A thought provoking encounter
Posted on Sat, 30/06/2018
Life is fairly frenetic at the moment. There seems to be multiple things going on, and occasionally I question my ability to stay on top of it all. Earlier this week, Rick and I headed up to Auckland for a couple of days...>>>
Hiakai - the aftermath!
Posted on Mon, 04/06/2018
Grant and Arno have just headed back to Auckland after a breakfast out and lenghty recap of the proceeding day and a general mulling over about the hospitality industry in New Zealand. Rick is clearing away the unused...>>>
Posted on Sat, 12/05/2018
As part of Escape! The Tauranga Arts Festival 2018, we are very fortunate to have been asked by the organisers to host a dinner with Monique Fiso. Rick and she have been discussing menus and necessary equipment as we get...>>>
Posted on Tue, 20/03/2018
Sometimes when my thought train starts moving in a certain direction, more seems to occur in my day that add to what I'm mulling over, and a couple of things that happened during restaurant service last night underscored...>>>
Posted on Fri, 15/12/2017
In addition to our main four seasonal cookschool series that we do in a year, we have added an extra couple of smaller, specialised series - one on sauces and the other on cooking without meat.
We have noticed a real upsurge...>>>
Posted on Fri, 17/11/2017
We eat out as often as we can to see what others are doing, to be inspired in a professional sense, and also simply, because we enjoy hospitality. Part of observing what is happening in other restaurants is done to keep ourselves...>>>
Eating out in Melbourne
Posted on Thu, 29/06/2017
We tend to stay in the CBD deliberately so that alot of the restaurants we want to try are within walking distance. Melbourne is a wonderfully pedestrian friendly city - we walked everywhere pretty much...>>>
Melbourne, Part One
Posted on Tue, 27/06/2017
The first time we went to Melbourne was back in 1998, a trip necessitated by the news gleaned at one of Catharine Bell's Epicurean Workshop Cookschools that Stephanie Alexander was planning to close her eponymous restaurant...>>>
Posted on Tue, 30/05/2017
i have read this article thru a number of times and it has pissed me off each time, even though at it's core I agree with some of the points that Mr Wilson makes, but I can't get over the preening assumption that...>>>
My notion of hospitality
Posted on Sun, 07/05/2017
I've been musing the notion of hospitality over the last few days, ever since reading this article on Thomas Keller because it left me feeling somewhat blue, and I've been trying to figure out why that is the...>>>
Posted on Wed, 08/02/2017
Our lawyer is a close personal friend. She has had our backs for more years than I care to remember, and with her, there are no secrets! So when Chris talks, I usually listen, and most times I agree, maybe not always straight...>>>
Posted on Thu, 22/12/2016
I have mentioned in the past the negative comments we encountered when we decided a few years back to take the white cloths off the restaurant tables, and to follow modern trends. Our reasoning for doing so felt valid to...>>>
What is fine dining?
Posted on Fri, 28/10/2016
A lady who was in for dinner the other night complained to me at the counter when her husband was paying the account on the way out, that she was very unimpressed with the fact we didn't have any linen on the table. When...>>>
Posted on Sun, 05/06/2016
We could have been busy tonight had we been open, which has somewhat taken us by surprise, because for the last few years there has been no demand for dinner on the Sundays of long weekends, and we've got into the habit...>>>
Posted on Sun, 08/05/2016
Sunday is our day off, unless we have a cookschool on, and today we have spent the morning mooching at the table on the deck, firstly reading the Sunday papers ( and being most pleasantly surprised by an unexpected...>>>
Posted on Wed, 06/04/2016
It has taken awhile, but early this morning the wonderful Truan put up the outsized picture frame that I'd asked him to make for the female loo, so I could put up our collection of restaurant cards. Truan, like most in...>>>
Posted on Tue, 23/02/2016
Back in the day when we opened at Somerset we served coffee from a cona machine - one of those ones where you upended a cona of water into the top, then dropt the empty cona on to the heated pad underneath, and the water...>>>
Posted on Sun, 19/07/2015
The restaurant isn't full every night. That is a factor of a number of things and something I view as a mixed blessing. Consistent fullness, makes life easier on some levels in terms of forward planning and staff organising....>>>
A different generation
Posted on Mon, 13/07/2015
It suddenly struck me a couple of years or so back, that Rick and I no longer belonged to the happening generation. There seemed to suddenly be a swathe of younger, hipper people in the hospitality industry, who were full...>>>
Posted on Tue, 07/07/2015
The cameras on smart phones are a wonderful thing! And coming from me, who has always been a bit of a snob about the superiority of SLR cameras that is quite a statement and quite a change of perspective. We're just back...>>>
Posted on Tue, 23/06/2015
Rick and I are heading to Melbourne this Sunday for few short days of serious research. We'll be back in NZ on Thursday, and unfortuntely the flight departure time over there, means that we'll only have...>>>
Farm to table
Posted on Wed, 20/05/2015
I got an email enquiry recently that had me spluttering over my cup of hot water. Someone was looking to bring 'important' ( their choice of word) guests to the restaurant but hadn't been before and wanted to...>>>
Posted on Sun, 05/04/2015
Most restaurants work sections out front. By that I mean that the waiting staff have a number of tables in their 'section' that they are responsible for during service. At Somerset we have a floor plan drawn up every...>>>
Our own produce
Posted on Fri, 03/04/2015
We've woken up to the most beautiful Good Friday. Blue skies and clear, still warm day. Absolutely nothing planned which is most unusual for us, but which I shall enjoy as the day unfolds.
