Friday, August 24, 2012


On Thursday I went to Boulcott Street Bistro with a colleague, where we had heard tell of a burger that might fit the bill for my search for that perfect 10 burger. It is called The T Rex burger, and this is (presumably) because it is the king of the burgers (not a Burger King, which is something completely different).

And this was, truly, a magnificent beast. To start with, it was served not on a common-or-garden plate, as lesser establishments are wont to do, but on a brontosaurus rib. OK, it’s probably a cow scapula, but you take the point. The burger is held in place with another piece of bone, and the smoky tomato relish, in which to dip your chips, is served on a vertebra.

The burger itself is made from chuck steak, and is garnished with marinated barbecued beef rib meat, as well as a beetroot relish and celery horseradish salad. Washed down with a glass of Wairarapa pinot noir, the whole thing was a meaty, full-on burger experience in a  fine dining eatery.

Yes, I gave it 10 points.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More Burger Shenanigans

Continuing my search for that perfect 10 burger in the Burger Wellington competition, I surveyed the list for a beef burger in a restaurant or bar near to work. In fact, they’re in quite short supply: most of the CBD eateries seem to be offering something other than beef in their burger. I eventually settled on Vivo Enoteca Cucina, a wine bar on Edwards Street which I’ve not been to before.

Inside it was dark and there weren’t many people around. It struck me that this is more of an after-work or dinner venue rather than a lunch one, at least on a rainy Monday lunchtime in winter. The burger came with Gorgonzola, mushroom and red peppers, and I asked the barman to help me with my wine selection to accompany it, as the cheese has quite a strong flavour and needs something that would cope with that. He recommended an Urlar pinot noir from Wairarapa, so I ordered a glass.

The burger was served in a long rather than a round bun, with the patty at one end and the mushroom at the other. Again, this wasn’t a burger for eating with your hands – its construction was too unstable. The patty was cooked medium, and the cheese, though strong, was not overpowering. The polenta-encrusted chips were pretty good, too. Overall I scored this burger an 8.

Today, I rang the changes and headed to Featherston Bar& Grill, where I tried their “Tri Our Burgers” offering. As the name implies, there were three of these mini-burgers, or “sliders” as they are known, on the plate: one pork, one lamb, and one beef. The pork (with coleslaw and apple sauce) and the lamb (with rocket and mint sauce) weren’t patties, but sliced roast meat, which was a bit of a let-down. Only the beef burger was a proper burger, served with cheese and gherkin.

I felt the lack of  proper patty for the pork and lamb burgers meant that I could only score this dish a 7. I could pick them up, though.

Monday, August 20, 2012

CoCo At The Roxy

Disgracefully, we have lived in Miramar for over a year without visiting CoCo at The Roxy. Sure, we’ve stopped in for a coffee when we’ve been to the cinema, but we decided that the time was now ripe to break our duck and go for their Burger Wellington offering: The Silence Of The Lambs burger. Unsurprisingly, this is a lamb burger. It also comes with a fava bean purée. The nice Chianti, so they tell us, is optional. In fact it’s served with either a glass of Chardonnay or a Garage Project Trip Hop beer – which is what I opted for (Nicola had the wine).

And what a burger it was! A substantial lamb patty, with lettuce, the aforementioned purée, and grilled halloumi cheese; the burger was cooked pink in the middle, and served on a good bun, with chips. This is one of the best burgers I’ve had, and I scored it a 9 – it would have been 10 if it had been made of beef.

It was followed by an ice-cream sundae with summer berry compote, vanilla ice-cream and Whittaker’s chocolate sauce – very decadent! I don’t have a picture of it because, frankly, I’d scoffed half of it before it occurred to me to take a photo.

Afterwards we went to see The Chef.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fork & Brewer

It’s Friday, and time to tackle another burger in my quest for the perfect 10 in the Burger Wellington competition. I know in advance that this one’s not going to score it, because my (self-imposed) rule is that the perfect burger is going to be a beef burger. A lot of establishments are offering up non-beef burgers as part of the competition, ranging from the obvious (lamb, chicken, turkey), the not-so-obvious (pork, ostrich, fish, hare), the offal (both brain and tongue are available in burger form), and the sweet (several variations on a dessert burger). Today’s offering at The Fork &Brewer, one of Wellington’s craft beer pubs, was a pork burger.

