Archives for Coffee

Dragonfly intrigues and delights

Oddly for a Chinese style restaurant (and also for me) I thought the dessert was the best of the three courses we ate. Not that the others were bad – they weren’t, but the apple pie was particularly special. Dragonfly is riding the crest of a wave of popularity, which taken at its peak leads on to the restaurant equivalent of fame and fortune. It was named as one of David Burton’s twenty best modern restaurants in Wellington – a list which includes the very over-rated Charlie Nobel’s where the food is only average and where staff may deign to serve you if they can be bothered. Popularity is not a reliable guide to quality or authenticity but Dragonfly doesn’t seek the label of best genuinely Chinese restaurant. On the contrary it is determinedly modern and innovative, which is precisely why it resonates with the younger dining out regularly set that filled the bar and tables on the Saturday night we visited. Our little party of two shared the spring rolls which were three long rolls in a firm case
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Virtuoso will be shortlived

Virtuoso is the new café on the corner of Manners and Willis Street the site where many similar operations have started optimistically only to come adrift. Most recently it was a Mexican café and restaurant on the site is on what used to be called Perrett’s Corner. The Perrett family ran a chemist shop there for many many years before it became Perrett’s Café and Bar somewhere around 2011. Now Virtuoso is poised to follow the footsteps of failure that have befallen some many hospitality operations in that venue. Why? In a town crowded with cafés, bars and restaurants, the minimum requirement is to serve interesting food and satisfying coffee. Virtuoso doesn’t do either. That’s unfortunate for whoever has paid a good deal of money to refit the place and sad for the staff who work there. The fresh appearance with black tables, black high back chairs all neatly arranged and a long black bar is simple and appealing. The flat white I ordered arrived promptly, but it was thin, sharp and bitter. The crema was scant and at $5.50
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Kiwis know their coffee

It’s official; our barristas and our coffee drinkers are among the best and most sophisticated in the world. We have sophisticated tastes and we demand quality, a report in the Sunday Star Times quoting various industry players confirms. See http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/editors-picks/10388391/Kiwi-coffee-is-up-with-the-best “New Zealand has a young coffee culture by international standards with demand for quality coffee having risen dramatically over the past decade. But our roasters and baristas are already competitive with the best in the world in producing “specialty coffee”, with many of them having brought back experience and knowledge gained on their OEs to our shores,” it says Now here’s the important bit that I think separates us and our standard of coffee from other countries. “Most freshly roasted coffee in New Zealand is specialty coffee, the president of the New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association Carl Sara said. “If we look at New Zealand as a whole, the quality of coffee produced here is extremely high,” he said. “And it was also common to find Kiwis working in specialty coffee cafes overseas, particularly in the United States and United
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Front Room Disappoints: food was bland

When four old friends gather for lunch there is much talk, laughter and enjoyment. That’s what meetings of old friends are about; a catch up over food, coffee and whatever other liquids we fancy. So the Front Room (www.frontroomcafe.co.nz) on the beachfront at Waikanae seemed ideal; casual, not likely to be too crowded, a good reputation and we had all been there before, and enjoyed it. To be blunt this latest experience was disappointing and perhaps even a bit overpriced. We agreed to share the Spanish tasting plate ($18), because we just fancied a nibble to start. There was one croquette, three small pieces of fried chorizo, some almonds, some piquillo peppers, a small pot of pesto, a couple of slices of manchego cheese, about enough for one biscuit each, some ham, and four small pieces of coca bread. The list makes it sound more generous than it was. So among the four of us, a nibble it was. To follow two of us had the pork sandwich, ($19) and two choose the salmon stuff on toast. In the sandwich
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Can the French make good coffee? Peut-être.

You’d think that the French would know how to make good coffee. L’espresso may be an Italian word, although that is contested. The French claim it too. Certainly an Italian called Angelo Moriondo registered an Italian patent for a steam driven “instantaneous” coffee beverage making device in Turin in 1884. But hey, Italy is just next door and the French spend hours sitting in cafés drinking the stuff. My recent experience in France makes me disinclined to believe that making good coffee is something the French know or care much about. And even if they do, that knowledge has not spread to New Caledonia where I spent a week recently, a good deal of it in search of a decent brew. In the breakfast room in our four star hotel there’s a push button machine for a selection of coffees, not the real thing, but we came to know this as very standard in supposedly sophisticated Noumea. These machines are like a large version of Nespresso. They make an indifferent coffee but there is plenty of foam, but it is
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All I want is my coffee served hot

From time to time our family re-unites over brunch. It’s not exactly a tradition or even a regular ritual. It happens when it happens, typically when someone says it hasn’t happened for a while. It happens at cafes and the like all over town. A day is agreed; a time is made, and a place is designated. The session begins with coffee, and here our tale unfolds. Coffee should be many things, strong, flavoursome, reviving, taste-tingling, good to the nose. The sought after qualities would fill a page. But one thing it must be is – hot. So often it is not. I don’t mean that it’s cold. Oh no. I don’t mean that’s tepid or sad. No, not that. I just mean that when I raise the cup to by lips, break through the layer of crema – I usually drinks flat whites – I expect to feel heat on the tongue. So often I don’t. Ah, I sigh and down the cup in one or two swallows. Then I imitate the child and take the spoon and gather
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