restaurant

Hashtag It’s Not Gelato: Utopia Ice Is Back In Sumner

Processed with VSCO with kk1 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk1 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk1 presetMandy, Sebastian, (and we can’t forget Levin!)’s astonishingly good ice-cream (not gelato) is back in Sumner. Except this time, it’s housed in the most dreamiest location ever. At 15 Wakefield Avenue you’ll find a tranquil courtyard filled with happiness. Happiness being a large wooden swing chair, flamingo cushions, strawberry plants, Belgian waffles (yes, real Belgian waffles), of course ice-cream, and much more! With 16 ever-changing flavours to choose from, Cantabrians, this is the place to spend our ever glorious upcoming summer days.

Before you ask, my favourite is dark chocolate, coconut, and cacao nibs (gf, df, V) so see you there!

Hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 11 to 6
Wednesday: 11 to 6
Thursday: 11 to 6
Friday: 11 to 9
Saturday: 11 to 9
Sunday: 11 to 6

Seize That Loveliness. It Has Always Been Yours.

Lovely words by Yrsa Daley-Ward and lovely times during this year’s Ayyam-i-Ha – a multi-day festival for Bahá’ís (that’s my religion) which typically falls around the end of February and the beginning of March. Ayyam-i-Ha or Intercalary Days is a period dedicated to being social, hospitable, generous and joyful. In addition, it is a time to prepare for the upcoming Bahá’í fast come March (2nd) though more on that soon!
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My vegetable kebab skewers for the non-meat eaters at our community Ayyam-i-Ha sausage sizzle.
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A team-building/unity activity featuring sticks and marshmallows (to be eaten post tower construction) for Bahá’í Children’s Classesimage-1image-1-1image-1
And, Ayyam-i-Ha cards! Here’s one from me to Soroosh.
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My lucky brother-in-law, Andy’s birthday falls on Ayyam-i-Ha. So, for the first time since returning home, I had an excuse to dine out for dinner and to also dress up a little. image-1-2
We went to Mish Mash (a restaurant where nothing matches; the plates, cutlery, and menu items are all different). My sister, brother-in-law, and I loved it. My parents did not. But, that is expected because they’re Persian and picky. Actually, I’mma start calling em’ PP.
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Super delicious and spicy eggplant dish.
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Some prawn and udon edible basket concoction. image-8
Birthday boy! image-1-3
Potato crisps. image-7
Mom and dad’s shared meal: pulled lamb bruschetta. They didn’t like it because their teeth couldn’t bite through the bread (lol) and the whole meal was cold (how it’s supposed to be).image-6
This is honey glazed carrots topped with crispy bacon bits. We also had dessert. I tried to take a picture but by this time, the sun had set and the lighting was terrible. We shared creme brulee and bread and butter donuts. The latter, super good. Like, unreal.

New in CHCH: Prince of Persia

My dad is good at a lot of things but I’d say he’s most well-known for his kebab. He lives and breathes it. Seriously, the guy loves kebab so much, if he could, he’d marry it (sorry mom). For this reason, he knows all the “Persian” eateries in Christchurch like the back of his hands. I use quotation marks here because most of these restaurants are a fusion of Persian and Turkish. Newly opened Prince of Persia is actually authentically Persian. Their kebabs identical to the kebab restaurants of our motherland. Their tablecloths the same as the ones in our dining area. The food comparison by the way, comes from my mother, AKA the queen of complaints. This woman complains everywhere. Too salty, not hot enough, too little this, too much that. But at Prince of Persia she LOVES, and I mean licksherplate loves everything. So I highly recommend it. Persian food at its best.

As well as Persian-mom-approved food (try the ghormesabzi, it’s unreal!), Prince of Persia is affordable (starting from $13…), spacious and child-friendly. Visit their website HERE for more info.
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Osaka Must-Eats

In the past week, I have dined at two next-level contemporary eateries in Osaka which you OUGHT to know about and hopefully try out for yourself. The first one is Smorrebrod Kitchen  located in the Osaka library building and the second is NORTHSHORE a 10 or so minute walk from it. Both boast a mouthwatering menu, a beautiful ambiance, saliva-inducing sandwiches and citrus infused water. Oh how I wish I lived in this city so that I could go back again and again and again. Pleaaaase go in my place.

