When people talk about going to a happy place in their mind, they often think of a tropical beach or a house in a tranquil forest. I think they should think of Casita Miro on Waiheke Island. High above Onetangi Beach at the Miro Vineyard with sweeping views of the water, this restaurant is eclectic, fun, warm, welcoming and serves excellent food. It's a very happy place.
The menu is fabulous and as a "mainlander" you always wish you could take just a small piece of that paradise with you on the ferry home. Well you can, and you can even get it without going over there, if time won't allow. Talented chef Justin Scheihing has a passion for home-made smallgoods and has developed a line of charcuterie and antipasto products called Casita Miro Kitchen. Everything is made using the old methods of curing and preserving.
The air-dried ham is wafer-thin with a salty hit on top of its delicate pork flavour. It is dried in the traditional Spanish manner, over a year with just salt, peppercorns and thyme - no additives.
The Madame Rouge Walnuts are addictive. Walnuts are roasted in Madame Rouge aperitif made at the vineyard, butter, cayenne, salt and brown sugar. They run that fabulous line between sweet and salty and once you start, it is actually physically impossible to stop eating them.
Speaking of addictive, the honey/rouge roast olives are treated with honey, orange juice and zest, bay leaves, Madame Rouge and Miro red wine. You serve them warm and they are amazing. I would go as far to say they could possibly even be a conversion for those who are not huge olive fans, as the sweetness adds a different flavour dimension.
There are a wide range of sausages, terrines and rillettes too. We liked the Smoked Salmon Rillette with delicate Mt Cook Salmon which is smoked over merlot barrel shavings and comes with a parsley cream cheese on top. If you actually want to share it with others, it would make a great hors d'oeuvre on a nice piece of rye bread - but leave that decision till you've tasted it.
Just like everything else from Casita Miro and the Miro Vineyard, these products are delicious. We recommend taking the ferry over, enjoying their degustation lunch with wine and bringing them back from the source itself, after a long walk on Onetangi Beach of course.
Where to buy
* The Barrow in the Downtown Shopping Centre, Auckland
* Over the Moon Cheese Emporium, Putaruru
* Waiheke Fruit and Veg, Waiheke Island
* Waiheke Wine Centre, Waiheke Island
* Casita Miro, Waiheke Island