We're only open on Saturday...>>>
Day trip to Auckland
Posted on Mon, 16/03/2015
We had our somewhat delayed Christmas staff get together yesterday. In years past it has not been unusual for it to be postponed from the more normal December timing until January, because the general freneticism...>>>
An oldfashioned drink, updated
Posted on Tue, 10/03/2015
Blackcurrant is my new favourite flavour. Since rediscovering it, and starting to make a syrup which we're using for our Kir Royales in the restaurant and also a non -alcoholic aperitif where we mix it with Antipodes...>>>
I'm getting worried!
Posted on Tue, 03/03/2015
We have an hour or so before we're due to head out the door and deliver Courteney to Auckland airport, via dinner first, naturelment. Think we're going to go to Everybody's becausehave been hearing good things,...>>>
Half a lifetime
Posted on Sun, 22/02/2015
My role at the restaurant during service has evolved a little over the years. I'm kind of maitr d'/ waitress / glass washer / do whatever is required...
I seldom have a section as such within the restaurant, seeing...>>>
Posted on Wed, 04/02/2015
Rick and I have always regarded the words 'healthy' and 'dessert' as being mutually exclusive. Desserts by definition are meant to be sweet and tasty, a decadent finish to a meal. Maybe not something...>>>
Posted on Fri, 30/01/2015
The pre-Christmas change in the drink driving laws generated a significant amount of chat around tables in the restaurant, both amongst customers and also directed at us. People seemed to have no idea about how much they...>>>
Front of House staff
Posted on Sun, 25/01/2015
We lost Abbie a couple of weeks back, to a fulltime position at Harbourside, which is a shame on a couple of counts. Abbie was a delight to have around, an already polished waitress when she started working with us...>>>
New year, new Reservation book
Posted on Sun, 04/01/2015
The start of a new year, means a whole new Reservations book. Whereas at the end of the old year we have to weigh down the used side of the book, because its been so handled and turned, that it will keep flicking back, a...>>>
Posted on Thu, 04/12/2014
I have just tasted the best honey I've ever eaten! A dramatic statement for sure, but quite literally the truth! Alan has just driven off, having removed the first lot of honey from his hives which have been on...>>>
Posted on Wed, 19/11/2014
The view from the backroom of the restaurant is changing on a daily basis, as friends of ours ready their section to build a house. Lots of activity as the land has been cleared and prepared for building to start.
Lamb v/s Hogget
Posted on Sun, 09/11/2014
We are using lamb shoulder racks in the current cookschool series, and we're also featuring them on the restaurant menu, in a different presentation. It occurred to me on about the 4th or 5th class in the series as we...>>>
Posted on Mon, 27/10/2014
Having had a social walk around the Mount this morning, where we seemed to bump into half of Tauranga, rather than the expected out of town multitudes on this holiday Monday, I am now seated at my desk with a list of jobs...>>>
A stressful few days!
Posted on Wed, 24/09/2014
It has been a more than normally stressful few days, but I'm daring to begin to hope that the worst of it is now behind us.
A McLeods crane has just exited the section next door to the restaurant, having returned to...>>>
Posted on Fri, 05/09/2014
Have a busy lunch on today, which I'm not far away from getting ready to head over for.
But have just been out to the garage to make another batch of ice - a new job in my day, which when I initially instigated...>>>
That was then, this is now
Posted on Mon, 14/07/2014
The weather on Saturday was horrible. Truly horrible. We had a busy service in the restaurant, and I was pleasantly surprised that people were brave enough to venture out for dinner. They literally tumbled through the front...>>>
Posted on Thu, 10/07/2014
It is the school holidays, and suddenly our kitchen hands all need time off, all at the same time. They are college kids, for whom the school holidays all come over the same period, and a great group of people,...>>>
New websites and things...
Posted on Fri, 27/06/2014
If you're reading this, then chances are you will have discovered our new website, which went live yesterday, and which I am currently learning how to navigate around the admin aspects of. I have being repeatedly reassurred...>>>
Posted on Sat, 05/04/2014
Been a big day. Jo Miller, and 6 of her students from Captureit, who are training to be professional photographers spent the day at Somerset, taking photos of all the dishes from 3 Christmas Cookschool series -...>>>
Posted on Mon, 17/03/2014
Alan took this photo of our bees today, hard at work producing honey ... going to have to go and get a kit so I can poke my nose in the hive too I can see...
Posted on Thu, 13/03/2014
I read this article before I headed over to the restaurant this morning to do a cookschool, and it came up in conversation during the class. With our demonstration cookschools, Rick does all the prep for 4 or 5...>>>
Posted on Fri, 28/02/2014
Thanks to a contact passed on by a good customer, I am about to have a long held ambition realised. For reasons I can't fully articulate, I have always wanted to have bees. There is something about the process by which...>>>
Posted on Sat, 16/11/2013
As a restaurant we seldom feel the need to overly concern ourselves with the health properties of the food that we serve to our customers. Instead our focus has always been on presenting interesting food, using fresh,...>>>
Posted on Thu, 19/09/2013
I just managed to get the restaurant front garden weeded, before the rain that had been threatening decided to come down in volume, and I?m now waiting for that to subside a little, before I venture out for a walk. Its ...>>>
Posted on Sat, 31/08/2013
One of the wonderful aspects of working in Hospitality, is the constant exposure that you get to people, and the insights into their lives. We are in the very priviledged position, where most of our public interaction is...>>>
A reminder of how things used to be.
