12 wine-drinking snobbisms to avoid

1. Over-zealous swirling
It’s fine to want to release your vino’s deepest, darkest tannins, but putting too much ‘back’ into your swirling is only likely to agitate your fellow diners.

2. Silent sniffing
Closing your eyes and slowly sniffing as though you’re about to imbibe a cup of mama’s hot cocoa is too much to expect anyone to sit through. If you prefer the moment to be intimate, please try it at home by yourself.

3. Being passive aggressive
“Oh, you taste blackcurrant, do you? Hmm… interesting. I don’t get that at all.” Wine tasting should be an equal rights affair untainted by snobbery. Hold off on the snide remarks and refer to snobbism #11.

4. Competing with/correcting the Sommelier
If you wanted a pat on the back for being so knowledgeable, you should have brought your mother along. If you’ve chosen a decent enough restaurant, you should be able to relax and let them take charge instead of entering into an argument over what kind of soil the Barolo is grown in.

5. Opening forum on the Oprah wine-fry
Discussion is fine, but going around the table insisting that everyone shares their thoughts about the bottle is overkill. You’re not a kindergarten teacher and not everyone need be forced to express their feelings on the matter.

6. Taking too long
The whole process of swirling, sniffing and contemplating is wanky enough as it is. Do everyone a favour and keep the time spent doing so to a minimum. Prolonged silence and squinting into the distance while everyone else is waiting for their fill is the type of behaviour reserved for megalomaniacs.

7. Declaring a state of independence
Are you an ABC (anything but Chardonnay) girl? That’s nice. If your palate is going to be as limited as a five-year-old’s at a dinner party, you might as well just sit this one out.

8. Correcting pronunciation
Not solely applicable to wine tasting, but also to life in general. People mispronounce things all the time, let alone with conversation riddled with exotic, tongue-twisting nomenclature.

9. Immediately appoint yourself wine connoisseur
At least a modicum of humility ought be employed when deciding on who’s going to be choosing the wine. If it turns out that you are the most knowledgeable, it will surely come out in the wash.

10. Being a segregated server
There is never an excuse for keeping the good wine in the kitchen for you and your friends when hosting a dinner party, meanwhile keeping the plebs in the dining room lubricated with the run-of-the-mill plonk. However, do you expect to foster your guests’ wine appreciation?

11. Be too esoteric
There is no argument to say that wine-tasting is not subjective, but dropping “pyrazine” into the flavour profile is something even the most zealous oenophiles should resist, unless of course you actually do work in a lab.

12. Refusing to order from an average wine list
Some dining destinations, you’ll certainly go to for their reputable wine selection, but even if the list is average, you needn’t make a point of the fact that you find nothing up to standard and will, therefore, order a Martini.

Bon Vivant


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How to: Score a date offline

With an unmatched swipe to the right the only humiliation one has to suffer these days, following an unsuccessful attempt to ask out the object of their affection, it’s unsurprising that those willing to make a more gallant effort are dwindling. Still, ever the romantics, we’re hopeful that the tide may turn. Here, some tips to transform an infatuation into a date, sans the slew of online dating aids we’ve come to rely upon.

1. Don’t be weird
With no online profile at your fingertips, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to disguise the fact that this isn’t the first contact you have ever had with your proposed paramour. Don’t drop in any of the extensive facts you may have learned about them through the thesis-worthy research you’ve undertaken on Facebook.

2. String sentences together
While your minimal character Facebook Messenger volleys could give Djokovic a run for his money, when it comes to conversing face-to-face, make sure your vocabulary is void of txt abbreviations. And seeing as you will no longer have humorous emojis at the ready, keep the topic interesting and your banter witty.

3. Put in some groundwork
The fear of having to visibly conceal your rejection may prevent you from acting as swiftly as you would when delivering the date request instantly via a selfie snapchat, but if you let the conversation flow you’ll find a natural lead into suggesting you spend more time together. They eat? Bonus, so do you. Perhaps dinner one evening?

4. Start to interact with those actually around you
The majority of those at the bar are buried in their smartphones, swiping through potential suitors within their surrounding 25m radius or determining whether the crying with laughter emoji in response to their recently updated photo is a sign of endearment. This is your chance: make eye contact, start a conversation, offer to buy a drink, or, heaven forbid, dance with them if they’ll let you.

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Pocket Bar & Kitchen

This enticing new Grey Lynn bar and kitchen is drawing us into its light-filled environs.

If you’re a habitual passer-through of the Grey Lynn shops, you would do well to have noticed the glass structure coming to form behind what used to be a bank on the corner of Tuarangi Road. If not, you’d now do well to make a point heading there in order to visit the borough’s chicest new resident, Pocket Bar & Kitchen.

