Tokyo – Brown Rice Cafe

Brown Rice Cafe is my number one food-related recommendation for Tokyo. I visited twice, and each time it was a struggle to find, but more than worth the trouble. The first time, with Kim, we each enjoyed an assortment of vegetables, pickles and mystery vegan treats with brown rice and miso, while sitting outside with charming blankets draped over our knees.

The second time was the day I caught the train on my own from Sonobe to Kyoto to Osaka to Tokyo to Harajuku (yep), from where I walked down to Shimokitazawa and became lost.  All faintingly hungry and rain-drenched, when I eventually found it again I was rewarded for my efforts with a fantastic vege burger with wasabi and lotus root. I love my memory of sitting eating alone in a foreign land after navigating hours of solo train travel. Considering that from there I went on to meet my husband at the airport, miss the last train back to Kyoto by 3 minutes and get stranded in Tokyo overnight, this meal was a wonderful moment of calm during one of my craziest days.

an Auckland jaunt

I’m recently back from a long weekend in Auckland, hanging with parents and friends, visiting grandparents, drunk skyping with my brother in Perth, shopping at Gorman, and eating a million treats. It was really, really lovely.

The weather was a charmer.

The very first thing I did was go to Little and Friday, where I LOST MY SHIT over how perfect and amazing every detail is.

I hung out with my Grandmas. Nana showed us her and my Grandad’s sixty-year-old engagement annoucement.

I drank wine and was merry with old friends.

After this, I required eggs and hollandaise to fix me.

The night before I left, I joined an enormous queue at Ollie’s for the first time in years. SO IMPORTANT. I caused a sensation in the line when I ordered the outrageous banana split.

As you can see, it’s as big as my (very large) face. Mum and I had about 1/5 of it each, it’s probably still in the freezer.

On my last day we popped back to Little and Friday to try their famous doughnuts. Yes.

And then I came home.

All pictures from my instagram, _pocketwitch.

Six Barrel Soda Co.

Earlier this year some friends opened a cafe and soda syrup factory. Both the soda and the cafe are really, really good. I think you should go there. They make excellent coffee, and the sodas are the best thing you never knew you needed – I try to always have a bottle of cherry and pomegranate syrup at home now. Plus delicious sliders (halloumi is my jam), soda floats, sundaes, and a bargain weekend brunch deal ($15 for bottomless filter coffee, a soda, and scramble) that I would have tried if I weren’t still busy eating a million halloumi sliders. It’s a really lovely, light-filled space with big communal counters, perfect for writing or reading on your own, or taking over with ALL your friends.

First four pictures by Jason, last three by me on a phone.

secrets and cake

Jason had a birthday, I made a surprise cake to bust out at a pot luck later in the week. It was a comedy of errors that mostly worked out in the end, thanks very much to help from my friends. Let’s just say I am not a natural baker, or a natural secret-keeper. No more baking or secrets for me, deal?

butternut, black bean and silverbeet chili


I made you a recipe. Eat it on a crisp, autumn weeknight and eat the leftovers for lunch all week.

butternut, black bean and silverbeet chili with chipotle
adapted from Bon Appétit

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, diced
2 chipotle chilis, from a can, minced*
1 tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chili
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/3 bunch silverbeet** (approx), stalks chopped small, and greens ribboned, keep separately
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cans blackbeans (I substituted 1 can of kidney beans, chickpeas would also work)
2 stock cubes
2 cups water
optional trimmings: avocado, yoghurt or sour cream, cheddar, coriander, jalapeno

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot at a medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for five minutes, then add silverbeet stalks and continue to cook for a further five minutes. Add chipotle, cumin, chilli and butternut, and cook while stirring for 2-3 more minutes. Add tomatoes, 2 cups of boiling water and two vegetable stock cubes, stir and simmer for about 8 minutes. Add 3 cans drained beans and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the silverbeet leaves, and add extra water if it seems too dry. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until greens are softened and bright. Season with salt and pepper if required, and ladle into bowls. Top with your choice of trimmings like avocado, yoghurt or sour cream, cheddar, coriander, jalapeno. Serve with rice if you like, I didn’t bother.

Makes about 8 servings.

* For me, 2 chipotle chillis and 1/2 tsp ground chilli was the perfect amount for a good light burn, but feel free to use only 1 chipotle or leave out the ground chilli if you can’t handle too much spice, or add more chipotles if you want more heat. As long as you have lots of cooling agents like yoghurt, avocado and cheese, you can always cool it down later.

