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Cuba: super!

The many facets of Wellington’s most iconic street are commemorated in a book that MARK CUBEY commends for mixing up a cool cocktail of history, personalities and food, glorious food.

Beth Brash is having a great year.

The former manager of Beervana, New Zealand’s biggest beer event, stepped up a rung in 2018 to programme manage the even bigger hospitait event, Visa Wellington On a Plate.

This year’s event was so successful, that it’s just been announced that the 2019 VWOAP will double in duration from what has been a two-week event to 31 days over five weekends, delighting both hospitality providers and the public.

As if that wasn’t enough, the book that she’s been working on with her photographer sister Alice Lloyd has just been published.

The Cuba Street Project is a handsome hardback, a social history of Wellington’s greatest street, profiling personalities from up and down the strip, from clothes retailers like Ziggurat and Hunters & Collectors, to Slowboat Records and the “tatoo” parlour (there’s a story behind that spelling), and – of course – many of the great cafes and restaurants.

The late great lamented Matterhorn gets to horn in on the action, even though it’s been closed for a while, because of its decade-long cornerstone status as a Cuba Street institution. Also featured in the book is Mighty Mighty. another much-missed venue from Matterhorn co-founder and key collaborator Sam Chapman, and the interlinked networks of what makes the hospitality scene on Cuba Street so vital is well covered in the book.

As well as the profiles, and an introductory history illustrated with choice archival photos, there are many recipes from the featured hospo outlets.

This is all turf that Brash is accomplished at surfing, from her roots as a foodie and blogger to her current managerial role, and she sums up the scene so well, complemented by the keen eye of Alice Lloyd.

The Cuba Street Project (Random House NZ, RRP $55.00) would make a perfect Christmas gift for anyone who’s ever seen Geoff Marsland smashing plates at Midnight Espresso, who has made a speech on the bar at Logan Brown, who’s jumped in the Bucket Fountain, nailed the quiz at Mighty Mighty, eaten more lunches from Munchener than anywhere else on the street… or is that just me?