With a name that pertinently describes this slick new locale, Pocket’s most prominent feature, its gabled glass roof, serves as a delicious little sun trap that’s not difficult to imagine yourself passing many a social evening in. Walking inside, the bar’s botanical theme is asserted by an almost entirely wooden fit-out that includes lush interior flora and immense planters (which turn out to be repurposed braziers) overflowing with verdancy. It’s a cozy little space with seating for up to 90 people and an outdoor deck area, whose characterful brick wall is adorned with a mural by local artist, Margarita Vovna.

Stepping down into the split-level bar area, we found a delightful selection of food and drink awaiting. From the kitchen, you can choose from a range of medium size dishes that serve as the perfect grazing fare. We tried the green tahini hummus garnished with broad beans and pine nuts, and accompanied by cripsy flat bread as well as their zesty, light heirloom tomato salad, both of which had us convinced we were being laudably health-conscious. Alternatively, there’s the North African spiced lamb chops, the Vietnamese tartare, or the delicious sounding “Pocket toastie” which involves taleggio cheese, portobello mushrooms and zucchini flower for an enticing vegetarian option.

When it comes to the refreshments, there is essentially everything you’d expect from a decent bar; an extensive wine list, six or so beers on tap and a well-stocked bar back. What caught our attention however, were the ‘house cocktails’ that employ the use of their fermented water kefir – an in-house reduction of the best seasonal produce, combined simply with sparkling water for those desiring an alcohol-free option, if not mixed into a spirit-based concoction. They’re light on sugar and an excellent substitute for our quotidian five o’clock drink.

Presenting a spot that’s most definitely worthy of whiling away what remains of the languid summer evenings, Pocket will be first and foremost a dedicated Grey Lynn haunt. That said, with the exterior alone proving enough to draw us in, notwithstanding what lies within, we can’t help but make a point of basking in this uplifting new bar and eatery.

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Thursday: 4pm till late
Friday – Sunday: 11am till late

Pocket Bar & Kitchen

592 Great North Road
Grey Lynn

(09) 376 4309

www.pocketbarandkitchen.co.nz

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Mulan

This new Southeast Asian eatery, helmed by a pro, is delivering the goods.

Those who know Birkenhead know that in spite of its abundance of local eateries, there are few that beckon us with the promise of new and exciting fare as does its Southeast Asian newcomer, Mulan.

Succeeding the trusty Thai restaurant that went before it, the space that sits atop Hinemoa Street has been promptly gutted, painted and dressed with simple tables and an eclectic collection of chairs to create a refreshingly unfussy and casual eatery. Responsible for the food side of things is North Shore local, James Balaksharian (formerly head chef at Takapuna’s Madam Woo) who has spearheaded a menu that elicits all the delightful flavours of his homeland, Malaysia.

Having popped in on a recent visit, we were privy to sampling a few items off their menu including ‘Mama’s Special’ – the incredible flavoursome sticky pork buns you can’t afford to miss – alongside other starters: the chicken satay — a laudable version of the tried and true dish with chicken marinated in lemongrass and tumeric with a delightful, homemade sauce; the juicy banana prawns cooked in lemongrass, Vietnamese mint and tamarind, and the ‘Golden Shield’ flash fry squid in a sweet chilli jam with one of our favourite ingredients, kaffir lime.

Following this build up of heady flavours, our mains comprised the Malay classic, beef Massaman, which was more than enough to satisfy us with its hearty serving of prime rump beef cooked in a blend of spices, roasted peanuts and coconut cream. There was also the classic Penang Curry Kapitan that was executed perfectly. If you’re up for tasting something different however, the market fish delivers a unique hybrid of flavours including lemongrass, ginger flower and green chilli.

While they’re still working out a few kinks in the service, we’re inclined to forgive them given the warm welcome we received. That, and the fact that you can’t help but feel relaxed at Mulan. With the bifold windows fully drawn back to let in the evening breeze, it’s the perfect place for a laid-back weekend meal or accessible weeknight solution.

Opening hours:
Monday – Wednesday (dinner only): 5pm till late. 
Thursday – Sunday (lunch & dinner): 12-3pm, 5pm till late. 

Mulan

243 Hinemoa Street
Birkenhead

(09) 480 2806

Gastronomy


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Smiths

We're heading north for this new Matakana eatery's delectable small bites.

With an already established dining scene, it’s not often that Matakana and the surrounding area sees new and noteworthy gastronomic openings. However, of late, we’ve been monitoring the increasing food-focused activity in the area, luring us city-dwellers to the charming region for more than just the markets.

