July brings with it some cold weather, but it also gives you truffle season and a host of dining and drinking experiences to fill your belly and warm your soul. This month sees the return of a popular cocktail masterclass, a new street food cafe with an impressive pedigree, and festivals to look forward to.
With truffle season in full swing, Auckland’s Esther restaurant is holding a Truffle Triumph lunch on July 10. Chef Sean Connolly will present an eight-course menu featuring the venerated fungi, which are sourced from Christchurch producer Tewnion Truffière. Think Périgold truffle fonduta with toasted ciabatta to start, followed by ricotta gnocchi with mushrooms and truffles and an apple tart fin with truffle ice cream. If you can’t make it on the day, Esther will also have a four-course truffle lunch set menu available on weekdays until July 31.
Bonjour, Bastille Day
In honour of this year’s Bastille Day, Ed Le Goff and his team at Auckland’s Le Chef will be going full fromage from July 14-17 with the Raclette Pop-Up. The star of the show will, of course, be cheese – a meal of raclette, charcuterie and condiments (vegetarian options are also available). There’ll be a glass of Chardonnay Joseph Drouhin Mâcon-Lugny or Barton & Guestier Les Galets 2019 on arrival, and lively entertainment.
Running hot and cold
A new addition to the stellar line-up of bars and restaurants that currently adorn the area around Auckland’s K’ Road is Bar Magda. Located in Cross Street, a lane that runs parallel to the main drag, this subterranean bar and eatery is serving up some exciting flavours. Owners Craig Thompson (Orphans Kitchen), Carlo Buenaventura (Culprit, Gemmayze Street) and Matt Venables have created a 52-seat venue, which is currently undergoing a “soft” launch to iron out any issues before going full-throttle on July 17.
The space is low-lit with red-hued lighting and features rough brick walls, concrete floors and wooden seats, giving it an easy, unpretentious vibe that will sit well with the K’ Road set. But the food is the most exciting part – not exactly Filipino, but some of the flavours are a nod in that direction under the guidance of Philippines-born Buenaventura. The sharing-plate menu is divided into “to start”, “something cold”, “something hot”, dessert, and a banquet-style set menu for larger groups. Dishes include market fish suglaw, ginger and rhubarb leche de tigre, and grilled pork rillette with horseradish and tobiko, both from the cold menu. On the hot side you’ll find lamb ribs “pyanggang” with courgette and green sambal, and beef cheek, feijoa glaze and broccoli. It’s worth checking out.
If music be the food of love, play on
If you like a side of sweet tunes with your meal, celebrated chef Josh Emett (Onslow, The Oyster Inn) and multi-platinum-selling tenor Geoff Sewell (Amici Forever) will present Sound Bites, an evening of food and music on July 29 at Auckland’s Park Hyatt. The one-hour concert will be complemented by champagne and canapes followed by a fine-dining experience with wine matches. The event is limited to 80 guests and tickets include a night at the hotel and breakfast at in-house restaurant Onemata.
The good life
Simon Wright and Creghan Molloy-Wright, the formidable partnership behind renowned Auckland fine-dining restaurant The French Café for many years, have embraced small-town life and opened a food-truck kitchen in the Coromandel township of Whangamata. Gather & Roam is a space dedicated to the consumption of fresh, seasonal dishes and a good cup of Kōkako coffee. Specialising in street food, the menu changes frequently depending on what produce is available locally. Good news for Coromandel locals is that dinners are also in the offing.
A prize catch
Award-winning chef Des Harris is lending his considerable experience to the Hilton Auckland, accepting the role of culinary director of Fish Restaurant and the hotel’s Bellini Bar and in-room dining service. Harris honed his craft at Wellington’s iconic Logan Brown and was head chef at Tony Stewart’s top-notch Clooney restaurant in Auckland and, more recently, The Hunting Lodge in the northwest of the city and Tantalus Estate on Waiheke Island.
Harris’ vision for Fish includes mixing modern and primal cooking techniques and partnering with local produce growers and providers of ethically caught seafood. “New Zealand has its own unique cold-water range of fish species,” he says. “We’ll want to hero this.”
Joining Harris are two new hires at Bellini Bar – bar manager Bastien Cervero, who brings his European experience to the party, and head bartender Alexandra Bardou, who has worked in some of Melbourne’s top bars, including George on Collins and Berlin Bar. The pair are bound to be a popular addition, not least because they’re bringing back the ever-popular Mixology Masterclasses.
Touted as a “fantasy land for beer lovers and the beer curious”, Wellington’s famous Beervana festival is taking place on Aug 13-14 as part of the Visa Wellington On a Plate series. More than 75 beer and culinary exhibitors will be on hand, including craft-beer royalty Garage Project, Parrotdog and Tuatara, who will be pulling their pints alongside eight new attendee breweries such as New Plymouth’s Three Sisters and Wānaka’s Rhyme and Reason. If you think a beer festival isn’t for you, think again. As festival manager Ryan McArthur puts it: “We want to break past the misconception that Beervana is just popular with men or fiending hop heads. It’s for everyone.” Here, here.
Sunny side up
Let’s raise a glass to warmer days ahead. The New Zealand Cider Festival will be held on Nov 13 as part of the Hawke’s Bay Summer F.A.W.C! Food and Wine Classic. Previously held in Nelson, the Cider Festival will now alternate between the two locations. “Our region is New Zealand’s largest producer of apples, so naturally we have some very clever people making ciders here,” says Hawke’s Bay Tourism CEO Hamish Saxton. The festival will include tastings, food and music and will be family friendly, with a children’s entertainment area. Tickets are available now at nzciderfestival.com
Follow Jacqui @jacqui.loates.haver