28th February, 2012.
After an easy flight from Dunedin to Wellington…..……and a bus ride right into the city, we were ready to hit the streets. We had booked into a chic little hotel right in the heart of Cuba Street, Wellington city’s most funky district – and we were eager to get out and explore and eat.
….that served up an elegant dining ambience, with fabulous wait staff and good food. After Brunyfire’s first appraisal, my estimation of the place went up even further – it was the attention to detail that impressed – the combination of art and food in particular. In this instance, it was the menu come place-mat!
Each of the four menus featured the 16th century Belgian artist Joachim Beuckelaer’s series entitled The Four Elements. Beuckelaer’s paintings illustrated magnificently voluptuous scenes of the everyday – of markets and kitchens – offering tantalizing glimpses of (in this example) some fabulous earthenware crockery and the sensuousness of preparing food.Beuckelaer is known for his seductive market and kitchen scenes, that display seasonal provisions and domestic activity often on an heroic scale. Beuckelaer frequently made reference to biblical subject matter in his paintings, suggesting deliberate contrasts between the physical and the spiritual.
With a meat theme in mind and inspired by the first menu sheet – The Four Elements: Fire – the first course was an entree of Pork and Chicken terrine, with apple cider vinegar pickled onions…..
……was the Courgette Flowers stuffed with Ricotta, Parmesan and Basil…..The final entree choice was more emotionally charged as it reminded me of my island home. Based on the sea, the next of Beuckelaer’s paintings was The Four Elements:Water and is redolent with the slippery flesh of the oceans…..……thus the final choice of the day was of Cloudy Bay clams in white wine with parsley and chive linguine…..These tasty little morsels are a product of New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay, located at the northeast of the South Island, to the south of the Marlborough Sounds. A name given to the place by Captain Cook in 1770 (but renamed to the Māori title of Te Koko-o-Kupe.)Bruny Island also has a Cloudy Bay and of course Cook also visited Bruny Island……So with a hearty dose of sentimentality and nostalgia, fish was very much on my mind the following morning. Having had breakfast at the infamous Fidel’s further up Cuba Street, I happened across the Wellington Trawling Sea Market, and on a whim, called in.
Behind the shop are the cleaning and packing sheds where Tino Gossi and his mates were cleaning gem fish, and at the front, the shop displayed a range of fish, many of which I’d never heard of………..but then, I’m no fisherman…..
CQ Comfort and Quality Hotels Wellington
PO Box 27 125
213-223 Cuba Street
Floriditas café and restaurant
161 Cuba Street
Wellington Trawling Sea Market
220 Cuba Street