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Pot Luck — Friday 5 July

With thanks to Atomic Coffee Roasters!

Pot Luck — Friday 5 July

Jul 5, 2024 Metro Eats

The third season of The Bear hit streaming platforms last week and boy, does everyone who watched it have opinions. In one camp are those bemoaning the season’s meandering, disjointed, overly self-indulgent storytelling. And they have a fair point — I mean, the biggest spoiler is that there really isn’t much to spoil because barely anything happens across the 10 episodes (as such, there are no real spoilers in this newsletter). Others, however, have praised the listless, slow-burning messiness of the season for the way it viscerally captures the suffocating sense of being stuck in the past.

I watched the entire season in two sittings over the weekend. As someone whose television habits are largely limited to reality shows and 90s legacy series, I basked in the novelty of more experimental and, at times, meditative forms of storytelling. Even so, I too have opinions.

My biggest gripe, which I felt ever more strongly about as the season progressed, was crystallised by the 10 minutes of real-life chefs pontificating about fine dining in the season finale. The scene read more like a piece of propaganda for the upper echelons of the hospitality industry than a necessary storytelling device. That is to say, it made for tedious, tedious viewing.

“We get to help people celebrate some of the most important moments of their lives,” American restaurateur Will Guidara declares to a table of fellow chefs. “We can give them the grace, if only for a few hours, to forget about their most difficult moments, we can make the world a nicer place, all of us in this room, we have this opportunity, perhaps even responsibility to create our own little magical worlds, in a world that’s increasingly in need of a little more magic.”

“Magic for who?!” I squealed at the screen in response. 

Sure, the idea of restaurants as magical places of refuge is a lovely sentiment. However, when delivered by someone who owns a restaurant where a 10-course meal costs US$475 per person (not including tips), it becomes eye-rolling in its lack of self-awareness. And this was my main issue with the whole season.

The show, at its best, is a love letter to the restaurant working class, capturing the boiling pressure, long hours, physical dangers and economic precarity of the industry. That grind is portrayed in a way that sometimes borders on romantic but never without an acknowledgement of its contradictions. Previous seasons of the show showed respect for the craft and artistry of high-level cooking, but also questioned the purpose of restaurants that cater to the 1% and that rely on an underpaid and overworked workforce.

This season was unsettling because it seemed ideologically adrift from those foundations. Its uncritical glorification of fine dining was especially jarring when you consider this season’s standout episode, ‘Napkins’. It’s hard to think of someone more deserving of the kind of experience Guidara waxes lyrical about than Tina in this episode: a hardworking, economically precarious mother struggling to find a job, who can definitely not afford a $475 meal. So where does she find that grace, that space to forget about the difficulties, that magic? A cheap (in fact, free) sandwich.

— Charlotte

P.S. This is our first newsletter presented in partnership with Atomic. And it’s a dreamy collaboration for me because: 1) I have been a regular consumer of Atomic coffee (both in bean and cup form) for years. And 2) I spent the first 13 years of my life living just around the corner from their Kingsland Cafe and so the smell of their coffee beans roasting coloured a lot of my childhood. 

 

Comings and goings.

 

You may (or may not) have been wondering what’s going on with Orphans Kitchen ’s old spot after they shut their doors last month. The answer is a new eatery from Rebecca Smidt and Dariush Lolaiy of Cazador called San Ray which opens today. It’s one of the most intriguing openings in a while, so watch this space.

Polynesian Island Food and Cafe has taken up residence at 83 King St, Pukekohe. They’ve got dishes like panikeke, steak and egg rolls, sapasui and keke pua‘a — I think they have a coffee machine too!

Alla Prossima is a new, subterranean restaurant in the recently opened Abstract Hotel on Upper Queen St. Gabriele Marangoni (Pasta & Cuore) is taking on the role of executive chef, and the menu specialises in Emiliano-Romagnola cuisine.

After a few setbacks, Bodega, the new Ponsonby Rd joint from the people behind Pasture and Rosalia’s, opened this week. They’re making made-to-order deli-style sandwiches, plus pastries — and from the looks of it these include sfogliatella!

