When it comes to serious eats, I tend to go overboard with it. Take for instance, my recent trip to New Plymouth. With little to no knowledge of the food scene there, i decided to follow my taste buds and drive up 5 hours from Wellington for the weekend.
I decided to sample out establishments I discovered either through Instagram or word of mouth as told by locals.
Prohibition – I’ve been following these guys on Instagram for a few months now and were on the top of my list. Well they were really the only one I wanted to try to be honest. The place is simple, shit loads of Sailor Jerry/Americana type of tattoo flash art framed on the walls of this establishment and a hefty selection of craft beers to satisfy hipsters. Prohibition specializes in gourmet burgers. When I mean gourmet, I literally mean it. When you have a ‘Wild Burger’ board, serving tempura mushrooms, candied peanuts, red wine braised shallots and other various toppings in your restaurant and menu, you’re doing something right. I walked in and immediately saw the ‘Wild Burger’ special they had on. These guys had ‘Crocodile Tail’ on the menu. Who does that!?!?! Honestly. I was amazed! I had to order it. This burger was huge. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it was presented to me. When I ask peeps, who have tried say… Goat or… Boar. I always get the same answer. ‘Oh it’s gamey’. I’m not gonna do that with ‘Crocodile tail meat’, it’s kind of got a fish flesh like texture and from what I tasted, it tasted like the meat that you get from crab claws. That’s the best way to explain what it tasted like to me. The burger also had a prawn ragout like sauce, slaw and if I can recall correctly, crispy noodles. The bun was well made, it did not disintegrate or get soggy considering the amount of ingredients that was piled on this burger. And from what I heard, the buns that they used was from another great New Plymouth establishment, Public Catering. This burger was a delight. One for the memory train. Hands down a 4 out of 5 in my books.
The basis of the Catch Up is to showcase the local Foodie scene in Wellington and meeting up with people from various Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Ideally have a discussion about food related topics, sharing recipes etc.
I recently caught up with Alana and Vicky, the duo behind capitaleats_ from Instagram. From their simple yet eye catching food photos, coupled with culinary curiosity, this duo was meant for the local Wellington food scene. We met up for brunch at Matterhorn and discussed table photography techniques, social media, haggis and cow stomach.
T: Your Instagram, Capitaleats_, resembles a photoshoot straight out of Cuisine magazine, how did you come about? What was the inspiration?
CE: Wow, thank you, what an amazing compliment! We were considering starting up a food-based Instagram for years – living in Wellington we were always eating out at amazing restaurants and cafe’s anyway, and documenting the meals on our personal Instagram’s so we thought why not create an entire Instagram dedicated to Wellington food! When we started out we took inspiration from overseas based food Instagram’s that had large followings like twogirlsonefork and 2hungryguys, amazing Sydney located food Instagram pages. We hadn’t seen many Wellington or even New Zealand based food Instagram’s at the time we started up ours – we saw something that was missing and decided to try and create it!
T: What’s the philosophy or your intentions with your Instagram?
CE: Like we said before, it started out as something just a bit of fun – an excuse to eat out more. Then we started to find similar pages to our own – wellingnoms, fattiesinwelly, heresbarney – and we realised there are a lot of other like-minded food lovers out there in Wellington! We love looking to these pages for inspiration and ideas if were ever feeling uninspired about what to try next. We don’t claim to be experts – we’re just two food loving girls that enjoy sharing their experiences online, if that helps someone else out who doesn’t know where to eat in Wellington – great! We have to admit we do love ‘novelty’ dishes and food items for example the carrot cake from Restaurant 88 that looks like a pot plant, edible dirt and all!
T: Your pictures and set up of table scenery, it must come from precision and practice. Do you guys have any background in photography? Cause honestly, the pictures you guys produce can pass off as somewhat professional lol.
