Life beyond flat white

The call for a flat white is so common that many see it coming before it arrives. Do we even ask ourselves anymore: “What do I feel like?” We slip into routine with our morning cup of joe – Flat White, Long Black, Cappuccino with Cinnamon.

At Opera Kitchen we have been playing with some alternatives. Spring seems a good time to break habits, take up new hobbies, develop fresh tastes. We’ve been inspired by the goodness of turmeric root and so have introduced a Golden Latte to our hot drinks offering. With honey, spices and almond milk this is breakfast in a glass!  But it’s also a relaxing brew for late afternoon. For a real caffeine hit we now offer pour over coffee. It doesn’t have the bite of a standard long black and it does deliver a wake up and take note statement!  Rethink your regular and give your taste buds a taste buzz!

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.

Unique Shopping Treat

We are very excited to see what’s possible when we put an event in the new Parlour Projects space next door. Sunday 22nd May we are collaborating with Milo & Mitzy to put the SHOP into WORKSHOP!!

Guest speaker Claudia Zinzan from Father Rabbit will present a workshop on running and expanding an online business, there will be a high tea from the Picnic with a Rod McDonald Wines rose on arrival.

The shopping part of the afternoon will be provided by five boutique stalls. Usually found only online, these five providers will share their wares with you. Enjoy a special shopping treat, with a glass of wine in your hand – what could be better?

Sunday 22 May 2-5pm. Cash bar available. $75 pp from Opera Kitchen or email info@operakitchen.co.nz to secure your ticket.

TEA FOR ME

Ten o’clock: coffee time. Thin columns of people exit offices in search of the bean. It’s grey outside and the urge seems keener. But it’s not always the bean they’re after, sometimes it’s the leaf: the tea leaf.

There’s a romance to drinking tea, a tradition and a ritual. And it’s therapeutic. Whatever ails you there’s a tea to treat it. Relaxing, energising, sleeping, detoxing, each has its own tea-remedy.

This morning we celebrated tea in a small but important way by carefully placing our new tea caddies and tea cups on the shelves at the newly opened Opera Kitchen.

Our teas are by Storm and India, an exciting artisanal tea distributor run by Auckland-based sisters Storm and India Bellamy.

The cups and saucers are from Rachel Carley, also in Auckland. As well as being aesthetically lovely these pieces have a rich back story based on the academic pursuits of their maker in design, form and architecture.

Both the vessel and the tea itself are a treat to have and to savour, it’s an experience in itself and a special element of our new Opera Kitchen, one we are really pleased to put in pride of place.

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.

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

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