Black Estate

We had such a fab weekend in Hanmer – the weather was amazing (even though we spent much of Saturday afternoon inside watching the cricket! Exciting but stressful thanks Black Caps!) and we left on Sunday feeling very relaxed and rested.

On the way up to Hanmer on Friday we stopped for lunch at Black Estate winery in the Waipara Valley. The modern black architecture of the building was a stark contrast to the golden burnt fields that surround it. Inside the simple decor let the stunning view take precedence and the food was a delicious compliment to the setting, not to mention the cold crisp bottle of Rose we shared! There was plenty of space for Axel to practise his hill climbs (while his Granny chased him!) which allowed me to enjoy my perfectly seasoned groper, served on confit potatoes and green beans with a tomato salsa. There was a lot of tasting off each others plates from everyone at our table as it would have been rude not to share such delicious flavours!

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image via Black Estate

I highly recommend a road trip for a special lunch to Black Estate – all of our meals were beautiful and the setting truly is something special. You could easily while away a number of hours sitting in the sunshine enjoying the view, wine, food and company x

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Mexico | Christchurch

I was so excited when I learnt that Mexico (the uber cool and delicious restaurant chain) was finally going to have their first restaurant in the South Island in Christchurch!

We have been a number of times to the Britomart restaurant when visiting Auckland and have never been disappointed – delicious food in a funky environment that is very well priced, washed down with tasty margaritas.

Eli and I were lucky enough to attend the opening of Mexico Christchurch last night and were suitably impressed with the decor. They have turned a low lying building into a riot of colour and Mexican paraphernalia as you would expect if you have been to any of the other restaurants. It’s a huge restaurant compared with the Britomart one which is great as the only downside to these restaurants is that you can’t book.

We enjoyed a number of margaritas (I was very surprised by my lack of a headache this morning!) along with the amazing food – Mexican fried chicken, pork crackling with guacamole (this may be the best combo ever!!), pulled pork tacos to name but a few of the dishes that were being generously handed around. Word on the street is a new menu rolls out to all the restaurants over the next couple of months so we are looking forward to getting amongst that!

I highly recommend Christchurch punters head on down to Mexico – you won’t be disappointed… Andale andale arriba arriba!!!

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All the staff had amazing Mexican themed face paint!

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I love how that in Christchurch you look out the doors and see an empty lot with porta-loos and a number of road cones!

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Pretty impressive walls in the ladies loos!

Bloody Mary’s

Hubby and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary last week – time definitely flies by when you’re having fun and throw a baby into the mix!

Eli had wanted to go to Bloody Mary’s to celebrate his birthday (which is the week before Christmas) but we came down with that awful stomach bug literally that morning so I had to cancel the booking.

A month later and we were ready to give it another try!

Bloody Mary’s is a steakhouse and a mighty fine one at that. It is definitely a decadent experience; service is impeccable, the menu and wine list is extensive, and the decor is moody and luxurious, befitting the restaurants name.

For an entree I had the venison liver parfait, bread and butter pickles. The parfait was smooth and creamy, the bread was crispy (I could have done with a couple more slices as the parfait itself was a very generous serving) and the pickles added a bit of zing. Overall it was delicious.

Eli had the seafood chowder. The waitress poured the chowder over the seafood at the table which seems to be a popular way of serving this dish at higher end restaurants at the moment. The seafood was cooked perfectly and the chowder was lovely but we both thought it could have had a little more depth to the flavour, it was a little too creamy.

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For our mains I ordered fillet steak with garlic gratin and port wine and thyme sauce. Eli ordered the NY strip loin (but received the sirloin, the only real disappointment of the evening!) with goose fat roasted potatoes and mushroom & garlic sauce. We shared sides of asparagus and cauliflower cheese which we thought were very generous servings for the price. We both like our steak medium rare and it was cooked beautifully. The sauces were full of flavour and there was plenty to go around. I think my potato gratin won over Eli’s roasted potatoes as they weren’t as crispy on the outside as I would have liked.

