Thursday, September 28, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me (and a Meme too)

It was my birthday on Tuesday. Thanks to those of you who've visited my site via Red Shoe Ramblings. And a special thank you to Deb for your birthday homage to me.

Bella’s is probably my favourite “special” restaurant. Alistair, the host, is always charming and makes you feel welcome and of course they have a great menu.

Spring is whitebait season in New Zealand and for fans of whitebait the season is all too short. For the uninitiated, whitebait is the name used in New Zealand for the young stage of the inanga or “minnow”, Galaxias attenuatus. The adults of this fish are 4–6 in. long, greenish-yellow in colour, and occur in practically all New Zealand's lowland rivers and streams, belonging to the “native trout” family (Galaxiidae). In autumn they move down stream to estuaries where, during high spring tides, the eggs are laid amongst aquatic vegetation. The eggs hatch when reached by the following spring tide (two weeks later) and the larvae pass out into the sea. It is uncertain whether the young fish return in the spring of the same or the following year; these juveniles are transparent when they enter fresh water, but quickly become pigmented. The same fish occurs in Australia and in South America.

As soon as I found out that whitebait was on the menu I immediately regretted not bringing my camera to dinner. Isn't your mouth watering at the sight of these?....... No?....... Really?
The typical way of serving whitebait is to make a fritter or pattie with a little egg and seasonings and not much else. Bella’s whitebait was cooked in a light tempura style batter so that the teeny weeny fish remained separate. They were served piled high in a mound alongside buttered white bread soldiers, a big wedge of char grilled lemon and a little bowl of tartare sauce. A little like this....
For my main I chose Fettucine Pollo which was as you might imagine, chicken with pasta! It is one the items on the classics menu and as often as we dine at Bella’s I’d never tried this dish before. It was delicious but the tomato cream sauce was very rich.

Although it was MY birthday I didn't feel the need for dessert because a friend from work had baked a delightful lemon curd cake for afternoon tea. I'll get the recipe soon.

To go with dinner we had a lovely bottle of Paddy Borthwick chardonnay from the Wairarapa region. The tasting notes say: “Lifted fruit aromas of nectarines and pineapple have integrated harmoniously with the oak to produce a wine of great texture with creamy, nutty characters on the palate. This wine shows depth of fruit and great palate weight that is enjoyable now and also in the ensuing years and will cellar for the next 8 years.” I’m not much of a connoisseur and about the only thing I could tell you I tasted was the oak.

All in all a lovely end to a lovely day.

As I promised Lis here's my reply to her recent meme.

What's for dinner tonight - the answer is chicken piccata, roasted yams and a humungous mixed salad and new season asparagus. I only realised just recently that I've been making chicken piccata for years but didn't know it had a name
You learn something new everyday
Own a boarding cattery one day - it's my semi retirement plan
I had a job I love as opposed to just something that pays the bills
Not taking more advantage of my 3 years living in Kentucky. What a great jumping off point to visit the rest of the country
Remnants of stupid songs in my head that I can't get rid of - Deb calls these "earworms"
As often as I can - usallly around the house and always clothed but generally with no rhythm
Stopping to hang out the washing and clean up the kitchen and thereby missing the birth of a friend's baby by a mere five minutes
So badly that I imagine the neighbourhood dogs all joining in
At sad movies, weddings and of course funerals
My Mother or my Nana - even though my husband tells me I'm like them. I should take that as a compliment
Queen of the exclamation mark OK!!!!!!
To communicate with friends and share a bit of my life with them
Myself - especially if it involves anything mathematical
More time to blog
Anyone who wants to play - do you?


Deb R said...

It's the eyes that make me think I couldn't handle eating whitebait. I can't stand anything on my plate to still have eyes. Bleah.

Glad you had a good bday dinner!

barbie2be said...

happy, happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! Whatever appeals to you for your birthday meal is the one to go with. For me, it's lobster. On the west coast of Canada it's kind of scarce so when I get it, oh, what a treat!

Lis said...

Happy Birthday!

Sounds like you had a great dinner, I'm glad to hear! I hope you are feeling better, too.

As for the whitebait - here we have something similar - they are called Smelt. I don't know the history behind them, but they are smalll mild fish that are usually fried in batches so each one is individual. I love them. You eat the whole body including the bone (or you can tear the lil bone out whichever you prefer) - the other difference to the whitebait is the lil heads of the smelt are cut off and they are gutted.. therefore that's the only thing that squicks me out with the whitebait. Do you eat the lil heads as well?

Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday! :)

Ari (Baking and Books)