New Zealand beach photo

The longer I am away from home, the more I realise that it is the little things that are important. When someone asks me about what I miss about home or even tips for if they are moving there themselves it is the silliest bits of information that float to the top of my mind. So, for anyone moving to Auckland or any homesick Jafas that want to reminisce here are my little bits of importance

 

Getting up to pay at cafes & restaurants

So in the UK you always have to ask for the bill, that is unless you paid before sitting down. It is a fine situation if you have an on-to-it waiter, but sadly they are in the minority. Most of the time what happens is that you either get brought the bill the second you finish eating which just makes you feel like they are asking you to leave. Or you sit for hours (not kidding on this one, I’ve sat for an hour before) waiting for someone to notice you and finally let you leave. In the magical capital of Auckland however, when you are ready to leave you simply get up and pay. This makes dining entirely on your own schedule, as relaxed or hurried as your heart desires.

Flat white at Zus and Zo Auckland

Driving everywhere

I miss this one most of all. When I live in a city full of amazing public transport (FYI public transport in Auckland is balls) its funny that I miss having a car so much, but it just makes life so easy. In Auckland the car is king, no longer to you have to lug your shopping home on your arms or be on a tube for 90min to get to brunch. And since the magic of Auckland is all the fun stuff outside the city (Brick Bay, need I say more) being about to go on a mini road trip makes the world your oyster and a flat white only a heart beat away.

Brunch

Brunch is taken very seriously in Auckland. Of a weekend, after a bit of a sleep in but before you have to think of anything serious you go to a cafe and get your fill of pancakes, eggs bene, bircher muesli, or a full English. Not only is it filling in a food way, but it is such a relaxing way to spend time with friends.

Bliss scrabble letters

Front page news

I really miss the news in New Zealand. I kid you not, the front page news was once a cat taking the bus in Devon (in the UK). In New Zealand a house fire will make the headlines, and a murder will be a front pager for a week. I love that it is such a safe country that almost any deviation will be analysed with excitement.

No bloody lawyers

In New Zealand there is a government compensation scheme for injury called ACC. Essentially if you are injured there is no American style ambulance chasing, ACC is there to help not only pay for treatment but also in some cases compensate for your lost income. I know the system isn’t perfect (any there are plenty who will take issue at this entry), but I love the point of view it is coming from.

Black sand beach

Mini cities

So Auckland may be the size of Greater London, but last time I counted it only has a million people. The business part of Auckland is called the CBD (central business district) and realistically this is only a couple of streets near the waterfront. So the true heart of Auckland is actually splintered across the many suburbs, each with their own style and substance. To truly explore Auckland make sure you hit all the mini cities (google Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Mt Eden et al)

World famous in New Zealand 

Kiwis fecking rock. We were the first to climb Everest, we split the atom and were the first country in the world to give women the vote. We may be a small country on the arse end of the globe, but we are beautiful, peaceful, progressive and damn feisty.

 

To read more New Zealandy goodness – including where to get the best coffee in Auckland, check out my posts by clicking on the Polaroid below!

New Zelaland

 

 

This post was in conjunction with Giffgaff for their The Top Things to Know About Your Hometown campaign which you can read more about here

Cafe on Kohi pancakes

For my last brunch in Auckland I wanted something special, I wanted flat whites, family and a stunning view. The family part was easy, I just stole my parents car keys and wouldn’t let them go to work. As for the other criteria, thankfully the owners of Richmond Road Cafe and the Takapuna Beach Cafe had just opened up a new haunt, the Cafe on Kohi.

Cafe on Kohi is just across the road from Kohimarama beach and has the most classic kiwi views over the water and across to Rangitoto. A table outside in the early summer sun was pretty much perfect, and when the waitress came over and said “can I get you all flat whites?” instead of the normal ‘what can I get you’ life was as good as it could get. Honestly the service at this place is up there with the French Cafe, they totally pandered to my touristy photo demands, offered us blankets if we got too cold and were just simply charming.

In seriously bad blogging form I can’t for the life of me remember what flavour the pancakes that I had were. They were big fluffy american style ones, with crispy bacon sandwiched in between. But as for the stuff on top? No bloody clue. I’ve even tried the magical first page of google with no success. Whatever it was all I remember is licking my plate clean because it was so good. So someone please go and tell me what on earth it was!

My only issue with Cafe on Kohi was the water. The Hip Group (who own the cafe) have fancy pants water filters that make sparkling water straight from the tap. I took a big sip of what I thought was my bog standard tap water and almost spat it across the table (I chose to noisely choke instead to avoid that faux pas) – sparkling water is not bad at all just a massive surprise that there were bubbles in my drink!

I look back on this brunch with the most rosy glow, just beautiful food impeccable service and most importantly of all a lazy couple of hours with my Mum and Dad talking about life, the universe and everything in between.
Rangitoto
xx

 Auckland Winter Garden

Us expats are always told in comforting tones ‘home is where the heart is’, but the heart isn’t always the full story; so today I thought I would tell you about where I keep my soul. In the heart of Auckland City, tucked away in a corner of the Domain are the Winter Gardens and that ladies and gents is where I keep my soul.