Posted on Sun, 11/08/2013
Rick has just taken the dogs down below to run them before their dinner. We are due to head up to the farm, so thats happening a little earlier than it normally does, which the dogs won't see that as a bad thing, because...>>>
Farewell to Roz
Posted on Mon, 15/07/2013
I didn?t really intend to sit down next to Rick just now, and watch the last 15kms or so of the climb up Mont Ventoux, but somehow I just kind of got sucked in, and with him there to explain what the teams were doing,...>>>
Look what I found...
Posted on Tue, 09/07/2013
I've just been going thru My Documents file, trying to find some photos that I took in the first Hands On Cookschool earlier this year, and which I've filed away somewhere so obvious that I can't find them. In checking...>>>
Posted on Tue, 09/07/2013
Something that I've been wanting to do for awhile - I've unearthed over 30 years of collected restaurant cards, that represent a serious number of great meals out, here, there and everywhere, which have been languishing in...>>>
An old photo
Posted on Sun, 07/07/2013
Have just come back over to the house after a day long Hands on Cookschool. This was the 4th out of 6 in the year, and they just seem to get more and more enjoyable as we go along. Today we studied cooking meat, and had lunch...>>>
Posted on Thu, 27/06/2013
We?ve had a quiet night in the restaurant, so once things were well underway, I?ve come back over to the house to type up the lastest cookschool notes that I?ve just written today for the Cookschool cookbook,...>>>
Posted on Wed, 26/06/2013
I have an awful lot of cooking magazines. An awful lot. I started buying them back when I was a student, 35 years or so ago, and since I ended up in the restaurant business, it kind of made sense in those pre-internet...>>>
Posted on Wed, 01/05/2013
Have just come back over to the house after a lengthy wine tasting with Nicholas Buck from Te Mata Estate. Iconic is not a word that I bandy around lightly, but it would be fair to say, that in my private rankings of NZ...>>>
Menus as marketing tools
Posted on Tue, 30/04/2013
Am having a bit of a tidy up at home, just because, tackling different areas as the urge grabs me ... It was the linen cupboard that got emptied the other day, and anything too old, or no longer appropriate ...>>>
Posted on Fri, 29/03/2013
A very pleasantly leisurely Good Friday is unfolding, starting with compulsory hot cross buns and coffee. We?d called into Deans yesterday to buy some buns, because even though I?d muttered at some point that I was...>>>
Posted on Wed, 06/03/2013
I love talking to people who are passionate about what they do. There is something about the enthusiasm that shines thru that becomes very inspiring, regardless, really of what the subject matter is. And coincidently over...>>>
The younger generation
Posted on Thu, 14/02/2013
Have just taken a phone call at home from a very close friend who wants to bring his sons in for dinner tonight because Thomas heads back down to Canterbury university tomorrow.
Valentines Day is kind of a standing...>>>
Our play list
Posted on Mon, 04/02/2013
We have two sources of music in the restaurant. A reasonably large collection of CDs that I've built up over the years, and which we load into the system, 5 at a time, and thanks to Roz now set on random play, something I...>>>
Posted on Sat, 02/02/2013
The restaurant kitchen at Somerset has always been predominantly male. That is not because of any special game plan on Ricks and my behalf , but rather simply the way it has unfolded. When we?ve been looking for staff,...>>>
Posted on Fri, 04/01/2013
Rick rang Hohepa today in Clyde in the Hawkes Bay, which is where we get the aged gouda from, that we love so much, to order some more cheese, and the lady who answered the phone seemed relieved to hear from him...>>>
Posted on Sun, 30/12/2012
While not officially back at work until tomorrow, Rick and I have both spent most of today, getting stuff sorted, so that come tomorrow morning, when we do open, then we will have what we need already on site...>>>
Posted on Thu, 22/11/2012
The idea of having a weekly menu in addition to the dishes that we feel we can?t change, is working extremely well. Its generating alot of positive comment, especially from good customers who we see on a regular...>>>
Posted on Mon, 19/11/2012
I am not a gardener. In fact I?m almost embarrassed to be posting photos of flowers, because the wisteria at the restaurant grows by default and not through any cleverness on my behalf. It was Terry Hill Rennie who had...>>>
Finally - facebook!
Posted on Wed, 24/10/2012
It?s taken me awhile, but I?ve finally set up a facebook page for the restaurant. Or more accurately, Hannah and Courteney?s combined efforts have resulted in the page.
Rick has a facebook page ? he got it as a way...>>>
Cookbooks and things
Posted on Fri, 19/10/2012
Have just been over to the restaurant to have a cup of coffee, needed after I finished typing up yet another set of cookschool recipe notes, and ran into Anna who has an impeccable sense of timing when...>>>
Open Monday nights
Posted on Sun, 30/09/2012
My husband got up early this morning to head out for a long ride. His youngest daughter isn?t allowed back on her bike yet, so he went out alone. I?ve watered the vege plants that I planted yesterday, and been over to the...>>>
Posted on Mon, 24/09/2012
Rick and I are taking Jamie out for dinner tonight to say our farewells, because he finished at Somerset on Saturday evening, and will be leaving the country this Friday. He?s been a special part of the kitchen team...>>>
Posted on Tue, 21/08/2012
I had a gin and tonic at work tonite which is most unlike me, becos I very, very seldom drink spirits. Wine is my preferred alcoholic tipple.