Smiths is a new, industrial-cum-retro fragment of what’s known as The Stables restaurant in between Matakana, Omaha, Point Wells and Leigh. Its location parades what the area’s all about – farmland, family and delicious, local artisan food. Their menu, though small, is comprised of an impressive selection of sharing dishes. Take for example the utterly invigorating ceviche and king prawn salad with prosciutto, watermelon and rocket, or for something a little more grunty, the jerk chicken nibbles drizzled in lime coconut sauce and the bite-sized sliders that changes daily and are mouth-wateringly good. And when it comes to dessert, expect it neatly encased in the form of a jar, whether it’s the banoffee, tiramisu, or the chocolate addict, there’s bound to be a jar that caters to your sweet tooth’s desires.

While there are still a few more months of warm, light-filled afternoons and evenings in our future, there’s really no better excuse to head up north to try this pleasant new eatery. It’s the perfect place to spend the day grazing away at their delectable eats, sampling their cocktails (they do a mean negroni) and diverse local wines, all while enjoying the great outdoors.

Open Tuesday from 4pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm (soon to extend its hours).

Smiths

1151 Leigh Road
Matakana

09 422 7360

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

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Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward

5 pointers for perfect overnight oats

A quintet of rules to live by for that perfect pottle of porridge on the go.

As one of our favourite grab and go breakfasts, when done right, overnight oats are a spoonable, heart-healthy harmony of flavours and textures that keep the ravenous (and often irritable) craving-ridden beast at bay. But when thrown together haphazardly, the experience can only be likened to eating tasteless spoonfuls of freshly mixed cement. To prevent the latter from assaulting your perfect start to the day, or worse still, put you off porridge altogether, we’ve assembled five commandments to help you make like Goldilocks and craft a bowlful that’s just right for you.

1. Use the right kind of oats
Save the steel cut oats for the stove and the instant oats for the microwave, an overnight soak is best for the good, old-fashioned rolled variety.

2. Add enough liquid
Bearing in mind that the absorption method is what gets you that creamy consistency, you’ll want to aim for a 1:2 ratio of oats to liquid. So, for instance, for 1/2 cup of oats, you’ll want to add 1 cup of milk/nut mylk/coconut water (increasing it accordingly if you’re after a thinner texture or if you decide to add chia seeds). Then, before leaving it to do it’s thing, give it a good stir.

3. Season properly
The rule is that cold edibles require more seasoning than hot so you’ll want to season a touch more zealously than you would a steaming bowl. And don’t forget the all-necessary pinch of salt – this is what separates the mediocre from the masterful. Also, trade white sugar for brown or raw for a richer, caramel flavour that’s not just sickeningly sweet. And if you’re feeling particularly productive, dry toast your oats in a pan before they go for their soak to further enhance their nutty notes.

4. Leave some things till the last minute
If you wanted a homogenous consistency you’d probably reach for a smoothie so hold the sliced fruit and nuts or seedy topping until just before tucking in. But before you chow down, you need to…

5. Take the time to stir
A crucial step that’s often overlooked, once you’ve retrieved your breakfast pottle and added your textural medley of toppings, it is imperative that you mix before munching – this is how you incorporate the crunchy, chewy components so that every bite is as good as the last.

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward

The Governor

This Jervois Road newcomer is serving more than just brunch.

Ponsonby is spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a place to coffee and brunch, yet we’re forever watchful for newcomers entering onto the already established scene. So when we heard that the beloved Zus & Zo was morphing into an entirely new café, our ears pricked up.

Say hello to The Governor, a new and improved neighbourhood café and soon-to-be bistro, having successfully acquired an extended liquor licence. Named after the title of the interesting character of William Jervois, a well travelled man whose name is given to Herne Bay’s arterial road, this new eatery is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a focus on locality.

The theme of their menu is light, fresh and organic. Take for example the simple labneh on toast with stone fruit conserve, drizzled in Matakana olive oil, herbs and sea salt – utter perfection. The breakfast plate is also simple yet effective, featuring bircher, toast, avocado crush and a poached egg, and then there’s the more off-beat options like the sunny egg with spelt toast, ortiz anchovy, and jalapeño crema.

Lunch plays out in a similar tune, with fail-safe options like the steak frites, accompanied with a summer bean salad and dijonnaise, or the lighter cured salmon, beetroot, avocado, buckwheat and horseradish, and, if you’re after something different, the smoked Hauraki fish brandade with grilled octopus, harissa, poached egg and herbs is delicious. They also have a servery, where they’ll have fresh, creamy Il Casana buratta on offer as well as fresh, house made dips for you to take home.

