July 28th, 2011 — Reviews
Had to move out of our apartment to get it cleaned before tenants took over so we’re staying at Rydges on Featherson Street. Enjoying some lovely views of Wellington – wonderful sight to wake up to before we leave at the weekend.
Prime opportunity to try the Mojo on Featherston Street, down a bit towards the railway station, for breakfast this morning.
Not so good I’m afraid. The place is a bit clinical – it feels kind of awkward trying to be one of those cool cafes in the foyer of a building (like Mojo in the NBNZ building in Auckland) – however here with the shiny marble-look tiles and lots of glass it probably needs to suit a more transient customer base with more leaners and waiting spaces rather than tables and chairs in an space that feels too airy.
Bad news for my breakfast – great they had peanut butter and toast but the coffee took 15 minutes and the food another 10 – they didn’t seem to be that rushed off their feet however there was a constant line of regulars. The baristas were lamenting short staff due to a party last night – I really think customers shouldn’t have to hear that although maybe the regulars appreciated the explanation. The coffee tasted of Mojo although in this case fairly bitter, however by the time it was barely warm and sipped with toast, I managed to drink the whole cup although it was touch and go for a while.
Mojo, Asteron House, cnr Featherston and Bunny Streets, Wellington @mojocoffeenz
May 16th, 2011 — Travels
When I was packing to come home from our trip to San Francisco and Portland, I realised most of my coats and scarves smelt like coffee … lovely … and better than the turmeric smell I used to come home with when I was a fresh young PA working at Davis Trading in Petone – direct importer of food ingredients … every spice and flavour you could think of plus some other strange things I’d certainly never heard of until I spent 18 months there (rollmops, prawn crackers (yes I was surrounded by foreign food!)).
Anyway, reflecting on the cafes I’d been to in San Francisco and Portland – a general comment about baristas – they’re all about the same age, perhaps around 30 and seem really committed to coffee as a profession. Didn’t get the impression or see anyone following a recipe, taking shortcuts (with the extraction or reusing milk (in fact most times jugs washed out between customers)), or looking like they’d been rostered on and were waiting for the end of their shift. We’re getting quite a few places of this quality around Wellington now, but we still have our fair share of cafes slamming out the coffees to go with muffins or toasted paninis. Perhaps being about the craft and appreciation of coffee rather than primarily about food or getting through a morning tea rush is what makes the time taken to do it properly possible. And the customers there like me were waiting for a perfect coffee not a flat white that tastes different every time you visit.
As for the customers – there are always half a dozen people in a cafe whether together or on laptops; no-one wears a suit and those in meetings have a yellow work pad; all the cool dudes have little beards; the cafe smells of coffee, not whatever last thing was cooked on the sandwich press and is now lingering in the air. And this is definitely what I wish for in Wellington – no-one stays just 15 minutes or as long as it takes to drink coffee – they stay, they use their computer, they use the cafe’s free fast wi-fi, a group swells and trickles out as acquaintances come and go, whether it be bike couriers, students, other guys from the office; no-one clears the cups noisily (in fact you put your own cup on the bench when you’re done). Hanging out is serious business. I’m going to try more of this in Wellington – will be interesting to see how long I feel comfortable staying for.
January 30th, 2011 — Reviews
Finally got around to putting a review for Nikau on the Coffee Secrets website.
It’s hard to be objective about Nikau – have been going here for 6.5 years! I guess that in itself is testament to how good it is or that I’m really stuck in my ways – let’s just say a bit of both! Coffee from Supreme is really good – a ‘Nikau’ blend even and I get mine in a special orange cup The staff are friendly but really professional, even though I often sit at the bar and have got to know a few of them, they always cut any conversation short to welcome, seat and serve new visitors. They do a damn good piece of toast (bread made in the basement) and fantastic date scones – with butter soft enough to spread and it’s that butter experience 6.5 years ago that got me back a second time which turned into a weekly visit. If I deviate from toast or a date scone it’s for the morning fruit – sometimes roasted, sometimes with yogurt, sometimes with ricotta – really delicious and surprisingly filling. I really like the open kitchen too – it’s great to watch everyone working and it’s clean and organised and you can’t see those dreadful blue electric things that zzzzzzz flies and bugs like you can in some open kitchens. The food is organic and all made on the premises – the only slight downside for me is that the peanut butter is healthy and good for you instead of supermarket stuff loaded up with sugar and salt (yum) and it’s not my kind of place for lunch as it’s all big-plate stuff that needs a knife and fork – but it’s my problem that I only eat sandwiches at lunchtime!