CE: Thanks so much! We wish!!! We use our iPhone cameras and they do the trick just fine – there is definitely a skill in knowing the right angles and lighting for successful Instagram pictures – damn you Mexico for your dark lighting – surely we can’t be the only ones who can never get a good picture in there, right?? We would love to have a professional camera but it’s just not really necessary at this stage. To get a good picture for the gram you have to be willing to stand up in a restaurant full of people to get that birds eye view shot of the table… and you also have to be willing to piss off your friends and family who can’t touch their food until you have got the shot! We also use some apps to help edit the photos like VSCO Cam and the standard Instagram filters #Valencia.
T: Social media plays a major role with how we eat out these days. Do you guys still read reviews based off sites like Zomato, Trip advisor, David Burton etc. or do you log onto Instagram and search hashtags or the name of the establishment?
CE: Whenever we are going anywhere that we aren’t familiar with food-wise, we will get on the gram and start investigating. We literally never use Zomato or Trip Advisor unless for some strange reason we couldn’t find any info on Instagram. This way you get to see particular dishes that places do, you get to see the setting/ambiance of the restaurant. In our opinion Instagram is the way of the future because there are so many food bloggers moving to this platform, that it really doesn’t compare with Zomato or Trip Advisor.
T: What are your favourite dishes to cook?
CE: We’ve got to be honest… cooking is not our strong point. Living in CBD Wellington it is very tempting to eat out for most meals, especially with crazy cheap deals like $2 Taco Tuesday at Rogue and Vagabond every Tuesday (you can thank us later) and food trucks parked outside your apartment building – Greek Food Truck we’re looking at you. However, we are trying harder to cook at home more frequently! We recently picked up Julia & Libby’s cook book – so stay tuned for our attempts at their delicious raw treats! Alana’s favourite meal to cook – kumura chips & chopped up raw veggies (exciting huh), Vicky’s favourite meal to cook – pizza, it’s one of my favourite foods and it’s so easy to modify depending on what you’ve got in the fridge.
T: Top 3 Wellington Eateries
CE: Bearing in mind we are yet to cover the full range of Wellington food establishments…. this is our list thus far:
Chow – 2 4 1 night is when we would usually go
Mexico – their chips and salsa is to DIE for & the fried chicken
Five Boroughs – salted caramel milkshakes :O
T: If someone from out of town came to you guys for a recommendation what would the place be and why?
CE: This is one of our favourite things to do! Even when people on the streets ask you for recommendations it’s always so much fun to give them.
Cafes – Floriditas, Fidel’s (stereotypical but the tourists love it) Loretta (LOVE), Olive (for the outdoor area) , Sweet Cakery in Karori.
Restaurants/Dinner – Again Chow & Mexico, Tequila Joes, Southern Cross, Mt Vic Chippery, Dragonfly, Burger Liquor, Five Boroughs (must-do).
Bars – Library, Alice, Dirty Little Secret (weather permitting), The Arborist, Foxglove, The Hanging Ditch (leeds street), Motel.
T: Have you guys done any travels within NZ or overseas? Are you able to shed some light on your foodie adventures in these places?
CE: We are off to Melbourne at Easter so we are VERY excited about the food we will experience over there; we already have a list much longer than we will be able to get through in 5 days…
Other than that we have done quite a bit of eating outside of Wellington. Auckland has epic food and we wish we could spend more time there to enjoy it, our faves are Little Bird, Little & Friday, Giapo, Bedford Soda & Liquor, The Grill by Sean Connelly, The Blue Breeze Inn… the list goes on!
We are from Whangarei originally and they surprisingly have quite a few hidden gems in terms of eateries – we would suggest Pimarn Thai (Number 18 with Chicken – don’t ask questions just get it!), Nectar Cafe, Deluca Cafe, The Helena Bay Cafe, Snapper Rock, Butterbank, Cuppacakes and Tonic.
We hope to do a bit more travelling this year – on our list is Queenstown and a tropical Island so stay tuned for future posts #CapitaleatsXTheWorld .
T: What’s your earliest memory of food?
Alana – eating Feijoas off the tree with my little brother until we felt sick… and my mum’s honey rice bubble cake, good memories & still food I love to this day.