Smorrebrod Kitchen 
I ordered the fish set menu which happened to be shrimp that day. It came with a cold corn soup, a fresh crisp salad and a fancy shrimp dish (see below). To drink, I had homemade ginger-ale with real ginger. Mmmm. And citrus-infused water! The menu was in Japanese but the handsome waiter explained everything to me in English. I read food magazines and soaked in the positive ambiance. Just gorgeous. After, I sent my pictures to SK’s Instagram. They replied with: “Thank you for your message. I’m so happy. Come back anytime.” Don’t worry SK, I WILL!
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NORTHSHORE
I actually heard (well, read) about Northshore at Smorrebrod Kitchen (in a food magazine). So I guessed it would be popular but I didn’t realize that we’d have to wait for a table for about 40 min at 3pm! That’s not even remotely lunch-timeish! However, it was so worth the wait. In fact, I would even wait 3 hours. Yes, 3! It was that good. Ashleigh and I shared the egg and vegetable sandwich and the very berry pancakes. The tropical pancakes also looked good! The menu here was in English and almost all the staff could also speak it. The menu items can easily be shared but who can resist ordering one thing anyway? So good. Oh and the view! Oh the view. If there is anything I do before leaving Osaka it’s going here again!
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Restaurant Review: The Monday Room

WORDS AND IMAGES BY MELISSA LIN

Who actually likes Mondays? I’m definitely not a fan and I’m sure many of you are the same. The all-new, revamped Monday Room on the other hand… no doubt is one Monday that I love and one Monday I know you’re all gonna enjoy too.

Serving “Brunch, Dessert and everything in-between”, The Monday Room on the corner of Moorhouse Ave and Madras St has reopened under new management. Their new menu is pimped out now showcasing Canterbury’s finest meats and produce, organic and locally grown where possible to deliver dishes that are fresh and super yum (not to mention totally Instagram worthy as well).

The team at The Monday Room are brunch pros, with their menu including options such as the Breakfast Bruschetta with fresh tomato and avocado, poached eggs, goats cheese and pickled red onion on toasted sourdough or GF bread with a cheeky side of bacon (optional), and the Ricotta Hotcakes topped with caramelized apple, cinnamon, almond praline, Kohu Road vanilla bean ice cream and maple syrup, just to name a few. Don’t drool into your keyboard!

The dishes on their dinner and dessert menus are just as scrumptious, too! Dinner plates are designed to be shared in order to create a social dining experience bringing friends and family together. Though to be honest, you might need double-ups of the same dish to avoid food envy. The entree sized goats cheese churros are an example of this, one bite and you’ll be left with the “I wish I ordered more” feeling. The Monday Room’s savory version of the traditional sweet treat is genius and deliciously mind blowing. It’s one of my favorites there and an absolute must try for you!

For more information, click HERE.

Italian Night and a *Stolen* Recipe

If you follow my blog’s Facebook and/or Instagram accounts then you might know that I made Italian food for my Japanese friends last night. Now, how does a Persian-Kiwi learn to cook Italian? By working jobs. At 15 I worked at La Porchetta, a chain Italian restaurant then at 17 I waitress-ed at iconic Cafe Valentino which was destroyed from the devastating Christchurch earthquakes whilst I was living in Israel. When Cafe Valentino reopened on St. Asaph Street, I immediately returned, this time as Duty Manager. That’s right, GIRL BOSS. I loved the actual boss, I loved the head chef and I loved the pizza (not specifically in that order).

Working at Cafe Valentino, I learnt so much from Chef Karren. Not only is she extremely talented but also so utterly passionate and committed. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a person who sacrifices day in and day out for their art.

During “the calm before the storm” (quiet mornings before lunch) at Cafe Valentino, I’d often have the opportunity to watch the chef’s preparations. Though I couldn’t ever know exactly how they made what they did or what exactly went into it, let’s just say, I can take a pretty accurate stab in the dark. Today I share with you an idiot-proof *stolen* recipe from the famous Cafe Valentino:

Tomato Freakin’ Bruschetta.

