I’m moving!

Thanks for the support on fivepointdusk and putting up with my continuous joyous exclaims about New Zealand weather (weather talks come with age apparently, and possibly awkward silences. haha). Anyway, I’m joining blogs with my sister and we’ve started http://www.twohonesttruths.wordpress.com together. We’ll be doing restaurant reviews, some recipes and hopefully make some more trips and take some better photos. It would mean a lot if you could follow us over there now!

http://www.twohonesttruths.wordpress.com

x

combing-forces

The Long Weekend

Public holidays are the best. Public holidays plus brilliant weather is the best of the best. I apologise for the never-ending affection for the climate, you’d think after all this time it’ll just become second nature but no(ooooo), I am continually amazed everyday.

The day started off at midday for me (sleep-ins are wonderful things) and as a typical Asian family day goes, yum cha for lunch or rather, breakfast in my case. I must confess I am not a fan of yum cha, particularly at places outside of Hong Kong, it’s just clearly not the same. So if you’ve been waiting for such a review, I must disappoint. It’s not a regular cuisine for me – my last was probably at least half a year ago. As it goes, we decided to take a walk round the Auckland Botanic Gardens and to head over to Pokeno later on. Maybe it isn’t the right time of the year or maybe my memory recall is just way too poor (think it was in my intermediate days that I last visited the place), the flowers did not seem to pop up everywhere as I had expected (distorted bias towards flowers in a garden I know). Nevertheless I got a few decent snapshots – decent enough for an amateur like me anyway. Hope you like them!

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In flight!

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Crazily modern nowadays

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Spotted this in the car park! I’m clueless about car specifics but it makes for good photos haha.

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Love scenic drives! This was on our way to Pokeno for some crazy 10 scoop ice creams.

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Oh ho ice cream galore! $10.50

Takapuna Beach Cafe

To start off the long weekend, my sister and I headed over the shore to Takapuna to try the cafe by the beach (literally). I think sometimes we take New Zealand weather for granted, it’s so amazing everyday – most likely the best summer I’ve had so far.

The cafe was crazily busy given the weather, the long weekend and the Kiwi way of life. We were given a buzzing lobster on arrival that would alert us when a table was ready – very convenient!  As many have said before, the service at this cafe is indeed impeccable. No matter how busy, there is someone that remembers where you are, what you wanted, and whether you’re doing okay with everything. I ordered the fish burger whilst my sister had the rosti. The fish was incredibly fresh – I guess I don’t have to make a trip down to the Mount for some good fried fish. It has excellent ambience and the best view you could ever ask for!

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Our table wait :D

Our table wait :D

Hope they don't mind it goes for a swim!

Hope they don’t mind it goes for a swim!

House Lemon, Ginger & Honey Brew

House Lemon, Ginger & Honey Brew

Berry smoothie

Berry smoothie $8

View from where we were sitting

View from where we were sitting

Beer battered fish, hand cut agria chips & tartare sauce

Beer battered fish, hand cut agria chips & tartare sauce $25.50

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Crisp agria rosti, baby spinach, feta, free range poached egg with samon

Crisp agria rosti, baby spinach, feta, free range poached egg with samon

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We stopped by Little and Friday – Takapuna to finish off the day. The hazelnut cake I believe was made with Ferrero Rocher in mind haha. Yum.

Hazelnut cake from Little and Friday-Takapuna

Hazelnut cake

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Soul Bar & Bistro

For our friend jumping back over the ditch’s farewell dinner we decided to go to Soul Bar & Bistro down at the Viaduct. Excellent atmosphere, packed even on a weekday, and of course brilliant location, dining outside facing the wharf on a beautiful summer’s night where the sky is still lit up at 9pm.

My snapper dish was really well made, refreshing and most apt for enjoying next to the sea. Hot chips on the side were also delicious. More often than not it is the dessert menu which lures me in to try a restaurant and I hate to say but as much as I was looking forward to dessert, it was disappointing. A lemon and blueberry creme brulee sounded so good but in my honest opinion I would prefer a traditional vanilla one if it meant that it would be made smooth and creamy – as how it should. The biscuit it was sitting on just didn’t fit with the dish. Despite this, the sorbet was AMAZING. I would go back just for that scoop of melting goodness. (I think everything on that dessert plate aside from the centrepiece was delicious, but that defeats the purpose doesn’t it. I didn’t manage to get a photo of it sorry, was much too eager haha.)