Vicky – my grandmas cooking/ baking! She is an absolute amazing cook and I always look forward to going home and stuffing my face with all the glorious things she makes.
T: What’s your guilty pleasure meal or item?
CE: Friday night markets after a long week of slogging away in the office – you really can’t beat House of Dumplings (get at least 4 – maybe 6, we love the mushroom one and the chicken and pork) and we love the Nutella crepe from the markets as well. Also you really can’t beat sinking into a bloody delicious mixed meat souvlaki from the Greek Food Truck on your way home from work.
T: Exotic/unusual food
Alana – Haggis when I went to Scotland to visit my dads family….never again. Not very adventurous when it comes to food.
Vicky – Cow’s stomach – I had no idea that I was eating it at the time until my aunt let me know after I finished it.
T: Have you guys got any lasting words, tips or anything to add to the peeps of the Interweb?
CE: Have fun with food, and don’t be afraid to stand up and get that perfect shot of your food! You’ll never see those people at that restaurant again, so just go for it! Also if your considering starting up a food-based Instagram, especially in the Wellington region, just know that everyone is super friendly and supportive! That’s one of the things we love about it – it’s not a competition its a community sharing great food!
The basis of the Catch Up is to showcase the local Foodie scene in Wellington and meeting up with people from various Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Ideally have a discussion about food related topics, sharing recipes etc.
I met up with K from @9to5pretties (her Instagram) on a Sunday morning out in the Wellington Waterfront. With a souvlaki in her hand, we exchanged words on ethnic foods, growing up and eating in a traditional household and various food topics.
T: I’m here with K from @9to5 Pretties, enjoying the great Wellington weather and some souvlaki.
T: Tell me about your Instagram page, what do you do. From my understanding, it’s a page dedicated to nail art right?
K: Yeah my Instagram page started out to supplement my blog which was called 9to5 nails and then I changed it to 9to5 pretties a few years ago to branch outside of nails but I’m obsessed with food so there’s heaps and heaps of food on my Instagram page.
T: How did you get into nail art?
K: When I first got my first full time job at a call centre, there was this girl who was obsessed with nails and was also a nail technician, she painted my nails one day and I got obsessed with it ever since ‘cause it made my nails look really pretty.
T: Going back to the basis of food, what is your first memory of food?
K: My first memory of food… Oh man it’ll be like growing up with Cambodian food at home eh. Like the traditional stuff. When… you know, you were younger, you didn’t appreciate that shit.
T: Hahaha… Yeah I didn’t appreciate that shit either.
K: But now like… When I go home I’m like ‘I want this, this and this’. Stuff that I hated eating when I was a kid.
T: Since you’re a fully grown adult now, lol, Whats the main K thing to cook. Your favourite meal to cook?
K: My Fave thing to cook… Curry man… Curry.
T: Curry?!?! Like what type of Curry?
K: Any type of Curry. Like Laksa, Green curry, red curry. Indian curry as well.
T: Oosh Curry eh. Damn that’s awesome. Ok what are your top 3 food places in Wellington?
K: Top 3?? Your harsh man. 1. The Bresolin – T: The Bresolin?!? I haven’t been there! 2. Dragonfly and 3. Egmont Street Eatery.
T: There you go guys, that’s K from 9to5 Pretties’ top 3 eateries in Wellington.
T: With social media being a huge platform these days, do you think how we eat in general, has changed in the last few years? I’m putting my 2 cents in, I think it has due to the whole hashtagging, real time photography and the whole ‘People eat with their eye’s’ mindset. We’re in the age of taking pictures of our food prior to say… in a religious person’s eyes, praying. And then to upload this into a social media platform for the world to see. The food culture is a whole lot different now and is exciting to see.
K: Totally. I reckon social media makes everything readily available to anybody. I don’t know about you but before I go anywhere new or if I’m travelling, I check out Instagram tags for that particular place because Instagram is full of pictures and that’s what you wanna see. Pictures of food. Yeah its totally inspiring to see what people do with food, you get heaps of ideas. It’s exciting. It’s awesome.
