Waikanae crab

These little beauties were the prize catch from a weekend at Waikanae. Thanks to my wine selling friend Al who took me out for my first go at catching crabs on the Kapiti coast and got me hooked.

So off I went to Steve's fishing shop in Ghuznee St and armed with my new crab pot and some truly smelly old dog bones from the butcher I was ready to go.

The first set of the new crab pot had my knowledge of tides well tested when on my return to collect the pot I discovered it well aground and thirty metres down the beach from where I had set it.

Tide was going out - not coming in!

Despite all this we enjoyed a very tasty pre dinner bite of crab meat, lemon, chervil and aioli on crusty bread. Anyone who has extracted crab meat from the shell will appreciate the pleasure of eating it.

Stone Valley olive oil

For the last few years we have been using Stone Valley Extra Virgin olive oil as our premium olive oil. It's what you get when you order bread and oil, and we (used to) sneak dashes of it into all sorts of things. I'm looking forward to the day we can use New Zealand olive oil in everything that we do!

Stone Valley is run by Odell Sugrue, who planted her first trees just south of Greytown in 1997. A true food person. Last time I was there I was lucky enough to have lunch with her - the entire meal was from her land, down to the pork sausages! What a fantastic thing. She has a great palate, and an great approach to quality, using organic methods, taking out varieties she feels aren't working and replanting with others.

When I first tasted Odell's lemon olive oil in 2007 it was a revelation. She grows the lemons too - Villa Franca from memory- and presses the lemons with the olives. I really enjoyed using it with asparagus, as it's season coincided with the release of the oil. One of our dishes was a simple plate of steamed asparagus, poached eggs, lemon olive oil, pecorino and chervil. She added a mandarin oil in 2008. I love to use it to finish winter salads, in particular I remember a beetroot, orange and watercress salad that was much enhanced by a drizzle of the mandarin oil.

Last year Odell made a special blend for Nikau.
This is a blend of Koroneiki and Leccino, harvested and pressed on the 25th June 2008 from 60% mature fruit. The resulting oil has herbal citrus aromas with a smooth fruity, cut salad leaves flavour and a slight peppery finish. The oil is well balanced and medium intensity. I feel that it has a fruitiness that is sometimes missing in the other extra virgin oils I tasted last year.

Due to our little holiday, we have some extra bottles of this good oil to pass on to our customers. It's in 750ml bottle, for $45
This blend is different from the one on sale at Moore Wilson's, which is a 250ml for $20. This is a bargain! We only have 10 bottles, so be quick!

e mail me if you'd like a bottle - kelda.hains@paradise.net.nz

a construction site.

The new extension to the City Gallery starts to take shape.
Meanwhile the cafe is having a little siesta.

starting to be that time of year..