Farina Restaurant: For Food Wise Guys

Getting a haircut has become a bit of an event. Maloney’s are pretty much the best in the business, but with their barbers being such a valued supply, the men of central Auckland have responded likewise with demand. There are no appointments, and on any given day the wait can be up to 45 minutes or more. On one hand, I’m not adverse to waiting in an atmosphere which is very much classic barber meets man cave of your dreams, with the odd real life sports celebrity wandering in to get a cut. On the other, I’m an accountant. Time is money, and a 45 minute wait after I’ve finished work can leave me right in the middle of rush hour traffic.

So, why not let my Peckish side take over and use the haircut as an excuse to go out to eat with Mrs P?

This time we tried Farina, which by many accounts, is a very fine establishment indeed. My two cents can now be added to those accounts.

Upon arrival my appetite was trying its utmost to be mysterious. I was pretty sure I could eat, but my stomach developed commitment issues when I asked it what this dinner meant for the two of us. Was it just a light fling or a deeper desire for something more substantial? Oh, my appetite was playing hard to get, and Mrs P’s was much the same.

As we munched on the crochette, the games continued. While the crispy exterior, with silky mashed potato and mozzarella interior highlighted with salami accents delighted, I was unable to elicit any hint as to whether it would consume what we had already ordered, let alone try anything else that caught the eye on the menu. Resolve was softening, however, in the face of the rather delicious beer I ordered.

Usually when I’m dining out on Italian, the beer choice is exclusively Peroni. Peroni is fine, I have no problem with Peroni, but such an offering will not suffice to woo an appetite that wants to make you work hard for its affection. So it was that 32 Via Dei Birrai’s Nebra came to the rescue. With full bodied, husky caramel flavour, this drink came with a sweet and enticing allure that belied the 8% ABV, which gave it all the femme fatale kick of Monica Bellucci in the next Bond movie. A bottle stop come key ring was a cute touch. Eyebrow arched, my appetite’s interest was definitely piqued, but it was still holding its cards close to its chest. Mrs P was less moved by the Espresso Martini. Having been bowled over by the one served at Le Vietnamese Kitchen at Christmas time, this one suffered in comparison.

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The pork continued the charm offensive. Coming with slightly spicy friarielli, a deep, sticky sauce, and topped with crispy crackle, it definitely pleased but even so, the appetite’s façade remained.DSC00164

One mouthful of the Tortelloni changed all of that. Turns out that while my appetite was playing games, Farina had more than enough up its sleeve and was just drawing out the pleasure. We’re talking duck farce with mushroom ragù and truffle oil, at least, that’s what the menu tells you, but for me the little leaves of crispy sage put the whole dish over the top. Deep, earthy and sophisticated, like hand carved, contemporary wooden furniture that my appetite was more than happy to make itself at home in.

Suddenly my appetite was committing to more, much more. One of our waiters cottoned on to how hungry we still were, and how empty yet not quite empty our plates were. She offered us some bread to let us soak up the left over sauce from our pork and tortelloni. As far as affection goes my appetite was head over heels at this point. So many waiters would just try to take our plates away, leaving me quietly disappointed that I’m not at home and free to lick the plate in shameless peace. Not so at Farina. I appreciate thoughtful upselling, and I think this is the first time I’ve been offered one that’s so close to my heart. We don’t eat a lot of bread at home, but soaking up the last of a good sauce was a staple of happy meal times in my youth.

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But bread is not a fitting end to a meal, let alone enough for what my appetite was now prepared to commit to. So we started with pizza.

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Farina does 1 meter (1.9 yard) pizza. Luckily Mrs P was there to talk me down, otherwise my appetite would have dived head first into one. We settled on a standard size Boscaiola, consisting of champignon mushrooms, mozzarella, baby spinach, roasted pinenuts, cream and truffle oil. Despite the tortelloni being the pinnacle of the evening, the appetite was still well pleased with the combination, especially when set off by the base. Some pizzas will either give you density, or a lightness gained by a thin, crispy exterior with mostly hot air in between. Farina’s base offers a nice balance between the two, with a relatively thin base offering plenty of crunch with just enough substance in the middle for you to chew on.

My appetite was in full swing; our waiter came and asked us curiously where all the pizza had gone, because we reduced the plate to its cutting board origins in short order, and were already asking to have a look at the dessert menu.

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I was ready for two desserts. So many of the options looked appealing, and I’ve done multiple desserts before. Mrs P was again on hand to hold me and my appetite back, so this time I stuck with one, a limoncello custard cake. As far as soft landings go, this was a cushy way to let me down after a serious effort to put a lot of quite rich food away. Mrs P wasn’t as much of a fan, but I found the combination of custard and cake a calming salve for my still demanding hunger and accentuated nicely by the slightly crunchy, candied lemon on top.

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It’s easy, when one tries to write about food experiences, to love a place and leave it. A blog, and writing, benefits from diversity. I think Farina might be one of the few that survives to become a regular fixture. Good thing my hair regrows so quickly, we’ll have an excuse to go back there in no time.

Farina

http://www.farina.co.nz

244 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

12 thoughts on “Farina Restaurant: For Food Wise Guys

    1. Hey, thanks for stopping by, and, more importantly, introducing me to your blog. Life changing Shakshuka? I have a feeling we’ll get along very well indeed. There was a time when that’s was most of what I would eat.

  1. For me getting a haircut is usually a traumatic event (because I usually do not like the outcome. I think I need to learn to cut my hair myself). I love your blog redesign! Beautiful, and it makes the photos pop too! I was thinking about his template for myself… The pizza looks awesome!

    1. We should swap hair stories. I used to do mine, but it’s hard to do as good a job as a decent barber. My hair doesn’t behave and grows back really quickly.

      Thanks for commenting on the design. I like the way the photos look, but I’ll probably get fewer hits on the Facebook page.

      1. I dont know about FB but the blog looks fantastic! Oh let me tell you, even though I dont mention what I currently work in in my blog, but I’ll tell you, at the moment I work with high end hair cosmetic products… Crazy because even so I am unable to find a hairdresser that will cut my hair to my liking.

      2. Wow. If Alanis Morissette had heard about your hair plight, she might have made that a lyric in “ironic”. I can see why you’d want to keep that quiet, Mrs P would probably have a million questions for you. Multiply that by the internet and you’d never get to blog on food anymore.

      3. Haha I work with a couple of amazing brands, so if she did have questions, just drop me an email… or on any cosmetics for that matter! Yeah, lets say that I found a way to apply my farmaceutical knowledge to something a bit more fun 🙂

      4. Ooh thanks I’ll let her know. You’ve definitely been able to find the right chemistry between discipline and art, which I enjoy. I find I understand cooking/nutrition more when someone can explain what’s going on behind the scenes.

  2. Those photos…I’m just eating dinner and not looking down on what’s in front of me, thinking it just might be…
    However, it is certainly not easy to write about food experiences. I hardly understood a word of ingredient you said (that’s when you know its all the good stuff (; ) and for the first time I actually had a taste for alcohol…you almost broke this most stubborn Duck in her never streak. My family would applaud you for that.
    The moral of this story: I need to get a bigger appetite. I’m certainly missing too much.

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