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.
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!
Smiths is chuffed to be included in the New Zealand Cafe Cookbook. It’s a cool book that takes a sweeping tour around the country stopping off at favourite eateries – imagine the caffeine rush trying a short black at ALL these amazing places included in the pages!
The big deal for us was being able to share recipes with readers. We have two included: our coconut roasted pumpkin salad bowl and our white chocolate and passion fruit lamingtons.
I shouldn’t mention the C word so soon but if you are looking for a sweet Christmas gift, especially for ex-pats home sick for a decent flat white and a contemporary twist on a classic lamington, this is perfect!
Unna Burch from My Garden Kitchen and The Forest Cantina is coming to Hawke’s Bay to do a food styling and photography workshop at Opera Kitchen! We are so chuffed to have her. She’ll be here on Sunday 22 November from 1-4pm and the workshop price is $150. Unna is an amazing stylist and cook and has some stunning techniques. She’s a vibrant and bubbly person and this workshop will be really special. There’s a lovely video about Unna here, made as part of the launch of her book. You can book your place through her blog.
People is the key to lifting what we do above mere ingredients, recipes, techniques. People bring creativity, ingenuity and verve.
The men and women who pour your perfect cup, those behind the scenes who cook and bake and clean and make, all of you, bringing us your appetites and your open minds, your loyalty, and your taste buds, you’re all our people.
Then there are the people who flit in, make magic, flit out.
We’ve had some special guests working behind the scenes over this busy period, with opening The Picnic. They are not there to take centre stage, but to bolster and mentor the talent we have in our kitchen and front of house. They guide and support, and when they think their job is done, they flit off again. We, of course, want them to stay, not to hold our hands but to enjoy the fun!
So thank you people! People who come to eat and drink and share, and people too who come each day to pull on your aprons and do your bit for the team. You’re the real oil that keeps us cranking.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Some flavours stay with you for a long time. And when those flavours bring memories along for the ride, one bite can really take you back. Food is a time-machine! So this is a taste of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, one of my first Californian restaurant experiences. That was 23 years ago. I still use this recipe today.
Zuni was iconic: ground-breaking Californian cuisine of its day. It was the golden age of Cali cuisine and a time when braver restaurants were doing away with flavours stolen from other places and instead letting locals speak for themselves, that is local growers, local tastes, local combinations.
I lent my copy of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook to someone years ago and never got it back. Luckily I had this scrawled in a notebook!
Zuni Cafe Caesar Salad
Serves 4 to 6
This recipe is adapted from “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” by Judy Rodgers.
- 2 salt-packed anchovies, filleted, rinsed, dried, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon (generous) minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon (scant) red wine vinegar
- 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
- – Pinch sea salt
- – Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 pound chewy, rustic French or Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 cold large eggs, well beaten
- – Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons), or to taste
- 2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, cored, leaves left whole, chilled
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 160°.
Combine half of the anchovies and garlic in a bowl. Add the vinegar, the 2/3 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Toss the bread cubes with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.
At serving time, slowly whisk the oil mixture into the eggs to form an emulsion. Add the remaining anchovies and garlic, the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the cheese.
Thoroughly toss the lettuce leaves with the dressing, being careful not to bruise them. Taste for salt and add, if necessary.
Divide the salad among chilled serving plates. Add the croutons, dust with more freshly ground pepper and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
There is a wonderful show playing on Netflix that is definitely worth a view. It’s Chef’s Table. Episode 2 is on Dan Barber of Blue Hill and is particularly inspiring. Here’s the trailer