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For desert we shared the chocolate tart with salted caramel and pistachio ice cream which was the perfect end to our beautiful dinner. The base carried most of the saltiness which was surprising but in a good way, and the pistachio toffee was so good it resulted in a little haggling between the two of us for who deserved the last piece!

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For a Monday night the restaurant was busy, it is attached to popular hotel Rydges so many diners were definitely tourists, but I can see why it is popular with Christchurch locals as well. If you like a well cooked steak meal where you get a little freedom of choice, then Bloody Mary’s definitely delivers.

All photos taken (quickly!) on my iPhone hence not the best quality!

Date Night

My in-laws have been staying with us and kindly shooed us out the door on Monday night so Eli and I could have a date-night! Exciting times for a Monday!!

We decided on dinner and a movie which for me meant we must try one of the many new restaurants that have been popping up all over Christchurch this year.

We chose to go to Town Tonic and weren’t disappointed. After saying I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into having Italian when Town Tonic returned Eli’s call in regards to the booking we discovered Monday was pizza and pasta night! Ha! Never mind, we decided to just roll with it and I’m so pleased we did.

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Photos by Naomi Haussmann for Neat Places

Upon entering we were immediately impressed with the slick decor; no wonder the business crowds head to Town Tonic during the day – classy and cool and tasty. We were then enlightened to the fact that we could actually have whatever we liked – the chef would whip up anything our bellies desired; this mumma has a fried brain so the thought of having to choose something myself when out for dinner was actually the last thing I wanted to do! Luckily there was a delicious sounding menu put together by the chef to choose from also – phew!

I actually had a French inspired seafood bouillabaisse which was DELICIOUS! A generous amount of seafood (including the sweetest scallops I have had in a loooong time) coupled with a thick, robust tomato sauce and a crusty piece of bread to scoop up all the tomatoey goodness = winning!

Being able to create your own dish allowed leeway from the original menu so Eli chose the vegetarian pizza (macadamia nuts, asparagus, creme fraiche, mushrooms) but added chorizo. The macadamia nuts added such great texture – definitely something to add to our home made pizza toppings list.

It wasn’t overly busy and I loved that the chef personally came to see how we were enjoying our meals; it was so nice to chat about the ideas behind the food as well as praise her personally for our beautiful meals. The open kitchen area also means you can see closely how your meal is being prepared should you wish.

Definitely keen to head back to Town Tonic (any night of the week!) as the food was delicious and the staff were friendly, laid back but attentive.

We then went to see Hunger Games Mockingjay Part One – sooooo good but soooo frustrating that we have to wait to find out how it all ends. I haven’t read the books and am tempted to read the last one to see what happens!!!!

Monday date night was good times x

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Boots – Witchery (Similar here and here)

Coated Jeans – 3 x 1 (Similar here)

Shirt – Asos (Similar here)

Fake Fur Gillet – Old (Similar here)

 

 

 

Weekend Round-Up

I actually did a very poor job of taking photos to document the great time we had at the Christchurch Wine and Food Festival on Saturday!

This year we had tickets in the VIP area which meant we enjoyed a delicious lunch put together by celebrated Christchurch chef Jonny Schwass and his team, and we had the luxury of a bar area rather than having to queue for tastings… This culminated in far too much frivolity and pathetic photo taking – I had demolished half my lunch before I even thought of taking a snap with my iPhone!

The weather wasn’t fantastic (overcast and a little chilly) but we had a fab day anyway and then I even managed to soldier on into the city to try out one of the latest offerings on the restaurant / club scene, Engineers.

Engineers has brought the first roof top bar to Christchurch and it is pretty fly. I liked the industrial feel of the interior, the outdoors area was lit up with pretty lights and the DJ was spinning some good tunes. The food coming from the kitchen looked and smelt delicious so I would definitely head back to give that a try too.

Sunday saw us take Axel to Ballantynes for his first photo with Santa – he HATED it!! The look on his face when he was sat on Santa’s knee was priceless – pure shock, turning to horror – check out the ‘get me out of here!’ look below!!

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Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed some festive fun along the way x

 

Highs and Lows

I was a little bit excited for my Wednesday night. I was heading out midweek to enjoy dinner and a fashion event with great girlfriends, what could be better?!

