The hunt for Auckland's best porridge
We’d cook it in the microwave and eat it with a dollop of bright red supermarket jam. Sometimes we’d get distracted, resulting in a porridge volcano that we’d lazily tackle with paper towels, the bowl left stippled with a dishwasher-averse rim of coagulated oats. God, children are monsters. Monsters that can be cheaply fuelled by hot oats.
I grew up in Yorkshire (which I’m sure instantly clouds this vignette in the mists of Wuthering Heights), but it seems porridge is often associated with bleakness: be that due to the utilitarian nutrition of childhood, Oliver Twist, or arduous washing-up. It’s also one of those dishes people love to say should never be ordered in a cafe. Of course, it’s cheap and easy to make at home, but that’s not the point. In your own kitchen, the baller decision to use cream instead of water, to add that extra deliciousness-making spoonful of syrup, to open a packet of $15 freeze-dried raspberries — that’s on your conscience. So, too, is the unwashed pan as you rush out to work. At a cafe, you can eat dessert for breakfast in ignorant bliss and leave with the literal glow of complex carbohydrates in chore-free peace. Plus, porridge has really upped its game since you last tried it.
For a start, cafes are getting academic with oats. Porridge purists rarely veer from steel-cut oats. They’re revered for being less processed than their rolled siblings, and for their toothsome texture. At Hip Group’s newly opened Britomart bakery, Amano Bakery (68 Tyler St, central city), they’re served simply with whole milk and poached winter fruit. It costs $6, is designed to be taken away in a cardboard container and is everything porridge should be: boiling hot, silky rather than stodgy, and with a generous topping-to-oat ratio. They do a savoury mushroom “porridge”, too, made using carnaroli rice, laced with parmesan and topped with a slow-poached egg. It’s technically breakfast risotto; you’ll know if that’s your kind of thing.