New beginnings are always very exciting. Brian Campbell recently left the narrow, honeycomb-walled sweet house, Milse, to start his own dessert pop-up all over town. I made it to the very first one last Monday at Meredith’s.
The first three dishes cost $45 in total, and an extra $9 could bring you to a sugar high with a fourth dessert.
Each plate was delicately presented and visually appealing. You can expect no less from Brian with a CV as impressive as his (stalk here). The first dessert was Tonka Bean Vanilla Hyssop Panna Cotta served with strawberries, cherries and lemon curd. As you dig through the dish, the sourness from the lemon curd and the hint of hyssop in the panna cotta makes the dish surprisingly refreshing and delicious.
I wasn’t a big fan of the second course. A true beetroot supporter would enjoy this one but beetroot and I are not the best of friends. The beetroot mousse was topped with raspberries and yoghurt cake. On the side there were beetroot meringues, raspberry puree and a slice of fresh beetroot. I loved the freeze-dried meringues and fresh raspberry the most.
The third course was divine. The dish came out with a chocolate globe on top of a pile of chocolate soil and hidden inside was a very rich orange flavoured chocolate mousse. The soil was a mix of macadamia nuts, cacao nibs, chocolate coated rice puffs, mint leaves and chewy caramel nugget with a swirl of caramel. The combination was one crunchy gooey mess.
Now most people would stop here, but you know, it’s all or nothing. So to end the night we finished off with a plum dish. Sour plums were accompanied with sweet sable breton. The popcorn though was a little stale.
There are positive and negative things about pop-ups. They’re of course exciting and mysterious, and due to the limited time only feature, they induce high levels of FOMO aka fear of missing out. The downside is the set menu which cannot be catered to any dietary requirements. You can keep up with the news on where the next pop-up is on Instagram @briancampbell80.
Here are a few snaps my friend and I took on a casual walk around Auckland.
Of course, an adventure is never complete without food and as always, Foxtrot Parlour manages to make some show-stopping food. Be it from their sister The Dairy (read here), or this DIY donut that comes with its own saucy syringe and cream. Somehow when they give you some responsibility with compiling your food, it tastes just that much better. Be warned though, it gets crazy messy. You’ll be licking the sugar off your fingers, pulling apart the donut, handling the knife to get some cream, and working the syringe – which requires both hands. It may be useful for them to supply wet tissues of some sort at the end to avoid translating your sticky mess any further than your table. I would definitely recommend sharing the donut, we loved the salted caramel one.
We visited the museum and walked around Auckland Domain. You could also take bush-walks, explore the Wintergarden or just lie on your back and admire the blue skies. Hope you all had a great weekend! We’re suffering from Mondayitis right now but Labour weekend is just round the corner, what are your plans?
On the coldest day of the year (yesterday), we braced ourselves and ventured out to do some quick shopping in Newmarket. We’d walked past Whoopie a few times since its opening but haven’t actually tasted them before. As we went quite late in the day, there weren’t that many flavours to choose from in the cabinet. That, and because Kely is allergic to chocolate (we hope it’s only temporary) our choices were limited. Mind you, the pies that contained chocolate looked super delicious. We settled on the Berry and Vanilla pie. At first we were expecting something overly sweet, like you find with the prepackaged ones that are sold in supermarkets. Whoopie has nailed it though, it was just the right amount of sweetness and of course freshly baked is always the best. The cake was soft and the filling so incredibly good. Our whoopie pie server was very thoughtful, helping us cut the pie in half to share – saving us from deciding who gets the first bite. We will definitely be returning. I’m actually craving for some more as I’m writing this post. Technically we should have been ordering something like hot tea to keep us warm but the happiness we experienced after wolfing down the whoopie pie did pretty much the same thing. There is a table in the little store for you to dine-in if you wish. A very dangerous seat. After trying one, you’ll be wanting to have another…and maybe just one more…there’ll be no leaving the store. We think the Whoopie owners should place some cushions on those stools and on the odd day, slide some whoopie cushions underneath them ha ha ha.
On a side note, we are super excited about Restaurant Month launching for August! Check out the menus here. We already have our eye on a few places we would like to try out. Be sure to link us your food adventures if you do partake in Restaurant Month, we’d love to hear where you guys have been so we can visit those restaurants too before August ends!
Because this was a spur of the moment visit, we didn’t have our camera with us. The following are just iPhone photos, hope you enjoy them nonetheless. Whoopie.
2A Hakanoa Street, Grey Lynn
Shop 21, 10 Nuffield Street, Newmarket
On Friday night, to start off the long weekend I visited Ortolana with a friend. It was a delightful meal and I just couldn’t wait to share with all of you (don’t worry there will be more Melbourne photos still coming). If you haven’t been to the Hip Group’s cafes here in Auckland, you are missing out. Big time. Ortolana – meaning market garden has indeed lived up to its name and its raves, many of the ingredients I believe come from the Group’s own garden. Service was impeccable, as always across the restaurants. We started off with drinks Tamarillo and Pear Frappe, and Lemon and Feijoa Homemade Soda. Both excellent fruit combinations, fresh and simply delicious. I was looking forward to trying the Watermelon and Mint Frappe that I saw on the menu before but since watermelons are out of season right now I guess I’ll have to wait. For the mains we had Beetroot, cumin, feta, hazelnuts, lasagnotte and Market fish with garden harvest. I loved how colourful the lasagnotte was, food looked amazing and tasted amazing. I even had a girl a few tables across walking over and peering at what I was having, after telling her it was the Market fish, she promptly got back and ordered the same. There is nothing on the dishes that are ingredients just for show, everything is essential and everything goes well. You would have your fish with some beans together with some sauce all in one bite and it would be perfect. There was nothing left on our plates. I think the most prominent feature of the restaurant is the freshness. Everything tastes fresh, looks fresh. You won’t feel bogged down with heavy food, it makes you light and happy. It would be better if they offered more dessert options from Milse though.
We decided to pop over to Milse ourselves and after having been told there was 40 minute wait we put our names down and had a stroll around Britomart. It was going well past the hour so instead we decided to try again another time and have takeaway for now. Going back to the restaurant, it was as hectic as ever. The corridor was full, people were waiting outside and the standard of service was lower. People waiting to pay, people wanting to get desserts and people standing there with their popsicles just not sure what to do. It was all very crazy. Nevertheless we managed to buy a few a la carte items, the Lemon, Blueberry and Thyme cake, the Mango and Coconut Popsicle, and the Valrhona Chocolate, Armagnac and Salted Caramel cake. Amazing desserts. The lemon cake was soft, had the right amount of tang to it and also a surprise crunch. (I’m not too sure about the pricing, the girl charged me $8 for the lemon cake but having just looked at the patisserie menu online it says $7.) These are honestly at the next level, you can tell they draw inspiration internationally as its nothing you would expect having here in Auckland. You have to try it to experience it yourself. Hopefully they will figure out how to deal with the night rush but I will be back during the day for some beautiful dessert food art.
Ortolana and Milse.
The Pavillions, Britomart, Auckland Central.