Duck & Waffle

One day late, we celebrated BK’s birthday at Duck & Waffle, a recommendation form my friend ZD.  One of the few high rises in downtown London, we were treated to great views of the city as we met A & L in the bar for pre-dinners cocktails.

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And with a menu set up for sharing we were able to try lots of different dishes…

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first up, crispy pig ears, served in a brown paper bag:

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Spicy Ox Cheek doughnut:

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Violet Artichoke & Parmesan bread:

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Dorset Crab:

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Grilled Asparagus:

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Wild Cornish Pollock Meatballs:

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Smoked Mozzarella Salad:

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Roasted Octopus:

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and of course, the iconic duck & waffle:

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Dessert, fancy French toast essentially 🙂

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Everything was really good – I think the pig ears, ox tail doughnut and octopus were the top three for the table, but no bites were left behind on any plate.  Happy birthday BK!

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Cheers to good friends!

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Ruffles de Jamon?

yep, they even have ham-flavored potato chips in Spain so of course BK had to trythem.  Not terrible, but you wouldn’t need a larger bag…

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Bar Zeruko

an unexpected find on our tapas crawl last night, a modern take on tapas featuring molecular gastronomy.  Since we were already a couple bars in we didn’t partake of all the options, but the ones we had were awesome.

First was a piece of cod being smoked on a grill.  after a minute we were supposed to put the fish on the crostini which had a sweet onion puree on it.  So good!  Alongside was a test tube of liquid salad.

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Next up was the dish that had enticed KF into the bar – a smoking rose colored shot glass with something on top – KF thought it was shrimp.  It was sweetbreads.  Still good and cool presentation:

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Lastly BK & JF got carne while KF & I got postre.  BK’s solomillo consisted of a rare pice of steak and a piece of foie alongside

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Mine looked like a fried egg, but was actually a lemon cream with a passionfruit yolk and a spongecake alongside to soak it all up – yum!

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http://barzeruko.com/

Cooking the Mo’ rockin’ (Moroccan) Spice Trail

Awhile ago my parents gave us a gift certificate to Hipcooks and we finally put it to use for a Moroccan cooking class – I always try to be more adventurous at cooking classes to really learn something new, and this menu looked pretty yummy.  Plus we have a tagine we received for our wedding that we haven’t used yet, so we were hoping this class might inspire us a bit!

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There were 12 people in the class and chores got divvy’ed up around the group – first up for everyone was picking parley leaves off their stems for our parsley salad and grinding up spices.  Added to the salad later was red onion and a simply vingrette – it was good, but a lot of parsley.

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Along side the parsley salad we ate Bastiya – a Moroccan spice pastry with beef and/or lamb, cinnamon, raisins and pine nuts.  We made the filling, then rolled the mixture up into phyllo triangles to bake.  These were yummy – it seemed weird to top a savory meat dish with some powdered sugar, but it worked!

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Our main course was Tagine of chicken with melting onions, saffron, preserved lemon and green olives over cous cous.  Because of the large group we could this in a giant oven-proof pan versus a traditional tagine.  the saffron gave it a great color, and we used the liquid from the dish in the cous cous as well to give it extra flavor.  The preserved lemons were a nice touch and BK already has a couple jars of his own stewing in one of our cabinents now that he knows how to make them 🙂

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Dessert was the one item I was a bit leary about but it turned out delicious:  Beet, olive oil and spice cake.  Its even gluten free!  You barely taste the beets and I loved all the cardamom we put in it.  Alongside the cake we had Poached apricots stuffed with mascarpone and pistachio.

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Delicious date night!

Dinner at Beppi’s

When Tom & Bette visited Sydney their favorite dinner was at an Italian joint, Beppi’s, which has been a Sydney Institution since 1956. For Christmas they treated us to dinner at Beppi’s and luckily the restaurant was just re-opening from their holiday break as we arrived in the city.

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They sat us in the wine cellar, and kicked things off with some bruschetta and a Barbera:

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Then we shared a couple appetizers:  Fiori di Zucchine Ripieni con Ricotta e Funghi Porcini – Home grown Zucchini flowers with a ricotta, basil and Porcini Mushroom filling and Ravioli di Zucca – Ravioli filled with roasted pumpkin & amaretti served with burnt butter & parmesan:

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The squash blossoms were nice and piping hot.  The ravioli pasta was perfectly made but the filling needed a little kick.

For mains, BK got the Filetto di Vitello alla griglia con Burro Tartufato e Funghi Porcini  – Veal fillet grilled and served with truffled butter, porcini mushrooms and potatoes roasted in duck fat:

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while I chose one of my favorite fishes from a previous, Barramundi:  Filetto di Barramundi Selvatico alla griglia con Peperonata  – Barramundi Fillet grilled and served with Peperonata, mint & garlic

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We also shard some cauliflower:

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and finally for dessert we shared the Crespelle con Fragole liquore D’Arancio alla Fiamma  $20
Crepes with strawberries & Grand Marnier flambé – fire!

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A delicious way to celebrate our big vacation AND the fifth anniversary our first date 🙂  Thanks Tom & Bette!

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Cooking class at Auckland Seafood School

Yesterday we did a lunchtime cooking class at the Auckland Seafood Market which was super fun.

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First they gave us a glass of wine and then we watched a demo of what we would be making from renowned chef John Campbell (he was the Exec chef of the America’s Cup when the Kiwis hosted).
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On the menu today was Salt & Pepper Prawns with a citrus mayo and Seafood Risotto. After the demo we were sent into the kitchen to recreate it on our own!

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We got partnered up with a couple funny ladies from Tauranga, a couple hours away. They tackled the risotto while we took on the prawns. Making mayo from scratch is hard! whew, our arms were tired from whisking.

 

 

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The end result of both were delicious though!

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Dinner at Soul

For our last dinner in NZ, we scouted the Harbor area of Auckland and picked what seemed to be a popular spot, Soul Bar and it turned out to be a good choice. Their cocktails were great and the food delish.  First some bread:

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Then we  shared the Kingfish tostada, fresh herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette, toasted peanuts:

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and the South Island whitebait fritter, lemon butter sauce (more like an omlette, the most disappointing dish of the night):

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Next was Grilled snapper, green papaya, coriander and mint salad, mango dressing, toasted peanuts:

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Caulifl ower and cumin fritters:

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and our fave dish of the night, Blackened hapuku with marinated tomatoes and almond skordalia:

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YUM!