I even got out the Louboutin’s (mine are the patent version which nobody seems to have in stock at the mo)! This was going to be a fashion savvy night!!!

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So I was disappointed when our night didn’t quite live up to our expectations. Dinner was good (the high) but the fashion event was a let down. Don’t you hate it when something you have great hopes for doesn’t work out quite the way you had imagined?! Perhaps I didn’t read the event description properly, or didn’t get the event description, but talking amongst our friends we were all disappointed so it wasn’t just me feeling a little confused. $40 for a ticket to what was essentially a shopping evening (4 retailers were selling a small selection of their products and one online retailer had most of their stock), where I had one glass of wine (driving) and enjoyed a few canapés (that were delicious – thanks to the folk at Stranges Lane) seems a little pricey to me. So for the first time in my life I am going to, as the saying goes, put my money where my mouth is (I would have rather have put that $40 towards another restaurant dinner, that would literally go in my mouth!) and send some feedback to the evenings coordinators. Eeeekkk! I need to follow through on this one as Christchurch needs more events like this but it could have been so much better – I didn’t even take any photos as I didn’t think it was blog worthy!

Right, rant over! Question: have you ever had an underwhelming experience that you have then provided feedback on? How was it received!?? Please share and wish me luck!

BUT to finish on a good note here are some foodie pics from the high of the evening, a lovely dinner at Brick Farm, a wee gem that stands alone on High Street amongst the rubble. They grow much of their own produce and have an ever evolving menu, meaning each time you go expect to see something a little different on offer. Pressed tin, exposed brickwork and terrariums make for a rustic and homely feel, and the service was excellent. With a bar upstairs due to open soon and a large courtyard, Brick Farm is another great hospitality venture in post-earthquake Christchurch.

 

pork with asparagus and new potatoes / cauliflower risotto / parcel with tarakihi, roasted vegetables and olives

Stranges Lane Grand Opening

Last night Eli and I had the pleasure of attending the opening night for Christchurch’s latest (and by far greatest!) dining precinct, Stranges Lane.

Strange’s Lane, on the corner of High and Lichfield Streets, is home to Lower 9th Diner, Nucleus, Orleans, Strange & Co and Vespa.

Three venues, Lower 9th Diner, Orleans, and Strange & Co are brought to us by the crew behind Mexico, 1885, Racket, The Britomart Country Club and Orleans in Auckland, but it originally all started in Christchurch with Cartel, a little gem in the currently closed Sol Square. Hopefully Sol Square (which is located across the way from Stranges Lane) will make a triumphant return at some point in the future which will create a fantastic area for dinner and late night antics.

The venues carve out a fabulous little triangle courtyard that is well lit and kept warm with plenty of heaters. Each of the spots has a completely different feel and caters for different tastes but all open up onto the courtyard creating a welcoming atmosphere that feels connected.

Orleans is a replica of the Auckland restaurant and I can see why it has been so successful. The food was delicious – chicken waffles (who would have thought?!) and the Pig Po Boy (pulled pork in a bun with Orleans BBQ sauce) were two of my favourites. The interior has an almost dramatic feel to it with dark features and moody lighting, a mezzanine floor allows diners to keep an eye on proceedings below.

Lower 9th Diner (named after an area hit particularly hard in Hurricane Katrina) is the smallest of the three and will be open from early morning through until late evening. In what I believe is a first for Christchurch it will be a bit of a crab shack, offering Alaskan crab as well as more common diner fare, burgers. The delicious, aptly titled cocktail the ‘Hurricane’ is definitely worth a try.

Strange & Co. is the largest of the three. It has an industrial feel to it that is softened with modern greenery. I loved the upper mezzanine floor that had a cool, circular opening meaning you could spy on those on the ground floor below.

A huge thank you to the gorgeous Tom Newfield, manager extraordinaire, (read about him here) for inviting us to this special opening event.

My photos are REALLY average (a combination of using my iPhone and perhaps taking advantage of the free bar a little too much) but here they are as well as some recent professional shots of the venues via We Built This City.

How cool is it that you can get your shoes shined?! My boots were like brand new!