SOARING COST OF BRUNCH
Move over smashed avo, Kiwi brunch has a new option at an eye-watering $450-a-head, writes Lorna Thornber.
FORGET avocado toast, there’s a new brunch option threatening to separate Kiwis from their savings.
Australian demographer Bernard Salt caused a furore so epic it was dubbed ‘‘avo-gate’’ when he suggested millennials were struggling to save for home deposits because they were wasting money dining out on avocados on toast.
But even ordering a pimped up version of the brunch favourite – Salt claimed he’d seen ‘‘young people’’ feasting on ‘‘smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more’’ – can’t compare to dropping $450 on New Zealand’s newest brunching option: the heli-brunch.
Millennials saving for their first homes probably aren’t the target market for Heletranz, the Auckland-based helicopter tourism company that has just launched the brunches.
But Swede Sofia Ambler, who co-owns the company with Kiwi husband John, says their clients are a diverse bunch: from families who’ve saved for three months so granny can tick off an item on her bucket list to former US president Barack Obama.
Heletranz also specialises in aerial filming and photography – its film credits include the Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia trilogies – but the helibrunch, which Ambler says is a first in New Zealand, takes things to a whole new level.
As kids, my dad – a former news photographer – would regale my sister and I with tales of being tossed about in a chopper by Cyclone Bola like a fly in a washing machine, so I was slightly panicked by the idea of getting into one myself for the first time.
Fortunately, the rain-soaked night had given way to a fairly clear day and, seated in the middle of the back row in the seven-seater Eurocopter EC130, I felt only excitement as the propellers began to whir and we were suddenly airborne. Actually make that excitement and smug satisfaction – there’s nothing quite like looking down on the snarling traffic you’d been stuck in only minutes earlier and taking the aerial shortcut to your destination.
It was fascinating to have a bird’s-eye view of the sprawling properties, the patchwork green fields and burnt-orange vineyards of West Auckland wine country – you see much more than from a commercial plane.
Within 15 minutes, we were at the Hunting Lodge, a familyowned restaurant and winery on a 32-hectare estate in semi-rural Waimauku.
The restaurant is presided over by Des Harris, the multiaward-winning former executive chef at Auckland’s Clooney, and is housed in a cute white villa rich with the smell of bacon from the moment we stepped inside.
Harris explained that the food is far more relaxed than the finedining fare he prepared at Clooney; heartier and made LORNA THORNBER / STUFF, HELITRANZ using local and seasonal produce. The restaurant is developing a permaculture garden to grow its own vegetables and local farmers have agreed to supply it with meat exclusively.
The interior is certainly in tune with the pasture-to-plate philosophy.
The short brunch menu is comfort food at its finest: classic dishes with innovative twists. Think potato rosti with housecured duck prosciutto and duck heart sauce, and a divine-looking amalgam of bread, fried egg, ham, melted cheese and mushroom sauce that looks like a cross between a croque monsieur and a Kiwi cheese toastie.
Two of our group of seven ordered the big breakfast and, clapping eyes on it, I immediately wished I had too. The fat potato rosti, eggs fried in lardo (pork back fat that has been cured in herbs and salt), and black pudding, are
The Hunting Lodge restaurant – presided over by ex-Clooney executive chef, Des Harris – exudes a relaxed country vibe. While flying there, you can you can fly past the Sky Tower, or over Auckland’s west coast beaches for an extra fee.