November 25th, 2010 — Out and about, What I've been doing
Remember a while back when Supreme opened their revamped Woodward Street store I went down and took a bunch of photos and commented on the little ‘exhibition’ space in the brick wall? Well the minute I saw that space I knew what I wanted to take to put there one day – and that day came last week when our Supreme Friend tweeted that he was looking for something new to put in the space.
I rushed down there with the treasure that I knew I wanted to display – just on loan – my New York prism!
Oh how easily the little Vespa model was cast aside so I could ‘install’ my treasure. We discussed all sorts of lighting and signage options but for now, one of my orange cards serves as the art credit. Feel very famous!
November 18th, 2010 — Out and about, Reviews
I’m not really one for posh foods and fancy restaurants (even those that don’t have foreign muck). I never feel quite right in them, mostly because I’m already anxious before we get there that everything will have crab fluff or truffle somethingorother and that I’ll be dreadfully under dressed – my wardrobe is either jeans and Chuck Taylors or long black dress fit for a black tie event. So my attire and desire for a plate of mashed spud always makes me wonder if they look at us and think we’re not really ‘supposed’ to be there – never mind that we can afford that $50 main course and do know what a Julienned carrot or taleggio cheese is!
Anyway, last night it was The Mister’s birthday so the choice of restaurant was not mine and not made with me in mind and I had to look as though I belonged and behave like I enjoyed every moment there (god I sound like a nightmare to take out to dinner …. SHUSH now … ) So we turned up at Martin Boslely’s (SEAFOOD) restaurant and I strutted to the table with an air of ‘I-have-a-thousand-in-100-dollar-bills-in-the-pocket-of-these-faded-fraying-jeans’ – yes I’m sure the diners at the other 9 tables in the 10-table restaurant were looking at us in our Chuck Taylors, jeans and blazers but with me wearing no make-up, clutching my iPhone with my sunglasses still on my head I hoped they thought we were the nouveau riche and had every right to be there with them all in suits entertaining their Japanese business men, or for mother’s birthday, or investment bankers yapping on their phones slurping oysters (yes simultaneously) or the special degustation treat that a rather down-trodden husband was taking his very yappy wife on (don’t forget I have hyper-vision when I’m driving and hyper-hearing when I’m dining!)
The menu was full of stuff I don’t like (knew that was coming), nothing vegetarian and lots of choice for The Mister. We had a couple of glasses of champagne (and had enough class not to ask the guy if he was coming back as his bottle had clearly run out seeing as the glasses were only half full and surely we weren’t going to be charged $30 a piece for that?) and The Mister had the most enormous plate of whitebait. He was in heaven! Yaaaay it was his birthday after all Then he had a medley of venison, pork pie, beef and quail, more heaven apparently and I had the fish n chips. Hopefully the fact that The Mister was ordering from the upper end of the menu meant that no judgment came my way when I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, in my jeans.
And now to the point of this post. Wow. Best fish n chips of my life. I chose snapper as the fish (yes, poshness of the restaurant meant you chose from fish caught that day) and it came as 4 battered logs with a takeaway box of chips (to be honest this was the most exciting part of the dinner for me!) The batter tasted a bit like the $4 slab of battered shark from the local fish n chip shop but so much more refined, pure and soft and healthy. Fish n chips and champagne is one of my favourite meals so I too was in heaven!
Hope we get to go back there but despite our act for the evening … I made sure I didn’t take too many photos of the meal and did a bit of uninterested-in-the-pomp-just-here-some-dinner phone tweeting … we’ll have to save it for very special occasions!