T: Also with the resurgence of food cooking shows like MKR (My Kitchen Rules for you fine folks who ain’t in with the lingo) and Masterchef, do you think that is also contributing to how people eat?
K: Oh hell yeah, I reckon it makes people want to cook better. Look at what Nadia Lim is doing with My Food Bag, it’s just so easy for everyday people to cook better, better technique, healthier and it’s so easy.
T: Growing up in a Cambodian household, who cooked most of the time?
K: My mom man. She cooked day in and day out man. When she didn’t feel like cooking, we ate KFC hahaha.
T: Good old KFC haha!
T: Whats the national dish of Cambodia? Like in my country of the Philippines, we have a dish called Adobo; which is like chicken cooked in vinegar and soy sauce. Its like our National Dish.
K: I don’t know what the National dish is in Cambodia but my favourite Cambodian dish kinda like a Vietnamesey dish. It consists of glass noodles, with meat, chopped up spring rolls, fish sauce and coconut cream. You can get it at Mekong Café down Vivian street. That is my favourite Cambodian meal.
T: Migrating to NZ, what was the biggest challenge your mom faced, food wise? Like how she cooked, did NZ influence her to try cooking outside of her comfort zone?
K: I’m not sure but we still ate traditional Cambodian food at home. I think the main thing my mom had to adjust to was sussing us kids out for lunch. That was a bit different for my mom.
T: When my family migrated here, we still ate normal Filipino food but then we started branching out to like everyday Kiwi staples like lasagna’s, family pies etc. I loved that kind of stuff and ever since then, European type of food is what I only learnt how to cook. I can’t cook Filipino food. I’ve tried and failed numerous times. Hahaha I’m a crappy Filipino hahaha.
K: You can’t cook Filipino food??! Haha That’s odd.
T: In your pantry, what’s the essential thing that K has to have?
K: Hot Sauce man! You have to have Sri Racha. Like the big bottle with the shark on it. That shit is the bizzzzness.
T: I used to love that stuff but that shit’s gone down to Hipsterville hahaha. I hate that shit you know… Like hipster shit hahaha.
T: 9to5 Pretties… Do you update that daily or weekly?
K: Do you mean my Instagram or my blog?
T: Hahaha both. Instagram first hahaha.
K: Instagram is my main source. I love Instagram. Who doesn’t love Instagram?
T: I love Instagram hahaha it’s the shit.
K: I’m a visual person so Instagram is my main. My blog is sporadically updated. My blog is stretchily for nails, beauty and stuff like that. Turn around on blogging is abit slow but yeah Instagram is where it’s at.
T: Thanks for the catch up K. Had a blast talking about childhood, food and food again. Anything else you want to say before we finish up?
It’s been a while since I got back from my trip to the motherland, Philippines and I’m finally getting over the fact that I’m not on holiday anymore (it takes a while for me to recover and come back to reality). This time around I went alone. Usually wifey would come along and we’d be globetrotting together, unfortunately this time she had to attend work related events in Melbourne. This trip was in no way a holiday or the time to soak up the sun and enjoy some R&R (rest and relaxation). No it was the perfect time to celebrate the head honcho of the family, poppa’s 60th birthday. The trip was also a big first for me as I never traveled alone. It was nerve wrecking. I always relied on the wifey to keep me in check, made sure everything would run smoothly and I had the expense of copying her departure/arrival cards :). But not this time. No sir, it was all on me. Needless to say I survived and had a newfound respect for peeps that globetrot the world alone.
