Sarah and Nick Freeman put Lyttleton’s London Street on the culinary map when they opened Freemans in 2006. Now they’ve brought their simple, no-fuss foodie philosophy to the heart of Beckenham with The Birdwood, which opened earlier this year.
How did your culinary journey begin?
Nick is from Poole on the south coast of England and I am from Christchurch. We met 20 years ago at a Christchurch hotel and both shared a love for great food and hospitality. Nick ran fine dining restaurants in London and quickly developed a passion for Italian cuisine.
You put Lyttelton’s London Street on the map with Freemans, now you’ve opened The Birdwood. What sets the two apart?
The Birdwood offers all day dining with our eatery on one side during the day and our wood fired pizzeria on the other, which kicks off in the late afternoon. Our philosophy is exactly the same as Freemans, good hospitality. We believe the recipe is simple, make people feel welcome, serve great food and go above and beyond their expectations.
Why do you think people have connected so strongly with what you have created here?
The Birdwood is a place where we want people to feel like they are part of our culture and our family. We love knowing their names, what they like to drink, what school their children go to and how their day has been. There is nothing nicer than chatting away to a customer perched at the bar waiting for their takeaway pizza while they relax after a busy day.
What are the key things that set the Birdwood aside from other dining options in the city?
Our strong focus on family. It is a place where inviting booth seats in the pizzeria encourage families and their kids to pile in, eat some amazing pizza, have a few wines and feel like they have had some quality time together. We spend a lot of time as a team perfecting our craft and talking about ways to give a great hospitality experience.
What are some of your favourite menu options?
In the eatery we do a great brunch. Creamy mushrooms with a crumbed egg on soft polenta is definitely a favourite. We roast our coffee in house and our takeaway coffee window is a little slice of Melbourne on the streets of Beckenham. In the pizzeria, of course pizza! Hand-made and hand-stretched sourdough bases that are given time to rise with good quality ingredients make, we believe, the best Italian pizza in Christchurch. We also hand-make our pasta which is a real hit with our customers.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of what you do?
The people we interact with every day. We are blessed with a team of people who inspire us. We respect their skill, their craft and their tireless commitment to be the best at what they do. Our customers fill our space with energy and love. This is a job we love and it is a real joy to wake up and come to work.
We throw out milk that has ‘turned’ and purchase sour cream; we slice off the mouldy parts of the cheese block before paying top dollar for blue cheese and toss the stale bread then buy breadcrumbs by the bag. Don’t even get me started on the price of fungi – those delicious little spores we know of as mushrooms and truffles.
So it’s a rather surprising fact then that bacteria, fungi and yeast – three things we traditionally try to keep out of the house – are some of the most popular ingredients to make their way into the kitchen.
Whether it’s a step back to times gone by or just a classic case of DIY daring, more and more people are making their own sourdough starters, kimchi, kefir, kombucha teas, sauerkraut and, if you peek in the odd hot water cupboard, don’t be surprised to find buckets of mushrooms growing.
As the global food revolution pushes for sustainability, we’re getting back to basics and it’s seeing us get a bit crafty in the kitchen, delighting the senses with culinary creations that have their roots many centuries – and even cultures – ago.
So just what is the big deal? We’ve broken it down for you. At their simplest, fermented foods have been through a natural process where microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts or moulds) break down complex molecules into simpler substances. This is believed to enhance the foods’ nutrient value.
Pre-refrigeration, this fermentation process enabled foods to be preserved and last longer. But its popularity continues based on a number of perceived health benefits.
The good bacteria – probiotics – found in fermented foods are believed to improve digestion, boost immunity, promote healthy weight and increase gut health. Fermented foods, like yogurt and kimchi, are rich in these probiotics; the good bacteria that develops during the fermentation process.
Keen to get some fermented foods in your life? Why not start with kombucha – a fizzy fermented tea – natural, probiotic yoghurts and sourdough bread, or serve sauerkraut as a dinner accompaniment alongside your sauces and mustards.
