Friday, August 16, 2019

Foodie Friday – Eating at Pasture

Pasture was recently named Restaurant of the Year by Auckland’s Metro Magazine.

And I agree with them.

We took over the entire restaurant on Wednesday night.  A family get-together – but not as grandiose as it sounds.  There were only six of us (wife, sister and daughter – how spoilt am I?), but the restaurant only has six seats!

Like my favourite Binkleys in Phoenix, Pasture chef Ed Verner is re-imagining the entire restaurant experience – making it an intimate, focused, intense yet relaxed night full of quiet delight.

The six seats are all at the Chef’s counter.  Three chefs serve a tasting menu – no choices, no dietary stuff, just imaginative, wholesome, delicious tasty treats – partnered with unusual, interesting, beverages (sake, beer, wine, cocktail, mead) pairings.

Two seatings per night – 5.45pm and 8.15pm, Wednesday to Saturday.  No frills.  Just excellence.  Doors open at 8.15pm and then you’re off.  Three hours of fun.

The restaurant has its own lounge integrated into the counter/kitchen – decorated like a cross between a Japanese inn, a Scandinavian bolthole and a 50’s New York loft.

Ed works with whole animals, seafood and line-caught fish.  Japanese, Kiwi, Danish, Peruvian – you name it.

Here’s what we ate and drank.

Mushroom & hazelnut
Under the Milky Way / Grandmaster Flash
Build me up buttercup
Kohlrabi, pear, pumpkin seed
Rock Lobster
Zenkuro ‘Junmai’ Queenstown ‘18
Blue Mackerel
Memento Mori ‘Rosso’ Victoria ’17 – Cucumber & white asparagus
Diamond Shell Clams
Wheat & rye sourdough, our aged butter
Three Boys Wheat, Christchurch – Our sourdough ‘beer’
Radishes, beeswax & almond
Supernatural ‘Minus 220’ Hawkes Bay ’18 – Celeriac & pear
Snapper, egg yolk & saffron
Patrick Sulivan ‘Baw Baw Shire’ Chardonnay ’18 – Savagnin & Artichoke
The Pig Crumpet
Peckham’s ‘Western Pathfinder’ Moutere ’18 – Toasted hay
Tomato over embers
Distilled Chilli & Greens – Red capsicum
Aged New Zealand Wagyu
Basket Range ‘Vineyard Blend’ Adelaide Hills ’19 – Blackcurrant
Lobster Head & Mead
Mandarin & fennel pollen
Fermented fig leaf – Mandarin
Meyer Lemon & egg yolk
Hot pokered Bellbird Spring ‘Aeris’ Waipara – Rhubarb & Thyme

We’ll be back when we’re next in Auckland.

Try it out.


Monday, August 12, 2019

See It. Say It. Fix It.

Alan Jones is an outspoken, brave, opinionated, creative Rugby loving Aussie – an all-round ‘big’ bloke who is always interesting.

Former Wallaby Captain Nick Farr-Jones sent me over Alan’s column a couple of weeks ago which contained a helluva lot of sensible advice for the Australian Rugby Union – all of which they will naturally ignore.

He also told the story of another Aussie, Tom Wolff who heads up the Mercedes Motor Sports Programme.  Here’s what Alan said:

“In 2014, Mercedes overtook Red Bull’s four year domination of Formula One racing.

Since then, they’ve won five consecutive doubles, the Drivers’ Championship and the Constructors’ Championship.

That equals the record set by Ferrari in the Michael Schumacher era.

This year they’re racing to break new ground aiming to win a sixth consecutive double and they’re well on track to do that.

The BBC recently spoke to Toto Wolff about his team’s success and, amongst other things, Wolff put it down to using the fear of failure as a motivation.

After difficult races, he talks about learning from failure.

Wolff argued, “The days we fail are the days we learn the most.  You never leave the track with a great victory saying ‘Why did we win?’ but you do leave the track saying ‘Why the hell did we lose ... indeed the diligence of the analysis to leave no stone unturned is much deeper and intense when you’ve lost.  The pain of losing lasts many days, probably until the next race.  And this has kept us going”.

(Aside – All Black Captain Sean Fitzpatrick told me pretty much the same thing about the All Blacks.)

A favourite Wolff saying is “Turn your worst days against your rivals”.

But success at Mercedes is not solely about fearing failure.

Toto Wolff also looks to learn from other successful sporting people and teams.

In fact it appears Mercedes have found inspiration from the winning record of the All Blacks.

They’re now working with a forensic psychiatrist, Ceri Evans who was instrumental in helping the New Zealand Rugby team shake off their World Cup choking habit.

Evans has a mantra he encourages all teams to make part of their culture, “See it, say it, fix it”.

Wolff says, “Encouraging everybody in the organisation to speak up and point out shortcomings and deficits has been instrumental in making us successful”.

He believes the openness and lack of blame culture is a key to keeping the team together.

“We actually encourage people to say their opinion because it’s important for their own development.  We keep our values up very high.  It’s a place where there are no internal politics.  Integrity is most important.  It is an environment where people dare to speak up.”

So it’s no accident that both the All Blacks and the Mercedes Formula One team have made winning an art form.

Both organisations have flourished by getting their workplace environments sorted out.

That’s called culture and the by-product of that culture is winning.”

Well said Alan, Tom and Fitzy.

See It.  Say It.  Fix It.

Fail Fast.  Learn Fast.  Fix Fast.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Foodie Friday – Wabi Sabi Pop-Up

On May 30 I recommended a trip to Wabi Sabi in Ambleside – and we were honoured to have owners/chefs/managers Bing and Cara join us at Beckwood last week.  Our guests were eight global leaders from the world’s most exciting Irresistible Entertainment Company, Fremantle.

Bing produced a stunning evening of Contemporary Imagination cuisine – here’s what he created for us.

sweet potato, quail egg
crispy chicken skin, carrot
Velvet Crab
savoury egg custard
Cumbrae oyster, pickled granny smith
ScoDsh whole langoustine
enoki, laver
Foie Gras
chanterelle, king oyster, shiitake, shimeji
30 days dry aged duck
cavolo nero, spinach, ume
Hogget chump, cumin
Japanese Hida Wagyu A5 (Gifu Prefecture)
sweet soy
blue berry, Nikka Coffey Grain
beetroot, purple carrot, cheese

Living the Dream!


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Rolling Thunder Revue

1975-76 – Dylan, Baez, McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin’ Jack unplugged, unleashed and unbelievable.

Scorsese’s brilliant Netflix movie is not a concert film, it’s not a documentary and it’s not a story.

Martin the Maestro has shot it like an epic Dylan song; poetic, rambling, colourful, crazy, connected and disconnected, socially serious, wickedly playful – as Kristofferson says “Partly truth, partly fiction”.

Includes rare footage of the Nobel Laureate still teasing us at 77 years young.

Sit back, enjoy the ride.


Monday, August 5, 2019

A Red Letter Day

July 19 was a red letter day.  Series Three of my favourite Netflix show, La Casa de Papel – Money Heist.  Welcome back The Professor, Nairobi, Tokyo, Rio and (spoiler alert) the charismatic Berlin.  Rio is captured and Tokyo turns to The Professor for help.  The band is back in town.


Thursday, August 1, 2019