Thursday, 4 June 2015

But before I go...

View of Mount Ruapehu
On the drive up to Auckland (to say goodbye to family before flying out), we saw the most spectacular view of Ruapehu. I've never driven along the Desert Road in winter, and though I was slightly worried about black ice on the road, the mountain was covered in a snowy duvet. Even in the summer, the view is normally obscured by thick clouds but we were lucky enough to get a clear afternoon. Had we driven past any later, however, that innocent looking cloud on the right would have moved across and as usual all we would be able to see is the base of the mountain. (Also, no black ice was slipped upon and probably wasn't there at all at six degrees Celsius. Huzzah!)

Auckland
Though Wellington is by far my favourite city in New Zealand, Auckland will always have a place in my heart. I did, after all, spend part of my childhood north of the city. I'll never forget how many times we visited the Auckland museum (but now all I remember of those visits are the chocolate muffins with sugar dinosaurs on top that I was treated to after being bored by all the museumy bits). Now, the city's main attraction is the burgeoning food scene. Spoiler: there are no chocolate muffins in this post. 

Orleans
Close to Britomart and Queen Street, super central Orleans highlights Cajun-style tapas. On the Friday that I went, they had a live band playing in the dimly lit restaurant. I was concerned this classy establishment wouldn't let me in as I was wearing jandals, but they didn't seem to notice.
My friends and I tried an assortment of dishes, the standout being fried chicken on a waffle. It was an odd combination of savoury and sweet (maple syrup drenched the waffle) and the whole time I was eating it I couldn't decide if I liked it, as it was just so bizarre. I think I must have liked it, as I would order it again. 
For dessert, the fresh fruit with ice cream was light and satisfying, and was the perfect way to end a heavy meal (and probably any meal). 

Coco's Cantina
A chic restaurant on K Road, Coco's was slightly pricey but had a down-to-earth atmosphere. A good start to the evening was had when we discovered that it was happy hour from five til seven, and one of the choices was $6 Prosecco. 
While the starter of goats cheese and crissini was not quite on the mark for me, the main was a winner: rigatoni pasta with lamb, amaretti breadcrumbs, Parmesan and mint leaves. The portion size was Goldilocks: not too much, not too little but just right. 
The menus are handwritten which adds to the trendy and laid back feel of the place - here are the adorable coffee and dessert menus. Unfortunately both the tiramisu and the pannacotta (which came with stewed rhubarb) were a bit bland, but still nice. Though not amazing, overall we had a lovely night out. 

Elliott Stables
On Elliott Street can be found a sort of indoor food marketplace. You can dine at the tables that are laid out in the central area or in the many restaurants that line it. 

El Faro
Having just read Yannick's sister's blog A Vagabond in Europe, we felt jealous of pictures of her Spanish tapas. As such, we decided on a visit to El Faro where we could feel closer to her (at least gastronomically). Everything was tasty, but I was most surprised by the butter beans and chorizo which were delicious. We also ordered a beef dish with olives, patatas bravas and fried chicken wings with chimichurri (a jug of sangria could not be passed by either). 

Delectable Desserts
A dessert restaurant and mini art gallery, Delectable Desserts in Elliott Stables provides good home style sweet treats.
From left to right: chocolate cake with ice cream, chocolate mousse, and pavlova. The cake was rich and chocolatey just as it should be, and the pavlova (with zingy passion fruit and raspberry sauce) was light and delicate. You could eat here after a meal at another Stables establishment, or as a meal in itself! The prices were very reasonable, with many items at $10 and the more elaborate ones increasing up to $15. 

We are leaving Auckland behind for now, but we will be back one day in the not-too-distant future. Here's a cute fish courtesy of Coco's Cantina crockery.