But some bottles of Lighthouse gin arrived from the Wairarapa today, and I wanted...>>>
Posted on Sat, 09/06/2012
My husband is seated in front of the TV watching the All Black / Ireland game. The restaurant was busier than I thought it would be, given this was the first outing of the All Blacks this year, but we weren't full and...>>>
Posted on Tue, 05/06/2012
For the last couple of years we've had some original artwork painted by Raye Catran hanging in the restaurant, and I've recently taken that down and replaced it with some large framed photographs by Suzanne Williams.
Posted on Sat, 12/05/2012
We had a huge night in the restaurant tonight. The biggest one we've had in a long time actually - lots of tables of 5's, and 6's and 7's, and not many 2's, which is unusual for us.
Not sure if it was a pre-Mothers Day hit,...>>>
Posted on Sat, 05/05/2012
I read this article with a feeling of horror, becos it represents an approach that is simply anathema to me. I am incapable of thinking of my customers in purely financial terms, even though I, more than anyone else at Somerset,...>>>
Posted on Fri, 04/05/2012
How to season food is an oft discussed subject in cookschools - how to get the balance of flavours just right. Rick does it intuitively and naturally, and doesn't like it when I ask him to explain what he's tasting and how...>>>
Posted on Sat, 14/04/2012
In the good old days, when we first opened the restaurant, there were no such things as personal computors, desktop, laptop or otherwise, or mobile phones, smart or otherwise. Hard to believe in todays age I know, but true....>>>
Posted on Sun, 08/04/2012
I am not too far away from climbing on the spinner. Rick is out on his bike, and I would imagine its lovely out there as the sun finally sweeps all the clouds away, and shines benevolently down, but even so I still prefer...>>>
Posted on Thu, 08/03/2012
We are extremely quiet tonite. And that is one of the vagaries of owning a restaurant that I like the least, becos more often than not there is no rhyme or reason to why a Thursday nite one week can be very busy, and then...>>>
Posted on Thu, 23/02/2012
I thought this comment by Michael Pollan to be especially interesting, becos reading it happened to coincide with some musing I was doing all by myself, on the trend that we'd picked up during some recent eating out experiences...>>>
Valentines Day, again
Posted on Tue, 14/02/2012
I have survived another Valentines night. No mean feat for me!! Roz has just knocked me and upended a glass of water down my front, which I took as a sign that it was time to beat a retreat. Dripping wet is not a good look...>>>
Start of 2012
Posted on Tue, 03/01/2012
Back at work! I slept in this morning, which hadn't been my intention. While I hadn't exactly planned on being over at the restaurant at the crack of dawn, I had thought it would be nice to start the new year, with...>>>
End of the working year
Posted on Fri, 23/12/2011
Today is our last day at work for 2011. Its going to be busy, which is good - lunch and dinner, plus a constant stream of people calling in to pick up food orders and vouchers. Rick is over there at the moment doing some...>>>
Posted on Tue, 13/12/2011
As I settle in to do my normal Tuesday morning desk routine, the background soundtrack is the rather unpleasant rumble of a truck parked in the restaurant carpark. Combined with which is the unmistable aroma of, ummmm, bodily...>>>
Posted on Sun, 11/12/2011
I hope I am not tempting fate by stating the bald fact of ' so far, so good'! The Christmas season has hit with a vengence and although we still have 2 weeks to go before we break for Christmas itself, we are well into the...>>>
Posted on Sat, 10/12/2011
Oh dear! My husband has just got back from a bike ride and commented on the fact that I am still prone in the same positon that I was when he departed - stretched out reading Vanity Fair. A monthly indulgence that gives...>>>
Tour of Southland
Posted on Tue, 08/11/2011
Our daughters sporting endeavours have seen the financial benevolence and support from a number of people over the years, who have stepped up and supported them at times when their parents financial wherewithal was stretched...>>>
An ego check
Posted on Thu, 20/10/2011
A woman who has been a long term friend is an editor, and I've always sort of mused over what it is that editors do. I remember quite distinctly when I read all the MFK Fisher books, that she railed continually about the...>>>
Don't mention the rugby!
Posted on Mon, 12/09/2011
The week that has just been - our restaurant week starts on a Tuesday and ends on a Sunday - was officially the quietest one that we have had since we did the alterations, 7/8 years ago. Not that I think I'll especially trumpet...>>>
Posted on Mon, 29/08/2011
We're just in from an impromptu decision to eat out at Tay St tonite. We'd got home from the Coromandel to an empty fridge, and a lack of enthusiasm to get busy in the kitchen, so a quick and easy meal out felt more...>>>
Posted on Fri, 26/08/2011
We had the last cookschool in the current series today, and I've been pottering since I came back over to the house, waiting for the rather rich lunch to settle before I head out on a walk. I'm loving the fact that we are...>>>
Posted on Tue, 02/08/2011
My photography classes started back today, and for the next 8 weeks I'll be delving into how cameras operate in probably more detail than my brain will be able to handle, but will nonetheless enjoy the challenge very much....>>>
Posted on Fri, 22/07/2011
We aim to please, but tonite even we, went above and beyond the call. An occasional customer was in, and she has unusual dietary restraints, that unfortunetely weren't translated to the kitchen clearly when the booking...>>>
Wine Options - 2011
Posted on Wed, 13/07/2011
I really do need to get out into the restaurant garden and do some weeding, but its blustery and miserable outside, and I'm watching big black clouds loom up on the horizon yet again, so my desire to do so, is distinctly...>>>
Posted on Fri, 08/07/2011
I'd just come back over to the house after our first cookschool in this series - a small class as the first one in each series tends to be, but with regular attendees who's company Rick and I thoroughly enjoyed - and am heading...>>>