Or why not make some yourself? Making your own fermented foods is an easy and enjoyable investment in gut health.
Get a sourdough starter up and running, sucking in some natural yeasts, some jars of salted cabbage fermenting away in the cupboard, transforming into sauerkraut, or create kombucha tea from a ‘scoby’ (an acronym of symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).
So when you want to get some culinary culture in your life, why not think outside of the box?
You’ve probably been told at least once or twice to drink a glass of warm milk before bed. Now this advice has been given the Midas touch, with the golden sheen of turmeric.
Turmeric has gone seriously mainstream this year, based on the powerful medicinal properties of curcumin, which research suggests contains strong anti-inflammatory properties.
A warm, slightly spicy, bold and earthy flavour with a hint of sweetness, it makes the perfect sans alcohol nightcap. So what is this clever bevvy? Popularly known as Golden Milk or Turmeric Tea, it is packed with turmeric; a ‘healing spice’ used to help anything from sore throats, colds, the flu, and stomach aches to wound healing and treatment of abrasions and skin issues.
We sought out the instructions for how to make this golden elixir for yourself.
2 cups milk of choice such as almond, pecan, coconut, or dairy
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon powder
A pinch of ground black pepper
A small piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup or to taste
Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth, place into a small saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until just before boiling stage. Serve hot.
In August 1978, ‘You’re the one that I want’ with Olivia Newton John and John Travolta was at the top of the charts, Rob Muldoon was our Prime Minister and we won five gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. It was also the year that we were blessed with the opening of Spagalimis Pizza – an iconic heritage brand in pizza in the Garden City.
Since 1978, Spagalimis has been bringing us pizzas to delight our taste buds, like the New Yorker, featuring authentic pepperoni with special sauce and cheese or the Cappricciosa, with mushrooms, fresh sliced tomatoes, capsicum and black olives.
Constantly providing quality pizzas that have had families, couples, work mates returning time and time again to sample from a range of vegetarian, beef, pork, seafood, lamb and chicken pizza.
Now situated on the heritage site of Ironside House on the corner of Salisbury and Montreal Streets built in 1899, there’s just nothing like having a classic pizza in such a nostalgic environment. Perhaps you want to sit outside with the al fresco dining and admire the Jubilee Clock, enjoy a beverage or two from the comprehensive wine list, or a cocktail or two with mates in the bar area.
With parking just off Montreal to make it easy for family groups, there’s plenty of great reasons to try the classic flavours of Spagalimis pizza in the Garden City today.
In mid-winter, sharing comfort food with great friends can be a wonderful experience. There’s no better place to do that than at The Monday Room at 161 High Street.
A destination for any food and beverage lover, the new winter menu has some great options to tempt you in out of the cold, including Slow Roasted Beef Cheeks, Canterbury Duck and the seriously decadent 12-hour Braised Lamb shoulder – an incredibly succulent dish that must be tried to be appreciated. The restaurant doesn’t shy away from the hearty meat dishes, but there is something for everyone in this comprehensive new menu.
For fancy home cooked sharing plates, ‘Trust the Chef’ is an amazing concept. Chef Hannah has devised an amazing selection of plates to be shared for every type of palate for only $45 a head. What better way to celebrate together and create memories to last a lifetime than a banquet-style buffet from the centre of the table that is designed especially for group gatherings?
The Monday Room offers quality traditional food with a modern twist, amongst convivial surroundings, with the service and beverage to back it up. So why not sit back with a quality cocktail or boutique wine and enjoy the company of your best and closest friends? The Monday Room is comfort food at its finest.
No.4 Bar and Restaurant is a premium establishment in the heart of Merivale. Housed in a converted 1920’s villa, it offers exceptional indoor and outdoor dining and refreshments.
On these cooler evenings, the inside is cosy, warmed by a roaring fire, and the courtyards are heated. When the beautiful summer weather kicks in, what could be a more perfect end to the day than al fresco drinks with friends?.
