Timaru Courier - July 17 2014 - timarucourier.co.nz

The-Oxford-Clarissa-Mike-DoranFood for thought... The Oxford owners Michael and Clarissa Doran take part in a cooking class in Northern Spain recently. PHOTO: SUPPLIEDA Timaru restaurant has had a sprinkling of international ideas. › It was a delayed honeymoon and a food and wine holiday looking at what people are doing and getting good ideas ›
— Clarissa Doran

The Oxford, on the corner of George and Stafford Sts, has reopened after three weeks’ closure while owners Clarissa and Michael Doran travelled to Europe and the team took a well›earned break.
While there, they took part in a cooking class in northern Spain and travelled to Ireland and London, looking at the way restaurants ran.
‘‘It was a delayed honeymoon and a food and wine holiday looking at what people are doing and getting good ideas,’’ Mrs Doran said.
As part of the Spanish cooking classes, the Dorans made a selection of different tapas or pintxos with wine to match. The Dorans have taken what they learnt on their trip and have started to inject it into the menu at The Oxford.
‘‘Over 20% of the world’s top restaurants are in the very small Basque country of northern Spain, the quality of ingredients and the food culture is incredible.
‘‘We’ve taken some of those ideas and put them in the menu,’’ Mr Doran said.
As well as experiencing some new cooking methods, the couple discovered much had changed in European and UK dining over the past few years.
‘‘While in London we visited the places we used to work at and a few others. We noticed fine dining has completely changed in the past 10 years since wewere there,’’ Mrs Doran said.
Mr Doran said the top fine› dining restaurants were stepping back from really formal dining.
‘‘This was really obvious. I think people are going out a lot more often and not just for special occasions.
‘‘With food style, no›one is doing the best cuts any more
— it’s more simple cuts of food prepared well using old cooking techniques, like salting, pickling and curing.’’
‘‘Brisket was big in London, as well as black pudding in Spain and Ireland,’’ Mrs Doran said.
‘‘One of our favourite finds was a restaurant in London that does smoked pork sandwiches.
‘‘It’s very relaxed dining and like a food truck in a building. There’s always a queue down the street waiting,’’ Mr Doran said.
The smoked pork takes about 16 hours to prepare and was just part of a wave of old food preparation techniques coming back into the restaurant industry.
The more relaxed dining style was also now evident in the North Island of New Zealand and was filtering south. Bistro and brasserie› style dining was the new fine dining, Mrs Doran said.
The couple have also noticed people were being more adventurous with their wine selections. It was not just the New Zealand and Australian wines people want to know about any more.

‘‘I think the popularity of craft beers has helped people to see there’s more to beer than lager and there’s more to cider, too,’’ Mr Doran said. › The Oxford is open 11am to late Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 9.30am to late Saturday and Sunday. It is closed on Tuesdays.

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