25 Years and counting...
Posted on Tue, 05/07/2011
I've been turning to my husband a fair amount over the last few days and using the same line, ' this time 25 years ago, we were...' and we'd both pause and consider what exactly it was that we were doing over those early...>>>
Posted on Mon, 13/06/2011
We were up early this morning so Rick could watch life streaming of the Tulsa Tough crit race that Courteney was in this am. The American commentators take a bit of adjusting too, after years of listening to the dulcet tones...>>>
Posted on Sun, 12/06/2011
A couple of weeks back I posted a blog in which I commented negatively on the fact that we had been approached by a local publication who wanted to write a restaurant column on us.
My issue was not with the fact that they...>>>
Posted on Tue, 24/05/2011
This objet d'art, was brought to the restaurant on Saturday by some good customers, as a birthday present for someone at their table.
They'd made it themselves, and I was quite entranced.
Oldest restaurant in Tauranga
Posted on Tue, 19/04/2011
We ended up at Bella Mia for dinner last nite with friends, after watching the harrowing ' Sarahs Key'. Others had joined us, and they are habitues at Bella Mia, so we went with interest, not having been there for ages,...>>>
Posted on Tue, 12/04/2011
I finished the mammoth task of reading all my old diaries at the weekend. A task that I'd lived to regret setting myself, becos it was vastly more time consuming than I anticipated, when it first struck me as a good idea...>>>
Posted on Wed, 06/04/2011
Both Rick and I have just got back in from doing some exercise - seperately I might add! He's beaten me to the shower so am checking my emails and looking out towards the restaurant and musing regretfully, that its dark already.
Carafes and things..
Posted on Thu, 31/03/2011
We woke up to glorious sunshine this morning, and that very distinct nip in the air that heralds the arrival of autumn, and the fact its time to stop kidding myself over whether the warm weather and lovely long evenings have...>>>
Posted on Mon, 28/02/2011
Everything I open to read at the moment is understandably centered on the events in Christchurch, where the unimaginable scale of destruction has us all reeling.
Life continues for us as normal, even though we feel vaguely...>>>
Posted on Wed, 09/02/2011
As I've mentioned many times in cookschools, our cookbook library is extensive,and is a continually growing beast. We've pretty much run out of shelf space in our existing bookcases, and will at some stage be forced to address...>>>
Posted on Thu, 27/01/2011
Good china, crystal, cutlery and other types of porcelain and pottery, really appeals to me. Not sure why, its just something that has always been a lifelong passion.
For that reason I always sit up and take note in other...>>>
The Puddle has gone!
Posted on Sun, 23/01/2011
Sometimes its the small things that can give a disproportionate sense of satisfaction, and an example of what I mean by that, is the absence of the puddle, that has riled me even since we moved into this house 7 years or...>>>
Posted on Sat, 15/01/2011
Have just finished a box of envelopes - writing addresses on envelopes I mean. A few years back I gave people the option of getting the restaurant newsletter electronically, and I would now send out more copies electronically,...>>>
Posted on Fri, 17/12/2010
It had been my intention to head over to the Mount early this morning and take a photo of the beach and the garland of ruby pohutakawa trees that are currently adding their grace to the water front. But its rained heavily...>>>
Children in the Restaurant
Posted on Thu, 16/12/2010
We are having a really good run up to Christmas I'm pleased to be able to report. Sometimes this time of year can be made rather extra stressful thru the behaviour of some of the groups that can come in, and who proceed...>>>
The next book
Posted on Mon, 06/12/2010
I have been musing for a few months now that we are due another cookschool recipe book, the last one we did covers the classes from 1999 to 2005, so was time to look at another version.
The world of private publishing has...>>>
Posted on Sun, 05/12/2010
Last Monday Rhonda, Roz and I headed over to the Zealong tea plantation where we were to meet with Christy, their account manager, to be taken thru the finer points of serving oolong tea.
Rick and I had already been to...>>>
Posted on Fri, 19/11/2010
It has been a full on week, which isn't showing any sign of abating over the next couple of days. I've just finished putting a very ad hoc version of a cross between a quiche and a bacon and egg pie in the oven, becos my...>>>
Posted on Fri, 12/11/2010
We had a busy, buzzy nite in the restaurant last nite - just the kind of nite that reinforces why it is that I enjoy so much what we do. Lots of appreciative, happy customers - and all the systems running smoothly and seemingly...>>>
Old staff and reminiscing
Posted on Thu, 11/11/2010
Perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of being in our kind of business for awhile, are the relationships that you build up with all sorts of people over time.