And what would a friendly neighbourhood establishment be without a delicious and varied menu that caters to all tastes, including gluten-free meals? If there is a function on the horizon, it’s the perfect venue for a cocktail party, birthday, anniversary or corporate event with space and catering for all tastes.
Open seven days from breakfast ‘til late, the No.4 menu includes favourites such as chicken wings, turkey schnitzel, salads, shared platters and, of course, a range of prime Canterbury beef.
It’s comfort food time and beef cheeks in No.4’s wonderful madeira sauce or perhaps the pork belly, Malaysian kumara and apple curry or a Denver venison leg with a celeriac and juniper rosti, black pudding crumb, carrots and beetroot are great options to warm you up and give you something to enjoy amongst friends.
Renowned for its generous and varied platters, No.4 has gained a reputation for exceptional dining. Look out for daily specials, such as $12 Tacos on Tuesday, $10 cocktails on Thursday, the Boss’s shout on Friday and much more.
Drop into No.4 at 4 Mansfield Avenue, Merivale.
Visit www.no4bar.co.nz for the full menu and other details.
Last July I found myself on the side of a hill, nose down in the dirt with the delightful truffle hunting dog, Sophie and the team from Amuri Truffiere by my side. Truffles have a unique taste, one not easy to describe but one that adds something special to a dish.
With the Perigord black truffle a delicacy worthy of its prestige, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to head to The Tannery for this year’s Truffle Festival with Chef Michael Maguire.
Five dishes were prepared. The first – roasted groper with green herb and truffle crust paired with Waipara Hills equinox Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – offered a wonderful way to start and made a fantastic pairing.
Next was the petite baked potatoes with truffle butter, crème fraiche and beef carpaccio, with the Waipara Hills Equinox Pinot Gris 2015. But then it came, the quintessential BBQ bone marrow with roasted carrot, red onion and truffle toast with the Waipara Hills Equinox Chardonnay 2015.
Wood fired pizza was up next with truffle honey and ricotta, Pinot Noir 2014 and desert was the vanilla, honey and panna cotta with caramelised figs and poached pears and the Waipara Hills Equinox Noble NV.
With truffles selling at $3 a gram and a 1.5kg truffle being found in North Canterbury this week, the industry is thriving and chefs and great restaurants have the opportunity to present a wonderful truffle experience like The Tannery and Amuri Truffiere’s Truffle Festival opening.
Amid the concrete and glass of Christchurch’s sparkling new city, the CBD is emerging as a space that packs a culinary punch. Because, although deciding where to have dinner can be a tough decision, the central city has become a hotspot for the hungry with all types of foods and cuisines including Thai, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Japanese and everything in between.
The city doesn’t just have a plethora of cuisines to offer hungry people, it also has unique options that give customers a different dining experience. For instance, The Little High Eatery, located on Saint Asaph Street, is a classy food court that houses eight local and family-run businesses. Basically, it’s a one-stop shop for filling your mouth with tasty food – Thai, sushi, pizza, burgers and more!
Just around the corner on High Street, The Monday Room is another eatery that has made a splash in the central city dining space. You’ll feast your eyes on a range of elegantly prepared, meat and seafood-focused dishes such as braised lamb shoulder served with a mouth-pleasing mixture of orange, watercress, mint and pomegranate.
The establishment encourages its patrons to have a social dining experience while they savor shareable-sized meals. Its distinguished ‘Trust the Chef’ menu, where the chef crafts special dishes for each customer, sets it apart from other establishments in the area.
Meanwhile, a couple of blocks down, Welles Street too is making its culinary mark after local firm Box 112 repurposed six former industrial buildings, including a former blacksmith’s workshop, transforming them into a complex of artisan businesses known as The Welder after a former tenant.
Interesting, quirky and raw, the spaces in The Welder are engaging and authentic, headed by operators who have a shared vision for raising the standard of healthy, locally produced food in the city.
