Impress your friends with this easy, delicious and flash Focaccia recipe

Focaccia is one of the most satisfying things you can make; we’re talking low input, high reward. Crispy at the base, fluffy in the centre and still warm from the oven: nothing beats making it at home.

This recipe serves up to four people, and is ultra-simple with flour, salt and high-quality olive oil being the three crucial ingredients.

If you’re keen to jazz it up, try adding in mortadella, some mozzarella or burrata and a pinch of freshly crushed pistachio.

For a super-fast version, you can even skip the entire proving stage and go from mixing the dough, right to baking. Stretch the dough into the tray, dress with olive oil and rosemary and pop it straight into a cold oven. Set it to 180ºC and let it bake for around 30mins. The dough will prove as the oven heats up.

Ingredients:
300g flour
150g water
2 tbls. extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for brushing)
1 tsp. kosher salt
7g instant yeast
Sprig of rosemary
Maldon sea salt flakes

Your choice of filling. Try:
Mortadella
Burrata
Crushed pistachio

Method
1. Combine flour, kosher salt and olive oil in a bowl.
2. Slowly add the water and mix vigorously with a fork*
3. Add the yeast and mix into a dough, making sure to work out any lumps. 4. It should come together as ball on your fork.
4. Place the dough ball into a large oiled bowl and cover. Leave to prove for 1 hour**
5. Place the dough on a lined tray and delicately stretch into a long oval shape.
6. Using your fingers, softly press little dimples into the dough.
7. Brush with a good amount of olive oil and season with rosemary and a sprinkle of salt flakes.
8. Stand for 30 mins**
9. Put the tray into a 180ºC oven***
10. Bake for 20-30 mins or until golden on top.
11. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 mins.

*You can use a stand mixer for steps 2 and 3. Be sure to use the dough hook attachment.
**Skip these steps if you’re going for the super-fast method.
***Don’t preheat the oven for the super-fast recipe.

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The Classic

Satisfy that grilled cheese craving with this K’Rd diner’s tasty sandwiches

Karangahape Rd fried chicken joint Free Bird is proving it can do justice to more than a southern-fried drumstick.

Owners Sade Hopkins and Kim Workman have opened a new go-to breakfast hang out inside their diner called The Grilled Cheese, and as the name suggests, this time tasty toasted sandwiches are in the hot seat.

Purists will love The Classic – straight-up grilled cheddar cheese in bread – while The Breakfast Toasty combines Swiss and cheddar cheese with bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato relish and chives for more of a morning meal.

The Breakfast Toasty

Into The Blue and PB&J get a little funky; the former comprising blue cheese, cheddar, roasted, mushrooms, thyme and caramelised onion, and the latter offering sweet-tooths a must try option with crunchy peanut butter, berry jam, cream cheese, caramelised banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

There’s an ever-changing grilled cheese of the week on offer, and the all-important extras include Buffalo hot sauce and pickles to take your morning hot sammy to the next level.

Washed down with a glass of OJ or a Kokako hot filter coffee and that’s what we call a great start to the day.

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday: 7am until 11:30am
Take away and delivery available

Free Bird

264 Karangahape Road
Auckland

09 300 3060

https://www.instagram.com/the_grilledcheese/?hl=en

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Matariki Festival 2020: Celebrate in Britomart with Hāngi pies and more

Britomart is doubly the place to be next week as a variety of fun and tasty cultural activities take place, part of this year’s Matariki Festival ringing in the Māori New Year as the constellation rises in the winter skies above Aotearoa.

Historically a time for communities to come together, acknowledge the year gone by and make plans for the year ahead, there are several great happenings taking place in wider Auckland from June 20 to July 15 that encourage celebrating with kai, kōrero, rituals and entertainment.

Down in Britomart from Tuesday, June 30 to Saturday, July 4, visitors can be treated to a traditional hāngi by hāngi master Rewi Spraggon, who is setting up his pit in Takutai Square. We’re excited to try one of the hāngi pies on offer and there are also hāngi lunchboxes available to take away, so why not get the office involved for a group lunch?

