Summer hours

Here are our hours between Christmas and New Year.

Rocco rollo....

Kelda secured this sweet little cavatelli machine whilst in San Fransisco early this month.
On the menu with pork sausage, radicchio and cream these little parcels of extruded pasta are proving quite scrummy.
As well as the cavatelli winch she bought a chitarra tagliapasta which translates as guitar and is not too dissimilar in appearances. Also in her carry on luggage an electric version of the home pasta machines we have been using at the cafe which will hopefully make Rocco's job a tad easier.

TV dinner

Sage fried eggs with radicchio, pancetta and jerusalem artichoke salad

Just in case you saw the show and wanted to make the whole recipe! And just in case you don't want to make it, we'll have it on the menu for the week.

First, make the radicchio salad.

Per person:

2 T diced pancetta

2-3 jerusalem artichokes

Olive oil

A good handful of radicchio leaves

Sherry vinegar

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

Scrub the jerusalem artichokes. If the skin is tender you don’t need to peel them. Slice thinly and place in a single layer on a tray. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season. Roast until the artichokes are crisp. As they have a high sugar content rotate the tray and mix the artichokes so they crisp evenly.

Tear the radicchio into a bowl.

Put the pancetta into a dry pan and cook over a low heat so the fat is rendered and the pancetta crisps up. Tip in a splash of sherry vinegar and swirl the pan. Quickly tip the contents of the pan into the radicchio. Add the jerusalem artichokes and toss the salad. Taste the salad to check the pancetta-vinegar-salt balance. Place on a plate ready for the eggs

Tender fragrant eggs…

Per person:

2 eggs

1 ½ tablespoons salted butter

10 large sage leaves

salt and pepper

Preheat grill or oven

Put a small nonstick pan on a low to medium heat and add butter and sage straight away. Slowly cook until the sage has slightly lightened in colour and is crisp, but the butter hasn’t browned. Carefully crack in eggs and use a spoon to baste the eggs with a bit of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Place under grill or in oven for two minutes basting at least once. The eggs are ready when the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny. Slide the eggs onto the salad. Serve with fresh bread

Balmy Street - Mission, San Francisco

Whilst wandering down 24th street on our way to get a scoop of Humphry Slocombe ice cream we were drawn to this little lane way.
200 metres long and not a bare fence pale in sight it was a charming back street gallery of joyous colour and political murals.

As for the ice cream shop around the corner we were confronted by a queue about fourty deep.
This seemed to be a relatively normal occurrence to have the line snaking out the shop and around the corner.
With flavours ranging from sweet summer corn, eight ball stout, pink grapefruit+tarragon or kumquat poppy seed it was quite the scene.
What we didn't realise was that when you got to the front of the queue having waited for twenty odd minutes, everyone then proceeded to ask for tastes of different flavours.
Try before you buy.
No wonder the wait took so long but this seemed a natural enough process to all in line so who were we to complain.
For the record we had scoops of carrot, coconut, malted vanilla and honey thyme.

yellow belly flounder

Once again we received a poly box of scrummy seafood from Rachel at yellow brick road.
Rocco had the job to trim and clean these flounders caught in some muddy estuary way up north.
Then into the hot pan, bubbling brown butter awaiting the flesh and a squeeze of lemon, capers, parsley, dill and crispy leeks before sliding them onto a hot plate .
Lunchtime sole food!

Matt's observations

Matt works for us a couple of days a week whilst he studies among other things Spanish and Sociology at Victoria University.
This is the unedited version of his observations of Nikau as part of one of his Sociology papers.
I thought it has captured a nice take on cafes and Nikau in particular.

It’s freezing outside. Howling rain is driven sideways by damaging winds that can only be described as arctic. As I approach one of the three entrances to 101 Wakefield Street, the very aspect of escaping the elements excites me and I am almost enthusiastic about the prospect of starting my observation. From outside and through the foggy glass, I can make out a number of figures, some seated, some appear to be standing waiting, while the rest dressed predominately in black rush about with purpose and determination. This is a familiar place, a place where I am recognized and where I recognize faces. As I enter I am greeted with assorted hellos, brief smiles (some resemble the generic kind everybody gets when entering a café) and one look of confusion. As if to help rectify this look of confusion I imitate the very same look, and to that the Maître D inquires, “what are you doing here on your day off? I smile and reply, “school work” and take a perch at the bar, remove my pad, my pen, and order a coffee (she understands that when I say coffee, I want a flat white, only through repetition does she know this).