Winter Gardens rhubarb

When I was a teenager and needed to calm down from my latest strop I would go and hide in the Winter Gardens, same story when I was stressed out about university exams. So it was only natural for me to go for a wander when I was home for the first time in over two years. The green houses are not the biggest or the oldest, but they are the exact size to fit my imagination.

Winter Gardens

The Winter Gardens were built in 1913 for the Auckland Exhibition, there is a tropical house, a temperate house and more marble statues than you know what to do with. The gardens themselves are always changing, when I visited this time there was a rather delightful display of rainbow rhubarb amongst the foxgloves and roses. Then of course you have to stop by the fernery to soak in all the native New Zealand flora – crazy to see a silver fern again after growing up with them outside my bedroom window.

Winter Gardens silver fern

The only part that was always missing from the winter gardens (and I know I sound like a world class snob when I say this) is that there was no good coffee nearby. What more can a runawaykiwi ask for when she has found emotional and spiritual solace from a garden? Well, coffee of course. Thankfully not too far away a new coffee shop has opened up, Nadu is just down the arse end of Nuffield Street in Newmarket and is well worth the walk. Its actually got a garden vibe to it with creepers hanging from every available surface. The beans are Kokako (a kiwi favourite) and the Flat White is nothing less than the taste of home.

Nadu Coffee Auckland

I promised that we would get back to New Zealand and here we are,  an entire blog week finishing up my stay in Kiwi Land. I thought I would get things started by telling you about the ups and downs of my foodie adventures, and let you know the good the bad and the ugly of Auckland dining.

The Good

French Cafe Chocolate

Because I live on the other side of the world my parents were forced to cram a years worth of parental love into a week of daughter time, all of which somehow meant going to the French Cafe, arguably Auckland’s top restaurant. You know they have high standards as soon as you walk through the door, the service is simply impeccable. As far from the obnoxious European waiters as you can get, the boys at the French Cafe are funny, encouraging, chatty and know when to leave you the hell alone.

Every dish that I had was so well thought out, every single element put on the plate with a purpose. I started with smoked venison, moved onto the legendary beetroot tart, my main was crispy roast duckling and ‘chocolate textures’ for dessert. Even given how awesome the food was, the winner of the night was actually the cocktails, they were just that good. I fully intended to wine match, but that went out the window as soon as I saw the cocktail list. Thank god I was with my parents so could be totally irresponsible and have one too many.

French Cafe Cocktails

The Bad

Ortolana Britomart

This one could cause some controversy. We went to Ortolana based on a million and one recommendations, I mean seriously not a single soul had a bad word to say about it. It was a warm spring night, the fairy lights were on and all was looking promising. Then the food arrived and disappointment came crushing down. This was a restaurant that loved a micro green, I would even say that the micro green was the focus of the dish because there sure as hell wasn’t many other flavours going on. My lamb and my Mums fish tasted exactly the same, and it is a talented chef who manages that. Especially for the price that they demanded the food was just a bit rubbish.

The Ugly

Teed St Larder Brioche

Now for the ugly, oh how I wanted Teed St Larder to be good. I used to work nearby and when it arrived Teed Street Larder was a breath of fresh air, so I was hoping it was going to be as good as I remembered. I ordered the brioche French toast, because I am a sucker for a good eggy bread. Unfortunately the chef had decided in a moment of fatal inspiration to COVER IT WITH ALL THE THINGS. Literally everything was on top of that French toast; freeze dried raspberries, salted caramel, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, even popcorn…yep popcorn. If Teed Street had just pulled back a little it would have been a good dish and a yummy breakfast, sadly as it was it was just a bit of a mess.   I think that with so many amazing new cafes in Auckland I would go as far as to say I wouldn’t be back, life’s too short when Little and Friday is just round the corner.

Vinyl Coffee Shop

You know you are in Auckland when there is a power cut that takes out half the city. Even more so when the reason for the outage is that they were simulating what would happen if lightening struck the lines and forgot to put the safety on. Ahhh home.

It was particularly traumatizing because at that exact moment I was attempting to drive for the first time in two years and the power cut took out all the traffic lights. Not fun.

So like any true kiwi when a disaster occurs I instantly thought about my next meal, after all most scary things are better faced on a full stomach. So I went to a new old cafe called Vinyl on Dominion Road. I say new old because it definitely existed before I became a runawaykiwi, but for some reason I never found it.

My god it was a good brunch. The vibe is more brick walls and tattoos than I am used to, but the food is as close to perfect as you can get. The eggs, oh my lord the eggs. I forgot how orange kiwi eggs are, they are the orange of an African sun setting on a zebra. And for once in my life a cafe got the bread to egg ration completely right.

I actually can’t rave about this place enough, so please please please visit for me because I am 18,000km away. And don’t worry, by the time I left Vinyl many hours late the traffic lights had come back on.

 

xx