Auckland Council has also collaborated with Britomart to host daily performances by local kapa haka groups from Monday, June 29 to Saturday, July 4, with two 20-minute performances occurring each day at 12:15pm and 1:15pm.

Lunchtime tunes by DJ Pomale Tamati keep the vibe going and visitors to Takutai Square can also take in an impressive display in the form of a lightbox exhibition.

The imagery displayed features a selection of local kapa haka performers, some of whom will be representing Tāmaki Makaurau at the next national kapa haka competition.

So whether it’s a hot hāngi lunch or a performance that appeals, we recommend joining the celebrations down in Britomart to mark this year’s Matariki.

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Auckland’s newest wellbeing haven offers infrared saunas, red light therapy and more

Former pharmacist Sara Higgins was intrigued by the world of wellness long before Coronavirus swept the globe. Unexplained fatigue had hounded Higgins for five years and while seeking medical assistance she stumbled upon the beneficial effects of infrared saunas and more recently, red light therapy.

“I was fortunate to meet a lot of amazing holistic doctors and practitioners over the past few years who have been instrumental in helping me on my own health journey,” Higgins says. “I was looking to make a change to really focus on utilising my skills and combine it with my passion for helping others on their health journey.”

The red light at the end of the tunnel is Hana (which means to shine, glow and radiate in Māori) a stylish sanctuary created by Higgins at The Scrap Yard development in the heart of Auckland’s Grey Lynn.

The newly-opened Hana offers private infrared therapy with two standard-sized and one larger infrared sauna suited for up to three people, along with one of the city’s few red light pods. In addition to this, the space also houses an onsite massage therapist and a one-on-one reformer Pilates instructor.

Infrared Sauna

With polished stone floors, meditative arches and beautiful textured walls, brought together with triumphant visual harmony by architectural designers Pennant & Triumph, the feeling of replenishment begins when you step through the door. “I wanted to create a welcoming space where people can fully immerse themselves in a healing sanctuary and leave feeling fully nourished,” says Higgins.

Red Light Pod

To the novice, the idea of a sauna may conjure up images of hot steamy rooms, but the infrared experience is different. Unlike traditional saunas, which heat the body from the outside in, infrared saunas create heat in the body rather than in the air, penetrating tired muscles, stiff joints and gradually increasing circulation. The benefits of a regular 45-minute session in an infrared sauna runs the gamut of weight loss, cellulite reduction, immune system boosting, detoxification, a reduction in stress and relief from muscle pain. And then there’s the post-session skin glow which receives universal positive feedback from Higgins’ regular customers. “With the saunas you will feel great after a one-off visit, but to get the most out of it, I recommend at least once or twice a week.”

Stella Pilates pop-up

Unlike the saunas, the red light pod treats the body differently through photobiomodulation. Having become a firm favourite with health gurus and fashionable types the world over, the benefits of exposing the entire body to red and near-infrared light for 20 minutes are pretty enticing. Clinical studies have shown great results including repairing skin damaged by the sun, reducing fine-lines and wrinkles, healing acne scars, fading stretch marks, encouraging collagen synthesis and repair, all restoring the mitochondrial oxidation of the body’s cells. It’s also been shown to reduce inflammation.

“It depends on what you are hoping to achieve, what age you are and whether you have any health concerns, be it mild or chronic conditions, but ideally you would use the light therapy twice weekly. Definitely once a week is important,” Higgins says.

Harper Therapy massage room

As well as being a place for direct treatments that offer immediate benefits, Higgins hopes that Hana will become a destination for people to further explore their wellness journeys.

This is one of those occasions when we suggest following orders. If you’re told to walk towards the light, especially if the destination is Hana, then do so with haste.

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The North Shores Pym’s of Milford, a cosy bar and eatery

North Shore locals have been flocking to the newly-opened Pym’s of Milford since its surprise opening two weeks ago.

Situated on bustling Kitchener Rd, the 55-seater bar and eatery offers a relaxed and welcoming environment for customers to comfortably while away a few hours with friends (or solo), hosted by its friendly staff.

