Friday, June 24, 2016

Reef Bars, NZ

A while back, I flew on Air New Zealand to Sydney (via Aukland).  On one of my flights, they had a snack basket with REEF Bars.  I grabbed one, just in case I got peckish at some point.  You never know when you need a snack bar ...

I wasn't able to find out much about the manufacturer, which seems to be Bite Me Foods, located in New Zealand.  The bars are made for sports and recovery, not exactly what most airline flyers need at the time.

"The Reef Bar is the perfect combination of proteins, carbohydrates and essential fats your body needs for energy and recovery before, during and after sports or exercise.  They are healthy, nutritious, balanced and they really taste amazing. Reef Bars don't contain any fillers like oats of peanuts. There is only 0.4g of brown sugar used in each Reef Bar."

I found this pretty amusing, because, really, how often are folks on a plane "before, during, or after sports or exercise"?  Still, it was nice to have a balanced bar like this available.
Tropical Fruit & Nut.
This was a delightful mix of fruit, nuts, and seeds smashed together, with very few random filler ingredients or binding agents.

I tried the tropical flavor, which included papaya and pineapple, along with standard dates and raisins.  I really liked the bits of fruit, quite sweet, and flavorful.  I appreciated the ratios in this bar, with 19% each devoted to the star ingredients of papaya and pineapple, and only 7% and 5% to the raisins and dates, respectively.  I hate it when bars are overwhelmed by dates!

The nuts used were brasil nuts, making up 10% of the bar, plus almonds (only 4%).  The seeds were sunflower (like the dried fruit, 19% of the bar).  I loved the nuts, as brasil nuts are always a favorite of mine. The seeds were not my favorite, a bit bitter.  I'd like to swap the percentages of these.

The final elements were bits of crystallized ginger and fruit peel, which both added zing, but I didn't really like.  The binders were just egg, potato starch, soy flour, rice flour, and maize flour,  making it gluten-free, but I didn't detect them in the bar at all.  A little brown sugar and vanilla round it out.
I actually quite enjoyed this.  Great crunch from the nuts (and nuts that I like!), and sweetness from the fruit.  The texture was great, the flavors were good, for a bar, it was quite enjoyable.  I appreciated the slightly chewy, sticky nature to it as well.

I don't often have the need for items like this, but, if I were looking for a snack, I'd certainly get another.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Reception Catering at Town Hall Restaurant

Town Hall is a southern inspired restaurant located a few blocks from my house and office.  It has been around for a while, and has a decent reputation.  I walk by regularly.  But I hadn't been to the restaurant in years.

So let's rewind first.  Back in January 2009 I went to Town Hall for the first and only time, for lunch, during Dine About Town.  I don't remember anything about the savory food, but I did remember that we went there intentionally for the butterscotch pudding.  Mmm, I love pudding.  And then ... we all felt sick afterwards.  Not that I was scared of going back, but, the place just hadn't left an impression so I saw no real reason to return.

Fast forward to 2016, when I was invited to a reception in the private dining room.  So, I gave it another try.  The private dining room is upstairs, and has a small area near the entrance where they set up a little bar.  It then opens into the larger room, long and fairly narrow, with large windows.  They use this space for formal sit down dinners, cocktail parties, meetings, and more, so it is pretty customizable.

Our event only had beer, wine, and appetizers, so I can't comment on much else.  The little bites were all decent, but nothing mind blowing, about what I remembered from our previous visit.  I'd go back if someone else wanted to, but, I have no reason to return of my own accord.
Corn fritters with cilantro aioli. $5 (back) Some other fritters (front).
These two trays contained different items, even though they looked similar.

In back were the corn fritters, basically hush puppies.  Honestly, I'm not sure why they called these corn fritters, as they were cornmeal, not corn kernels.  Anyway, they were dense balls of cornmeal, not particularly interesting.  They had a dot of aioli on them, but, too small to really taste.  I wanted some kind of pop to this dish, like a jalapeño aioli, or honey butter, or ... something.  It was just kinda dry, dense, and boring.

The front tray is something I'd actually call a fritter, and I expected to taste some vegetables in here, perhaps corn, perhaps okra, uh, something.  But, they just tasted like balls of fritter dough.  These had a more sizable dollop of what seemed like a yogurt sauce?

Both of these were pretty lackluster.
Tuna tartare with Tabasco aioli on a crispy wonton. $6.
The crispy wonton looked incredibly oily, and I don't really like tuna tartare, so I skipped these.
Mushroom profiteroles, mint-pea creme friache. $5.
The mushroom profiteroles sounded better than they were.  Not that they were bad, but, don't profiteroles and crème fraîche sound awesome?  These were good, not awesome.

They were small little profiteroles, stuffed with a woodsy chopped mushroom mix, with a dot of the crème fraîche  on top.  Fine, but, well, just not very interesting.
Roasted veal herb meatballs with green peppercorn sauce over potato purée. $5
The veal meatballs were quite good.

Super moist, juicy, cooked medium (almost medium-rare actually, perhaps a tiny bit under).  They were drenched in jus and served over creamy, flavorful potato puree.

Overall, nicely executed, although not particularly memorable.  I'd prefer to have some kind of sear on the meatball to give a little crispy exterior.

Still, my favorite dish of the night and I went back for seconds.
Grilled ribeye skewers, guajillo chile jus. $7.
The ribeye skewers were so close to being delicious.

The meat was really well cooked, as you can see, still some pink, medium.  And the sauce was delicious.

But ... it was ribeye.  I took one bite, and it was tender and pretty good.  I went for my second bite, and wound up with a mouth full of fatty chewiness, and, since we didn't have silverware, I had no way to cut off a piece, and the entire chewy thing wound up in my mouth.  I did not appreciate this.

Still, delicious sauce, more creamy yummy potato puree, but, alas, ribeye.  My least favorite item.
Smoked chicken mini tacos with avocado salsa. $7.
Well, these were a surprise hit.  I actually tried these last, and didn't intend to try them at all, but curiosity got the better of me.

The taco shells looked super greasy, like the wontons I skipped.  I was pretty sure it was chicken inside.  Why would I want these?

I'm glad I tried though.  The taco shell, although, yes, greasy, was really delicious.  Crispy, oily in a good way, like a giant wonton.  I loved it.

The filling was I think smoked, shredded chicken.  It was tender and actually had a nice flavor to it.  On top was a slaw, crispy cabbage and carrots, and some creamy sauce.  The event menu lists smoked chicken tacos with avocado salsa, but I certainly didn't find any avocado salsa on these, hence my confusion as to what they really were (items were not labelled at the event).  They might have been pork?  Or duck even?

Anyway, the crispy shell and the slaw were tasty, making these my second favorite.
Town Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato