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Thursday, April 21, 2016

04/18/2016 - A Taste of New Zealand: Aroha Restaurant and Ora King Salmon

 
Snuggled into a picturesque corner on Westlake Village, California, is Aroha Restaurant, opened by husband and wife team, New Zealander Gwithyen Thomas and his American wife Justine. Here they weave magic with some of New Zealand's finest and purest ingredients, including the majestic Ora King Salmon from New Zealand's pristine Marlborough Sounds.  We learn more about that from Ore Dagan.



Gwithyen Thomas
 
Back in New Zealand, whether surrounded by the backdrop of the Auckland harbour or the rolling hills of green grass and the smell of feijoa trees, locals are accustomed to fresh and organic meals at home and at the local restaurants. In one of Auckland City’s top restaurants or at the nearby pizza bar, dining out is not just another outing but a one-of-a-kind Kiwi experience complete with top quality ingredients, beautifully plated dishes, and most importantly, an environment designed for the laid back Kiwi lifestyle. Many restaurants flaunt their trustworthy kitchens with open passes, allowing the customers to view the chefs from their seats. While a typical United States kitchen relies on pepper and other strong seasonings, the Kiwi chef prepares dishes designed to emphasize the natural flavor of the food and allow those flavors to pop.
 
Aroha is a classy casual restaurant offering a New Zealand inspired menu and personalized hospitality. Aroha is founded and solely owned by award winning chef, Gwithyen Thomas, and his wife Justine. Born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Chef Gwithyen Thomas began cooking at the age of 16. By the time he was 18, he was running three kitchens in a 5 star hotel, cooking for high profile celebrities including Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel. In 2009, he became a silver medalist in New Zealand’s official culinary fare for Food and Wine Matching with his vension dish. After meeting his future American wife, Justine, he moved to the USA in 2011. In late 2012 after both his mother and Justine’s grandfather passed away, the young couple decided to honor their loved ones memories with the inception of Aroha. Bringing their love and passion to the restaurant, Gwithyen (at age 26) and Justine (at age 23) opened the doors to Aroha on September 10, 2014. Since opening, they have had the incredible joy of introducing the flavors and casual fine dining culture of New Zealand to the California community, as well as presenting food for various personalities including New Zealand’s Consulate General Leon Grice, celebrity chef Bobby Flay, and Grammy Award winning New Zealand musician, Lorde.
 
 
 
 
Featuring hand grown and predominantly organic produce (their passionfruit and feijoas are grown on their back patio!), free-range and grass-fed organic meats, and fresh New Zealand seafood that's less than 48 hours out of the water, the Chef's belief is to highlight the natural flavors of each ingredient. Dishes are seasoned with native New Zealand plants including horopito and kawakawa. Chef and his team take pride in creating house-made dishes. Ice creams, ricotta cheese, chutneys, cured and smoked meats and seafood, are all made in house.
Dedicated to providing a welcoming and safe environment for all customers, the menu includes gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, and dairy-free options. Other allergies and dietary restrictions such as a low sodium diet are accommodated as well.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ore Dagan,
Sales Manager for the Western Region of North America,
The New Zealand King Salmon Company, Ora King Salmon
 
 
Ore melds years of professional culinary experience with the art of branding and promoting to create and grow product/brand awareness and increase sales. His knack for timing and the correct approach with chefs stems from his intimate knowledge of how a professional kitchen operates.
 
Ore is an alumnus of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he earned his Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in Culinary Arts Management. Ore has worked in professional kitchens from the countryside of Italy to Relais & Chateau properties in the foothills of California. Ore enjoys direct interaction with chefs and purchasers and is passionate about sharing and growing awareness for sustainably raised seafood from New Zealand.
 
 
 
King salmon eggs destined to produce Ōra King salmon are nurtured in the crystal clear waters flowing from Te Waikoropupu Springs at our hatchery in Takaka. With an average of 14,000 litres of fresh water bubbling to the surface every second, the waters of this region have been verified as some of the clearest waters in the world, an ideal beginning to the life cycle for Ōra King salmon.
 
 
 