1 medium red onion, chopped small
about 3 medium tomatoes , chopped small – I used a punnet of mixed colored tomatoes whcih included red, maroon, green, yellow and orange ones.
bunch of fresh basil leaves – chopped small
dollop of good quality olive oil
dollop of good quality balsamic
pinch of sea salt
pinch of pepper

Bread – Cafe Valentino would use freshly baked ciabatta, I used store-bought French baguette.

Finely chop vegetables and herb.

Add a dollop of oil then balsamic – I guess Cafe Val used a balsamic reduction but I ain’t got time (or skills) for that.

Season with a little salt and pepper.

Mix well then refrigerate (you can do this well in advance to serving, if you wish).

For serving, slice bread, toast in a toaster or toaster oven then top each bread with big spoonfuls of tomato/onion mixture letting it fall everywhere (as in on the plate).
***HOT TIP from Rosie Blakely of Gaikokumama: “I usually cut a fresh garlic clove in half, rub the open-side over the bread, then lightly toast by frying the bread with a little olive oil. Yummy. Try it if you fancy!”
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Okayama Table Terra

For my little sister, Juri’s birthday, my Japanese parents took us to Okayama Table Terra. And oh my goodness. This place was SO delicious. I could not believe it! I wish I had discovered it earlier.

Terra is two storey and the interior is gorgeous. White chairs and dark wooden tables. Big mirrors, open kitchen, wonderful service and pot plants. Perfect for any occasion. Especially a couple date! EEEE

We had the chef’s choice set menu and it was to die for! WOW! I can’t wait to go back. Is the chef single?! Can I marry him? More details HERE.

Because I can’t fluently understand Japanese, I can’t give you the exact description of each dish, but what I can say is we started with an antipasti plate (featuring zucchini bruschetta), followed by a variety of vegetables served with an anchovy dip, then cold new season cream of potato soup, next delicious eggplant pizzas topped with cheese and mince, next pizza margarita and last but definitely not least (because it was our favorite), a vegetarian zucchini and soy-bean “bolognese”. WOW it was so delicious I wish I could eat it for lunch today. Heck, also dinner.

At Terra, we also had coffee and a little cake. At home, we had tea and a big cake (gluten, dairy and refined-sugar free) – which I made. Recipe HERE. Except for Juri, I doubled this recipe: made two cakes, placed them on top of one another and spread an all-natural raspberry jam in the middle of them. Mama Mia.
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An Inside Look At Japanese Sushi

According to my adorable Japanese friend (who am I kidding they’re all adorable – the Japanese not my friends), modern sushi trains are taking over traditional sushi restaurants at rapid speed and this is making Japanese folk unhappy. Luckily, living in rural Ohara (or unluckily: bugs, snakes etc) there are still a few super traditional sushi joints left around me. These often include a male head chef (old and wise) with 1 or 2 female helpers (also old and wise). The sushi is prepared fresh, with much care and patience and of course, tastes amazing. As in, melt-in-your-mouth-gimme-more-gimme-gimme-more amazing.

In saying that, my experience of a Japanese sushi trains has also been imposing. Like really awesome and delish. Oh and exciting! Who doesn’t like moving sushi? And, they come equipped with a hot-water tap to make unlimited green tea (yes such glory is a thing!), sort of like the refillable soft drinks at Burger King. Do they still do that actually? Or have things changed since I was a teen? Keep drinking and you may counteract the sushi food baby (please refer to this for skinny effects of green tea). Lastly, some of these sushi trains are really really cheap!
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Japanese sushi-trains are pretty crazy cool. Bacon sushi? Sausage roll? Conveniently cut pineapple? And all made fresh to order via touch screen? Now, we’re JAPAN talking!

How to sushi train:
1.Abort diet
2.Commence Leaning Tower Of Plates construction.
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I Accidently Ate Christchurch

I have officially touched back down in Osaka but here are the last of my foodie pictures from NZ.

From top to bottom: hands down the best pizza in Christchurch at Cafe Val, an overdue catch up at the coolest new cafe: Gentle Giant, flavoursome shakshuka from Hello Sunday, local apples, frozen yoghurt (one split into two cos we stingy) and vintage cookbooks on Mother’s Day with my sweet mama at the Riccarton Sunday Market, more coffee (with local almond milk) at Black and White Coffee Cartel and finally, vegetarian black rice sushi (not Japanese) from Bento Riccarton.
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