6.16pm, Wednesday 13th August, Federal Delicatessen, Federal Street, Auckland downtown, North Island, New Zealand
Evening folks, it’s been a crazy couple of days over here in New Zealand, but tonight we get a chance to take a deep breath, get an early night, and prepare for the massive event tomorrow. We are pouring the 2009 Yalumba Signature Cab Shiraz at the launch of legendary All Black (this is rugby folks….big time!) coach Sir Graham Henry’s new book. Our big red is going out with the bitter chocolate rugby ball dessert…..sitting at just the right angle on the plate to ensure it would sail through the sticks for a score! So tonight we’re having early dinner at the Fed Deli, right next door to sister cookhouse Depot Eatery, where we did breakfast this morning. Fed Deli, Depot and Best Ugly Bagel are all top food house brain children of fab Kiwi chef Al Brown.
Lucky for us we’ve made the wine shelves at Fed Deli – with the Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier, and at Depot with both the Cigar Coonawarra Cab and the Signature. The Fed has caught all the good pickled smoked and preserved bits made famous in those tremendous Jewish delis all over Manhattan….and if you’ve ever been to Katz’s Deli down the bottom of Manhattan – yes, that’s where that Harry Met Sally scene was filmed – you’ll feel completely at home at The Fed.
Starters? Pea and in house prepared pastrami croquettes with a habanero Mayo…..but I asked if I could try their three ‘Lucky Taco’ sauces. The verdict? The Habanero is just a touch too flamethrower for me, the jalapeño is stingy green and cactussy fresh – nice, but it’s the smoky warm chilli of the Chipotle that’s the winner winner hot sauce dinner for mine. Croquettes? Magic – like molten tasty pea and ham soup snared in a deep fried crispy skin. Definitely worth crossing the Tasman for – on their own!
Main course? ‘House pastrami – smoked brisket with pickles and mustard’, with some of the Feds own creamy slaw (a fraction Asian style with peanuts) and the Fried Cauliflower salad – laced with kalamata olives and pickled lemon. Yep – that would be Deli style, Manhattan with a North Island NZ twist. And it’s just sensational! That pastrami is so tender there’s no need for a knife, and the smoky pepper combo is just twangy enough to be a flavour all its own. If you live within a day’s ride of Auckland – do not miss the Pastrami plate! But get in early, the place fills up and stays chockers for hours at a time.