** Also known as swiss chard

Summerdaze

Hello strangers! Been a long time, shouldn’t've left you without a dope beat to step to. I’m so sorry I have been MIA, partly it’s because I’ve been thinking about starting a new blog, something that’s a bit more me now and little less twee. Don’t worry, I shan’t be forsaking all the twee, ya’ll know I still love kittens, I’m just not quite happy with the name of this one.

I have been having a marvelous summer, I’ve ticked off so many things on my Summer Goals list without even meaning to, only about five things left to go! I thought I’d start my return to blogging by sharing my summer instagrams with you.

Wellington: Eating, drinking, Christmas parties, and more recently, gigs. This weekend I went to Fleet Foxes and Beirut – too much fun.

Auckland: Awesome Christmas family time, shopping and strolling in Cornwall Park. All the food.

Raumati: Holidaying in a spacious bach with lots of good people. Rain, sunshine, barbeques, fancy NYE dinner complete with cat’s ears, fluffy neighbour kittens, and I Have Never in the best fort ever.

Nelson: The ferry, a bed and breakfast with a glorious garden full of tuis and friendly cats, beer tasting, magical treehouses. Not pictured: Emma’s amazing wedding! I was too busy helping Jason take the official photos to grab any snaps.

Sorry for such photo-heaviness, I only put up about half of what I wanted to! If you’d like to follow me on instagram, search for kate_mcleod.

Long Weekend Lunch

A long weekend lunch of caramelised garlic tart, pesto potato and green bean salad, ribboned asparagus salad, club sandwiches, and plum yoghurt cake for dessert.

Ottolenghi’s caramelised garlic tart, from Plenty. It’s a wee bit of work but very, very worth it. I subbed the hard goat’s cheese for some grated cheddar.

Ingredients

  • 13 oz/375g all-butter puff pastry
  • 3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup/220ml water
  • ¾ tbsp fine/caster sugar
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme, plus a few whole sprigs to finish
  • 4 ¼ oz/120g soft, creamy goat’s cheese
  • 4 ¼ oz/120g hard, mature goat’s cheese
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • ½ cup/100ml heavy/double cream
  • ½ cup/100ml crème fraîche
  • salt and black pepper

Have ready a shallow, loose-bottomed, 28cm fluted tart tin. Roll out the puff pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of the tin, plus a little extra. Line the tin with the pastry. Place a large circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill up with baking beans. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4. Place the tart case in the oven and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, then bake for a further 5-10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside. Leave the oven on.

While the tart case is baking, make the caramelized garlic. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well.

Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue simmering on a medium flame for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Set aside.

To assemble the tart, break both types of goat’s cheese into pieces and scatter in the pastry case. Spoon the garlic cloves and syrup evenly over the cheese.

In a jug whisk together the eggs, creams, ½ teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Pour this custard over the tart filling to fill the gaps, making sure that you can still see the garlic and cheese over the surface.

Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 and place the tart inside. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little.

Then take out of tin, trim the pastry edge if needed, lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm (it reheats well!) with a crisp salad.

 

But not today

One day I’ll learn to take photographs of things other than food. In the meantime, here’s more food! I’ve also started a tumblr, and am enjoying using it as a place to catalogue what I’m eating, reading and making, without worrying too much if the food is ugly, or if the photos need editing.

Dinner tonight was Yotam Ottolenghi’s soba noodles with aubergine and mango, but with avocado instead of mango, and also with tofu (online here or here). It was unbelievably good. The recipe is from Ottolenghi’s book Plenty, graciously lent to me by Laura and Tim. Everything I’ve tried from it has been excellent, will be getting my own copy quick smart.

We had this fabulously garish cake for Kim‘s birthday celebration (as well as a million other great foods). I was about to say I made it, but actually no. First I declared to Kim that I would make her a birthday cake, then informed Jason than we would be doing so, and as usual, he just went ahead and made it while I was busy doing other things. Story of our lives, poor Jason! It was strawberry layer cake and other people seemed into it but I’d have liked it a lot better without the fake strawberry flavour, ick.

That weekend Jason made brioche french toast from his Bouchon cookbook and it was amazing buttery crispy melt-in-your-mouth goodness. We also went to high tea at Martha’s Pantry, which was perfect aside from forgetting my camera, and the hangover that caused me to forget it. After four weeks of mild detoxing, healthy food and no alcohol, it was all a bit much indulgence and I’m still not quite over it! More green things, please.

I’ve been drawing and playing about with making things more than I have in a long while. Maybe I’ll show you a few more things, and tell you why that is sometime soon.