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Waikanae crab ravioli, lemon butter sauce + toasted leeks

Waikanae crab ravioli, lemon butter
sauce + toasted leeks

Pan fried snapper with green papaya, coriander and mint salad with mango dressing + toasted peanuts

Pan fried snapper with green papaya,
coriander and mint salad with mango
dressing + toasted peanuts

Roast Merino lamb rump with braised Moroccan lamb pie, smoked garlic labne + aubergine caviar

Roast Merino lamb rump with braised
Moroccan lamb pie, smoked garlic labne
+ aubergine caviar

Raspberry and white chocolate pavlovaraspberry sorbet + orange crumble

Raspberry and white chocolate pavlova
raspberry sorbet + orange crumble

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Casa Tua

Daily deal websites give you the chance to try those restaurants you never would at full price, they reveal restaurants you never knew existed (giving you the chance to come across hidden gems), but they also lure you in to spending money you wouldn’t have otherwise spent (attacking your inner bargain hunter, who just can’t resist a good deal).

The good thing about Casa Tua is how close it is – for me anyway, saves on the driving and the headache of finding parking. The deal was for a 3-course meal. Overall the food was average for me, the night was more of a well needed catch up with a friend, so despite the dishes, it was still an enjoyable evening. Something that requires mention is the creme brulee, I only managed a few mouthfuls and left the accompanying biscuit untouched. (To date, Lassiette is the best place I’ve had this favourite of mine, extremely smooth and creamy with just the right amount of vanilla. I haven’t been back for a while, so hopefully they haven’t changed. I’ll be sure to do a feature when I make my much needed visit!)

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The Money starstar It should be worth mentioning that the entire meal cost me and my friend $25 NZD each.

Risotto - Mushroom, spinach and chive risotto topped with shaved parmesan and black truffle oil

Risotto – Mushroom, spinach and chive risotto topped with shaved parmesan and black truffle oil

Calamari Fritti - Lightly pan fried calamari in olive oil, served with a lemon, garlic and parsley

Calamari Fritti – Lightly pan fried calamari in olive oil, served with a lemon, garlic and parsley

Fillet Steak - Seared to perfection and finished in the oven, served with a thyme and mushroom jus

Fillet Steak – Seared and finished in the oven, served with a thyme and mushroom jus

Pork Belly - Oven-baked pork belly served with red wine jus, balsamic reduction, stewed apple and crispy crackle

Pork Belly – Oven-baked pork belly served with red wine jus, balsamic reduction, stewed apple and crispy crackle

Cream Brulee - Custard with a caramel top served with a savoiardi

Cream Brulee – Custard with a caramel top served with a savoiardi

Archie’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

Can’t say it doesn’t make you feel down when you return to full-time working life, it makes you begin to treasure and look forward to every weekend. Anyhow I will be posting posts from the few food places I visited over my holiday over the next few days/weeks. I’ve also decided to add something new to my posts, a value rating. After-all no matter how beautifully amazing the food turns out to be, if it is going to cost you an arm and leg I suggest such indulgences may be left to better days. So on with the review…

Archie’s was bustling and busy when we arrived for lunch on a normal weekday. Lovely casual place with a large range of fixed price pizza and pasta to choose from. In my opinion the pizza was one of the best I’ve ever had, the pasta not quite so much. Perhaps we were too infatuated with the tastiness of our wood-fired flat round bread that the other started getting cold and hence lost its appeal.

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Cute boy rolling his own dough for bread!

Cute boy rolling his own dough for bread!

We decided to stop by the ever so famous Little and Friday also for a quick dessert to finish off. The Newmarket store is indeed a lot smaller than the North Shore one as it’s joined with the textiles shop, nevertheless still full of people. I think they had me already with strawberries and blueberries brimming from the fruit tart, but the well-made custard and the cute antique plate sealed the deal.

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Road Trip 2013 – Mount Maunganui

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Beach. Friends. Sun. Food. Mount. What is there not to love about a summer road trip to start off the new year. Amazing fish n chips by the way. Also, I cannot get enough of how beautiful New Zealand sky is, day-in day-out.