Thursday, May 25, 2006

Live to Eat

Do you have a favourite gourmet restaurant? I do, and I bet you mine is better than yours. Does yours offer a chorizo and onion tartlet with squid and goat cheese froth? Well, ok, neither does mine, not any more, but it used to... and despite the wacky description, it was a sublime concerto of textures and tastes, one that I miss in my most depressing dreams.

I have a confession to make: I’m a terrible snob when it comes to food. While most of my life I eat takeaway curry, weatbix and fish fillets microwave-cooked from frozen, every once in a while I indulge. And the more restaurants I visit, the more certain I become that the best gourmet place in Auckland is not the renowned French Café that gets all the Metro Restaurant of the Year awards. It’s The Grove.

For those of you unfortunate enough not to live in Auckland, this place alone makes New Zealand a worthwhile place to visit. I’m not kidding.

Last Tuesday, I had a roasted crayfish tail with cauliflower purée (I couldn’t taste a whiff of cauliflower, it was all texture), pomegranate molasses, lemon salad and curry oil. They didn’t provide a sauce spoon, so I licked the plate clean with my finger (no, it’s not usually that sort of place, unless I’m there). The quail starter was almost as good (five spice quail with baba ghanoush, cucumber and peanuts, spring onion relish, honey emulsion). And although I haven’t had it for three months, I can recommend their yellow fin tuna with bonito gelée, wasabi caviar, mirin dressing and seaweed: the delicate tuna flesh contrasts beautifully with the granularity of the “caviar”, the flavours are as diverse as they are well harmonised.... You get the idea.

Sometimes eating is like watching an art movie, going to a gallery, listening to Beethoven’s 9th. Sometimes it’s even better than that.


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