Published on August 13th, 2012 | by Ultimate OmNoms


Taste of Aria

Happening right now, August is THE month for Auckland foodies with the Auckland Restaurant Month. The Auckland version of Welly on a Plate, it gives us the chance to try out different restaurants with their exclusive deals and rub even shoulders with famous NZ and international chefs.

First up in the series of Taste Events was Taste of Aria at Euro Bar and Restaurant. Matt Moran, award-winning chef and Masterchef Australia judge flew in especially to present the 5 course degustation with the amazing Simon Gault, who needs no introduction with his regular appearances on NZ television.

Simon has always been an advocate for social dining and I was excited by what he and Matt would cook up for us.

Preparing our delicious first course.

Did it pass Matt’s inspection?

 Cured king salmon with earl grey tea, yuzo tapioca and avocado Wine match: Te Whare Ra ‘Dry’ Riesling

This was the dish that jumped out when I first saw the menu – a tea inspired dish with earl grey tea and tapioca. The tea taste was stronger than I expected with a kick of grittiness but the oiliness of the salmon soothed the taste and it was beautiful.

Peking duck consommé with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushroom. Wine match: Wither Hills ‘Benmorven’ Pinot Noir

The distinct Asian influence made me sit a little straighter. Traditionally, dumplings are filled with pork and chives or cabbage and one wouldn’t normally see it in a fine dining restaurant. Peking duck however is always a treat when dining out which made this a curious combination. The taste was familiar to my Asian palate with the coriander spicing up the gentle consommé. While I’ve had better dumpling pastries with more generous fillings, I did enjoy this and the taste reminded me of home.

Bass Grouper with puff quinoa and Jamon. Wine match: The King’s Series ‘Bastard’ Chardonnay

Expecting lamb coming up as the next dish, I was surprised to get a generous portion of the fish as the third course. It was simple but delightful. The crispiness on top made the natural sweetness of the fish stand out instead of empowering it with salty seasoning. The raisins were an interesting addition but not a fan of them, that was the only that remained on my plate when I was done.

Roasted lamb rack with peas, gnocchi and grain mustard Wine match: Martinborough Vineyard Syrah Viognier 

This was the highlight of the evening for me. The arrival of the lamb was eagerly anticipated by everyone. From the first easy slice through, I chuckled and knew the lamb was cooked beaaaautifully. At the first mouthful I made the mistake of piling mustard on the meat. Way too sour. Everything else though – the gnocchi was delicious as were the mashed peas.

After the mains, we were treated to a Q&A session with Matt Moran. Apart from the slight Australia vs NZ tension and discussion of NZ v Australian lamb, it was a great opportunity for everyone to get to know Matt Moran better.

Pedro Ximenez ice cream with orange and raisins Wine match: Trinity Hill Noble Viognier 

When I first spotted ice cream on the menu, I automatically lowered my expectations. Thinking more along the lines of an ice cream sundae than a dessert prepared by an award-winning chef,  I was instantly floored by how good it tasted. Pedro Ximenez turns out is a white grape from Spain and combined with the biscuit, it was a magical combination. With a splash of the dessert wine to go down with it..mmmHMM. Even those who claimed they weren’t dessert lovers were promptly scraping the dish for the last bits of the melted ice cream. One has to be quick though, 2 min after the desserts came, the top was already sliding off into a sludge of melted goodness.

The evening was fantastic and the atmosphere was high with lots of chatter and laughter. I love the idea of bringing world-renowned chefs to collaborate with our talented local chefs. With 3 more Taste events coming around the corner, I look forward to the rest of the month! Euro is also doing a special for this month so check it out if you love oysters!



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