Saturday, January 30, 2016

Grateful for Sundays 14

The start back at work has been brutal.

At least I have been making the most of my Sundays...

Long Bay Regional Park
The beautiful sunshine has made it too hard to resist the outdoors. Along with two other friends, Jason and I have been slowly exploring some of the regional parks around Auckland each fortnight. Long Bay Regional Park has bookable camp sites, walking sites and a beautiful beach for a quick dip after your walk. Word of warning - nudists frequent certain areas of the park, so don't wander too far from the main track if you're not into that...

One of our other trips brought us to Anawhata, a quiet beach on the West Coast of Auckland. The beach can only be reached by foot (about a 20 minute walk) and, as such, is relatively quiet. We only saw 3 other people.

Pizza Toppings
My in-laws have recently bought a pizza oven so our visits have mostly involved pizza nights. This has been a great activity and a good way of feeding a large number of people. The endless topping combinations means that this will never get old!

Our garden
Lastly, our garden has flourished since Christmas. What was once a big pile of weeds behind the garage has now become a constant source of zucchini, tomatoes and beans. The chilies and the eggplant are still growing, and we are very excited.

We are still finding our feet when it comes to gardening, but being able to harvest vegetables everyday has been super rewarding.

As a bonus, our fig tree has also started fruiting. This is a tree my Grandparents planted when we first moved into this house as a family and now, 18 years later, we are still enjoying their efforts.

What are you grateful for this Sunday?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I've always thought that the trick to a great meal is to drag others along so you can try more dishes. I have found that 4 is the magic number for a meal - this gives a nice variety without having to wait an age for your food to arrive. This is also the best number for great conversation without having to shout across to the other end of the table.

My recent outing confirmed this when I, along with three others, 
tried the set lunch menu at Cocoro. For $49, we could order an entree, main and a dessert from 4 options - so of course, we opted to order every single thing on the menu to share. Not only did this rule out any potential food envy, it vastly sped up ordering time!

Amuse Bouche - Tempura Fish
We started with an amuse bouche consisting of a soft fish (I didn't catch the name) in a very light tempura batter -a great way to start the meal.

Amuse Bouche - Teriyaki Tuna
The second amuse bouche was a grilled teriyaki tuna which was cooked just right. There was just enough teriyaki to give it flavour, but not overpower the tuna.

Entree - Chicken Nanban
The Chicken Nanban was crunchy on the outside while still being moist and tender on the inside. I found the tangy Nanban sauce was a great addition to the usual karaage dishes I love so much. The fresh salad was a nice side, adding a bit of colour to the plate.

Entree - Tempura Salad
The tempura salad at Cocoro has one of the lightest batters I've ever had. Each piece was super delicate, with a crunch that could be heard from many tables over. 

Entree - Traditional Sashimi
The traditional sashimi was very fresh, with generous slices of salmon, blue fin tuna and john dory. The highlight for me was the fresh wasabi on the side.

Entree - New Style Sashimi
The new style sashimi was sliced thinner than the previous dish and cured in a vinaigrette. The partially cooked flesh had an interesting texture while the radish and cucumber added a freshness to the dish. The small balls of light tempura batter provided a nice crunch to the soft fish, like having popping candy in your mouth.

Main - Tofu with Vegetables
The Agedashi Tofu was served under a pile of sauteed mushrooms so the batter had fully absorbed its earthy flavours. I loved how saucy and hearty this dish was - I could have had it all to myself!

Main - Angus Teriyaki
The Angus Teriyaki was flavoursome and tender. Although the serving size looked to be slightly smaller than the other mains, I assure you it was quite filling. The mushrooms and the bean sprouts also tasted amazing after they had soaked in the sauce.

Main - Nigiri
As expected, the nigiri was fresh and it was great to see such a variety of fish. I'm told that nigiri is supposed to be served at room temprature (to fully appreciate all the fishy flavours) but I have to say that I would have preferred it on a bed of ice like the sashimi. 

Dessert - Miso and Yuzu Brulee
I was incredibly excited when I saw the brulee on the menu. The miso flavours stopped the brulee from being overly sweet while the yuzu gave it a hint of freshness. The sesame sablĂ©  was the perfect pairing  -light, crumbly and melt in the mouth.

Dessert - Ume Granita
The granita was a very refreshing end to the meal. There was a good balance of sweet and sour and no flavour overpowered the others. The stewed plum and rhubarb were nice additions. 

We found that each dish was meticulously prepared and the serving sizes were generous. The wait staff were attentive and super polite. Cocoro has a very extensive menu and I felt that the set menu was a good introduction to their offerings. 

Cocoro can be found at 56A Brown Street, Ponsonby, Auckland