We turned up at the appointed time, got some beers, and placed our order for 5 burgers (this was a work outing). 5 minutes later the waitress returns with some bad news: they’ve run out of burgers. We expressed our incredulity, then ordered other food from the menu. Naturally, the burger was awarded 0 points for failure to turn up. There’s no picture, either. So, Fork & Brewer, a bit of a FAIL there. We discussed the option of going back at a later date, but after some discussion (about the availability of refrigeration equipment and other methods of ensuring that you don’t run out of burgers) we decided that a place that couldn’t organise itself to provide the meals it was advertising didn’t deserve our custom.

More burger shenanigans next week.

Battle Of The Brains

...or should I title this post "déjà  vu"? Discerning readers of Wellington Boots may well remember this event from last year, when I was but a rookie at the ANZ National Bank. The event is to raise money for the Cancer Society. National Bank has a history of supporting their annual fundraising campaign, Daffodil Day, and this is the 21st Annual Battle Of The Brains competition.

The organisation of the competition had changed slightly since last year. Our team captain had put in an early bid for a table, and we were accepted. Unfortunately, due to events entirely beyond his control, he was forced to go skiing in Wanaka for the week in which the event would be held. Casting around for a deputy, yours truly was selected. Not that there's much to be done once the table has been allocated, but someone has to organise and take a lead.

We had, over a lunch consisting of beer and pizza at Lovelocks Bar, decided on a theme for our costume, which was Grexit - the possibility of Greece exiting the Euro and European Monetary Union, which at the time (a month or so ago) seemed highly likely. We therefore contacted a retailer of fancy goods who was able to supply us with 16 Greek flags at the princely cost of $6 each, and printed off pictures of a cracked Euro coin and a green exit sign, cunningly manipulated to say GREXIT. We assembled these into a low-cost costume consisting of two Greek flags stitched together, and wore the grexit signs around our heads, whilst the Euro medallions swung around our necks on lanyards, in the style of gangsta rappers or Olympic medal winners.

Thus adorned, we headed down to the Amora Hotel on foot, accompanied by a bunch of Muammar Gaddafis and a team of reindeer pulling the Snow Queen (from Narnia).

Sorry about the blurriness - cameraphone!

The quiz followed a familiar format of 10 rounds with 2 jokers; there were also auctions and raffle prizes to be won. After the first four rounds, the leader board was shown, and Team Grexit was in first place! Admittedly we had played both our jokers, but we had selected those rounds from those available early on, and we had come good on them. I was particularly proud of our performance on the Science round, because I can do science, me.

As the quiz progressed (and after a particularly parlous Geography and History round) we found that at the next update, after 8 rounds, we were down to third. But we finished strongly on what we thought would be our two worst subjects (entertainment and famous faces) thanks to the help of our token young person, and also a ringer-in from Auckland who was visiting the Wellington office and who we had recruited at the last minute; we scored a 10 and a 9 in the final two rounds.

As the judges counted and recounted the points, we waited with bated breath. We strongly suspected we were in a top 5 position, (we were 15th last year) but were elated and delighted to be announced as 3rd equal, out of 50+ teams in total. Our prize is a $100 voucher at The General Practitioner, which I think we can put to good use, particularly as I rated their burger so highly not a few days ago!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The General Practitioner

Another day, another burger, in the elusive search for that perfect 10-scoring burger as part of the Burger Wellington competition. This time I went to The General Practitioner, a pub on Willis Street, for their Great Philadelphian Cheeseburger. The burger came with bacon, mushrooms, onion and salad, as well as their special parmesan cheese sauce.

The burger was well-cooked – pink in the middle like a good burger should be. Its height made it difficult to squash down and eat with the hands – I ended up using a knife and fork for most of it, as the ingredients made it quite a slippery customer. The bun (from Pandoro – one of Wellington’s finest bakers) held its own, though, and didn’t disintegrate, so it scored well on that front. Chips were good and crisp. Overall a very good burger: I scored it 9. It would have scored perfectly if (a) I’d been able to pick it up and eat it to the end, and (b) it didn’t take 30 minutes to arrive. OK, I appreciate you’re busy, but you’re a pub serving lunch, it shouldn’t be that difficult to get your meals out before people have to head back to work.

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Burger Wellington

It’s day four in the Burger Wellington competition, and not having had an opportunity to sample anything over the weekend, I was casting about for somewhere nearby that would provide me with a proper, honest-to-goodness burger for my lunch. I looked down the list and selected Trade Kitchen’s Tradesman’s Burger. We’ve been to Trade Kitchen a few times, and they always do good food, so I was confident their burger would be up to scratch. It was served with beetroot relish – beetroot is common in many a kiwi burger – and  Kapiti blue cheese.

