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Cosy place to chill: Fig Restaurant and Bar

The English have their local pub – a cosy, casual place ideal to chill out with friends for a drink after work or for a more leisurely weekend catchup. It is possible to recreate that vibe here in our very own city and at Fig Restaurant and Bar they have succeeded in doing just that.



Central to the local pub concept is the very recent development of a stylish outside courtyard area. It has been created especially as an informal space for meeting to share a glass of wine or a beer, a chat and a few very tasty snacks.

There is plenty of room to gather around the benches or tables with the chairs all dressed in crisp blue and white cushions. This is not merely a warm weather spot – tall, powerful gas heaters keep it toasty and you can wrap yourself up in soft rugs. But of course it will be delightful in the lengthy summer evenings with its shade sails and protection from the wind.

The courtyard has its own extensive bar menu as well, totally in keeping with the casual atmosphere. There are spicy hot chicken wings, chicken satay skewers, devilled prawns, noodles and sliders, but that is only a sample. Add in salads, platters, mussels and wedges and you are really spoiled for choice.

If for some reason however, you aren’t tempted by this fare you can dine in the courtyard from the main restaurant’s à la carte or grill menu – an international modern bistro style menu. Fig Restaurant and Bar is in the Quality Hotel Elms on the corner of Papanui Road and Frank Street. Make it your local.



Wigram’s must-visit: Le Bakermen Cafe and Bakery

From classic Kiwi favourites to fresh, modern ideas with a twist, the impressive range of scrumptious options at Le Bakermen Café and Bakery in Wigram makes it well worth a visit.



Creating familiar dishes with an added flair, owner Will Leung opened the vibrant eatery in March and describes his baking as ‘using French techniques for Japanese-style delicacies, with a Kiwi kick.’ One of the most popular current dishes is the Motherclucker – French toast with crispy fried chicken – followed by the Pulled Pork or Eggs and Spinach on Waffles.

Everything is made fresh onsite daily – apart from the famous Fairlie Pies, sitting alongside the café’s own stunning pie range. Will also bakes a selection of delicious breads, including sourdough, beautiful baguettes and bagels baked in honey. The amazing cheese scones made with buttermilk are a sell-out by 11am every day and the Havana coffee is expertly made by Vii, a former Ara barista tutor.

Sarah bakes the ‘sweets with a spin’ such as sponge cake with lemon curd instead of jam, or lollie cake with pineapple lump marshmallow – along with traditional favourites such as banana loaf. Doughnut Friday is also a sell-out, with funky flavours attracting customers from all over the city, such as cereal-infused malt custard doughnuts topped with crunchy caramelised cornflakes or roasted balsamic strawberry doughnuts, topped with dulce de leche.

A selection of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options are also available. The café is also dog-friendly and parking is plentiful. Follow Le Bakermen on Instagram and Facebook.




The perfect place: Lushingtons Garden, Gifts and Cafe

If you are looking for a great day out to banish those winter blues then Lushingtons Garden, Gifts and Café at Tinwald, Ashburton is your ideal destination.



Only an hour from Christchurch, it’s the perfect place to catch up with friends for coffee and something scrumptious, browse exquisite giftware, or wander through the large, award-winning garden courtyard at your leisure.

As thoughts turn to springtime and we long for the return of colour to dormant, wintry plots, new season arrivals of rhododendrons, hellebores, fruit trees and roses, such as stunning floribundas My Mum, My Dad and My Grandma, from Bob Matthew’s ‘My Rose Collection’, will delight the eye, while daphne promises to perfume your garden with the sweetest fragrance.

Co-owned by Mayfield born and bred sisters Miranda Sinton and Sophie Duff, Lushingtons has been their labour of love for just under a decade. Miranda’s passion is for the garden centre, while Sophie’s is for the café; the giftware store is overseen by them both and showcases discerningly curated merchandise of a distinctive French and English Country style.

