Star Struck at Fleur’s Place!

This weekend I had a great foodie experience that I must share!

For my mum’s 60th birthday we stayed a few nights at a place called Moeraki which is a cute little village between Oamaru and Dunedin.  It used to be known for its fishing and still has a few boats which fish in the Moeraki bay.  There is an amazing restaurant in Moeraki called Fleur’s Place and we were lucky enough to go there for dinner on the night of my mum’s birthday.  The restaurant has its own fishing quota and the fish served in the restaurant is caught by one of the local fisherman on behalf of Fleur.  Rick Stein has eaten at Fleur’s Place in 2006 and loved it!

People who have visited Fleurs Restaurant sign the walls and chairs!
People who have visited Fleurs Restaurant sign the walls and chairs!

When we arrived at the restaurant we were greeted by Fleur herself who very proudly informed us that Rod Stewart had eaten there just a few nights earlier (how exciting!). During the course of the evening I noticed that Fleur had her own cookbook for sale at the counter along with her biography.  As you can imagine, it didn’t take long before I was lining up at the counter with another family member, both of us clutching copies of each book!  Fleur was very happy to sign our books for us but asked us to leave them with her and she would bring them to us later. We had a bit of a chat with her and went back to our table feeling very privileged to have had so much interaction with her.

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Mum, Fleur and Shirley after Fleur told us that the best thing to say when having your photo taken is “fromage” rather than “cheese”!

Needless to say the food was absolutely amazing!  For the starter I had Potted Eel with Salmon Gravlax and Crostini and for the main I had a Trio of Sole, Gurnard and Brill with Queen Scallops, Smashed Potatoes and Vegetables with a Creamy Fennel Sauce…wow!  The fish was so fresh and cooked to perfection and the light fennel sauce complemented the fish beautifully. My mum shared a Kai Moana Platter for her starter (kai moana being Maori for seafood) and it looked amazing (and the bits I sampled tasted amazing!).  It had house smoked mussels, salmon, a type of blue cod cerviche with coconut milk, steamed queen scallops and mussels, eel, various white fish and I can’t remember what else…so much food!  The service was also amazing and all topped off by fire works that a local resident let off from a nearby house!

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Potted Eel with Salmon Gravlax and Crostini
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Trio of Sole, Gurnard and Brill with Queen Scallops, Smashed Potatoes and Vegetables with a Creamy Fennel Sauce…scrummy!
Kai Moana Platter
Kai Moana Platter (partially eaten!)

When we finished our meal (and were stuffed beyond belief) we went down to pay the bill and collect our recipe books only to discover that she hadn’t signed them yet!  She said “oh dear, I haven’t done my work!”.  The restaurant was closed the following day but she told us to come down at 10am the following morning and she would give us our signed books then.

Fleur's Restaurant out of hours...how exciting!
Fleur’s Place after hours…how exciting!

The following morning we duly went back to the restaurant quite excited at the idea of having a bit more of a chat with Fleur and boy were our expectations exceeded!  Fleur showed us around the restaurant kitchen, told us a lot of stories about when she started up the restaurant and some of the difficulties she had experienced.  In the end we spent an hour with her and it really was absolutely thrilling!  She seems to be an amazing and caring person and I left feeling very lucky to have had such an opportunity to speak with her. What a memorable experience…how often do you get the chance to purchase a signed recipe book from its source, visit the restaurant outside of business hours, tour the kitchen and chat with the famous restaurateur as if you were her friend!  For me…this was a first!

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The Food of Spain…

Last night I cooked from my new Spanish cookbook “The Food of Spain” by Claudia Roden.  It was a very simple, but beautiful, freshly flavoured dish called Pan-Grilled Fish with Garlic and Chilli Dressing (pescado a la bilbaina).  It was officially supposed to use fish fillets with the skin on but unfortunately we weren’t able to get those.  One of my goals for this year (in fact maybe I should make it my goal for next month!) is to buy a whole fish and learn to fillet it myself.  Then I can have so much more control over the fish I use for cooking!  But I digress…

…the fish is pan fried and served with a lovely dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, chilli and garlic.  When I first tasted the dressing I was surprised that there wasn’t a stronger flavour of vinegar but when it was served with the fish it gave it a lovely subtle sweetness while the chilli gave it a nice heat.

So simple but so delicious
So simple but so delicious

But I have to admit that I was slightly lazy with this meal…the photo in the recipe book had it served with new potatoes and nothing else, so I followed suit because I couldn’t be bothered cooking any more veges!  As a result, an hour later …we were a bit hungry…

However I was still feeling lazy and I couldn’t be bothered making a dessert despite several requests from the family…so I made a cheats dessert which turned out to be amazing!  During the weekend my husband Andrew had made a beautiful courgette loaf from our book “Harbour Kitchens” (yes, we are putting courgettes into everything!) so I toasted some slices of loaf and served it with fresh berries from the garden and runny cream…OMG, yum!!  Will definitely do that again for a quick pudding fix 🙂

Scrummy!!
Scrummy!!