We now have a very long list of alumni, staff that have...>>>
Posted on Sat, 06/11/2010
I read an article in the Bay of Plenty Times this afternoon with some considerable vexation. It was hard really to see the point of it - and thats what got my dander up. A reporter had decided to go out and compare the prices...>>>
Catering at Opito Bay
Posted on Wed, 20/10/2010
The first catering job we ever did, was back in the early 90s I think. I don't remember exact dates - would have to haul out my diaries to confirm that, and that is just much too much of a gigantic task to want to seriously...>>>
Posted on Sat, 04/09/2010
Saturday nite is nearly over in the restaurant, and I have left the others to deal with the desserts and coffee that remain, and to do the reset of tables. We have the last cookschool in the current series tomorrow morning,...>>>
Menu changes muses
Posted on Thu, 05/08/2010
I know you're not supposed to eat at the computor, but I'm currently tucking into a bowlful of warm polenta, topped with some sauteed vegetables and pinenuts, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. The polenta is made from NZ cornmeal...>>>
Finally! - the beers have arrived
Posted on Mon, 02/08/2010
Its been a bit of a mission, finding someone I can buy the range of craft beers that I want to list on the restaurant menu. But we are there now thanks to the very knowledgeable guys at Regional Wines in Wellington, that...>>>
Posted on Tue, 06/07/2010
We are 2/3rds of the way thru Wine Options for this year, and our team won last nite, whereas the week previous, we'd been bottom of the table - proving perhaps that guesswork and serendipity has rather alot to do with the...>>>
Non alcoholic drinks
Posted on Fri, 25/06/2010
Have just spent a while unpacking deliveries of wine. I order from a wide range of sources, and when wine arrives en masse as it did today, it can take some time to check pricing and vintages, and get it all stored away in...>>>
The customer is not always right!
Posted on Sat, 29/05/2010
One of the inherent problems when it comes to wording dishes on the menu is that different words provoke different responses in people. It has always been our approach at Somerset to keep our descriptions fairly lean - we'd...>>>
Posted on Sun, 09/05/2010
I have just put down Alan Bennetts " Writing Home" to tackle this blog, and that is possibly not a clever idea, becos Alan Bennett is one of my favourite authors, simply becos he is so good at what he does. I admire his skill...>>>
Posted on Thu, 29/04/2010
Have snuck back over to the house while we wait for tables to arrive, ostensibly to do some bookwork - some stuff I was going to do this afternoon, but lunch service at the restaurant ended up being busy and protracted, and...>>>
Winter Menu Changes
Posted on Sat, 17/04/2010
Rick has been putting together the recipes for the next cookschool series, which is due to start next Friday, and at the same time has been working on some menu changes for the restaurant.
The end of day light saving,...>>>
Posted on Sun, 21/03/2010
Looking at these photos of homemade cakes, got me to thinking about the vexed issue of people wanting to bring cakes to the restaurant.
As with so much of what we do, then can be no hard and fast rule to instill in the staff,...>>>
Heilala Vanilla trip to Tonga
Posted on Fri, 19/03/2010
Heilala Vanilla are a company that we have had a long association with, and whom we hold in the highest regard.
They have created a very special product thru a joint venture with a village in Tonga, and not content...>>>
Posted on Tue, 09/03/2010
I have just got to the end of a reasonably intense few hours spent downloading all the information from my old computor onto a new system. A process made much easier by the fact that Chris comes and helps. I would be completely...>>>
el bulli closing
Posted on Wed, 10/02/2010
I've just had a late lunch with Rick - tomatoes and basil and eggplant out of the garden, tossed quickly over heat and mixed with some pasta. Perfect flavours for a day like today. John had brought over a beetroot tart that...>>>
Unpredictability of bookings
Posted on Thu, 28/01/2010
Tonite is very quiet in the restaurant, so I've been over, had a discussion with Rhonda about the setup for the cookschool in the morning - we have our first one in the series due to start - tasted the cherry icecream which...>>>
Posted on Tue, 19/01/2010
I have been approached by someone who is doing a research project on the history of restaurants in NZ, and who was especially interested at my time at Bonapartes - a restaurant that I worked in in the late 70's when I was...>>>
Posted on Sat, 16/01/2010
I mentioned in the latest newsletter ( the hard copy of which will be posted tomorrow, and the electronic copy has already gone - theres a copy on the website), that our field of reference for what we do here at Somerset...>>>
Posted on Thu, 14/01/2010
We have history with people. We have that becos we've been here for nearly 24 years, and seen alot of people over a lot of time, and theres been an awful lot of living go on over that period.
Without any doubt, I can state...>>>
Posted on Mon, 11/01/2010
Years ago - honestly can't remember exactly when, but would be at least 10 I'd say - Rick featured on Peta Matias' Taste NZ series.
It was a fascinating experience to watch the filming process - I have photos...>>>
Start of 2010
Posted on Sat, 02/01/2010
We are back into restaurant matters today. Rick's just headed out on the bike for an hour or so, having been up to the berry farm, and got all sorts of other stuff organised over at the restaurant. The boys have been prepping...>>>
End of the restaurant year
Posted on Thu, 24/12/2009
We've just been for a bush walk down below. We don't often take the time to mooch thru the bush and that is a shame becos its beautiful down there. A bit muddy underfoot in places from the natural springs, and the dogs are...>>>
Posted on Sat, 12/12/2009
Have just got changed again for what feels like the umpteenth time today, as I switch between the various hats ( figuratively speaking!) that I've needed on, to get done what I needed too...
About to go and get a couple...>>>
The work of a chef
Posted on Tue, 08/12/2009
This blog is by a female chef who is working in one of New Yorks top restaurants. I started reading the blog when she was working in Paris - and find her descriptions of what her day involves to be lucid and fascinating.
Posted on Wed, 02/12/2009
I took this photo of my husband earlier this week, as we had our normal start of the day, cup of coffee on the restaurant deck - discussing as we are wont to do, what we have coming up during the week.