New Regent Street too is a culinary destination worthy of its prestige, with cafés, bars and restaurants making their commercial homes here, including 27 Steps, Moko Café, Caffeine Lab, Sushi Sachi, Shop Eight Food and Wine, Coffee Lovers and The Last Word.
Keep in mind that these are just some of the examples of the many eateries around the central city. Christchurch’s inner circle has a lot to offer, you just have to be willing to experience it. So the next time your stomach starts rumbling, step out of your comfort zone and into the CBD to try something new.
Family meals so good that she needed to know how to replicate them is where Jayshri Ganda’s culinary journey began.
Jayshri is the first to admit she didn’t really know how to cook. Growing up in New Zealand with Indian parents, Jayshri and her siblings never needed to learn kitchen skills. Cooking for everyone was their mum, Laxmi’s way of bestowing love.
So Laxmi cooked, completely recipe-free; which her children deemed amazing, but confounding if you wanted to reproduce something later. “It was a running joke in our family that if we asked how something was made, there were no measures mentioned,” Jayshri says.
“Everything was concocted with ‘a little bit of this and a little bit of that’.”
And when Jayshri prodded her mum for more information about why her own culinary experiments weren’t turning out identical flavours and textures, the answers lay with where ingredients had been sourced. Oh, and exact quantities.
“It turns out you can’t get your chilli or your garlic from a jar of the minced stuff. You actually have to grow your own, or go to an Indian store and buy the original ingredients – especially lentils, in the raw,” Jayshri says. “Any extra processing like fumigation affects things like cooking times.”
Jayshri researched to see if a classic, basic Indian recipe book existed. Only two came close to her vision. So she decided to commit all her mother’s cooking method secrets to paper for Kiwi-born generations. In a nutshell, it’s the art of Gujarati cooking and it looks gorgeous in a professionally produced, globally-awarded cookbook, ‘A little bit of this, A little bit of that’.
The initial print sold out quickly. The first re-print has just finished, and more will likely follow suit, as the self-published book has garnered two Gourmand World Cookbook awards in Yantai, China. It was awarded ‘best in the world’ under the ‘Indian’ and ‘Spices’ categories.
Jayshri’s own favourites are her mum’s lamb curry, masala chops and Sunday chicken curry. “It’s exactly like the Sunday family roast… every time we all get together, we enjoy eating the same meal.”
As Laxmi, now living in Christchurch, comes from a still-developing seaside village called Avda Falia in north-west India, Jayshri is donating all profit from the re-print of the book to projects there. Initially the cash is going toward library books for the local school. Another cookbook might soon follow. Watch this space.
Spoiler alert! Apologies to the early adopters wanting to keep this place on the down low, but this is a secret begging to be shared. Magnitude Café and Roastery is the hotspot your taste buds and seasonal hunger pangs should discover asap.
The winter feature is the Signature Baked Potato. Made to order and eat in or take away – the selection changes daily as staff come up with genius flavour combos, but popular Mexican and Meatlovers are keepers.
The small breakfast menu is now joined by a new bagel menu. The choices include classic smoked salmon, plus the mouth-watering bacon, mushroom and blue cheese. Scones and muffins are made daily, while Hillyers Bakery supplies the pies plus breads, filled onsite with options that include vegie and gluten free.
Also new is the smoothie and protein shake menu – banana peanut butter is to-die-for. Happy hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am to 12pm means regular hot drinks are just $2. Freshly roasted coffee includes the house blend which is French, plus six other roasts. Coffee is bagged available to buy as well.
Owned by David Humphrey of Stewarts Coffee Dunedin fame, Magnitude has a modern rustic feel and a golden glow that supports the toasty warmth. It’s beautifully spacious for anyone not keen on a crush and ideal for business meetings with its large tables, free Wi-Fi, and many plug points. Open Monday to Friday 7am to 3pm at 2/314 Tuam Street, off-street parking completes the package.