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

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.

Happy Valentine’s

Love is in the air thanks to Valentine’s Day this coming weekend. It can be a bit of a saccharine event ol’Valentines when it’s done with a box of Roses or a rose wrapped in cellophane.

When you love someone, or even just like someone a whole lot, it’s nice to use VDay as an excuse to introduce them to something new, or share something you enjoy with them, or treat them to an experience that’s not ‘everyday’.

We’re giving you two ways to make this happen. At The Picnic we’re creating some very special chocolate work. Flavour combinations are adventurous and each piece is hand created so that ticks the Something New box.

At Smiths we’re hosting a Valentines dinner on Saturday 13th Feb. This is a 6-course meal with three dessert courses. That’s Something Special done and dusted.

And if this Valentines sees you popping the question, keep us in mind for your Big Day. We love weddings! We can provide the cake, the favours and the dessert bar to top off your celebrations.

Love is sweet, enjoy it with us.

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!

By the book

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!

Here comes the Sun

Our FAWC 2014 offering at Smiths this November heralded the coming summer and everything we love to taste through those hot Hawke’s Bay months.

Sharing good food with friends and family is a common refrain but still has truth and honesty to it. That really is how we spend our summer time.

Our FAWC menu began with picnic food, cranked up a notch. No flies here! Mussels grilled on the half shell with a bacon crumb – yum – pickled pork and piccalilli of summer vegetables. Kingfish ceviche with fennel confit. Local buttery olive oil. Kick and bite, fresh and smooth, rich where it needs to be, sharp to cut through.

New season zucchini flowers are a delight. A natural gift that needs no fussing. Baby carrots. Healthy dark leafy greens. Lamb of course.

To bring all this together seamlessly, honestly, effortlessly takes considerable toil. We share our ideas with our local suppliers then go back and forth on exact requirements and ingredients. It’s an ongoing conversation considering each element and how it works for the greater good. There’s a nervous watch on the weather, one mistimed frost or douse of rain can force us to change direction. If there is a menu change it’s always for the best because no one wants half-pie produce on the plate: the cooks, the growers, least of all the diners.

So FAWC is done now for 2014 and we can get down to the delights of feeding people through the best Hawke’s Bay has to offer. From roudy family get togethers at Opera Kitchen and cosy catch ups with nearest and dearest at Smiths, to healthy food for everyday at Albion Canteen (our play on quick and easy): bring on summer with all its fruit, salads and seafood, outside cooking and fresh warm air.

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

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