Lunch out in the countryside, on a sunny Friday afternoon in a breathtaking setting? Exactly what I want all of my Fridays to be like!
Myself and a group of food bloggers were invited to experience Bracu’s new spring menu at the Simunovich Olive Estate in Auckland’s Bombay. It’s only a short drive south of the city, but it feels like you’re in another place entirely.
We were welcomed into the restaurant and sat on their enclosed deck and greeted by head chef Mikey Newlands. Mikey has a huge amount of experience under his hat, working under the likes of Andrew McConnell, Brett Graham as well as time being private chef to Joel Cadbury (yes, the chocolate company). It was so exciting to meet Mikey and hear that he had put this menu together for us to enjoy, based on his new Spring menu for Bracu.
We started off a glass of bubbles, Louis Bouillot Grand Reserve Brut, Bourgogne, and some Bacon and Beer Home Baked Sourdough, hand churned butter, with extra virgin olive oil and olives from the Simunovich Estate – again, can all Fridays be like this please?
// First Course
To start we were served a Terrine of Leek, Queensland Lobster and Free Range Chicken with a Brioche Soldier. To me, the soldier was the star of this dish has the textures and flavours were perfect together. There were pickled walnuts, candied walnuts, fresh and pickled celery with truffle cream all placed delicately on a crunchy brioche topped off with onion weed flowers. The pickled walnuts were quite tart and perfectly pickled – if you’ve never tried pickled walnut before I definitely recommend trying them and looking up the process too, it’s intriguing!
The terrine had subtle flavours and was visually impressive – if you’ve ever seen how terrine is made, it’s not an easy task! All of this was paired with a glass of Opawa Pinot Gris, which was the perfect amount of sweet to enjoy with the slipper lobster, chicken and prosciutto flavours.
// Second Course
The next dish was freshly made Angel Hair Pasta with Crisp South Island Whitebait and a Meyer Lemon Curd. I’ll be honest, I was actually worried I wouldn’t enjoy this dish as I’ve only tried whitebait a couple of times without great success. I was happily surprised with the whitebait, which was served two ways, and the lemon curd, made from lemons grown on the estate, was salty, creamy and packed full of flavour. I really enjoyed the way the whitebait was throughout the dish. First with the pasta, as well as served crispy on top of the pasta in a light batter. It was paired with a glass of Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc, which was my favourite wine pairing as this dish was quite intense in flavour and salty – the Sauvignon cut through it nicely.
// Third Course
The main course was by far my favourite meal of the day. Lamb is hard to beat in my books, especially when served this good! We enjoyed a Loin and Rib of Lamb with Asparagus, Tomato and Gremolata. The presentation of this dish is amazing, as you can see above there is a lot going on. Every component of the dish was different in texture, taste and size. It was such a fun dish to eat and was so great to taste and discover what create what flavour in your mouth. There was chewy ‘gravel’, albino asparagus, and incredible smoked tomatoes.The gremolata, which is a mixture of lemon, garlic and parsley, finished the meal perfectly. There was even a tiny tomato on everyones plate! (see below) So much effort, it was truly amazing.
Mikey had made a lamb ‘lollypop’ of sorts, by creating a ball with some shredded lamb mixed with balsamic and herbs, rolling it and lightly poaching it before a clean bone (for the lollypop stick) was added. This was my favourite part of the dish, as all of the different flavours in the lollypop were divine, it was sweet, juicy, deep and rich – I’ve been dreaming of it since. This dish was paired with Awhitu Syrah which was a strong and heavy red.
// Dessert and the Wine Room
After our last course the maître d’, Michael, took us to their exclusive wine library, which you can hire out for private dining, or if you come and enjoy their degustation menu this is where you can be seated. This room is impressive, I would love to have one of these in my dream home! So many amazing wines, hand picked and stored here for patrons of Bracu to enjoy. Michael was explaining to us that he likes to choose small family owned wineries from around the world to stock the library, as thats what Simunovich is and whats to support similar businesses.
To finish off at Bracu, we were surprised with some dessert which Mikey quickly made up for us. He made two petit fours, a traditional Lemon Madeleine and some Guanaja Chocolate Tartes. The tarte was my favourite of the two, it was a rich thick mousse that melted in your mouth. The madeleine’s were soft and warm having been just made, covered in icing sugar. These were really the perfect send off from the restaurant.
Next we enjoyed a personal tour of the estate. Suminovich Olive Estate not only have Bracu, but they have capacity for wedding ceremonies and receptions, and plenty of other activities like claybird shooting, air rifles, air pistols, archery and knife throwing. Check out Beretta at Bracu for more info. We were taken around each of the areas and shown just how beautiful and vast the estate is. We stopped off at the olive oil and skincare making plant for a quick tour and olive oil tasting before heading back to Bracu and heading home.
A huge thank you goes out to Mikey for extending Bracu’s hospitality to us to try the new Spring Menu. It was divine, outstanding, and honestly just so amazing. I’m looking forward to heading out to Bracu on a beautiful summers day.
Which dish looked your favourite? Have you been to Bracu before?