I'm delaying going over to the restaurant tonight so as to get this written and sent out - because they won't need me till the bulk of the tables arrive - and I feel a need to let people know that the new cookschool series dates are now up on the website. Even though we've only just finished the Autumn Series I'm already fielding enquiries from people wanting to know why there aren't more dates up as yet. We never like getting too far ahead of ourselves with the cookschool dates because once they've been booked, Rick and I are locked into those dates, and as a result we prefer to commit only a couple of months ahead at a time.
So the dates for the Winter Series are now up, and in addition there are still some places left in a couple of The Art of Sauce Series dates which starts next week, and which is one of my all time favourite series.
Any queries please don't hesitate to contact me - email is best: firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently lots of energy is being expended sourcing product and planning for the Monique Fiso dinner to be held at Somerset next Sunday as part of the Escape Tauranga Arts Festival. Her cooking style is a fascinating intertwining of old technique via a hangi, and 21st century kitchen equipment and methods - like vacuum packers, and paco jets .
The recipes we've seen so far are multi faceted and complex and it's going to be a whole new way of looking at certain aspects for our kitchen team ( and that doesn't just apply to digging and putting down a hangi!), so we're all looking forward to the challenge.
Just seriously hoping that the weather gods allow for all the specialised foodstuffs that we've ordered in from all round NZ - literally from Invercargill to Waiheke Island, to be delivered to us fresh and on time. We don't need or want closures on the Desert Rd! Just saying...
Rick and I hope to zap down to the Hawkes Bay some time over the next few days to pick up the plates that Kim Morgan has made specially for us, and in time for the dinner. We needed new plates, something I was starting to mutter about and to consider our options, but the thought of having to plate up 5 courses to 50 people all in one fell swoop over the course of an evening, somewhat brought that need to a head. The old white catering plates stored in the garage just weren't going to cut the mustard so to speak!!
Monique's request for a pacojet did somewhat bamboozle us when we saw what they were worth - well outside of our league, especially for a piece of equipment that we doubted we would use much after. So we will be forever grateful to Peter and Lee from the Polytech who have graciously offered us the use of their one.
This particular dinner is now fully booked as part of the Festival but I have no doubt that there will be ideas and concepts that will be taken on board and incorporated into things we do further down the line.
But maybe not if they need a paco jet!!
Through absolutely no intent of our own we have ended up with a restaurant cat. This one arrived on the doorstep starving, and Maree fed it, and it's stayed put, gracing us with his presence when it suits, or popping next door to Sue and Ians, when we prove too boring. So far the response from customers has been uniformly positive, but I fully anticipate the occasional gripe because we got them with our last cat. I do however feel that these things are simply meant to be. He has found us and is staying put for now, despite us, not because of us!
The last few nights have been a bit slower in the restaurant so I've used them as an opportunity to tuck myself away in a corner and delve into 'Cork Dork" by Bianca Bosker, a somewhat eye opening insight into the world of elite sommeliers in New York and the exclusive restaurants they work in. The type of places where people spend literally thousands of dollars on a single bottle of wine because of the cachet attached to the vineyard, all without flinching. Suffice to say it is not our world, so I find it all rather fascinating, together with an indepth analysis of how the sense of taste actually works, and whether a bottle of wine that you pay $400 for is really 10 times better than a bottle of wine that costs $40.
Much discussion over the cookschool lunch yesterday about the news The French Cafe in Auckland has just sold. The owners have decided that after 20 years in business and maintaining the most extraordinary standards that its time for a new life stage. A number of people around the cookschool table had eaten there and loved it, and we listened and exchanged comments about dining out expectations in todays market. As always Rick and I came away having been able to share some of our philosophies about why we do things a certain way and how things have evolved for us, while also absorbing the opinions of others. An exchange of ideas I always find very fruitful.
And finally - because I really must head over to the restaurant!! - a couple of photos just in from America. We get asked alot how the girls are going, so great to be able to report that all is exceptionally well for them. Like it when that happens!!
Laura winning one of the stages in a Crit series!!
We look forward to catching up in the near future!