New beginnings are always very exciting. Brian Campbell recently left the narrow, honeycomb-walled sweet house, Milse, to start his own dessert pop-up all over town. I made it to the very first one last Monday at Meredith’s.

The first three dishes cost $45 in total, and an extra $9 could bring you to a sugar high with a fourth dessert.IMG_2469

Each plate was delicately presented and visually appealing. You can expect no less from Brian with a CV as impressive as his (stalk here). The first dessert was Tonka Bean Vanilla Hyssop Panna Cotta served with strawberries, cherries and lemon curd. As you dig through the dish, the sourness from the lemon curd and the hint of hyssop in the panna cotta makes the dish surprisingly refreshing and delicious.IMG_2417 IMG_2440

I wasn’t a big fan of the second course. A true beetroot supporter would enjoy this one but beetroot and I are not the best of friends. The beetroot mousse was topped with raspberries and yoghurt cake. On the side there were beetroot meringues, raspberry puree and a slice of fresh beetroot. I loved the freeze-dried meringues and fresh raspberry the most. IMG_2454IMG_2456

The third course was divine. The dish came out with a chocolate globe on top of a pile of chocolate soil and hidden inside was a very rich orange flavoured chocolate mousse. The soil was a mix of macadamia nuts, cacao nibs, chocolate coated rice puffs, mint leaves and chewy caramel nugget with a swirl of caramel. The combination was one crunchy gooey mess.IMG_2525 IMG_2498IMG_2527

Now most people would stop here, but you know, it’s all or nothing. So to end the night we finished off with a plum dish. Sour plums were accompanied with sweet sable breton. The popcorn though was a little stale.IMG_2554

There are positive and negative things about pop-ups. They’re of course exciting and mysterious, and due to the limited time only feature, they induce high levels of FOMO aka fear of missing out. The downside is the set menu which cannot be catered to any dietary requirements. You can keep up with the news on where the next pop-up is on Instagram @briancampbell80.img_2410-2Untitled-1


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The first Yelp Elite Event of 2015 kicked off at Cépage on O’Connell Street with Maison Vauron and La Fromagerie. We’d heard about Cépage, opened by Logan and Will of Black Hoof, but hadn’t been. I always seem to forget about these small hidden streets in the heart of the city. So wine and cheese make the perfect pair, change that to French wine and cheese served by knowledgeable French men – winning. Our favourite was the Epoisses Berthaut and the Chateau Marcadis Lalande De Pomerol 12 red (pronouncing anything accurately the entire night was a lost cause). We’re ready to go buy some of the wine and cheese to indulge at home and can’t wait to go dine at Cépage and Black Hoof soon, yes – Elite Events have this knock-on effect on you. This year’s Elite Event line up sounds superb, we can’t wait to try out more new products and hear from businesses we haven’t come across yet. Find out how you can be an Elite here – see you at the next one.

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Last year In-N-Out popped up at Ponsonby Central, literally. There was no pre-warning and everything sold out within a few hours. This year we were more prepared. We were at Nugent Street at 11am, got our wristband and came back to collect the burger 2 hours later.

The burger buns were soft, salad toppings were generous, and there was also some grilled onion with our Double Double in Animal Style. The patties were a decent size and covered in cheese but there wasn’t a great deal of flavour. This might be because we had high expectations as a result of the continuous hype. Most people that are In-N-Out fans go on about the french fries and milkshakes, both of which were MIA at the little Newmarket pop-up (say, what). So until we make it over to the States it’s hard to say whether we are fans or not, for now, Better Burger is the one for simple and cheap burger meals.

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Queenstown is an absolute beauty. There are mountains in your backyard, burger shops that open till 5am, water so clear it makes you want to drink it. The city is a true tourist destination, there are next to none locals and the supermarket is the tiniest thing ever. It’s very busy, there are people hopping onto water jets constantly, a steam boat that drives off into the mountains, live music, markets, frisbee golfers, bicycles. Honestly, it’s the best place ever.

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Long summer nights are the real deal in the South Island. The sun goes down at 10pm, people eat dinner at 9pm and ice cream at 9am. In Queenstown that is. Amisfield is a mere 15-minute drive from the tourist hot spot. Lake Hayes is just across the road, Morven’s Hill is the backdrop, and the Remarkables stand on the side. With the Trust the Chef menu, dishes change according to what is fresh that day, and probably how the chef is feeling. We ordered the $65 option and an extra glass of wine. It came with nine items where two were starters, two were mains, two were sides, two complimentary mini items and one sweet treat. The gazpacho and mousse starters we didn’t enjoy because they were so strongly flavoured and salty. Our favourites were definitely the smoked salmon and the potatoes. And dare I say you haven’t had roast potatoes until you’ve had these.

You may choose from three Trust the Chef options, all of which are very well priced. I recommend that you book ahead of time and arrange transport or veto a sober driver.

If the potatoes don’t come, screw it. Order it a la carte.

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We started off at Mudbrick for lunch. The restaurant was very beautiful, with brilliant views and interior. I enjoyed the Fish of the Day with Soft Shell Crab, Thai Curry Cream, Mango, and Coriander ($47). It came paired with the Viognier 2014 Waiheke Island which we weren’t particular fans of. The Buffalo Yoghurt Mousse was lovely and perfectly matched with Ned Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough ($18). Oh, and the truffle mash is amazing. Definitely get the truffle mash.

We then headed off to Cable Bay just down the road. Where Mudbrick was the traditional, prestigious brick house, Cable Bay was the large, classy modern house. Walking through the massive double doors it felt almost like a demo unit, like those setups you leaf through in design magazines. There is a large lawn with full 180 degree sea view, a helicopter, beanbags and a courtyard. The courtyard came with a French singer and his guitar, double thumbs up. Since we were well satisfied from the food at Mudbrick, we settled for wine and some shoestring fries.

Our last stop was Little Oneroa Beach before heading back on the ferry home.

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There goes the cliche – can you believe it’s the end of the year already. Once it hits December, Merry Christmas greetings are entirely acceptable. Really, it would be rude not to. Franklin this year, albeit some grinch houses, was great. There were snow machines, diving penguins, cute snowmen with earmuffs, naughty Santas, and a giant snowman snowing inside his belly – snowception.

Franklin Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

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