Nikau gallery café is an architecturally designed space inside the city gallery. Four days a week nikau is where the majority of my everyday life activities take place, however today I intend to observe and document the everyday activities of the staff and customers that inhabit and navigate this busy space. Through this observation I intend to offer and insight into how supposedly naturally occurring action is a foundation for understanding behavior and the way we act within certain social settings. Often the most mundane externalities of life are expressions of the wider social and cultural order. The boundaries that establish nikau as a space separate from the art works hanging inside the city gallery or the giant globe in civic square are walls, windows and doors. Some glass, some concrete, some state opening hours and others simply state ‘staff only’. In society we understand that walls and doors act as silent signposts establishing one thing or place from another.

From my stool I can see nikau consists of one bar, eight stools, one coffee machine, four sinks, one dishwasher, one glass cabinet, five fridges, three tills (all complete with cordless eftpos), various tables, chairs and benches. There is one barista making coffee, a handful of waitress’s and three chefs who move hastily around a stainless steel kitchen. In New Zealand we identify this space as a café, although I can see no evidence stating this. Inside there are two areas that harbor the vast majority of tables, chairs and customers. These seated areas are designed around consumption in the form of eating and drinking. From what I can see it also appears that these areas encourage numerous other aspects of socialization often associated with eating and drinking, for example chatting, flirting, waiting, etc. Nikau is an aesthetically pleasing space; exposed pipes, tasteful light fixtures and the sweet sound of the fleet foxes create an enjoyable and relaxing environment. This space can be identified not only as a cafe, but also as a business.

My position at the bar can be considered an area indiscriminate of specifically dinning or drinking. Customers use it as place to wait for friends, coffee or for an available table. The gentleman two stools to my left, waits patiently for this bacon and eggs while browsing the dominion post. I notice him listening to me explain what I’m working on to another member of staff and he seems interested. I return to writing but cannot help notice he remains focused on me. I look up and meet his confused gaze with my eyes as if to answer his stare. He looks perplexed and appears to be wondering why I’m where I am, doing what I’m doing, as if a café is simply a place to eat. He indicates too what I’m writing and inquires “couldn’t you just make it up?” I think for a second and then reply “yeah I suppose I could, but that’s not really the point.” After another brief explanation about what I’m trying to accomplish, he replies: “oh, so its like thirty minutes inside the life of a barista.” In order to avoid another lengthy explanation (third so far) I reply “yeah kind of” and return to writing again. Already it appears that for some people cafes are simply places orientated towards food and coffee rather than alternative activities. This raises an interesting point in regards to the different activities two objects (that share the same purpose) encourage, for example a table and a bar. Both are used for eating, drinking, reading, etc. A bar can be labeled a communal space that encourages interaction and communication with strangers that share one thing in common, location. A table on the other hand is isolated somewhat from others. Waitress’s can be heard showing customers to ‘their table’. It appears that in this setting a table possesses a far more private and personal function.

Inside nikau there is a constant buzz of communication; people laughing, chatting, explaining and ordering. It would appear communication is an integral part of this space. The very presence of customers suggests that they know or rather recognize this space and the service it provides. New customers are greeted by the same smiles and assorted greetings such as “hey, how ya doing? You after some coffee or some food?” Communication in the form of a question is used to decipher which. Terms such as ‘flat white’ and ‘dolly’ are used to express preference in regards to coffee. To an individual not familiar with such terms, they would appear alien, which suggests that participating in this particular space requires a certain amount of commonsense and local knowledge. New forms of participation are constantly being reconstituted and reproduced. Everyday people create alternative uses for spaces and discover new ways of fleshing out their everyday lives.

It is almost 11am and I am surprised at the unusual amount of customers. From the end of the bar, next to the door, I can count about twenty people. Of those twenty people I can see men in suits, mothers with children and also pairs of diners. 11am is not traditionally associated with breakfast or lunch and it appears that the majority of customers simply sits and chats over coffee. However this is not the case for all. I recognize two familiar faces from the city gallery next to me at the bar and one alternatively dressed unfamiliar face (who I assume to be an artist). All three huddle over a piece of a4 paper that looks like an email and discuss its content. They do not order coffee and do not order food. They are not berated by an overly eager waitress and almost seem non-existent. It would appear that in this situation this space labeled as a café, acts as an alternate location for work. In contemporary society the boundaries between work and pleasure have been blurred. Everyday individuals create new ways of navigating their daily lives that make them appear more bearable.

This raises an interesting question, that in order to participate in this space, does one have to actively participate in purchasing? If we refer to the gallery staff previously mentioned who bought nothing, it would appear not. However, I understand that in society it is considered somewhat of a ‘faux pas’ to sit inside a café and not buy anything. What’s interesting is that nowhere does it state (that I can see) you must buy something. In order to avoid disruption or confrontation it appears people conform to unspoken rules regarding purchases. Therefore we can make the conclusion that the vast majority of individuals need money to participate in this space.

