I’m just back from a 5-day visit to Wellington and it was good to see favourite haunts (Floriditas, Hippopotamus, Ombra …) still up there with the best of them.
I’ve got a soft spot for the Museum Hotel, and how could you not for a hotel with such a provenance: It was once located where Te Papa stands today, but in 1993 the entire hotel, including the bar and bottles, though bizarrely not the bed sheets (perhaps it was wash day!), and weighing an estimated 3500 tonnes, was wheeled approximately 180metres from its spot, and across a major road, en route to its present location. There it was joined to new foundations. It now sits with commanding views of the harbour and cityscape, and thanks to the imposing and iconic structure of nearby Te Papa, when you stay there you can always find your way home (handy, if like me, you can’t find your way out of a cupboard!). Read more
The hotel, once known as the Hotel de Wheels, is now often referred to as the Museum Art Hotel as it houses some serious contemporary New Zealand art. It’s our sort of ‘Chelsea Hotel,’ in a good way, the hot spot to stay during a Literary or Arts festival. Just hang in the lobby to see your idols in the flesh.
I’ve stayed many times over the years, often in an apartment, which come equipped with state of the art kitchens in which I have cooked up all sorts of dishes for book launches and TV appearances. I once held a high tea for the launch of Sweet Feast in Hippopotamus Restaurant. It’s like home. I love the high chairs in the bar with their spotted, dotted and striped aqua and pink velveteen coverings, and the squidgy sink-into late-night couchy-sofas, made all the more appealing by the twinkling lights of Wellington out front. Perching at the bar offers a floor show, where the better-than-in-France attentive staff whip around. Yes, great staff. And I love the location, close to Te Papa, great restaurants, the harbour, Moore Wilson’s and the food markets. Just so you know, I am not being paid to say this. I just love it. 90 Cable Street, Wellington http://www.museumhotel.co.nz
Goüt de France
“For the second consecutive year, Goût de France / Good France will celebrate French gastronomy in various locations worldwide on 21st March 2016. Over 1500 chefs on all five continents are expected to join the event. Dinners served simultaneously in participating restaurants will honour the merits of French cuisine, its capacity for innovation, and its values: sharing, enjoying, and respecting the principles of high-quality, environmentally responsible cuisine.”
I’ve copied the extract above from the Goût de France website.
There are 8 participating restaurants in New Zealand, including the Museum Hotel’s Hippopotamus. It occurs to me that chefs here, likewise in Australia, will get the march on the French yet again (just like we do with opening the first bottles of Beaujolais – the third Thursday of November every year). No matter. Laurent Loudéac, executive chef at Hippopotamus, will be well primed to serve up delicious Gallic fare just slightly ahead of his compatriots. The menus will all consist of an appetiser, a starter, main course, French cheeses and dessert. If my meal in Hippopotamus this past week is anything to go by, the bar will be set very high. I enjoyed my first piece of steak in a long while, a small and perfectly cooked piece of Angus beef, with a mound of sticky braised beef cheek, parsnip purée, sautéed bone marrow and cépe jus. Rich. Fabulous. Two words I like together. Mmmm. http://www.hippopotamus.co.nz
The other participating New Zealand restaurants are listed below. Bookings advisable.
Whitebait, Wellington (Chef Paul Hoather)
Jano Bistro, Wellington (Chef Pierre Alain Fenoux Perrot)
The Grove, Auckland (Chef Benjamin Bayly)
Kazuya Restaurant, Auckland (Chef Kazuya Yamauchi)
Pacifica Restaurant, Napier (Chef Jeremy Rameka)
Hopgood’s Restaurant, Nelson (Chef Aaron Ballantyne)
Bracken, Dunedin (Chef Ken O’Connell)
So 21st March, go eat French. No reason not to!