Review of The Cuba Street Project – Beth Brash & Alice Lloyd

Posted: December 3, 2018 in cookbook, Review
Tags: ,

An intimate look at Wellington’s beloved Cuba Street – the place, the people, the food.

More than just a cookbook.

Cuba Street has many faces. Restaurants, cafés, record shops, fashion outlets — and the bucket fountain. Cuba Street has iconic status in Wellington – its colour and character over the last few decades have made it a favourite spot for locals and visitors alike. From the late lamented Matterhorn and Mighty Mighty, to Midnight Espresso, Logan Brown and Ombra, the street is filled with places and people worth remembering.

Beth Brash is a Wellington-based foodie and blogger. She knows the local food scene extremely well, having been the manager of the popular Beervana festival and now programme manager for Visa Wellington On a Plate. She and her photographer sister, Alice Lloyd, spent a summer capturing the essence of Cuba Street, visiting all the eateries and off-beat shops, with Alice taking the photographs and Beth researching, interviewing and gathering recipes. The fascinating result is The Cuba Street Project.

The Cuba Street Project

Beth Brash & Alice Lloyd

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Wellington’s Cuba Street, named for an early settler ship, has always been a little bit different. From humble beginnings as one of Wellington’s markets, it has morphed through light industrial, back to trade and retail, but always with a few eateries thrown in. It is still the heart of the city’s Red-Light district, though now prostitution is legal it just becomes more bohemian. And then there’s the Bucket Fountain….

Beth Brash has written a book, kindly illustrated with photos by Alice Lloyd, that celebrates the food culture of Cuba Street. While the street is decidedly bohemian, tending to working class, several of Wellington’s most famous fine dining restaurants were or are established on this street; Orsini’s and Logan Brown to name but two.

Beth takes a leisurely stroll up from where it begins, opposite the Fowl House (Wellington’s Town Hall) through Cuba Mall before finishing on the lower slopes of Mt Cook suburb. Along the way she investigates the history of each location chosen, talks to the current inhabitants, then cribs a recipe or two off them. It’s part cookbook – did I mention that? And there are some really good recipes in here. The sources vary from a coffee shop operating out of a converted shipping container to Logan Brown, coffee shops to Malaysian. What is interesting is how tight knit the Te Aro/Cuba Street hospitality industry is

I got to review this book because I’m originally from Wellington and am familiar with the geography and people. In fact, I’ve had protracted conversations over the course of many months with several of the people interviewed and can thoroughly recommend Beth’s assessment of both the Cuba Street and the eateries. It’s all about the food and the sense of community. Bloody good book, bloody good street, bloody Bucket Fountain (but don’t you dare remove it).

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