Proud of their local and sustainable ethos, many of their plants are grown in nearby Allenton, assuring the highest standard of quality control. This same business philosophy is experienced in the café, where patrons are served homemade, wholesome food – from delectable baking through to a full breakfast, lunch and side menus. Gluten free and vegetarian options are also catered for.

Lushingtons Garden, Gifts & Café, visit



Environmental Eating

As food moves to the forefront of sustainability, we’re starting to look more critically at not just the nutritional content of our foodie buys, but their overall environmental impact too.



With our food – from what we eat to how it is grown – accounting for more carbon emissions than transport, our culinary innovators globally have been working tirelessly to play their part in rectifying industry-wide issues and seeking a more sustainable path.

We’ve already seen numerous operators removing single-use plastics, and this year we can expect to see a ton of new plant-based innovations focusing on sustainability, particularly highlighting nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies and even algae! Here are some of our favourites.



  1. ‘Ugly’ produce: Supermarkets and businesses aiming to reduce food waste are looking for different ways to utilise so-called ‘ugly’ produce – basically fruit and vegetables that aren’t ‘ready for prime time’. UK-based supermarket Tesco and US-based retailer Good Use have launched cold-pressed juices which utilise oddly shaped produce that would otherwise be destined for landfill, and locally, our very own Countdown has followed suit with The Odd Bunch, an initiative that packages ‘funny looking’ fruit and veggies at cheap prices – perfect for smoothies, soups and more!

  2. Seed butters: All hail the new nut butter! Perfect for people with nut allergies, seed butters are full to the brim with unsaturated fat, protein and tons of vitamins and minerals – plus they utilise the part of the fruit/vegetable that is commonly discarded. We’re seeing a bunch of creamy ‘butters’ made from every seed imaginable; pumpkin, sesame, poppy, sunflower, hemp – even watermelon!

  3. Essential oils: EPA and DHA are the primary omega 3s needed to support heart, brain, eye and maternal health, and this year they’re on the rise in the food and supplement arena, as is CBD (a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant) oil. Particularly gaining traction amongst vegans and vegetarians is algae oil, which is slowly appearing as the new superfood oil due to being a huge source of DHA – one tablespoon of algae oil packs the same amount of omega 3s as one whole avocado! As it is flavourless, it makes for a nutritious substitute for vegetable cooking oils like canola or sunflower.

  4. Blended burgers: The newest eco-food ‘blend trend’ is projected to mushroom this year, with chefs and food producers alike beginning to combine veggies and grains – such as lentils, mushrooms and quinoa – with meat for burgers that strike that perfect mark between plant-based and meat, offering non-vegetarians a tasty way to eat more plants. Blended burgers are flavourful, healthy and sustainable – the blended burger has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than a patty made of 100 percent meat. In 2018, more than 350 restaurants in the US served their take on the blended burger – and this movement is expected to grow far and wide across the planet.

  5. Gut health: A newfound appreciation for digestive and gut health is emerging, as we become increasingly aware of the powerful role the microbiome plays in both our physical and mental health and wellness. But it’s not probiotic pills that will be in the limelight this year, rather it’s foods and drinks jam-packed with pre- and pro-biotics that are expected to escalate in popularity – particularly items with ‘shelf-stable probiotics’, like pastas and breakfast foods (Kellogg’s is already introducing a new line of pre- and pro-biotic cereals!). Fermented foods full of these necessary bacteria (kimchi, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut) are predicted to continue to make their well-deserved appearance on supermarket shelves over the next year.



Chocolate Brioche Buns – Recipe


Preparation and cook time: 80 minutes | Serves: 12 medium sized buns



For the dough:
400ml milk
110g butter
3 tsp active dried yeast
110g caster sugar
750g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 large free-range egg, beaten

For the filling:
50g softened butter
50g caster sugar
200g dark Lindt chocolate, finely grated
Additional melted chocolate or chocolate sauce for serving



  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  2. Melt the butter in a large pot gently over a low heat and then add the milk. When the mixture is lukewarm, remove from the heat and add the yeast, whisking to incorporate.