The torrential rain and persistent wind show no sign of letting up and batter the glass wall to which I have my back. There is a constant flow of customers who on entering discard heavy jackets and scarfs often with a grunt or slight ‘whoa’. I over hear our Maître D mutter to one customer “pretty horrible out there huh.” It appears that on cold, wet, miserable days nikau acts as a place of refuge rather than a specific destination. Individuals identify nikau as familiar space where one can escape the elements. Nikau can be viewed as an escape route, even if it is only a temporary one.

At almost 12 30 the atmosphere inside nikau has changed dramatically. Changes are reflected in the shear amount of diners, bustling atmosphere, and intensity of production. People inside the kitchen wearing checkered pants, we recognize as chefs, shout numbers that front of house appear to understand as tables. Front of house can be seen rushing off and returning relaying information regarding diner’s progress. There is an unspoken sense of urgency in everything the staff do. Customers who mill around the bar waiting to be seated shuffle out of the way, helping to form a clear path for waitress’s laden with plates to travel. It appears that this influx of customers conform to generic hours associated with ‘lunch’. This conformity may be directly related to other integrated aspects of everyday life, such as work constraints. For example the majority of organizations and companies in New Zealand structure their working day around the hours of 9am to 5pm. These hours are often associated with companies and businesses rather than trades who may start and finish earlier. Considering nikau’s location (101 Wakefield street) and judging by the amount of men in suits and woman in office attire one can make the connection that the vast majority of customers work nearby. Limited time constraints in regards to work, in conjunction with everyday life externalities such as eating create a situation where nikau acts, as a venue for the integration of activities deemed enjoyable and necessary.

It been almost three hours and four free flat whites since I arrived. It appears most of the lunch crowd have been seated and are enjoying there lunch. Front of house staff pace around the till and scour the seated customers, almost specifically looking for someone or something lost. In this setting it appears that eye contact acts as a form of silent communication, a way of asking for assistance without actually asking for assistance. Through socialization and repeated exposure to such settings customers understand or rather learn how cafés work and the role a waiter or waitress plays. In this case, customers actively participate in this space by using their bodies to relay the idea of assistance. However if this glance lasts anything more than briefly the meaning can be interpreted entirely different. A look that lasts longer than a second (in this setting) can be interpreted as annoyance or displeasure, a silent signpost signifying or rather suggesting incompetence and annoyance. This can be compared with passing a stranger on the street. A brief glance signifies acknowledgement while a longer stare my signify aggression or confrontation.
In order to successfully participate in the setting, without causing confusion or disruption, individuals must be able to distinguish appropriate times for employing unspoken and unconscious forms of communication. It appears that in spaces like nikau where noise is a constant factor, individuals use their bodies in alternative ways to communicate more proficiently.

After watching what seems like half of Wellington consume their lunch, I realize that I am also reasonably hungry. I ask my neighbor at the bar if I could possibly borrow his redundant menu and browse the two-sided slip of paper. One side titled ‘lunch menu served between 11 30am and 3pm’ lists meals and accompanying prices. I see interesting words like radicchio, chestnuts and ricotta gnocchi that sound appetizing. I flip the paper over to reveal a page titled ‘wine list’. My eyes wander over assorted chardonnays and pinot noirs available by the glass or by the bottle and settle on one Emerson’s pilsner. I look around and notice a large number of diners sit at tables accompanied by bottles of wine and handles of beer, which is bit surprising given its two o’clock on a wet Wednesday afternoon. Does this space and those similar, encourage the idea of extravagance and indulgence? And if so, is this the appeal for individuals? Does this space, and the everyday activities that encompass it justify other acts that in other situations may be seen as inappropriate? For example a tradesman opening a bottle of wine over lunch in between fixing your roof may be frowned upon. Where in this setting a businessman can share a bottle of wine over lunch and return to work without anybody batting an eyelid. It appears that nikau and other similar settings justify activities not traditionally acceptable in New Zealand, like drinking during the day. I mentioned New Zealand specifically because in other nations, such as France, drinking during the day is a far more common and traditionally acceptable act.

