Midwinter Cheer

Midwinter Cheer

Hello from Alison
We have been to some fabulous events in Auckland recently, including Verdi’s Requiem at the Town Hall, Krishnan’s ‘Dairy’ & ‘Party’ at Q Theatre, and the Come Together Fleetwood Mac concert in the Aotea Centre to mention a few. It’s wonderful to see our city kicking back to life, with sold out performances at these key venues brimming with patrons of all ages refuelling themselves through the experiences brought to them by some of the extraordinarily talented artists of Aotearoa. The hospitality sector is refuelling too with patrons out and about, booking tables and frequenting old ‘favourites’ or discovering new ones, seats for pre-event dining are at a premium. Of course rugby and football fans will have packed out dining and drinking venues over the winter sport season with so many exciting matches on the calendar. So, while we can certainly say ‘cheers‘ to all these activities, at the same time, winter is upon us and we are all conscious of the threat to these freedoms as Covid and other viruses silently stalk us. There is a lurking concern for everyone from event managers to restaurant owners and patrons that their plans might be disrupted. It’s hard on us all with a veil of uncertainty hanging in the air we breathe.

I’m just grateful for the wonderful things I have enjoyed and then I escape back home for some fireside cosiness and sense of ‘control’ when I’m able to be safe in my ‘space’. Maybe this is a special Covid gift, appreciating more our retreat time, and embracing activities at home. We have been enjoying the DocEdge films from the comfort of our couch rather than being in the cinema, we can ‘thank’ Covid for many festival organisers getting really creative with their technology and offering access in different ways – while we love being at the cinema we do appreciate being able to watch multiple sessions at our leisure! The expression ‘double-edged sword’ has perhaps never been so apt as it is in relation to the trials and tribulations of Covid!

Have you walked from Quay St through to Wynyard Quarter recently and beyond, toward the Harbour Bridge? It is a fun adventure. Quay St is transformed into an interesting and inviting, green harbour-side landscape that caters seamlessly as route for walkers, cyclists, commuters and vehicles, an accessible environment for all. It integrates with the Viaduct that we are all familiar with, offering a mix of accommodation, eating and tourism and again it provides for walkers and cyclists, then on to Wynyard Quarter with more hotels, restaurants, theatre, business, accommodation, shopping, parks and recreation. Beyond that there is a maze of streets and Westhaven car-parking before you reach the walkway that takes you under the Harbour Bridge and as far as Point Erin Pool (a lovely family destination during summer). The city is becoming increasingly friendly and accessible for walkers, cyclists and families.

A wintery fish dish this week. It is inspired by a recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley.

Most fresh white fish fillets will work, think about sustainability when you make your purchase – if you can get fresh Kahawai you will find it is excellent in this dish. Obviously line-caught fish is preferable. I use skinned fillets – but skin on is good to – needs slightly different preparation.

You will need to make the base sauce first and you can store this for a few days in the fridge if you want to prepare the ‘hard’ part of the dish in advance.

Very finely dice:
1 large Brown Onion
1 large Red Capsicum (or 2 small ones)
3 stems Celery (optional)

In a large pan gently heat 125ml of olive oil. Add the onion, capsicum and celery and cook slowly.

Simmer and stir frequently, when it is soft (after about 20 minutes) add:
1 tin chopped tomatoes – I use Mutti or a similar high quality product. If your tomatoes are ‘watery’ it is important to drain them.
½ cup Black Olives (Kalamata are perfect)
1 tsp ground Coriander
1 heaped tsp Ginger (grated – or use ground ginger)
1 tsp dried Chilli, or finely chopped hot fresh chilli (always add chilli according to your palate)
1 tablespoon mixed of fresh chopped garden herbs such as thyme, oregano, rosemary
1 tsp flaky salt
1 Bay Leaf
Juice of 1 lemon, then slice the lemon skin and add it also
8 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp sugar (this is important to balance the acid)

Continue to simmer the sauce for another 20 minutes or so. Add water if it is too thick. Taste the sauce. It should be rich and unctuous. Now is your chance to adjust the flavour profile – a little more chilli, salt or sugar? The sauce should not be ‘sharp’ in this Mediterranean dish.

When you are ready to complete the dish, put the sauce into an ovenproof serving dish (not too deep), round or oblong. Put 250gr of cherry tomatoes on top of sauce. Heat the oven to 175C, heat the sauce through if it’s been stored. Remove the bay leaf.

Slice a lemon into about 8 wedges. Lightly salt the fish fillets and arrange on top. With a spoon ladle a little of the olive oil onto the fish fillets and put the lemon wedges on top.

Place dish relatively high in your oven. Now turn on the grill. Grill the fillets for about 10 minutes. Watch the dish! Don’t over cook it – but charred edges on the lemon wedges is perfect. Be sure the fish is cooked through.