There’s a new cafe on the block in Parnell. It’s called Young Dandy and it’s got breakfast, brunch, a cabinet of smaller, more portable fare, and exposed brick walls.

There’s signage up for a new hotpot and barbecue restaurant called Fancy Buffet, wedged in between Barilla and Rusi Cane Juice on Dominion Rd.

The Alderman, a new cafe by Shaun Margan and Donna Hutchins, opened this week in Henderson’s historic Falls Hotel. 

I’m a bit late to the party on this one but Anastasis Coffee Roasters in Te Atatū South had a bit of a kitchen change-up a month ago. The team behind Kane’s Burger Club, who previously looked after the menu at Anastasis, shifted their operation to Henderson. Now, the menu at Anastasis is an eclectic mix of bao, birria and fried chicken, with a liquor licence in the works too. And those looking for a late(ish)-night cafe experience out west should make a mental note that they’re open till 9pm on Thursdays and Saturdays.

I’m excitedly awaiting the opening of Puen, a new restaurant on the corner of Mt Eden Rd and Symonds St (next to Small Mercies). The signage currently plastered up on the restaurant’s windows suggests they’ll have live music and Isaan/northeastern Thai food (which I love, but I have to admit I’d love to see more southern and straight northern Thai food in Tāmaki Makaurau).

In recent jaunts around the city I’ve noticed what looks to be signs of soon-to-be-opened outposts of Ajisen Ramen in both Botany and Henderson.

Rhu, the Parnell eatery helmed by Tushar Grover (ex-Pasture), is expanding its hours and menu to include a dinner service from 19 July. The change means that Flor (also headed by Grover) on Karangahape Rd will close on 14 July as the team will be shifting to Rhu — here’s hoping they bring those warmed oysters with them!

 

Where we’re going.

 

Ragtag’s pizza side-gig Magnolias has a pop-up at Bar Martin on 7 July from midday. Get in early as they’ll only be cooking 100 pizzas. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Pt Chevalier Bowling Club is putting on a Feijoada Day Fiesta this Sunday 7 July from noon till 4pm. There will be live music and, of course, feijoada, served with all the accoutrements (rice, collard greens, sliced orange and farofa). Plus, they’ll have other Brazilian dishes like coxinha, risole de carne, and bolinha de queijo. 

Podcast ate ate ate is having its first ever pop-up on Saturday 13 July from 6pm at Open Late. There will be char siu plates from Sam Low (including pork belly, rice, vegetables, pickles, mustard and optional add ons), sides, drinks from Open Late, ice cream, and jars of chilli oil. Full menu and prices will be posted here a few days before the pop-up. Walk-ins only. 

 

What we’re cooking.

 

Tamarillo clafoutis by Nici Wickes

 

Tamarillo clafoutis by Nici Wickes

Images and text from More From a Quiet Kitchen by Nici Wickes, photography by Todd Eyre, published by Bateman Books, RRP $49.99, release date July 2024.

This recipe comes from one of my sisters who then shared it with my darling niece. What this means is that at family gatherings one of them will whip up a clafoutis on the spot which we all happily devour. I’ve scaled the original back to make this darling little serve, just right for one.

INGREDIENTS

soft butter for dish + extra for dotting
2 tamarillos
1 medium egg
2 tablespoons sugar + extra for sprinkling
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
a drizzle of cream

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180°C and generously butter a small ovenproof dish.

Halve and scoop out flesh of fruit and cut into thick slices. Place in buttered dish.

Whisk egg with the 2 tablespoons sugar, add flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla and milk.

Pour batter over fruit, dot some butter over the top and bake for 20 minutes or so until just set in the centre and golden.

Serve with a final sprinkle of sugar over the top and drizzle with cream.

Note: Use fresh pitted cherries, prunes, feijoas or any not-too-juicy fruit for this recipe.

SERVES ONE WITH A LITTLE LEFT OVER FOR BREAKFAST

 

From the Archives.

Metro N°355, July — August 2011

 

Yikes.

 

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