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Wednesday 08 April 2009


Sure to Rise

2nd January 2009


Posted by: Campbell

blogtrolley.jpgHave we become a pre-prepared, convenient and time-deprived community…? My recent trip to New World got me thinking… and not about which way my Bananas were pointing.

The supermarket is clever little consumer empire and a huge proportion of their products are tailored to absolute convenience. I mean really… who has time to cook a meal from scratch these days, what with demanding and hectic careers, hobbies and socialising, gym memberships, realtionship/family commitments and a growing selection of Dine out and Take out options? Why bother cooking? Bless Me… I was raised on a farm in the bowels of the South Island, I have inherited many of my Mother’s  genes and not just the ability to prune roses, shorten a pair of trousers and make and hang  a perfect set of net curtains but also the abilty to make chutney,mint sauce, preserve fruit, bake a hearty selection of cakes and biscuits and make my own pastry and salad dressing. The slightest hint of winter and it’s time to make a hearty pot of soup from scratch or cottage pie, smoke some fish and while the Oven is on I will throw together an apple crumble. On a good day I can make a cheeky loaf of bread and a fantastic date scone. So they say you can tell alot about someone by what is in their basket as you wander the isles of the mighty “Convenience Supermarket”. The whole world of cooking at home can be made very straight forward and timely with the pre-prepared items we can so easily purchase. I say easily, but easily comes with a price tag. We pay for Convenience. So if you are completely deprived of time and having the ‘girls’ over for dinner then lets grab a hot roast chicken - actually we might need two, a selection of gourmet salads from the Deli, oven roast potatoes from the freezer, petit dinner rolls from the Bakery, oh and a slab of the naughty chocolate brownie and well-back to isle four for thickened cream (no time to whip it yourself). Better get some wine, 2 whites and a red and should get some water… Pelligrino x 4. Stand in line, eye up the boy at Checkout Six and $93.00 later it’s time to head home and slave over a hot stove. Get off the cross, it is literally going to take you 25 minutes to whip up dinner.

So maybe you are not entertaining and you are just shopping for the household. Great. Frozen veges so no boring peeling and chopping, handy well portioned servings of meat, bottled sauces, packet gravy, microwave rice, bladders of soup, pre made pastas and sauces, muffin selection, ready sliced deli meats… This is so easy. Nice and easy until you get to the Check Out and almost have to sell you left kidney to pay for it.

The cost of living is escalating on a weekly basis and constantly people are quivering at the cost of buying food. The mighty consumables. Don’t get me started on the price of cheese and bacon. Let’s export it and then charge those on the home soil exorbitantly. The time has come to be a little more savvy and resourceful and use a few techniques from our Pioneering Ladies.

Make some time and get in your kitchen with recipes, cookbooks and ideas. Start reconnecting with the art of preparing food and arranging what you are going to eat and enjoy for the week.  Give your pantry a good spring clean and see what gems may be hiding behind the cans of sweetcorn and creamed rice. It can be quite rewarding and also makes shopping easier as you know exactly what you need for the week ahead. Think outside the square when it comes to produce that is a smidge past its best. Ideas for a soup or casserole (I know you have a Crock Pot) - and stewing fruit is just way too easy. 

Just imagine, with the saving of your hard earned Pink Dollars, in one month you and your beloved could do a little trip to the bowels of the South Island and stay with my Mum. She will certainly put on a good spread. Bless Her… “Save a Penny… Save a Pound”… or is that put on a Pound?

→ 1 CommentTags: General

30th November 2008

SOTO Japanese Garden Restaurant

Posted by: Campbell

A mild Thursday night and an eagerness to catch up with my American friends seemed like a fine reason to venture to Soto Japanese Garden Restaurant for a little Asian Cuisine.

Soto was previously the iconinc Pluson for a good number of years and way way prior to that was the original Ponsonby Fire Station. Today it is refreshing contemporary space which is both comfortable and elegant with a delightful Asian influence. I was very interested to see why Metro voted Soto “SUPREME WINNER 2008″ Asian Restaurant , in their recent awards and as my evening unfolded I could certainly see why.

We had a pleasant and genuine welcome from the staff and were seated at a table to the side of the restaurant. We were presented with Menus and guided through those by our Waiter. He kindly suggested the Tenshin Set Menus as there were three large groups  in at the same time and we could experience delays. Very nice of him and YES…Soto was nice and busy on a Thursday night at 7pm.There is a full ala carte menu available and that is very extensive and the Wine List is an impressive and thoughtful  list.

Mr and Mrs America opted for the “Vegetarian” Menu at $47 and I decided on the “Taste of Everything” at $50.

These fantastic menus were like gorgeous little Degustation Menus with a variety of small and beautifully presented dished coming from the Kitchen. Not only were the items stunning but all served on quirky and modern little bowls, plates and dishes adding to the visual impact.

A couple of stand outs for the American ” Democrats” were the Filo wrapped zucchini with nori and tomato sauce, the Teriyaki Tofu and the Marinated Organic Tofu. On my side of the table the Sushi and Sasimi was just superb as was the Tempura Veges with Prawn and Market Fish. The Fillet of Pork”Kushiage” Skewer was just fantastic and so beautifully presented.

Eating this kind of menu can feel a little deceiving as the food just keeps coming. You actually feel like you are eating a whole lot more but in fact, due to the size of the dishes, you are really eating a lot of very small and delectable portions.

The ambience in the Dining Room was pleasant, well lit, warm but not stuffy and had very gentle background music. Mind you, like any Restaurant, as the evening progresses and the large group have a few more Asahi and Sake it is a little challenging to hear your Dining companions.

Value wise the final bill came to $178 which included the three set menus, two Ginger Beers, two Japanese Beers and a beautiful glass of Vavsour Pinot Noir.Great value!

So, in at 7pm and out at 8.30, Yes the table was rebooked for 8.30 which I was politely told when making my reservation, we wandered out chatting about the next possible time we could return.

SOTO Japanese Garden Restaurant
13 St Marys Road. Ponsonby. Auckland 09 360 0021

→ No CommentsTags: Asian