A year ago today a lovely little cafe and restaurant popped up in Wellington. After months of touring around New Zealand searching for the perfect spot to set up shop Laura Greenfield and her partner Raechal Ferguson decided that 262 Wakefield street was the perfect place for their new venture.
For two months the windows were veiled with newspaper and what looked like sunblock, while the couple set to work transforming the interior. Having followed Laura on twitter for a year before they decided to make Wellington their home, I knew that the capitals foodies were in for a treat when they finally emerged from their chrysalis.
I waited with eager anticipation for the opening date to be announced and even badgered them slightly on twitter. "When? How long? Are you nearly there yet? You get the gist...
The first of many visits was for lunch, a couple of days after they opened. I still have a vivid recollection of every bite that was consumed by the four people around the table table. Slices of salt beef in a pool of parsley sauce, the creamiest potato mash you can imagine, and a sweet roasted carrot, cut on the bias and leaning nonchalantly against the mash. Despite dining with a bunch of people who i'd just met, I ate every mouthful with pure pleasure and abandon. No holds bared. I managed to resist the urge to lick the plate but knew that if I'd been in more familiar company it might have been a different story.... I didn't want to stop at one course so I went for the tart tatin with Laura's silky, homemade ice-cream. I departed totally stuffed and buzzing with excitement about this gorgeous little cafe/restaurant.
A mere two days elapsed before I went back and tucked into the most amazing bowl of kedgeree. My Great Aunt lived in Sri Lanka for many years before returning to England after WWII. Growing up in the Cotswolds she used to make us the most incredible kedgeree with spices that she would travel to London to buy. A passionate cook with a love of global cuisine, my Great Aunt Ruby knew her stuff. Eating Laura's rich and creamy kedgeree transported me back to childhood memories, filled with delicious food, cooked with love, eaten in a cottage with a roaring log fire, and a wood fired stove in the heart of the Cotswolds. There are so many dishes on the menu that hold deep routed, nostalgic memories for me. Every meal at F&G makes me feel like I'm home, wrapped in a warm, comforting foodie blanket.
Over the last year F&G has become one of my favourite places to dine. A sanctuary that I frequent whenever I feel the need for a spot of culinary coddling. I have enjoyed a double figure of lunches and dinners with various dining companions but I have to say, and this may sound slightly strange to some, that my favourite way do dine at Field & Green is totally alone.... I say alone but one is never alone and F&G. I'm always greated with a warm, welcoming smile from Jax, quite possibly the best Maitre d in Wellington. I sneak through to the counter bar in the kitchen at the back of the restaurant, where Laura Greenfield busies herself organising her Chefs and preparing for the lunchtime service. Place my order and providing Laura is not rushed off her feet we chat about the dishes she is preparing, cooking techniques, where the produce came from, and where we've eaten recently. When the order is ready, Laura slides my dish across the kitchen counter. I relish every mouthful and know that my uttering of "OMG how did you do this?" will be met with a warm smile from Laura.
It's a bit of a cliche, and this phrase is often over used but you really can taste the love that goes into Laura's food. She always strives to make the best dish possible, carefully selects all of her ingredients, doesn't cut corners, and never compromises when it comes to consistency.
My partner is always reminding me that "talk is cheap". Restaurants know that they should be buying the best possible ingredients, from sustainable and ethical producers and often they "talk the talk but don't walk the walk". Laura is one of only a handful of chefs in Wellington who actually puts her money where her mouth is. On her rare days off she and her partner Raechal visits farms and producers all over the Wellington region and further afield. They spend time sourcing their ingredients directly and that really translates into the respect that is given to every dish that is served at Field & Green. There love and enthusiasm for good ingredients knows no bounds.
Happy 1st Birthday Field & Green. Thank you for feeding me and brightening Wellington's culinary landscape x
Below are a selection of some of the fantastic dishes i've eaten over the last year.... Please excuse the phone photos.