The secret to using a strong-flavoured cheese in a burger is not to overdo it, and this one was finely judged. They could have dialled back a bit on the beetroot relish, of which there was an overabundance. The chips were chunky and crisp. The bun was handmade on the premises and was a good, solid bread – it didn’t fall apart in my hands in the latter stages, as some less substantial buns do. It was all washed down with a Renaissance IPA, as recommended to me by the waiter – it complemented the flavour of the cheese where a lesser beer would have been overwhelmed by it. Overall I scored it an 8; the meat could have been cooked a little rarer, and it wasn’t a big burger. Still, better than last week’s steak-on-toast offering from Capri.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Burger Wellington

Wellington On A Plate, the capital’s food festival, kicked off today and runs until 26th August. As part of the festival there is a competition called Burger Wellington, where restaurants create a burger and offer it in their restaurants. The eating public then submit scores, and there is a cook-off amongst the restaurants with the highest average score. A number of these restaurants are within easy striking distance of the office, and so a plan has formed…

Today we went to Capri Bar and Eatery, a bistro just up the road from our office, to sample their Buxom BBQ Beef Burger. This turned out not to be a burger in the traditional sense, but a fillet steak in a burger bun; it was cooked quite rare, but the meat was good enough to justify this. The smoky barbecue flavour was also a plus. Accompanied by string fries, this is one of the more expensive burgers on the list. I scored it a 7 on the Burger Wellington scale - mainly on account of it not being a "proper" burger. 

Under The Volcano

New Zealand is a seismically and volcanically active country. Since we’ve lived here we’ve had two major earthquakes in Christchurch, whilst here in Wellington we’ve felt the occasional tremor and jolt, although nothing serious. In autumn this year (yes, it’s already happened for us, you laggards in the Northern hemisphere!) we visited White Island in the Bay of Plenty, then stayed in Rotorua, home of hot springs and smelly gases.

This week has seen three new volcanic incidents. I've borrowed some pictures from Stuff  and ONE News because I don't have any of my own. 

Mount Tongariro, in the middle of North Island, decided to let off some steam earlier in the week, giving a bit of a burp and throwing some rocks and ash around.  Vulcanologists have now determined that the magma is rising in the volcano, and further steam-driven or magma eruptions may result. These may not necessarily be violent; with vulcanology, much of it is a wait-and-see game, and prediction is notoriously difficult. 

The ash plume visible by low-light photography. Picture NASA

In an unrelated episode, White Island has also started to get more active and erupted on Tuesday night, the first time since 2001. The eruption was not a big one, resulting in an ash cloud of 200-300 metres. Ash is still erupting on the island, whilst Mount Tongariro continues to emit steam and gas.

White Island eruption. Picture ONE News

There have also been a bit of shaking localised to these areas, nothing that we’ve felt here in Wellington.

Finally, what has been described as "a raft of pumice" has been found floating in an area north of Auckland. it is believed to be as a result of an eruption from the underwater volcano Mount Monowai.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


As you may or may not know, my employer, ANZ National Bank, is a major sponsor of sport in New Zealand. With the National Bank brand, they sponsor the Black Caps, New Zealand's cricket team. As ANZ, they sponsor netball, and more recently, the Rugby World Cup and the New Zealand Olympic team. As part of the sponsorship deal, they run competitions for customers and members of the public. Staff are usually precluding from entering these competitions, so they also run internal competitions exclusively for staff, through the Staff Supporters Club.

As the build-up to the Olympics began in June, the official sponsorship deal was revealed, and a number of competitions unveiled. Prizes included travel to the UK and tickets to the Olympics, but there were also other competitions, with other prizes. I entered one of these, and thought no more of it...until Monday, when I received a phone call telling me that I was one of four winners in New Zealand for this particular competition: A new 42" HD 3D LED television, and a party pack so I can host a party, in time for the rowing finals on Friday night (at which New Zealand are expected to do well).

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and faffing about (the details of which I won't bore you with) it was delivered this afternoon, and I set it up earlier this evening. It has the wifi's. It has the bigger GBs (careful - contains swearies). It can Facebook, and Quikflix, and Skype - so we'll be able to Skype you from our sofa, like Lord & Lady Muck (once I get a camera installed - probably this weekend). So those dinosaurs out there (you know who you are) who haven't set up Skype yet: get cracking! And we'll see you on a TV near us soon!

It looks like this:

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