AUCKLAND. K Road has been home to many a pop-up venture and one of the more recent ones, Cotto, which started up as a three-month fxture in the old 69 premises, has now become a permanent restaurant.
Adding to the cool vibe that’s sparking up in Mt Eden, XOONG mixes Japanese and Chinese influences with favours from across north east Asia and a cracking cocktail list, all in seriously glam surrounds. Josh Barlow, ex-The Grove and a high-powered clutch of London spots, takes over as executive chef at THE SUGAR CLUB in Auckland’s Sky Tower.
These brûlées look really pretty topped with black and white sesame seeds, and the sesame flavour is delicious. You can buy both toasted and untoasted black sesame seeds, so if yours are already toasted, just toast all the white seeds together in the oven and take one tablespoon from those to add to the black for the topping, rather than setting it aside pre-toasting.
Finally, you can burn your desserts without judgment! The recipes that follow are based on classic techniques that involve fire, smoke or high heat. The nectarine dish is smoky, fruity, with just a hint of sweetness, while the barbecued bananas are super-easy and tasty, as well as being vegan and dairy-free.
The sesame brûlée is inspired by sesame ice cream, which I’m a big fan of, and the baked Alaska slice is a simplified version of the retro favourite. Finally, no fiery dessert feature would be complete without a bit of flambé, which is where the buckwheat crêpes Suzette come in. Enjoy!
Smoked fruit should be delicate, so I smoke these nectarines for 10 minutes only and really try to manage the heat, which I find easier over my gas hob. But this means you need to close the foil tightly to avoid a smoke-smelly house. Activated charcoal is very on trend right now, having made its way into ice cream, lattes, cocktails and even burger buns.
It imparts a subtle smoky flavour and a striking black hue to food to which it’s added, and I love the way the black wafers contrast with the white mousse in this recipe. You can get activated charcoal from pharmacies and health or wholefood stores.
The two sauces need to be made at least 6 hours in advance of cooking.
We celebrate buying fresh produce right at the farm gate, and find that the tradition of the Kiwi honesty box lives on. There's a wee section of road north of Tauranga, between snippets of sea, hills and farmland, that has some hidden gems dispersed around its sideroads.