Although we love our Ponsonby stalwarts, we’re excited that this new neighbourhood eatery is measuring up to the high standards of the suburb’s plentitude of dining establishments. The Governor is sophisticated and welcoming with a uniquely impressive menu, where we can easily see ourselves taking a pleasant break from the day and devouring some delicious, seasonally-focused food.

The Governor

228 Jervois Road

09 361 5060

thegovernor.co.nz

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward

Paris Pied-a-Terre

This recently completed project by Studio KO is somewhat of a departure from their usual pared back/no colour aesthetic. The duo have retained the original architectural features of this 19th century pied-a-terre in Paris’ 8th Arrondissement, however accentuated it with the addition of some extravagant new pieces – such as a large curved velvet sofa in the living room.

Via Studio Arrc

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4 of Auckland’s best chilli margaritas

A mixture of salt, fire and ice, the chilli margarita has become our go-to summer drink to, funnily enough, cool down. We took the initiative to sample a number of renditions to narrow it down to the five best in town.

1. Euro
If you find yourself around the viaduct, pop into the new Euro and quench your thirst with their rendition that’s served in a coup, shaken with ice, and poured smooth.
eurobar.co.nz

2. 46 & York
Suburban-siders, get your fiery fix and sit roadside at this Parnell establishment. Their rendition exudes a spicy kick that’s not too overwhelming, but beware, it’s positively addictive.
46andyork.co.nz

3. Ostro
For those who like ’em hot, pay a visit to the cocktail maestros at this seafront establishment. But, if you simply can’t take the heat, they’re happy to turn it down a notch to meet your needs.
seafarers.co.nz/ostro

4. SPQR
Although it’s not featured on the menu, all you have to do is ask. Their elevated rendition is poured into an authentic margarita glass, coated with a salty rim and served without ice.
spqrnz.co.nz 

If it’s not on the menu, here’s how to order one.
1.
Ask for a classic margarita mix (tequila, triple sec, freshly squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and fresh limes).
2. Coat the rim with a paprika and salt mixture.
3. Add 3-4 dashes of Tabasco sauce or alternatively, fresh chopped chilli.
4. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass.

Bon Vivant


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Hello Friends + Allies brings excellent cafe fare to Epsom

This new, suburban eatery is worthy of traveling across town for.

In an area surrounded by a labyrinth of schools, it’s a wonder why Epsom has been void of decent cafés where rushing parents can find some peace after the school drop-off. So, when we came across this exceptional new eatery on Great South Road (intersecting Market Road) worthy of satisfying our morning needs, we breathed a sigh of relief.

Hello Friends + Allies is a spacious, light-filled café housed in what was one of the last video stores in Auckland. The space has been utterly transformed, flaunting a grand marble counter top, large communal tables, hanging greenery, and a collection of eclectic artwork. Spearheading the operation is Fran Mazza (a trained pastry chef) and Aaron Carson, who formally owned Henderson’s popular Little Sister café.

On first look, you’ll be ogling over the abundance of home-made baking, from the coconut ice with freeze-dried raspberries and beetroot to add the colour rather than artificial colouring, to the rum and vanilla doughnuts, passion fruit curd cake, and gluten-free sour cream and blueberry cakes that have the soft, moist texture of a cheesecake. Meanwhile, their cabinet offerings are brimming with unconventional renditions of the favourites including breakfast baps, salads, and sandwiches, all of which have a slight Italian influence.

Their menu is another story, showcasing a slew of unique and delicious items. If you’re after something light, the cacao or cinnamon-maple granola, organic coconut, chia seed coconut infused yogurt and summer fruits is a winner, otherwise the grilled broccoli and baby carrots with sourdough, provolone cheese, poached eggs, caramelised almonds and puffed quinoa is light and delicious. For something a little more substantial, go for the fenugreek roasted potato with house cured salmon, haloumi and free-range poached eggs, or if you just can’t make up your mind, the breakfast board which has it all — granola, boiled eggs with rye soldiers, prosciutto, haloumi, chorizo, cured salmon, rocket pesto, vine ripened tomato and half an avocado. And, for those who’re into spending Sundays sipping at a variety of unique tea blends, their soon to be opening high-tea will be right up your alley.

It’s safe to say that this newcomer has filled a gap in the busy area, so we’re welcoming Hello Friends + Allies with opening arms, inhaling their delicious treats and satiating menu, all of which is well worth traveling across town for.

Hello Friends + Allies

93 Great South Road
Epsom

(09) 520 5708

www.hellofriendsandallies.co.nz

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward