Marvellous Mudbrick Vineyard #waiheke #aukland #nz

Had a delicious lunch at Mudbrick Vineyard on Boxing Day after catching the ferry from Auckland on a beautiful day. Scenery and views from Mudbrick Vineyard across the harbour to Auckland are divine as are the vegetable and herb gardens and landscaping in general.

All makes for a stunning setting for lunch.

The menu has a really interesting selection of food with a focus on fresh, local ingredients and the NZ wine is lovely. Servings are very generous ..we tried the charcuterie board, shared antipasto, beef shin, steak, whole flounder and roasted octupus…but there were ten of us! Take a group so you can try more. See photos below.

Loved our visit and highly recommend you try it if in NZ anytime soon.

Kingfish with orange chilli and sesame seeds

Shared antipasto plate – enough for 3 people

Charcuterie board with fillets and terrines
Whole flounder
Delicious roasted octupus

Lucky Lucio’s dinner

A few weeks ago we had gone to Oxford St in Paddington to try a new Italian place but found it doesn’t open for a while so thought we would try our luck to get a table for two at legendary Lucio’s on the spur of the moment.

Not only were we lucky to get a table, we were greeted by the lovely Lucio himself and welcomed warmly by everyone on a very busy Saturday night.

We were given delicious complimentary canapés and warm crusty bread to start as we contemplated the wine list and menu.

We chose a Vino Rosso from Umbria and settled on the Duck liver parfait with poached yabbies and the famous green noodles with crab for entrees and slow cooked lamb shoulder and duck for our mains with a side of Brussel sprouts.

As always, each dish was superbly executed and delicious with creative sauces and gels adding to the fine dining experience, all in the warm, welcoming and happy atmosphere of Lucio’s.

Make sure you reserve a table if going as you might not be as lucky as we were to get into the spur of the moment as we were.

Thanks Lucio, Michaela and the team for another great dining experience.

Creative cuisine #Coya #cookbook

Celebrated the launch of Ashraf Saleh’s new cookbook this evening.

The book is a lovely reflection of the creative plating and innovative flavours inspired by French and Middle Eastern cuisine that Chef Saleh whips up at his restaurant Coya in Cromer, north of Sydney.

Good recipes to try at home as well. Ashraf also offers cooking classes at the restaurant. Checkout their website for specially themed nights and classes https://www.coyacromer.com.au

Here’s a link to my review of Coya last year. Some of the dishes we tried then are featured in the new cookbook.

https://freespiritfood.net/2019/03/02/ashraf-cooks-up-a-storm-at-coya-restaurant-cromer-sydney/

Sublime seaside style #hotelalbatroz #cascais #portugal

Still dreaming about sunny days and relaxing by the pool at the beautifully restored and decorated Hotel Albatroz in Cascais.

We spent 4 days in this lovely seaside town on the Atlantic Coast enjoying fresh seafood, the quaint shops and even a pop concert by the beach.

The Hotel Albaztroz is right on the Atlantic Ocean, so the views are stunning. Being on a point, it is away from the main hustle and bustle of this popular coastal town, but the sounds of laughter and people enjoying the beach drifts up through the windows creating a happy and idyllic air to the place.

According to their website: The Albatroz Hotel started in the ’60s when it opened for the first time with the name ‘Estalagem Albatroz’ in 1963. Revamped and enlarged during 18 months in 1982, Duke of Loule Palace (the main building), also known as “the box of almonds”, was built in 1873 and was home to several royal families.

We stayed in an upstairs room in the original Place Building accessed by an old school lift. The room with it’s porthole windows overlooking the beach was reminiscent of staying on a ship. Luxurious bedding, and divine but eclectic interior decorations add to the feeling of luxury and elegance.

The food from the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinners on the terrace, by the pool or in the dining room overlooking the sea was all really good, making it difficult to tear oneself away to explore restaurants and bars in the town…although we did that as well and enjoyed it greatly.

The restaurant in it’s own right is very worth a visit with beautiful salads, club sandwiches, fresh seafood and a good wine list.

We also enjoyed long walks along the sea to Estoril and the other way to the Lighthouse. The weather was perfect and whilst there were many tourists it was relaxed and very enjoyable.

Cascais is a great escape by the sea, only 30 minutes from the centre of Lisbon. We just caught an Uber down and then back to Lisbon airport. A lovely way to chill out on the coast without having to travel too far.

Roda Viva rocks Mozambique flavours #alfama #mozambique #lisbon

Feeling a bit miserable today with a cold and dreaming about sunny Lisbon and the fantastic foods and flavours we experienced on our recent visit there.

One of our eating adventures involved finding the atmospheric Mozambican restaurant Roda Viva in a small alleyway in Beco do Mexias 11 In The Alfama.

We had visited Castelo de Sao Jorge earlier that morning enjoying stunning views across Lisbon and soaking up the history of the 11th century castle and then walked down to Beco de Mexias through winding cobblestone backstreets of Alfama. Walking down was. A great way to get a close up look at the ancient houses, trendy artisan shops and restaurants, but we definitely needed Google maps to guide us to our destination as it would be very easy to get lost in the labyrinth of streets around here.

We were warmly welcomed into the tiny narrow restaurant by the waiter/chef Octavio Chamba, a Mozambican chef and anthropologist with a passion for percussion who moved to Lisbon 10 years ago to study ethnomusicology.

We settled in and immediately ordered icy cold Mozambique 2M Mac-Mahon beer to quench our thirst after the hot walk.

Mozambique was an important strategic colony of Portugal’s acting as a layover post for Portuguese explorers on their way to India and the Far East. There is a small population of Mozambican expats but quite a few well known restaurants serving the fusion African eastern food.

We ordered traditional Capucha stew with a mixture of beef, pork, chicken sweet corn and beans and their famous crab curry which came with a hot chilli sauce on the side and rice. The meal was different and delicious. (It is the crab curry that I would like right now to fix this cold!!)

The restaurant is decorated with straw hats and traditional Mozambican fabrics and the service was warm and friendly.

A great stopover during our exploration of Lisbon and a nice way to connect with the Portuguese history of colonisation, exploration and voyaging. We continued our walk to the Port and beyond.

Shedding new light on modern Australian dining #Lamshed #canberra

Brilliant dinner at Lamshed in Canberra on Friday night. Waiter suggested AUD$45pp shared plates but we got to choose what we wanted from the menu.

Started with fennel cured kingfish with orange, tarragon and lightly pickled fennel. The combination of flavours was perfect. This was followed by Sweet potato “schnitzel” with tzatziki…the sweet potato was crumbs and deep fried but the cool yoghurt cucumber tzatziki made it all feel healthy and fresh!

The wine list is excellent and we enjoyed a beautiful Rose and moving to an Albariño as we progressed through the various dishes.

One of the specials was the slow cooked lamb neck perfectly spiced with what tasted like all-spice and wrapped into cabbage rolls and garnished with dill. Another special was pan-fried fish of the day with a sweet pea puréed sauce, peas and pea tendrils.

The eggplant tempura with white miso was divine as was the the pressed oxtail, celeriac and fregola.

Every course was an imaginative combination of ingredients and flavours delivering an overall excellent dining experience.

We finished the meal with cheese and a bottle of 2015 Campbell’s of Rutherglen Durif.

The restaurant that is in Yarralumla is minimalist but warm and the open kitchen adds a buzz of activity and atmosphere to the dining room.

We went with a party of 6 which was great for trying lots of dishes.