I left good ol’ Wellington around 6.45 am on a Monday and had a 2 hour stop over in Sydney then made another 6 or 8 hour plane ride to Manila. Arrived around 10pmish local Wellington time. To be honest I was impressed by the plane food they offered in Qantas. They even handed out menus so you can choose what you wanna eat. Arriving in Manila, it was stifling. Felt like an oven and damn was I hungry. First order of duty was to tell the hired driver who picked me up (we’ll call him bossmon) to stop by a place called Jollibee. It’s one of the most popular fast food joint in Philippines. Like literally they’re number 1. Numero uno in the country. They are known for Filipino inspired dishes like pinoy spaghetti (a sweetened bolognaise type of sauce with hotdogs and mince), chicken joy (deep fried chicken) palabok (a noodle dish and one of my all time fave dishes) and more. I ordered enough food to feed a family of 5 for myself. You may be surprised at that number but when you are served a miniscule portion that you are not accustomed to, then you will see the point. I pretty much ordered the aforementioned items above. Whenever wife and I visit here, we’d lap in luxury and dine out at them trendy restaurants. This time round, it was different.
I decided that I would eat like a local, live like a local and sleep like a local for the next 10 days.
Every morning in the Philippines, you have vendors on bikes yelling out ‘Taho’. It would wake you up cause these guys are pretty loud. I had to order one. Basically what a ‘Taho’ is silken tofu with sago pearls topped up with maple syrup. It’s a breakfast treat and usually consumed in 2 slurps. Next dish I had for my 2nd breakfast was left over ‘Humba’. Pretty much a sweeter version of the national dish ‘Adobo’ (Sorry no pictures). When I say 2nd breakfast, I literally mean it. You get up really early for your light meal and damn when the heat strikes, you get hungry for the 2nd meal. With the ‘Humba’ you eat it like a true Pinoy, eat it with a side of white rice and use your hands. It’s one of the under rated Pinoy dishes around in my opinion.
When my brother finally arrived from his exile (long stay in Borneo) we decided to sample out the food stalls they had at the supermarkets. Think of Costco and their various food stands or Ikea with their sit in food court. By no means was this compared to them. It was like a box with a serving window and a kitchen equipment behind or underneath the serving window. Nonetheless the most popular stall was the one with steamed ‘siomai’. If you’re unfamiliar with this, its basically a pork dumpling. You get 4 pieces with ‘Toyo’, ‘calamansi’ and chili. This was our staple go to meal until father arrived.
A first for me was dining in with tricycle drivers at a nearby ‘Kusina’. Kusina in English means kitchen so I had to try it. This was no Michelin star type of restaurant. No you were dining in a class F establishment. The place was over run with cockroaches running along the dining walls. It was surreal! Never in my lifetime, would I ever dine in a place like this until now. This kusina specialized in ‘unli rice’ which is short for unlimited servings of rice. I ordered ‘sisig’. Reason being, I knew it would come out In a sizzling hot plate and praise to be lord Jesus Christ, eradicate food borne bacteria and save me from the runs. This dish was surprisingly good for an establishment like this kusina. Probably had to be up there with father’s version. Surprise surprise I didn’t end up with the runs or suffered death from the dish.
Tune into Part deux of #wheninphilippines where I rediscover the wonderful binalot, the legendary andoks chicken and fathers palabok!
Growing up in a Filipino household, we had some weird as food to the eyes of some peeps. My family in particular, come from a place in Philippines called Pampanga. It’s a province renowned for it’s unique, Kapampangan cuisine. The term Kapampangan as a whole best describes the people, culture and language of Pampanga. Now rewinding back to the days as a pubescent little boy growing up in downtown Toronto, my dad would make this dish called Sisig. He would make it whenever there was a big boxing event and he’d have his friends over for a few brews and spirits. I clearly remember trying it for the first time and loving it. The mixture of gelatinous pork fat, the crunchiness of the meat and the oddly textured pig ears spruced up with raw onions and lemon juice… My god it was heaven for me.
