Cafe chat: Exciting times

00:15, Sep 05 2012
Glenfiddich whisky
PRECIOUS DROP: A 1961 Glenfiddich Scotch whisky has made a rare appearance in Christchurch.

Don't spill

If you've been looking for a present for the one who has everything, head into specialist whisky store, Whisky Galore! It has a 1961 Glenfiddich whisky on sale that is bottle No 45 of only 56 that have been distributed around the world. The whisky was bottled in 2009 after being left undisturbed in cask 9016 for nearly half a century. It retails for $14,106 so you're going to have to really love the person you're buying it for, but "it's a once in a lifetime opportunity", says the rare malts manager, Stephen le Petit.

Winning chef

Kate Florence, 21, of Queenstown's five-star Blanket Bay has claimed the New Zealand Commis Chef of the Year title. Florence competed in a triathlon event incorporating three different classes where she was judged on her skill set, ingenuity and creativity and won a gold medal in the cold dessert class, creating a tamarillo-based dish called Assiette of New Zealand Tamarillo.

She was awarded silver for both the hot main presented cold and the salmon class, creating manuka honey-glazed Canterbury duck breast and pan-seared New Zealand king salmon. It is the third time in recent years a Blanket Bay chef has taken the title.

City bound


The Ibis hotel in Hereford St has become the first Christchurch hotel in the (once was) CBD that's open and ready for business. The 155-room hotel has undergone a $10-million refurbishment, refresh and refit to meet the new earthquake codes and create a welcoming space. Chef Grant Gault (formerly The Latimer, JDV and the Old Vicarage) is in charge of the restaurant, Oopen.

"The concept is that you can choose your pasta or grill option and then your choice of sauce or topping," he says.

Specialities on the entree menu include Marlborough green lipped mussels with a garlic sauce ($14.50) and Gault's favourite dish, mushrooms tossed with caramelised onions and brandy sauce and served on toasted brioche ($14.50). Open at 6am for breakfast, 12-2pm for lunch and 5.30-9.30pm for dinner. The bar is open till late.

New owners

The Oaks of Darfield has new owners with jazz musician Tom Donaldson, and his wife, Sheryl (former Terrace Downs duty manager) and Stuart Morrison (former Terrace Downs executive chef) expanding the bed and breakfast offering to include a restaurant with fine dining. Morrison says the restaurant concentrates on using fresh local produce. "We're all about well presented food that tastes good," he says. The best-selling dish is beef fillet with onion marmalade and kikorangi cream ($38). Dinner Wed-Sun from 6pm and lunch Thurs- Sun 12-3pm with jazz nights two evenings a month.

Festival fever

The New World Wine & Food Festival is back for its second year, and early-bird tickets are on sale. More than 6000 people attended the event last year when wineries, breweries and food exhibitors from around the South Island participated. The music lineup includes Sola Rosa, Anika Moa and Tahuna Breaks alongside wine seminars and cooking exhibitions. Circle Saturday, December 8, on the calendar and hop onto to get your ticket. Only 2000 early bird tickets available.

Exciting times

Get ready for an onslaught of restaurants and bars that are all scheduled to open before Christmas. The god of licensing willing, Fiddlesticks on the old Bon Bolli/Art site on Montreal St opens mid- September, The Curator's House will be open by mid-October, as will The Twisted Hop Woolston.

The Papanui/ Northcote end of Cranford St will soon be home to a few more eateries with Costas Greek Taverna, Burgers and Beers and Cafe Euro all opening venues in the Cranford Park complex within a couple of months. Burgers and Beers owner Andrew Brown says considering Christchurch is a city of two halves at the moment, it makes sense to take what they are offering in his Colombo St eatery across town. "The menus and look will be similar but each place will have its own quirkiness," says Brown.

Jeff King says it's been a long time between coffees since selling Cafe Euro in Merrin St, but he's eager to get back into it and reconnect with his old customers. Both venues are working through consents and licensing but are optimistic they'll be open in November.

The Press