Ima Cuisine X Sawmill Brewing

Heading away to Matakana for a few days and escaping the day-to-day, the plan was to slow down – relax, read, write, walk etc. – do as little as possible after a hectic few months.  Excited to discover Sawmill Brewing’s head chef Will Michell was hosting a dinner with Yael Shochat from Ima’s Cuisine, and knowing the five course dinner was in collaboration with Leigh Fisheries, a night out was too enticing, even if flying solo.

North of Matakana village, the Sawmill Brewery – independent and New Zealand owned – is set back from the road with the countryside its backdrop.  With its relaxed vibe, the Smoko Room and family-friendly external courtyard, where you can enjoy their extensive range of handcrafted beers and shared plates, are housed adjacent to the custom-built brewery, the entrance and bar providing a birds-eye view of the working brewery.

Sawmill Brewery and Smoko Room

Sawmill Brewery and Smoko Room

The working brewery is immediately beyond the bar

The working brewery is immediately beyond the bar

Handed a Vienna Lager on arrival, it matched perfectly with the pan fried snapper in falafel crumb served with tabuleh and labneh in baby cos and the fried oysters with samphire and lime dressing.

Welcomed into the Smoko Room, two long communal tables were set for the night’s festivities.  Our place cards the perfect talking point for getting to know fellow guests.  One diner will definitely remember that next time he books under “Zephyr & co”, that it is exactly what the card will say, much to the amusement of his wife!

The Smoko Room

The Smoko Room

What followed was a delicious pairing of seafood and beers (or wine for the non-beer drinkers) with chefs and producers speaking; the dishes and beers introduced between courses.  Convivial company and generous pours (for the non-drivers) meant conversation flowed easily with lots of friendly banter and laughter.

Will (head chef Sawmill) and Yael (Ima Cuisine) explain the menu

Will (head chef Sawmill) and Yael (Ima Cuisine) explain the menu

Courses two to four, from left to to right: Smoked kahawai & kawakawa dolmades with mackerel & a pickled clam salsa; Haraimeh with baby Challa; Scorpion (grandaddy hapuka) with vine leaves, apple, capers and fennel.

The evening finished with a delightfully light orange blossom crème caramel topped with sesame crunch and accompanied by a fresh orange salad with orange ricotta Katayif.

To finish... creme caramel

To finish... creme caramel

When people choose to collaborate to produce something really special and are generous with what they bring to the table, our expectations are always exceeded.  We were not disappointed – a fabulously entertaining and hospitable evening all around.

Dining in Smoko Room

Sawmill’s next collaboration dinner is at the end of July, when a group of culinary students will take over the kitchen and together with local secondary school students running front of house the Smoko Room will become their restaurant for a night. 

But if you simply fancy a few beers and shared plates, check out their website for opening hours and menus here – Sawmill Brewery.

Enjoy!

Michelle

ps excuse the grainy photos, the lighting was set for dining and we were all too eager to indulge than capture the plates!

 

 

Sunshine, Seafood and Taste of Auckland

When you head off to a food and wine festival with someone as passionate about New Zealand food, wine and local produce as you, you know there's going to be lots of food talk and even more eating!  What wasn't anticipated was just how much seafood would feature on our Taste of Auckland line-up. 

As 10am ticked over, the gates opened and everyone turned left to grab their 'crowns and wine glass' but with a fear of missing out on a seat at the table with Marc Soper from Wharekauhau Lodge, we headed straight for Electrolux Chef's Secrets tent to secure our spot for a late lunch (more on this event in another post).

Manuka bark smoked Ora King Salmon, goats cheese, gin, local garden fruits and vegetables

Manuka bark smoked Ora King Salmon, goats cheese, gin, local garden fruits and vegetables

But before lunch there was time to drop in on the guys at Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar where we were delighted to be their 'testers' for the first oyster fritters off the grill for the day... chased down with fresh tuatuas.

Oyster fritters

Oyster fritters

Freshly shucked Mahurangi oysters

Freshly shucked Mahurangi oysters

Fresh New Zealand tuatuas

Fresh New Zealand tuatuas

Te Kouma Bay oysters at Fish Restaurant looked oh so tempting.... but how many oysters can one eat in one day.

Fish's Ora King salmon & Te Kouma oysters with dashi whip and coriander

Fish's Ora King salmon & Te Kouma oysters with dashi whip and coriander

But with clams escargot on our minds we wandered to ParisButter.  Thankfully we wanted clams... one person had bought ALL the Dulce de leche creme brulee just after opening!

ParisButter Boys

ParisButter Boys

Clams Escargot,,, clams escargot butter

Clams Escargot,,, clams escargot butter

Of course there is so much more on offer than seafood including cooking demonstrations with Yael from Ima Cuisine in action Friday afternoon...

Yael plating up tasters of her Israeli chicken and rice

Yael plating up tasters of her Israeli chicken and rice

Israeli chicken, rice and salad 

Israeli chicken, rice and salad 

...local food producers, wineries and more...

Lalele's vegan gourmet popsicles

Lalele's vegan gourmet popsicles

'Summer' offers us Beekist tomatoes and haloumi

'Summer' offers us Beekist tomatoes and haloumi

Puhoi Valley's Kawau Blue Cheese

Puhoi Valley's Kawau Blue Cheese

A little sweet indulgence from Scratch Bakers

A little sweet indulgence from Scratch Bakers

But you'll need to discover that for yourself... Taste of Auckland runs until Sunday 20 November 2016 with two sessions Saturday, and one Sunday afternoon. 

And if you scroll down you'll see a priceless photo of Bri DiMattina Food Adventures.. the moment Bri realised how ridiculous checking her steps was, considering where we had walked and how much we had eaten!

Bri checking  her steps

Bri checking  her steps

Enjoy your weekend.

Michelle