, well done and a great idea to boot. And with Meredith on board it’s tasty, in more ways than one.

The Picnic is being unpacked

It’s a quiet but persistent hum in here. Bees is too easy a metaphor but we’re certainly that busy. It’s a studious harmonised busy-ness. We move around each other like it’s choreographed. It’s almost silent except for murmured questions, quiet confirmations. Everything has its place and there’s a place for everything.

This is our latest gift to you: The Picnic. Opening tomorrow. We’ll be ready.

We’ve brought a few of our absolute favourites here, but there are new things too. Things you haven’t tried before.

Come in if you need a special something, but also if you want to treat yourself. Tiny treats, generous portions, everything in between.

We’re next door to Vetro in Ahuriri. Our address is 17A Mahia Street. The coffee machine is ready to pour your ‘one for the road’ and all our delicious morsels are calling out “Take me with you”!

Look out for the praying golden gnome, and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

 

5 Days: 100 Tastes

Inspiration is everywhere. Look carefully and the ride to work can inspire.

To be honest though, five minutes up the expressway is perhaps not quite as inspiring as, say, five days in San Francisco!

Five days, 3 square meals a day, four sides to every square, that’s 60 food offerings with snacks, ‘travellers’ and ‘quick-bites-to-tide-me-over-while-I’m-waiting-in-the-queue’. One hundred tastes of inspiration to bundle up as memories and bring back to the kitchens.

We’re inspiration camels, storing up our supplies for when we need them. We can live off these five days for some time.

It’s not always a given that overseas means awe-inspiring. Sometimes seeing a place in person takes away some of the mystique.

But other times, when you’ve drooled over something delicious on a blog or in a magazine you get to Mecca and it’s as good as it was in your imagination, just with a longer line to get in.

Some highlights:

  1. Sea Urchin on the Commonwealth menu with horseradish tofu, garden herbs, wasabi, haricot vert veloute. Knockout. I mean really…and not something I would normally gravitate towards but boy I will remember this taste for a long time.
  2. Eating this brave came about because when we saw the Commonwealth menu we said to the wait-staff “Give us one of everything”. It was that good. So inspired I will be thinking and talking about this for a while. Watch out!
  3. Bi-Rite food market. Wow! so much choice, so many flavours, so fresh and vibrant. I love this place. Definitely at the top of any San Fran to do list.
  4. Tartine Bakery. Bread that inspires with its texture and lightness and style. There’s no hidden fluff here, the shape of loaves is honest, literally no hot air in there. The taste lifts bread above just being a vehicle for other foods. Something to aspire to.
  5. San Francisco Farmers Market. I love markets anywhere and everywhere but sometimes you find one that blows the rest out of the game. It’s hard to put your finger on what lifts this above others, tangible things like volume and variety. But also indefinable things that feel like they’re linked to vibe or ambiance but just leave you with a warmth inside. A feeling that hangs around like the memory of a great day with great food and great friends.

 

 

 

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

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