Saturday, October 9, 2010

Visitors and eating out

I've had visitors for the last week and a half; my brother and his family came for part of the school holidays. My sister-in-law was competing in the New Zealand ice skating championships so the rest of the family tagged along.

 My brother only stayed for four days, but the others just went home yesterday. This has meant I have been very busy, and I ate out a lot! We three adults had lunch at Ombrellos last Thursday; Tania (sister-in-law), my niece and her girl cousin had lunch at a new café over the road from work on Wednesday; and Tania, my niece and nephew and their boy and girl cousins had lunch at Capers (a place where I used to eat regularly but hadn't been for years) yesterday. Tania and her parents and I went out to a winemakers dinner on Tuesday night, and my brother, all four kids, and some other friends came out for a Scottish dinner at my house last Saturday while Tania was practicing her skating.

Here's the winemakers dinner menu:

It's a degustation menu so no choice, but very very delicious. The chef chooses the food to go with the wine, rather than the other way around, so the food flavours are quite subtle. My favourite of the four courses was the beef broth, which was served with a rosé of all things. It was a most unusual dish, and came with three eating utensils! There was a soup spoon for the broth, and a knife and fork for the beef belly (which I think must be a posh name for brisket, but with all fat removed). This was one piece of meltingly tender and gelatinous caramelised meat, sitting in the middle of a plate of a wonderfully rich and slightly sweet broth.

Another surprising mix of flavours was the cauliflower and mint beignet that came with the duck galantine. I'd never have thought of putting cauliflower and mint together, but it was gorgeous. The mint flavour was only just perceptible and the beignet itself was super-light and tender.

The winemakers turned out to be the parents of one of the PhD students where I work, and did quite well out of us. Tania bought a mixed case of the wines to take home to Auckland! I hope my brother likes them, although I can't imagine anyone not liking the rosé and the pinot gris - they were something quite special.

I wish I had remembered to take photos of the Scottish dinner, but I didn't. We had  Cullen skink to start with, then haggis with neeps and tatties, then cranachan, which the girl cousins made, for dessert. Our friend Robert brought his vegetarian sister with him, so I also made a broccoli soup and a vegetarian haggis. The vegetarian haggis was made of grated carrots and swede and chopped nuts and lentils and beans, and I thought it was a bit of an abomination myself, but the kids ate it and the vegetarian seemed to enjoy it so it can't have been that bad.

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