It is the first...>>>
Posted on Thu, 26/11/2009
We have alot of depth of talent amongst our current kitchen team. Together with Rick there are 5 other full time chefs - John, Craig, Helen, Jamie and Matt. They do a variety of shifts - on some days one of them will prep...>>>
Posted on Sun, 22/11/2009
Brenda and Doug Leigh are very special people in our lifes - not only have they been enormously supportive over a very long number of years, with all the various aspects of the restaurant business, they also take an active ...>>>
Posted on Thu, 19/11/2009
I've been sitting on my lovely red leather seat in the bar writing in my diary about the last couple of days which have been pretty full on. The restaurant is quiet tonite - not sure why that is, becos the rest of the week...>>>
Posted on Sat, 14/11/2009
2 blogs in one day - which could be considered a touch excessive I guess, but the urge to sit down and write, tends to wax and wane depending to a very large degree on what else is going on in my life.
Posted on Tue, 10/11/2009
We popped down to Mills Reef today to have a look at some new stretch tents, that were having a demonstration down there, and I've come away with a severe case of grass envy!
Alot of the wedding catering that we do is...>>>
Serves me right!
Posted on Thu, 08/10/2009
Last nite in the restaurant we had a classic example of what is described so well in a speech that I linked to in an earlier blog this week, namely that sometimes people who may cause you grief up front, are not quite what...>>>
Posted on Mon, 24/08/2009
The annual blitzkeig of media pronouncements on the Significance and Importance of Cuisine Magazines annual Restaurant of the Year competition, is currently doing the rounds. I'm picking up on it thru a number of different...>>>
Progress with Somerset at Home
Posted on Sat, 15/08/2009
Sometimes I do truly feel that I have a guardian angel, cos when things get a bit frenetic in one aspect of my life, there always seem to magically evolve a balancing somewhere else.
This week has been a bit like that...>>>
New chiller - operational
Posted on Wed, 12/08/2009
The new chiller went operational today. During the cookschool this morning the compressor got installed, and everything fired up and worked.
It is not an exageration to say - it is truly stunning! The kitchen staff cleared...>>>
Girls can do anything!
Posted on Thu, 06/08/2009
We probably have the best kitchen team that we have ever had in all our 23 years here. They're a group of great people, who combine really well, all with different skills and strengths, but all of whom give us real depth....>>>
Posted on Wed, 05/08/2009
It can be strange - the things we get excited about in life...
We are slowly but surely bringing together all the multiple strands required to get the "Somerset at Home' concept of the ground.
A big step in that direction...>>>
Posted on Sun, 02/08/2009
I have just recieved an email from a lady in Argentina, who is heading to NZ in October and is looking for work, and wondered if we had anything to offer her. The email came in via the website so I assume she's done a google...>>>
Posted on Tue, 21/07/2009
Have made some gnocchi for Rick and I for dinner, and just waiting for the saucepan to come to the boil, so I can cook it...and ended up catching up on some reading, as you do.
This Waiters Rant blog that I'm going to do...>>>
Septic tanks and soakholes
Posted on Fri, 17/07/2009
Been an interesting kind of afternoon...
We had a cookschool this morning, and very pleasant it was too - a number of people who'd come with us on our trips to France and Italy happened to be in the class, which, given...>>>
Wine Options Finale
Posted on Thu, 16/07/2009
A worthy boast, becos there was some pretty intense competition on the last nite, and we didn't perform that spectacularly, but managed to hang on by a slim margin, which, fortuitously is all you need to win!
23 years ago...
Posted on Sat, 04/07/2009
I am just about to head over to the restaurant for dinner service. We're in for a busy Saturday nite, which is good, becos the start to the week was very quiet, and its always somewhat of a relief when the weekend sales pull...>>>
Wine Options - 2009
Posted on Tue, 30/06/2009
Our dining room at home, currently resembles a bike shop as Rick and Courteney get organised for her trip to Australia - bike bags, wheel bags, rollers and all sorts of assorted screws and bits and pieces are awaiting...>>>
A quiet night
Posted on Wed, 17/06/2009
Well 2 quiet nites actually. I knew when I cleared the answerphone after being closed Monday, and we only had 3 messages that it didn't bode well for the week.
You can kind of get a feeling for how things are going to...>>>
Posted on Sun, 14/06/2009
When we bought the restaurant back in 1986, it looked like this,
There was a small gravel courtyard to the rear (with that nasty grey gravel, and nasty plastic chairs and tables that I refused to use -...>>>
Music makes business hum - apparently!
Posted on Tue, 19/05/2009
One of the unforseen and positive outcomes of having a litter of puppies, is that our day starts significantly earlier then we are used too ( a chorus of concentrated hungry yelping is impossible to sleep thru), and...>>>
Posted on Sun, 03/05/2009
I feel very proud of the restaurant tonite. Its about 9.30pm and I've come back over to the house to feed our mother pooch who is putting so much into feeding her pups, that she needs regular top ups of calories, ...>>>
Posted on Thu, 16/04/2009
One of the unexpected, positive side effects of the cookschools, has been the amount that Rick and I have learnt from people who come to the classes. We've seen a hugely varied group of people over the years that we've been...>>>
Defining a successful restaurant
Posted on Thu, 02/04/2009
We've just been watching Gordon Ramsay on TV ,even though I'm distinctly off him since the revelations about his female on the side - and even though I was never particulary impressed by the American series where he goes...>>>
The Memories in a Photo....
