Archive for the 'New Zealand' Category

Auckland

We went to Auckland for just one night, so I’m sure I missed tons of what the city has to offer, but we still managed to pack in some great views and fantastic food.

As soon as we got to the city, we drove straight to The Bluebird Vegetarian Cafe in Mount Eden. The cafe is really cute inside and has a bunch of delicious options served as bowls over potatoes, kumara (sweet potato) or rice. I got the Bali High (vegetables and peanut sauce) over kumara and it was FAR more delicious than it looks!

After lunch, we drove to the top of Mt. Eden and got some great views of the city. Then we checked into our hotel right in the middle of the city and walked along the Quay, past Victoria Park, and up to the shops on Ponsonby Road. My favorite was a cooking shop called Milly’s, which had an amazing variety of pots, pans, cookbooks, aprons, gadgets, and cake decorating supplies. I am now kicking myself for not buying a kiwi (bird)-shaped cookie cutter.

For dinner, we drove across the Harbor Bridge to Northcote Point, and ate at The Engine Room. It was voted Best Local Bistro of 2010 by Metro Magazine, and I loved it. The service was relaxed but attentive (none of that annoying “how is everything tasting?”) and my water glass was never empty for long. The only major disappointment was the cocktail I ordered, which was supposed to be a ginger-lychee fizz but ended up being overpoweringly lemony.

All the food was outstanding, although the vegetarian options were very limited. Just after getting our drinks, the waiter brought an amuse-bouche, which was a green olive stuffed with mint and ricotta and deep-fried. The combination sounded a little odd at first, but it was really good! For dinner, I got the pumpkin risotto topped with mascarpone and crispy sage leaves. It was creamy and buttery and perfectly flavored, plus I loved the textural contrast from the toasted breadcrumbs and fried sage. We also got a side of perfectly-cooked tender brussels sprouts that were so delicate and buttery I will do everything I can to try and make them at home when brussels sprouts season rolls around again.

Dessert was a steamed apple pudding sitting on a pool of Calvados caramel sauce and stirred custard, with a few delicately sweetened rhubarb stalks on the side. Absolute heaven on a plate. I’m sorry I’m a bad food blogger and forgot my camera, but it was pretty dim inside so I’m sure the pictures wouldn’t have been very good.

The next morning we took the ferry across the harbor to the charming little town of Devonport. It was an absolutely gorgeous day!

We went to the Devonport Stone Oven Bakery, which appears to be a very popular choice for breakfast (particularly for the moms-with-strollers set).

They have a great breakfast and lunch menu, plus a FULL case of baked goods, salads, and sandwiches.

The staff was really friendly, and the coffee was good. My breakfast was kind of boring, just a bagel with cream cheese, tomatoes, and eggs, but my dad got french toast and it looked AWESOME! Banana on the bottom, french toast in the middle, and bacon on top! Apparently that’s typically how french toast is served here.

Although it was a really quick trip, I had a GREAT time in Auckland and hope I can visit again someday!

On the way back up to Whangerei, we stopped at Cafe Eutopia in Kaiwaka. Not only is the building like something out of a new-age fantasy movie (or maybe a crazy hippie’s acid trip), the coffee was great and the ginger slice was pretty awesome too.

There was also a great Dutch import shop next door with about 30 different kinds of cheese and a bunch of other Dutch foods, mead, and Organic fruits and vegetables. If you ever find yourself in Kaiwaka, it’s totally worth a visit!

Back to Whangerei

Sorry to get all Pioneer Woman on you, but I went a little overboard taking pictures of cows today. Since New Zealand has more cattle than people, though, it just kind of happened. And they really are pretty cute.

On our way through Kaitaia, my mom pointed out this awesome building with a mosaic all over the front, which she’s wanted a picture of for months. Here, mom!

Further south, we took the turn-off toward the Karikari peninsula, and ended up at a beautiful, secluded white sand beach. I just wish it had been a little warmer so I could have gone swimming!

I got a little artsy with a gorse bush…

After getting back to the main road, we continued on to the town of Kerikeri (not to be confused with Karikari, which we had just come from). We found a little cafe called S’wich.

I got a flat white, and my dad got a mocha. I loved the pretty foam.

I also got a salad with warm roasted root vegetables, honey mustard dressing, feta, and almonds over mesclun greens. It was AMAZING and I definitely plan on replicating it in my own kitchen soon.

We continued on through Paihia and the Bay of Islands, but the water was brown and it was pretty foggy, so I didn’t bother with pictures. Somewhere between there and Whangerei, some people got pretty creative with their fences. One was covered with bikes…

and one was covered with jandals (that’s what they call flip-flops)

And now I’ll leave you with a couple more cute cows.

Cape Reinga

The weather has not exactly been beautiful the last couple days, but it’s New Zealand in the winter, so I can’t really say I’m surprised (and I grew up in Portland, so it’s not like I’m not used to rain). Even with the less than ideal conditions, we headed up to Cape Reinga at the far northern tip of the North Island.

The drive up was BEAUTIFUL! So green…and so many cute little sheep!

I was bummed a fence got in the way of this one.

Then there was this cute pig.

Normally I don’t really get excited about farm animals, but for some reason I just really wanted to take a lot of pictures of them today!

After passing the last gas station, we had about 20 KM to go and it was getting pretty foggy. I was a little worried we wouldn’t be able to see anything when we got to Cape Reinga, but it was actually OK.

We took a cold, rainy half mile walk from the parking lot down to the lighthouse.

Only about 5000 miles to LA!

Now we’re back in Ahipara, and tomorrow morning we’ll drive back down to Whangerei. As soon as we get there, I’m baking cupcakes, so I’ll have a fun recipe posted tomorrow!

North Island, New Zealand

When my parents moved to New Zealand for a year (they left last October), I really hoped I’d be able to visit them but wasn’t sure if it would actually happen. Fortunately, it did, and even though I traded summer for winter, I’m excited to spend the next week exploring the North Island!

My parents are currently living in Whangerei, which is a few hours north of Auckland. This is their house.

I was a little jet-lagged when I got there (after a 13 hour flight from LA to Auckland, and a 30 minute flight from Auckland to Whangerei), but my parents were excited to show me one of their favorite coffee shops in town, Caffeine. Do I ever turn down a free coffee? Not usually. I had a macchiato…

and a caramel slice, which my mom says (after her very scientific study) is the best in New Zealand.

By the way, if you want to try making your own caramel slice, here’s a recipe to try.

Then we came home and I went for a run…

saw some cute sheep…

baked some flat muffins (not going to blog the recipe til I work the kinks out…stay tuned)

The next day, we drove up to the Northland, making a crucial detour at the Glow Worm Cave (trust me, I’m as bummed as you are that they don’t allow pictures inside, because it was REALLY cool).

There was a pretty little hike through the woods on the other side of the cave.

We kept heading north until we got to Ahipara, which is on the West Coast about 100 KM south of the northern tip of the North Island. I made some pasta with spinach and broccoli for dinner (yum).

This morning was windy and rainy but there were still some great views!