I decide against ordering lunch and begin to assemble my hastily and messily written notes. The last three hours have been an interesting experience and have raised some thought provoking questions. I am surprised at the large extent communication plays in this space. I have witnessed unspoken forms of communication incorporating bodies that rely on commonsense understandings to provide meaning. It appears that individuals understand this space and actively participate in the activities associated with socializing that it encourages and promotes. Individuals also realize that these activities are not specific and not set in stone, rather they are open for negotiation. Individuals previously mentioned, such as the gallery staff are beginning to push the boundaries. Other aspects of socializing generally associated with different times of the day, such as drinking are being incorporated and justified in this setting. Nikau acts as a venue where individuals can participate and manipulate the integrated aspects of their daily lives, in order to make them seem more bearable.

next stop earth flowers.

I may be the only one in the cafe that awaits the fifth or sixth delivery on a Thursday with a little inkling of excitement
Thursday ,apart from other things, is the day Jeanie at Next Stop Earth sends us our latest batch of flowers.
From Baby Moses like reeds to spring time blossoms, she never fails to send us something unusual and fitting for the cafe.
As well as the flowers she is only too willing to supply the right vase for the job.
The last bunch of flowers and foliage included the Moses reeds that were just right for a Studio Ceramic Tiki vase we purchased from her .
We should also mention the glass battery container that was bought from Cameron at Flotsam and Jetsam up in Grey Lynn .

Lois used to use these battery cases to display flowers at the Brooklyn Grill so it feels right to continue using them.

Next Stop Earth is open Thurs - Sat from 9am until 6pm at 76 Constable Street Newtown.

Coffee pails.

It was a pleasant surprise to receive our coffee delivery today and find our beans tucked away in these pretty cans.
These 3kg buckets will go back and forwards between cafe and roastery and even better, look real choice!
It has been a fruitful relationship in our quest to reduce our packaging and at the same time create something a little different for Nikau.
We feel very fortunate to have such a responsive supplier in Coffee Supreme.

Crabapple jelly time...

These little beauties came from Kelda's sister in laws family land in Hawkes Bay.
They were surprisingly plump and fleshy so we look forward to the end result when they are transformed into gleaming jars of jelly.

Talking about jams and jellies.
Kelda is judging this Easter at the great Jam Off which is being held at the Dowse Art Museum alongside Craft 2.0.
Get along if you are partial to a little lime marmalade or damson plum jam and taste the work of a bunch of enthusiastic jammers.

spunky new seats

We are a little bit chuffed with ourselves this week.
After only 13 years of running this wee shop, we finally got some new duds for the courtyard.
With the help of designer Adam and builder Pete we have got ourselves some furniture that we like a lot.
It's been designed with communal styles in mind and buddying up to your neighbour as well as enjoying the last rays of autumnal sun.
Come and have a icy cold beer or a coffee and quince danish and check them out.

red cross fundraising

all this week we will donate ten dollars from every bowl of kedgeree we sell to the red cross appeal.

new generation of nikau workers

we had a grand old time at the city market a couple of sundays ago.
most fun was had by these two rascals who pushed us all out of the way and ran the show.
i can just see Zeb and Roses' bar and grill opening one day soon.

need a tea towel in your life?

for some reason we thought it a good idea to let you in on the kitchen secrets of our kedgeree.
with the help of Sarah Maxey again we had a lazy pipe smoking fish designed with the recipe emblazoned on it's belly.
so good were they that the small first run sold out like that and we are reprinting a second edition.
let us know if you'd like one...

nikau at the city market

We are at the city market this Sunday - Waitangi day.

If you are hankering for one of Sarah's donuts filled with custard cream or delicious Hawera plums or maybe a bacon butty with roasted corn and sage salsa you know where to find us.

More importantly though will be the release of our limited edition tea towels printed with the famous Nikau kedgeree recipe. They will be on sale at the cafe as well so you won't miss out if you don't get along this Sunday.


we recievd our latest and last deliver of tangelos from te aranaga gardens in Whakatane this week so we will enjoy some of the following one last time until we receive next seasons crop.

- freshly squeezed for Saturday service.
- made into tangelo cordial served over ice and soda ( like big persons fanta.)
- highball, ice, tangelo and lashings of campari
- tangelo and yoghurt sorbet
- and best of all, tangelo jelly...

Sloe gin

If you know Wellington you will know there are some quite unique valleys and hillsides that encourage all sorts of growing conditions.
One of these is the up Moonshine Valley road where Wendy and Trevor live and grow a surprising array of goodies. We have made Medlar cheese from their Medlars, Damson paste, Gooseberry jam, Elderflower syrups and most recently Sloe gin from their Sloe berries.
The berries have sat in the shade for a wee while now and served with soda and lemon syrup over ice they are a real summery treat.

takeaway some maxey

Next time you buy a takeaway coffee from us you will be sipping from our newly designed cups. With the help of Sarah Maxey you can enjoy a little typographic treat in the form of 'Wakey Wakey' or 'Lucky'.