Helmed by Jacqui Blythe, Sarah Carroll and Craig Pym in their first joint hospitality venture, Pym’s of Milford is the culmination of a long-held dream by the owners, plus a response to what they saw as a gap in the local offering.

With a curated wine-list featuring both recognisable and independent names, plus boutique spirits like gins from Scapegrace and Botanist, the drinks offering aims to have something for every taste and so far, the feedback has been favourable.

Food-wise, customers can expect simple yet tasty, fresh dishes that present the option of a light snack with your libations, or a combination for a more substantial meal.

The tempting Pym’s burger is on the heartier side, comprising grass-fed brisket beef burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion with a side of chips. A classic, done well.

Seasonal vegetable kebabs, two sizes of grazing platters, pork meatballs and chilli prawns are some other small plates on offer, made with good quality ingredients sourced from local suppliers.

It’s a family-affair, with the three owners’ various relations running operations behind the bar and in the kitchen, and this is part of Pym’s of Milford’s charm. Next time you find yourself in the area, or if you’re a local, and you should decide to stop by, you’re sure to receive a warm welcome.

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 2pm until late
Saturday and Sunday: Noon until late

Pym's of Milford
154 Kitchener Road, Milford

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Treat your skin and body at Lovely By skin institute’s stylish new Commercial Bay clinic

No matter the skin you’re in, feeling confident and beautiful should be within reach for everyone.

If cosmetic treatments are a part of this for you, you’ll be thrilled to know that incorporating these into your routine has just become even easier with the opening of Lovely By skin institute’s fifth location at central Auckland’s new hub of activity Commercial Bay. 

Now you can keep your co-workers guessing about your extra glow after indulging in a ‘lunchtime face lift’ with Ulfit Skin Tightening, or maintain your anti-ageing regimen with access to anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers.

While Lovely By skin institute’s convenient location makes it easier to achieve the appearance you desire, it is still overseen by parent company Skin Institute’s respected doctors, with all treatments performed by highly-trained nurses and beauty therapists.

While you’re checking out the incredible food and fashion offerings at Commercial Bay, stop to peruse Lovely By skin institute’s menu for affordable skin and body treatments to meet your needs.

Along with laser rejuvenation and microdermabrasion, Cooltech™ fat reduction is growing in popularity. The non-invasive treatment targets fat cells forever by freezing them – think love handles and stubborn belly fat. Typically you only need 1–3 non-surgical treatments using scientifically proven technology on an area to notice results, with each session taking just over an hour.

And so you can continue seeing and feeling the improvements from your in-salon treatments at home, treat yourself to products from Lovely By skin institute’s range to cleanse, nourish, hydrate and protect your skin, while dealing with concerns around pigmentation, sensitivity and skin brightness.

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Ghost Donkey is the new mezcal and tequila bar you need to visit

Just as New Zealand’s lime season enters full swing, a mezcal and tequila bar has arrived in Auckland by way of New York City. Situated in the new downtown shopping precinct Commercial Bay, Ghost Donkey is a lively and vibrant venue that aspires to impart Mexican hospitality to every one of its visitors.

Helmed by the team behind The Poni Room, Liquorette and the soon-to-come Saxon + Parole, Ghost Donkey’s flagship New York location is an award-winning cocktail bar and now New Zealanders can enjoy a unique and high-energy experience courtesy of one sparkling, rouge-tinted bar.

With over 35 mezcals and tequilas on the menu, Ghost Donkey boasts the largest offering of the top selection of each style in Auckland. Led by renowned master of Mexican mixology Nacho Jimenez it’s a serious curation primed for serious fun.

If you’re not 100% sure what the difference is between mezcal and tequila, allow us to explain a few key points:

While both are distilled from the agave plant, tequila must be made in Mexico’s Tequila region from the blue Weber agave, while mezcal can be produced anywhere in Mexico (although it’s usually made in Oaxaca) and can be made from more than 30 types of agave.

Technically, all tequila is a type of mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila ⁠—think of it like bourbon and whiskey. All bourbon is a type of whiskey, but it’s not the same the other way round given whiskey can be Scotch, Irish, rye, Japanese, or something else entirely.