  3. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and cardamom in a large mixing bowl. Make a well and pour the wet ingredients in. Using a wooden spoon, mix until you have a rough dough. When the dough has taken shape and is no longer sticky, turn out onto a clean floured surface and knead for about six minutes until smooth and elastic. Dust with a little flour if you find the dough is too sticky. Transfer the dough to a floured bowl, covered with plastic wrap and a towel and let it rise for 45 minutes in a warm dark place.

  4. To prepare the filling: In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until you have a smooth paste.

  5. When the dough has risen, punch it down in the bowl, then roll it out on a floured benchtop into a large rectangle about 3mm thick. Spread the filling over this, leaving a 1cm space along the far end. Sprinkle with the chopped chocolate.

  6. Roll up from the long end until you have a long tube of batter. Cut the tube into 5cm-thick portions. Place lengthways onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and press down slightly, making the shape of a Danish.

  7. Place the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again until the buns have doubled in size. Brush with the beaten egg and then bake the buns in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

  8. Serve with melted chocolate or drizzled with chocolate sauce. The buns are divine when consumed while still warm from the oven, with a scoop of icecream for pudding.



Sweet new chocolate craze: Patisserie Yahagi

Chocolate is arguably the most universally loved treat in the world. However, for the last 80 years just three types of chocolate – dark, milk and white have been available. This finally changed in 2017 with the exciting innovation of a fourth chocolate type.



The name of this new style is Ruby Chocolate, developed by the world’s largest Belgian-Swiss company Barry Callebaut, with their ruby cocoa beans grown in Ecuador, Brazil or the Ivory Coast. As the name suggests, the chocolate comes in a natural pink hue and offers a different taste from the other three types – it is best described as having a smooth berry-fruity flavour but without any actual berries or colours added!

Patisserie Yahagi at Church Corner Mall, Upper Riccarton is well-known for its gold award-winning Opera Gateau. Their last special edition was Green Tea Opera, and they now offer ‘Ruby Opera’ made from Ruby Chocolate, for a limited time.

Owner Eri Yahagi says, “This new fourth chocolate style is quickly becoming the next trend in the international confectionary business and so I would like to give people in Christchurch the opportunity to try the new chocolate craze in the best way possible, with our new Ruby Opera Gateau”.

If you call yourself a chocolate lover and have yet to try the world’s fourth chocolate, Patisserie Yahagi should top your list of places to visit this month.



What’s in the cellar?

There’s a gentleman at FreshChoice Merivale’s Wine Cellar, Andy Gutschlag, who has a real understanding and appreciation for finding the perfect partnership between food and beverages. We caught up with Andy about his top tips.




Can you tell us about yourself?
I have spent most of my life in Christchurch. After graduating as a primary school teacher, I lived in Taiwan for two years working for a New Zealand Export Company. Part of my role was based in Asia and Europe, where I developed a love of sharing wine and food. I really follow ‘when in Rome’.

How did the Cellar idea come about?
Craig, the store owner, has always dreamed of the day we could open the Cellar. He has been collecting wines for the last 15 years for the sole goal of sharing them with our customers. They have all been stored in an offsite cellar, under perfect conditions.

How do you choose what to purchase?
We taste a lot of wine and travel to different wine regions to find new products. Planning must be at least five years ahead to ensure we have the best wines to add to our cellar.

Tell us about the range. What are your favourites?
That’s a hard question! I am a big fan of shiraz, especially the Barrosa Australia, and the Rhône Valley in France. I’m also a bit of riesling freak. Now I’m enjoying chardonnay from around the world. I try to list wines that people can match with great food and share with friends. If I had to pick a favourite now it would be the Rockford Basket Press Shiraz.

What should laymen on the street know when buying a good wine?
Taste different wines and fine a style that you enjoy, then get out of your comfort zone and try something new every so often. Find a retailer that will listen to you, share what you like and give feedback on any suggestions they give you. Share your wines with friends, enjoy them with great food and create a few good stories!

What are your rules when buying wine?
Drink what you enjoy, not what someone tells you to enjoy. Share your wines surrounded with great friends and loads of foodie experiences. Every so often take a risk and try something new. Just enjoy the moment.



