Aria - Winter Menu....
A chilly, cold, dark, mid-winter evening in downtown Auckland is always bleak, - so ducking into Aria at the Crowne Plaza - felt like a little 'portal escape' into a warm, inviting, fire-lit refuge. Especially when you are greeted by the quintessential cold weather, winter menu - think 'slow braised, fall off the bone, - lamb shanks' and black doris plum tart..... the gorgeous 'truly winter' dishes that actually make you appreciate the seasons.
We were there to taste Aria's new winter menu, and (as always) when I have really enjoyed something, and write about it - words are never quite the ally I imagine at the time. When it comes to winter - this is pretty much the thing I look forward to the most - winter menus.....
Pan Seared Scallops - braised lentils, cherry tomatoes and red chilli
Smoked Salmon - cauliflower panna cotta roasted beets, parsley oil and fresh horseradish
Mushroom Salad - shitake, button and portobello mushrooms, toasted pine nuts
Sweet Potato Tortellioni - wilted baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, burnt butter, caramelised walnuts and shaved parmesan
Pork and Beetroot Risotto - pork shoulder wrapped in prosciutto and french goat cheese
Pork Cutlet Crepinette - portobello mushrooms, honey roasted carrots, potato gnocchi
Pumpkin and Buckwheat Salad - confit red onions, toasted brazil nuts, cherry tomatoes, bitter leaves, lemon emulsion
Confit Duck - lychee, roasted pineapple, red curry, basmati rice
Seriously - the Lamb Shanks...... cannelloni bean puree, sautéed silver beet.
The warm baked winter desserts again make me fall in love with winter, I am left with the love / hate relationship - the bitter winter cold and early dark nights on one side, and restaurants like Aria with the comfort food that belongs to winter - done beautifully.
Hazelnut Dacquoise - salted caramel, chocolate cream, smoked praline, blackberry sorbet
Chocolate Melting Pot - dark belgian chocolate, blueberries, french vanilla bean ice cream
Black Doris Plum Tart - creme anglaise, toasted pistachio nuts with mascarpone
I feel ever so lightly less negative about winter as I head back out into the wet dark night... I'm smiling on the inside!