Mezcal can often be denoted by a smokey flavour which arises when the agave is cooked in underground fire pits filled with wood and charcoal, while tequila is made in above-ground ovens then distilled in copper pots.

We suggest taking this knowledge with you next time you visit Ghost Donkey — although we’re sure the staff will be more than happy to explain in more detail.

It’s not all liquor; New York-based executive chef Brad Farmerie has created a menu of snacks centring on nachos. Offering a selection of ‘Nachos Especiales’, the aim is to showcase high-quality ingredients and unusual flavour combinations to elevate the humble dish.

The rest of the menu is split into ‘tacos’ and ‘not tacos’ with the latter encompassing fresh takes on traditional Mexican bar snacks, and Ghost Donkey’s selection of house-made hot sauces are always on hand to spice things up.

An irreverent and dynamic part of Commercial Bay’s innovative hospitality offering, Ghost Donkey is sure to be the scene of many a memorable night.

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The booming homegrown collagen company that’s going global

Chalk up another inspiring New Zealand success story to entrepreneur Libby Matthews who has seen her collagen supplement business Dose & Co. explode in only 18 months, thanks to the simplest of skin-saving ideas. Inspired by living in the US, Matthews developed a range of creamers for hot drinks containing premium quality collagen to help people look and feel better, and now Does & Co. is expanding from its online business into retail stores in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

“We had no idea the brand would grow as fast as it did,” Matthews says. ”We launched with just two products and just over a year later we have ten products which include a retail range. Our intent with the brand is pure and simple, to help people look and feel better.”

The brilliant idea for Dose & Co. started three years ago, after Matthews gave birth to her daughter and experimented with a cocktail of supplements to treat terrible postpartum hair loss. When someone suggested collagen, Matthews knew that she could improve on expensive offerings packed with sugar, while still delivering the benefits of improved hair, skin and joint health.

“Our collagen products are empowering, change people’s lives, and help them get results from their postpartum hair loss, improving hair, skin, nails, gut health and joint and ligament health. Some people have had eczema or psoriasis and tried every product including antibiotics and steroid creams to help with these conditions. After using our collagen they notice results within a week.”

Up until now the most popular product from the Dose & Co. range has been their coffee creamers, originally only offered with a coconut milk base, but now also offered in a version made with New Zealand dairy powder. The range has grown to include a Collagen Protein Powder (a whey protein with added collagen) in Chocolate Fudge and Creamy Vanilla and a super versatile unflavoured Pure Collagen.  

With business booming as Dose & Co. starts lining the shelves of selected New Zealand supermarkets, along with their successful website trade, Matthews is also committed to saving the planet while saving your skin. The company has a plastic-free policy, packaging their collagen collection in deluxe cardboard canisters.

“It didn’t feel right to put these premium formulations in a plastic tub,” says Matthews. “Eliminating plastics was paramount.” 

With the US market in Dose & Co.’s sights and the new range in stores, Matthews is sporting a healthy glow of anticipation.

“It’s an exciting time,” she says. “We’ve been working on these products for so long now and I can’t wait for them to be released.”

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Cazador restaurateur Rebecca Smidt on Bolognese & Bechamel Pies and Elmo’s Song

Alongside partner Dariush Lolaiy, the eternally gracious Rebecca Smidt runs Balmoral mainstay Cazador, the ultimate destination for inventive dishes that bring out the best of wild game, along with exquisite hospitality. As the second generation custodians of the popular restaurant Smidt and Lolaiy have created an award-winning cookbook and recently opened a spectacular deli to add even more flavour to the Auckland hospitality scene. We asked Smidt to slip off her Birkenstocks, rest her feet and reveal her inspirations.

My personal style can be defined as Black everything. It hides all sins – it’s a casualty of my industry.

The last thing I bought and loved was: Dinner at Culprit. Imaginative, fun, friendly and delicious.

Culprit

An unforgettable place I visited was: Rajasthan. It’s overwhelming in every sense. It’s beautiful, exhilarating, exhausting, captivating and I want to go back.