Within their first year, the smolt are carefully transferred to the sheltered deep water bays of the Marlborough Sounds, to mature in fast flowing sea waters, thus emulating the true lifecycle of the wild King salmon.
  pure and isolated waters of the Marlborough Sounds enable us to raise Ōra King salmon in a natural and wholesome manner, with our sea farm pens being 98% water space to 2% salmon.
Our salmon are raised by caring staff who are present on the farms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are also proudly committed to humane harvesting techniques to ensure the process is as quick, effective and stress-free as possible for the salmon. Initial size grading and rapid chilling post-harvest are the final crucial steps prior to sending the Ōra King salmon on the next stage of their journey.Our classical breeding programme combines 20 years of time-honoured husbandry practices and eight generations of King salmon. This has produced over 90 distinct King salmon families, chosen so that only the finest examples - with the most appealing taste, texture and colour - are carried forward to subsequent generations.Our classical breeding programme combines 20 years of time-honoured husbandry practices and eight generations of King salmon. This has produced over 90 distinct King salmon families, chosen so that only the finest examples - with the most appealing taste, texture and colour - are carried forward to subsequent generations.Our classical breeding programme combines 20 years of time-honoured husbandry practices and eight generations of King salmon. This has produced over 90 distinct King salmon families, chosen so that only the finest examples - with the most appealing taste, texture and colour - are carried forward to subsequent generations.Best of BreedOur classical breeding programme combines 20 years of time-honoured husbandry practices and eight generations of King salmon. This has produced over 90 distinct King salmon families, chosen so that only the finest examples - with the most appealing taste, texture and colour - are carried forward to subsequent generations. King salmon eggs destined to produce Ōra King salmon are nurtured in the crystal clear waters flowing from Te Waikoropupu Springs at our hatchery in Takaka. With an average of 14,000 litres of fresh water bubbling to the surface every second, the waters of this region have been verified as some of the clearest waters in the world, an ideal beginning to the life cycle for Ōra King saWithin their first year, the smolt are carefully transferred to the sheltered deep water bays of the Marlborough Sounds, to mature in fast flowing sea waters, thus emulating the true lifecycle of the wild King The pure and isolated waters of the Marlborough Sounds enable them to raise Ōra King salmon in a natural and wholesome manner, with sea farm pens being 98% water space to 2% salmon.
 
Ora King are also proudly committed to humane harvesting techniques to ensure the process is as quick, effective and stress-free as possible for the salmon. Initial size grading and rapid chilling post-harvest are the final crucial steps prior to sending the salmon on the next stage of their journey.
 
Salmon farming in New Zealand is one of the most sustainable ways of producing animal protein. Worldwide demand for seafood is increasing and aquaculture is a highly efficient use of the marine environment. At Ōra King, the focus is on the sustainable production of salmon that addresses the growing demand for marine protein without compromising the health of the planet, the salmon or consumers.
 
 
 
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s globally respected consumer guide Seafood Watch® has rated New Zealand’s marine-farmed salmon, including Ōra King salmon, as “Green”, meaning it is a “Best Choice” for consumers.
 
New Zealand has some of the world’s strictest biosecurity regulations, protecting our environment and the salmon farmed. Ōra King salmon farms are isolated from disease, in the pristine waters of the Marlborough Sounds.
 
In addition, King salmon are not native to New Zealand and there are no wild salmon in the Marlborough region in any significant number. This allows us to raise Ōra King salmon without any impact on wild stocks of salmon.
 
 



 
Aroha Menu
 
Smoked Beetroot Carpaccio with onion jam, goat cheese, pistachio, and arugula 12
 
Fresh New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels with coconut curry sauce and toasted ciabatta 15
 
Wild Sea Scallops with sweet pea puree, smokey bacon, beet gel, and a lemon foam  18
 
New Zealand Cloudy Bay Clams in a white wine garlic broth with roasted spice buttered ciabatta 17
 
Beet Cured Ora King New Zealand Salmon with pickled baby beets, blood orange vinaigrette, and micro licorice greens 14
 
Roasted Persimmons with housemade herbed ricotta and a passion fruit vinaigrette 12
 
New Zealand Seafood Bouillabaisse with salmon, snapper, mussels, and cockles in a saffron broth and sliced ciabatta 16
 
Selection of Local and International Cheeses with homemade chutney and house baked breads - Individual 7 / Platter of Four 23
 
Soup of the Day 9
appetizers
salads
Caesar Salad with baby romaine, crispy bacon, poached egg, anchovies, parmesan cheese, croutons, and housemade caesar dressing 13
 
Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad on a bed of arugula topped with candied walnuts and a vanilla-champagne dressing 12
 
Lamb Loin and Baby Spinach Salad with crispy yam shavings, beets, and a citrus-labneh dressing 14
 
New Zealand Seafood Salad with clams, snapper, salmon, mussels, and a lemon passionfruit dressing 15
Award Winning Horopito Crusted New Zealand Venison pan roasted with sweet potato, cherry compote, pistachio, and a vanilla parsnip purée 40
 
Kawakawa Marinated Free Range Roast Chicken with sautéed mushroom, goat cheese, and a citrus emulsion 26
 
New Zealand Lamb Loin with smoked purple potatoes and a raisin-mint vinaigrette 34
 
Braised New Zealand Venison Short Rib with root vegetables, celery root, and cherry jus 28
 
Grassfed Beef Fillet with roasted shiitake mushrooms, celery root purée, truffle emulsion, and jus 40
 
Saffron Seafood Rissotto with green lipped mussels, clams, scallops, and salmon 30
 
Ora King New Zealand Salmon with roasted sweet corn, sautéed green beans, smoked potato purée, and a lemon beurre blanc 33
 
Earthy Spiced Winter Squash with sautéed savoy cabbage, roasted shiitake, arugula, hazelnut, and a citrus sauce 25
 

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