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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two weekends ago I made it to Waiheke for the first time. Shameful, I know. But better late than never.
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.
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