Posted on Tue, 10/03/2009
I was doing some long overdue house cleaning yesterday, becos we had friends due home for dinner, and that is always a good incentive to prod me, into getting my act into gear. House cleaning is not...>>>
The Joys of Airconditioning
Posted on Sun, 08/02/2009
It is hot! Not as hot as in Australia admittedly, but nonetheless, hot by our standards.
In the old kitchen, here at the restaurant, our heat extraction used to be totally inefficent, and the temperature in there used...>>>
Changes to the menu
Posted on Thu, 05/02/2009
I am just about to head over to the restaurant for evening service - and becos we're not too busy tonite, will probably only stay for awhile, before I leave things to Rhonda. We have a large catering job in Opito...>>>
Posted on Mon, 12/01/2009
We did our first big outcatering function for the year on Saturday nite. For reasons I don't fully understand all the catering jobs for this season are large - most of them well over 100 people. This one was extra...>>>
Posted on Fri, 14/11/2008
We have just put a clean broom thru all our plates, and replaced them. Over the years we've tended to end up with a few bits and pieces as we buy square plates for presentation of a particular dish, or rectangular plates...>>>
A Training Day
Posted on Wed, 13/08/2008
I lay in bed this morning, at about 5.30am listening to the rain pelting down and wondering whether I needed my head seriously examined. Rhonda and I were planning on heading up to Auckland early to attend a seminar at Taste,...>>>
Wine Options and Macarons...
Posted on Mon, 04/08/2008
We are in the middle of Wine Options for this year - last nite was the second nite in 3 consequtive weeks, when we get together with other teams, at the restaurant on a Monday nite, when we are otherwise closed, and blind...>>>
Summer - R.I.P.
Posted on Thu, 26/06/2008
Summer, who adopted us as a starving stray was killed this morning. Hit by a car we presume, and hopefully died instantly.
Rick dug a hole on the bank overlooking the bush, and buried her. I kept away, not dealing especially...>>>
Spacing the times of bookings
Posted on Sat, 29/03/2008
In the next newsletter, which is currently being printed and due to go out next week, I talk at length about how we are now endeavouring to be proactive about spacing the times that tables arrive, so as to avoid...>>>
Posted on Fri, 15/02/2008
Its the day after a large outcatered wedding - 130 people, in a marquee at a Lodge. The body is feeling a little weary - so much so in fact, that Rick and I have eschewed our normal Saturday morning...>>>
Valentines Day. Bah humbug!!
Posted on Thu, 14/02/2008
My approach to Valentines Day is pretty much the same as Scrooges regard for Christmas. However, in my case I don't see a major state of redemption coming down the line, becos as the years roll by, my sense of irritation...>>>
The start of 2008
Posted on Tue, 01/01/2008
The restaurant reservation book for 2007 - well thumbed and well used...
- and our 2008 version, brand new, and ready to be filled with all the details of the new year.In a few short months it will end up looking just...>>>
Posted on Sat, 25/08/2007
For a variety of reasons we are normally overstaffed out front in the restaurant on a Saturday nite. That allows me to be surplus, and to leave the desk to Rhonda, but to also be in the background should I be needed....>>>
Posted on Thu, 02/08/2007
We had a cookschool this morning, which is taken in the restaurant kitchen, after which the attendees head out to the restaurant, and the staff move into the kitchen and serve lunch. Today, that oft repeated, and normally...>>>
Posted on Tue, 24/07/2007
We made butter today. Quite deliberately and not an accidental by-product of beating cream for icecream in the large mixer, and forgetting about it until its too late, as does happen periodically. No ? this we did from scratch,...>>>
Wine Options 2007
Posted on Tue, 26/06/2007
This Monday was the last nite in the current series of wine options -which we've been running at the restaurant since 1997. Good friends of ours - the Gerrands and Leighs - were instrumental in starting the options, and for...>>>
Why we charge corkage.
Posted on Wed, 25/04/2007
I got read my pedigree tonite by a customer, who'd taken umbrage at the fact we charge corkage in the restaurant. When I tried to explain to him our rationale for doing so, all I achieved was to bring forth...>>>
Posted on Sat, 14/04/2007
One of the realities of restaurant life in Tauranga ( and I suspect in most other towns in NZ), is that Saturday night tends to be the biggest night of the week, in terms of demands for tables.
Tonite we have been full -...>>>
Restaurant Critics - Do we need them?!
Posted on Thu, 05/04/2007
Good Friday - a slow start to the day, and I've brought my laptop out to the sun, to enjoy the autumnal warmth on my back. Rick and I have been down to feed the pigs and run the dogs - made a couple of coffees - and are luxeriating...>>>
A Busy Week
Posted on Thu, 08/03/2007
9pm. The restaurant is about two thirds full tonite, and we are now sufficently underway, and I have enough senior staff on, that my presence is no longer required, so I have retreated to the sanctity of the house and...>>>
Juliet Harbutt - Master of Cheese
Posted on Tue, 20/02/2007
Juliet Harbutt is an expat kiwi, who's lived in the UK for many years, where she's built up a formidable reputations as an expert on the subject of cheese - and all matters pertaining to cheese( and one or two other subjects...>>>
A Typical Day
Posted on Thu, 15/02/2007
It has occcurred to me, as I've just finished off some work here at my desk , just now, that today pretty much represents a typical day, when, of neccessity I get to deal with a wide range of stuff - all background - just...>>>
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