The Fermentist’s sustainable mindset

The Fermentist Brewery and Taproom is a microbrewery in Christchurch committed to sourcing locally where possible.



Sourcing locally is about creating shared value in business practices and supporting the local community and economy. It’s also about reducing emissions from the transport of ingredients. The team is committed to making a difference where it can and locally sourcing is a fundamental element of their overarching sustainable ethos.

With their malt coming from Gladfield Malt in Darfield, their hops from NZ Hops in Nelson, and their menu featuring seasonal vegetables, sourced either from The Fermentist garden or from Sydenham vegetable retailer Funky Pumpkin, it doesn’t get more local than this.

Georgia-Rae Taylor from The Fermentist team expands on this unique city brewery’s ethos. “Everything we do – every choice we make – comes from a sustainable mindset. We’re on a journey of trying to improve on traditional brewing methods and embed sustainable practices into our business.”

Sustainability initiatives such as the installation of solar panels, offsite composting, waste minimising and recycling, and better usage of water, including waste water management, prove their commitment to the environment and reducing their carbon footprint. Even some of the taproom furniture is recycled, with the pews coming from the old St Matthews church.

The team at The Fermentist are the first to admit they don’t expect to get everything perfect, but on one thing they’re all agreed – they’re never going to stop trying. Find The Fermentist at 380 Colombo Street, phone 03 363 8413 or visit



Beyond the call of duty: The George

When it comes to The George, it’s all about the team behind the name.



The George is one of New Zealand’s most treasured boutique hotels. It didn’t get to be one of the most recognised hotels for fine dining and luxury hotel accommodation without the tenacious efforts behind the scene of dedicated staff who take pride in bringing the best in hotel accommodation to their guests.

Whether it’s Ryan Henley and his team of top line chefs at Pescatore who brought us May’s decadent degustation collaboration, or Keith Larson – a sommelier of fine distinction with his flair and in-depth knowledge of the world’s finest wines; perhaps it’s Steph Mitchell, the maître d’ who makes sure every aspect of your dining experience is brought to you with the utmost care. Either way, this service starts and finishes the moment you set foot in the hotel.


Mark West is the newest member of Les Clefs d’Or and has just received his golden lapel keys. Mark has been part of The George Concierge team for 15 years with his colleague Bryan Wilkinson who has also been an active Les Clefs d’Or member for 13 years.

“When you see a pair of crossed golden keys on the lapel of the concierge at The George, it means they have been rigorously tested and demonstrated a passion and knowledge to deliver excellence above and beyond the call of duty,” explains Brook Serene’s Managing Director Bruce Garrett. It’s a champion team which just happens to be comprised of champions who bring their excellence in service to you, their guests.



Pumpkin Soup with Garlic Croutons – Recipe

It’s a comfort food time of year, but that doesn’t mean you need to eschew health. Here’s a simple winter soup bursting with flavour – and veges!




For the soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g pumpkin, diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 head of corn
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 leek, diced
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1/4 cup coriander or parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

For the garlic croutons
2 cups diced bread
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of black pepper
A pinch of thyme



1. Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with the oil and add onions and the bay leaf. Cook on low heat.

2. When the onions are golden in colour, add the diced potatoes, leek and pumpkin. Turn the stove to medium and stir. Add the corn kernels and chopped tomatoes.

3. Cover the pot and cook the vegetables for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot to ensure vegetables don’t scorch. When they are soft, add the water and stir. Cook for half an hour on low heat.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley and cook for another 5 minutes.

5. Serve as is, or blend to choice. Drizzle with cream and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

1. In a frying pan, melt the butter together with the olive oil. Add the garlic and allow it to infuse in the butter/oil mixture, over the lowest possible heat for 15 minutes, ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn.

2. Add the salt and pepper and thyme, then stir.

3. Dribble the garlic butter through the diced bread, mixing gently. Bake the coated croutons in a hot oven for 20 minutes, turning them over twice.