New Zealand Food

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In September I explored my way around New Zealand.

As well as extremely enjoying myself, I took note of the food along the way, just so I could tell you all about it. I think my hubby and I did just about everything in terms of food:

  • 3, 4 and 5 star hotels.
  • restaurants.
  • food courts.
  • bakeries.
  • supermarkets.
  • buffets.
  • take away.
  • and everything in between!

I think we had a fair attempt at all food categories while we where in New Zealand, not only because we were on holidays (and didn’t know the best places), but also because we were constantly exploring. We never ate at the same place twice because we wanted to know more. Or we didn’t really like it, which happened on a few occasions.

We always considered the little details, like:

  • friendliness or service of the waiter/waitress.
  • quality of the restuarant/shop, etc.
  • price of the dish.
  • the ingredients used.
  • the presentation of the dish.
  • the saltiness/flavour or lack of salt/flavour in a dish.

On that last point: I’m really sensitive to the level of salt in a dish, and when something doesn’t have enough salt it just doesn’t have the flavour punch I’m looking for. And conversly, after a couple of weeks on the road, eating out all the time, you have so much salt that you’re not sure you want any more. Those were the nights when we grabbed something easy from the supermarket, like cheese and crackers with dip and fruit and yoghurt. The best one was tuna sandwiches made at the hotel in Rotorua – we were badly craving something fresh so we got salad in a bag to throw on a bun with tun and a couple of tomatoes.

I did come home feeling a little dehydrated at the end of the trip, despite however much water I drank. One salty thing I did enjoy was the cassava chips. They are a-MA-zing! You have to try them if you get to New Zealand. They were a definate highlight of the trip and something I really miss now that I’m back in Melbourne. And I just can’t remember the name of the brand but the sour cream and onion ones were the best.

But, sometimes its not the food itself, but where you get it from. The smallest restaurant will surprise you. Or the most expensive restaurant disappoints. Or everything is just amazing and you really can’t tell unless you sit down and try a meal. For example, we had Turkish Pizza from a takeaway in Auckland one night when we wanted something easy so we could relax at the hotel. It was the only Turkish store we’d seen and we were definately excited by the prices. The staff were really nice and chatted away to us while they made the pizza from scratch for us, but in the end the taste wasn’t as good as in Melbourne. All in all it was still a great meal at the end of a busy day.

We visited Auckland, Rotorua and Wellington. We really loved Rotorua and we’d love to go back there again. I don’t even mind the rotton egg smell, but I still haven’t been able to get it out of my clothes and we’ve been back for a month.

Here’s my top picks for New Zealand food (and check out the next post for extra photos):

Auckland

While Auckland is not the capital it is the largest city in New Zealand. That means that there are a lot more outside influences so there is more choice of food. In terms of cafés and restaurants we found that the better food was to be found here.

1. Delissimo cafe in the Queens arcade: The eggs Benedict was fantastic. It was so good I had it twice while we were there. The owners were friendly and were on for a chat when we arrived for a late brekky around midday.

I loved it that they served the Hollandaise on the side.
New Zealand smoked salmon is really, really good!
2. Ortolana: This is a top end restaurant with really lovely food. They don’t take reservations so you might be waiting a while but its worth it. And once you’ve had dinner you can order dessert from the dessert bar next door and its served to you at your table!

I had this lovely grilled fish with salad (front)
and my hubby had the lamb with polenta chips (back).
3. Oh Calcutta: Craving rice we went in search of an Indian restaurant and we ended up at the best Indian restaurant in New Zealand, according to the review websites, and to be honest, we totally agreed. The malai kofta has become my favourite dish after the one we ordered here. Yum!
I just loved, loved, loved this malai kofta (front).
Hubby had the chicken biryani (back) which they specially made for him.
4. Cafe Melba: This is a small cafe in the older streets of Auckland, but the service was really good. Within seconds we had a table despite the cafe being packed with the breakfast crowd. They changed the menu to suit our desires and the waitress we had was really friendly and understanding. We had breakfast here on the last day and it was a great experience to end the trip.
We sat just inside the window so we could look out
at the little cobble stoned street. Its a great little cafe. Wish we could go back again.
Rotorua
1. Skyline Buffet: This was amazing. Its a ride to the top of the mountain in the gondola, then you have dinner seated at a table overlooking the lights of the city and the darkened bay, and there really isn’t anything to compare it to. Its breathtaking view is only seconded by the lovely buffet food. They have set choices for the buffet but then they have a cabinet of other cuts of meat and fresh caught fish that they will cook fresh for you, just to your liking. There was a mix of sushi, Indian dishes, salads and plenty of seafood on display and as well as soup, baked vegetables and lovely desserts. They had the BEST pavlova I’ve ever tasted!
This was just one of the three food bars,
plus there was the meat and hot dishes too.
2. Capers: We really enjoyed this cafe/restaurant. We had coffee one morning and looked at the dinner menu so decided to return the next day for dinner. Tammy was the best, helping us to decide on our dinner and talking us into dessert. Food was beautifully presented and tasted really nice. I loved my chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting for dessert too.
Pistachio crusted cutlets with a berry jus.
My hubby raved about it for days afterwards.
3. Cafe Ephesus: Located in the food precint called ‘Eat Streat’ we found this little cafe that delievered big taste on the woodfired pizza. Best pizza at a cafe I’ve ever had and its always so hard to find a great vegetarian pizza. We didn’t have to wait too long as we went at the quietest time of day and the price wasn’t too bad either.
I ordered the sun-dried tomato, marinated eggplant and zucchini pizza with feta.
It tasted so, so good.
4. Fat Dog Cafe: A friend told me about this one before we left so we had brealfast there one day. It has the craziest system for table numbers I’ve ever seen, with kids toys stuck to sticks to let the waiters know where you’re sitting. I had the bumble bee toy and the table over had Sylvester the Cat. Big portions, medium prices and okay on flavour.
I had the French toast with fruit and maple syrup.
I just love the presentation.
Wellington:
1. Mediterranean crepes: We were walking down a random street, on our way to something else, when my hubby noticed the crepe stall stuck between two bigger shops. A French guy was selling the crepes and helped us to decide to try a Mediterranean crepe which contained sun-dired tomatoes, hummous, basil and feta. I’ve never had a savoury crepe before but this was delicious.
My first savoury crepe. Surprisingly yum!
2. The Library: This was a weird little place that is sort of like a tapas bar. They sell coffee and cake but are just a nibbles kind of place. The thing that really stood out, and why I took a look inside, was that the entire place is covered in bookshelves that are full to brimming with books on everything and anything you can imagine. Just pick up a book and spend an hour reading as you enjoy a gingerbread hot chocolate. And we did just that.
Wall to wall bookcases. I loved it. I could spend hours here.

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