Traditionally Sisig is made with pig’s ear, brains and liver but over time there’s been numerous variations to the dish. The way my dad made it was pretty simple yet complex. Boiling pigs head, grilling the pigs ear, chopping the flesh into cubes, reheating it and then serving it cold with raw onions and lemon juice. You can serve it anyway you like pretty much. When I went back to the Philippines in 2009 and 2013, it was served in a sizzling dish topped with egg so guess it’s been modernized…
Walking around the Cuba street night Market with Dulce, we stumbled across this new Filipino stall. I’m pretty sure it was called Katipunero. They had Sisig on the menu and a variety of it such as Sisig Taco’s! I’m actually glad that someone has taken the step to think outside the box for once with Filipino food. They usually don’t last and word on the streets… Filipino’s don’t like supporting other Filipino’s when it comes to restaurants or stalls in Wellington. Hey, I ain’t spreading rumours. Just telling what I’ve heard around the community. Anyways, I decided to order the typical Sisig on rice from Katipunero. It was served with coriander, lemon, raw onions, chopped tomato and topped with mayo. The pork itself was all pork belly and had a few cracklings mixed through it. It was heated up slightly and had a bit of a crunch like a carnita. It certainly brought a bit of home to me but wasn’t enough to impress me. I’m pretty sure I’ve had better and could make something eerily similar to my dad’s one and the modernised take on Sisig. Rest assured there will be a post for Sisig soon. I’m giving Katipunero a 2.5 out of 5. Great effort and would love to see what they got in store in the near future. Definitely one of the better Filipino stalls in Wellington. Let me rephrase that… The best out in Wellington at the moment.
My, my, my… What a whirlwind of a month. I vowed to be meat free and be a vegetarian for the month of July, hence why I have not posted in July. What a total and utter failure that was. I tried but it wasn’t working out. Guess my quadruple chin’s happy about that. Also I started up the catering gig with wifey and Dulce. We had our first catering job in over 2 years a weekend ago. It was weird but fun. Weird in the sense that I started the catering gig out with 2 peeps who enjoyed food like wifey and I did but with life, things fall apart and no longer part of the crew. It brought back the passion I used to have when I was a full time chef. I guess within time, you miss the thrill and stress of the kitchen.
Lately the weather’s been crap as hell. Literally. Typical Wellington weather. Wind and rain. Rain coming in all directions; left, right and centre. I usually whip up either a stew or soup for this kind of weather. I remember one time in 2013, a friend of ours mentioned this cafe that does ‘Lamb Shank pie’. We just moved to Victoria Street and he suggested we try it out. Knowing wifey and I, we tend to sleep in and miss out on the morning offerings of this said cafe (I honestly can’t remember the name but their sister store was/is Barista Cafe in Panama street). We tried our luck one day when I wasn’t working and wifey started work late. So off we went to (insert name here) cafe and damn was the pie beautiful. I just knew I had to either A.) Replicate it or B.) Make my own. I went with the latter.
1 large onion diced or mirepoix
2 carrots diced or mirepoix
2 stalks celery diced or mirepoix
6 Button mushrooms diced
2 Lamb shanks or Lamb Knuckles
600 mls of Beef Stock
500mls of Tomato Purée
2 Bay leaves
Salt and pepper
2 frozen sheets of Puff Pastry
1. On a skillet or a frying pan, brown off the lamb shanks/knuckles. Make sure it is well sealed and browned. Set aside. Also pre-heat oven to 180 deg Celsius.
2. In a cast iron pot, brown off the mirepoix veges minus the mushrooms.
3. Add half of the beef stock and stir.
4. Now add the lamb shanks/knuckles. And top up with the remaining stock.
5. Add the tomato puree and mushrooms. Mix in well.
6. Put the cast iron pot in the oven and cook for 2-4 hours, I usually cook it at 150 degs for 8 hours but if you’re in a rush then I suggest 2-4 hours.
7. To assemble the pie, make sure the lamb shanks/knuckles have been cooled for a bit. Take one of the pastry sheets and place the lamb onto the middle with the bone stick up.
8. Bring all the corners to the middle to make a seal. Leave one flap open to pour in some of the sauce.
9. Once topped with the sauce, seal the remaining flap with the other corners of the pastry. Egg wash the outer layer and cook for 15-20 mins or until golden.
10. Dish it up onto a plate and serve with the stewed veges.