An object I would never part with is: Things come and go…

Next place I’d like to travel to: The Chateau at Mt Ruapehu. I’d love to visit some of our old-time hotels and drink brandy by the fire. The Chateau is first on my list, then maybe the Waitomo Hotel. Imagine the carpets!

The Chateau

On my wish list is: A second bedroom.

The last thing I added to my wardrobe was: An oversized silk shirt from Widdess, to match all the other oversized things in my wardrobe from Widdess.

An indulgence I would never forgo is: Sherry. A fino sherry before dinner is where it’s at.

The design (building, person, item) that inspires me is: Jamie McLellan. He’s a genius, a master of simplicity and he has a really cool dog.

Jamie McLellan

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city it would be: Since we’re not doing markets and souks and bazaars for a while yet, just drop me off on Ponsonby Road. My two main stores are Widdess and Kate Sylvester. I can have an Eighthirty Coffee before I get started, then lunch at Orphans Kitchen and then maybe I’ll get another pair of sensible Birkenstocks from Shoe Science.

In my fridge you’ll always find: Champagne and cheese.

My favourite room in my house is: Our apartment offers a choice of two rooms, so I’ll say the living room, as it’s where I do my eating and my reading – my two favourite things.

I can’t miss an episode of: Sell it Like Serhant.

Ryan Serhant

I recently discovered: My husband’s Bolognese and Bechamel Pies. Let’s see how that works out.

The people I rely on for my wellbeing are: My husband, daughter and dog. A daily walk with them keeps me on the right side of stable.

My favourite website is: The Gentlewoman

The podcasts I listen to are: The New Yorker Radio Hour and On Being.

The New Yorker

The one artist whose work I would collect is: Francis Upritchard.

The last meal out I had that truly impressed me was: Cocoro. The welcome, the wine, the food, the calm. It’s very special.

Music I’m listening to currently: Angel Olsen (when I’m alone, otherwise it’s Elmo’s Song).

If I wasn’t doing what I am, I would be: Financially secure.

The beauty product I can’t live without is: My pocket pack of Tobacco Night parfum by Curio Noir.

I have a collection of: 1960s Dutch abstract paintings.

A great piece of advice I’ve received: Tighten it, don’t screw it.

The last book I loved is: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.

Image credit: Portrait image photographer: Emily Raftery

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Knoll Platner lounge chair and side table from Studio Italia, Flos Luminator floor lamp from ECC

This sophisticated take on loft living revitalises a former boot seller’s store

To demonstrate the potential of a new development in the bohemian Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, leading Australian design practice Hecker Guthrie was called on by JCB Architects to apply their considerable expertise to the showpiece apartment.

Set on sturdy bluestone foundations the original building, with striking arched windows and stone trims, served as an inspiration for the design team, keen to incorporate historical elements with modern functionality. The red brick facade of the former boot maker’s shop, dating back to the 1880s, became the leaping-off point.

Bertoia fully upholstered dining chair from Studio Italia, Knoll Platner dining table from Studio Italia

“We took references from the origins of the site’s environment and expressed this through the materiality,” said Hecker Guthrie founding director Hamish Guthrie.

Inside the apartment, there’s a sophisticated play between light and dark, with the bathrooms becoming a sanctuary of polished stone. 

“Glass panels throughout are tinted darker to represent the grit and tenacity of the surrounding landscape, and the overall colour scheme is darker to give it a very sophisticated, premium feel,” Guthrie said.

Adding to the sophistication is the 3.3 metre ceilings, which bring an element of the contemporary loft to the historically-minded location, anchored by rich oak timber detailing and fluted partitions which define spaces while maximising the generous flow of light.

To maintain the high standard of sophistication, furnishings were kept to a minimum, with select pieces offering aesthetic satisfaction with defined silhouettes and textural details with warm leathers, plush velvets and rumpled linen.

Rivea 1920 J+I crocetta stool from Matisse, Flos Snoopy table lamp from ECC, Minotti Lou Table from ECC, Uno Goose Neck Mixer from Robertson, Knoll Platner lounge chair from Studio Italia

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