Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Latest food news, sort of

It’s harder and harder to be first with breaking food news thanks to Twitter, where someone will announce ‘new Farro Fresh store opens in Grey Lynn today’ and within about four minutes it’s been retweeted to within an inch of its life. I have an added problem in that I share a bed with the editor of Arch Hill News, whose ever expanding empire means if we simultaneously discover something delicious within five kilometres of home it’s a race to get it into print. Scooped by your own fiancé! Luckily I’m not above unplugging the modem while I get myself organised. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve come across lately:

Slow Food
How terrible are takeaways in Auckland? Honestly, we can’t find hardly anything we like enough to pay for it, so I’m pleased to see another fast food option hitting New World fridges this Friday. Masterchef judge Josh Emett is the face of a new Chef Series range, an amazing product he's created with Auckland food heroes Neat Meat. They're offering a few different meals - all of them slow cooked with tasty cuts of meat and a multitude of spicetastic flavours. I tried the Roast Duck Leg with Soy and Orange last night and it was what slow cooked meat should be - tasty and pull-apart tender. It comes in a sealed bag and you just boil it for 15 minutes then empty it onto a plate, or into a pot for some extra fiddle-dee-dah, if you like. It's about $23 for enough to serve two - not the cheapest meal in the supermarket, but cheaper than takeaways and so, so much better. Neat Meat are one of the really exciting companies in the Auckland food scene - read about them elsewhere on this blog or go see them for you butchery requirements: they're currently in Parnell but will be one of the first tenants at Ponsonby new food market when it arrives later this year.

Got Milk?
I met a bloody interesting chap last week, Glenn Austin, who is Fonterra's global head of everything when it comes to food. He's an Aussie - just look at him - and a cranky old buggar, but man he knows his stuff: he's on the World Council of Chefs and has worked everywhere. Anyway, when he wasn't ripping into me or telling me dirty jokes ("what's the difference between marmalade and jam? you can't marmalade your fingers up a -" actually, never mind) he was sharing some of his thoughts on food. I asked him what he thought of degustation dining and he said he loved it. You know what he calls it? "Yum Cha for Westerners". I thought that was pretty good so I told him I'd pass it on. How good does he think Fonterra butter is, by the way? "It would put a horn on a jellyfish".

Breakfast at Depot
Do Depot need my help? No, they certainly don't. They've just won the supreme honour at the Metro/Audi Restaurant of the Year Awards and have queues for their tables most hours of the day. But hey, here's something you might not know - you can pretty much always get in for breakfast, which is served from 7am each day (the lunch menu starts at 11am). They offer just three choices, but they're very good - a bacon and egg sammy or muesli, fruit and yoghurt which you can see above, or some pretty unctuous looking doughnuts which the lady next to us was monstering. The coffee is good too, as you'd expect, and the whole thing will cost you about $25 for two.

I got lots of people asking me where to go for Mother's Day lunch this year - who knew that was such a big thing? Apparently it's one of the most lucrative weekends of the year for Auckland restaurateurs, and I'm told it spilled into Sunday evening on Ponsonby Road, which was cranking thanks presumably to some pre-loading with mum earlier in the day.

Anyway, we took my mother to Euro, which is my standard suggestion for great food (that's the kingfish sashimi above), reliable service and good location. It was all of that for us although it took a long time - an hour to get entrees, another 45 minutes for mains. But here's the thing: at the end of the meal at the till our waiter specifically asked us if we'd like to add anything for service. Awkward, right? I get sweaty enough having to press the 'no' button on an EFTPOS machine when it asks me the same question. Look, I'm not mad on tipping -  whatevs, if it takes off it takes off - but let's not push it along too hard thanks, boys.

Fresh as
How cute is this - Teed Street Larder have a blackboard telling you when every little thing came out of the oven. The food there is good - you should try it out if you find yourself hungry in Newmarket. Sorry it's blurry, my hand was shakey from too much coffee that morning. By 'coffee' I mean 'alcohol' and by 'that morning' I mean 'over the course of that week'.

People doing good
Cosset Cafe in Mount Albert Road is really worth a visit if you haven't been there - fairly traded, vegetarian food and great coffee, a bit like Kokako in Grey Lynn but grittier and with more of an indie sort of feel. Anyways, this Sunday, they're hosting a 'Carrotmob': between 2 and 4pm, 70% of any money you spend will go directly to funding a renewable energy scheme for a Fairtrade PNG coffee farm. The idea is that everyone descends on them at once - it should be pretty mad in there, but lots of fun too. The idea came from a group called Conscious Consumers, and Cosset won the right to host the event in Auckland because they pledged the biggest percentage. Cool right? Get into it.

Beer essentials
In the back streets of Eden Terrace there is a man in a poky little warehouse space, who supplies craft beer on tap for the beer geeks of the city. He'll do the same for you if you manage to find him, and generally at a rate well cheaper than somewhere like Glengarry, where I tend to get my beer from. The price of the initial sealable glass bottle is a bit steep - $10 it'll cost you - but once you've got it you're laughing, at just $10 per litre refill, a bit more for foreign or high alcohol beers. Beer from the tap is often better than from the bottle (if you want to know why ask a beer geek, but get comfortable first). Find Hugh and his excellent Hopscotch at 2/2 Shaddock Street, Eden Terrace, open from around noon daily.