Serve with saffron rice, or roasted potatoes and a winter salad (such as mixed leaves of chicory, fennel, cos, spinach with red onion and pears etc).

If you’re interested in fish and sustainability in the Hauraki Gulf and environs, I highly recommend “SeaSick, Saving the Hauraki Gulf” a 4 part documentary series you can find on Stuff.

Bon Appetit,

Bald Hills Winter Wine Tasting at Scarecrow

It’s time for another Scarecrow Wine Tasting Evening. Goodness knows we could all do with some cheer in the depths of our Kiwi winter! And this one will be extra special. It’s not often we are able to host our South Island wine producers. As you’ll know, a large portion of the Scarecrow Cellar is made up of world-leading wines from the region and we’re always looking for ways to have our talented makers visit. This time, the stars have aligned, and we’re thrilled to be able to welcome Maree from the acclaimed Bald Hills Vineyard in Central Otago. So join us from 5.30pm at Scarecrow Grocer, 811 Mt Eden Road on Thursday 21 July for an evening with Bald Hills. We’ll provide the nibbles and delicious Bald Hills wine to sample. There’ll be cellar-wide specials on the day that you won’t want to miss. All you need to do is RSVP to secure your spot! Email us at grocer@scarecrow.co.nz by Wednesday 20 July. Limited spaces available.

Bald Hills Feature Wines

Bald Hills is a boutique vineyard in the heart of New Zealand’s Pinot Noir country – Bannockburn, Central Otago. Bald Hills wines have graced the Scarecrow Cellar shelves since we opened back in 2020.  Come along to our Bald Hills Wine Tasting evening on 21 July to sample and take home some of these divine offerings at very special prices. Can’t make it along? Shop online from the Scarecrow Cellar and we’ll deliver to your door, Auckland wide.


Bald Hills Kirameki Central Otago Pinot Gris 2020
Brand new to our cellar, we’re delighted to have secured a supply of the Bald Hills Kirameki Pinot Gris 2020. The Japanese work ‘Kirameki’ signifies the rocks that shimmer alongside the one hectare of sloping Pinot Gris vines at the Northern tip of Bald Hills’ Central Otago vineyard. This deliciously dry Pinot Gris displays fragrant aromas of nashi pear, nectarine, melon, nougat, lychee and apple blossom. It is balanced and complex with a refreshing and lingering passionfruit and sweet melon finish.

Bald Hills Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017
Also new to Scarecrow, Bald Hills’ award winning Single Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017. This delightful Pinot Noir has fragrant aromas of violets, dark plum, spice, leather and smoky oak char. With rich black cherry, plum, blackberry and spice, the palate is well rounded with fine tannins and a lovely long red fruit finish with nice minerality. It’s absolutely delicious, and a real treat to enjoy now, or cellar for up to 10 years – if you can wait that long!

You’re loving… the Scarecrow Daily Lunch Board

When we launched our Winter Menu several weeks back, we wanted to shake things up a little by introducing the Daily Lunchboard. And what a success it’s been! You are loving the variety and flavour of Chef’s daily changing Lunchboard specials. Priced to suit every budget, with flexible options so you can enjoy solo on the go, or settle in with friends and order a few to share.  Coming in with a group? We recommend reserving a table – lunchtimes at Scarecrow can get busy! Just call the team on 09 377 1333 to arrange.

Restaurant Month is Nearly Here!
A highlight on the Scarecrow calendar is always Restaurant Month in association with Heart of the City, now in its 12th fabulous year. For the whole month of August, participating cafes and restaurants across the central city devise tasty treats at incredible pricing in an effort to entice Aucklanders out and about, to catch up over wonderful food and drink and discover favourites, old and new, in our City of Sails.

Our chef has devised two delicious Restaurant Month Menus which we’re excited to launch from 1 August. Select from our 2 Course ($40) or 3 Course Menu ($55), both paired with a glass of Greywacke Riesling 2020 or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. We’ll be sharing details of the plates you’ll be enjoying in our next newsletter. For now, be sure to mark 1 August in your diary. We’re excited!

Seasonal Staffing 
We say ‘seasonal’ because we hope things soon improve with staffing issues! Winter illnesses and a labour shortage across the entire hospitality industry is hitting small businesses hard. Scarecrow in the City will remain closed every Sunday and Monday for the time being, at least until we’re through this period of instability. Scarecrow Grocer remains open every Sunday for your weekend artisan groceries, gifts, fresh flowers, wine, ready meals and more. As a side note, if you or anyone you know is looking to join a fun team and flexible working environment with great benefits, please let us know! Send an email to jobs@scarecrow.co.nz or talk to one of the team in store. Experience is a bonus, but if you’ve got the right attitude we would love to have you with us!

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