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DISCLAIMER

The views expressed in this blog are based entirely on personal tastes and preferences. Please do not take them as professional interpretations.

If you have any comments/suggestions/places you think serve great food, do share with us! Email me at qiuyi_ong@hotmail.com or leave a comment in the tag board. Thanks and cheers to future gastronomical adventures!

MY TO-GO LIST

7ateNine (Eaten!)
Au Jardin (Eaten!)
Au Petit Salut
Buko Nero (Eaten!)
Cugini (Eaten!)
Forlino (Eaten!)
Gunther's
Jaan (Eaten!)
La Strada
Le Bistrot
Nicolas
Pasta Brava (Eaten!)
Sage (Eaten!)
Tatsuya
Tetsu (Eaten!)

I LIKE

Canele
Cugini
Kuriya
Le Figue
LivinGreens
Nanbantei
Ootoya
Original Sin
Pasta Brava
Sage
Tetsu
Valentino

PAST ENTRIES

April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Piko Piko Cafe
Wairakei Terraces
State Highway 1&5, Wairakei, Lake Taupo, New Zealand
7 374 8082

We made a short detour to Wairakei Terraces as I wanted to find out more about their Maori cultural experience night. I didn't expect to linger here for more than 15 minutes but I was wrong!

This sign outside the cafe made me decide to have an early lunch here!

Hangi is an ancient Maori method of cooking food using super heated rocks buried in the ground in a pit oven. The Hangi Fry Up (NZD$10.50) has generous portions of hangi meat and root vegetables such as kumara, pumpkin and carrot. It's quite good!

The staff recommended the Hangi in a Pie (NZD$8) which is the cafe's specialty.

The filling is somewhat similar to that in the Hangi Fry Up but I definitely prefer the fry up to the pie as I'm not really a pastry lover.

The cafe had no other customers during my entire meal there. It makes me wonder how do they continue their operations with such few diners.

My main reason for eating here is to try the famous Maori hangi food. It's certainly tasty enough to make me want to eat it again if I have the chance!

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12:13 PM

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Thirsty Weta
57 Maniapoto St, Otorohanga, New Zealand
07-873 6699

Lunch was at this Kiwiana capital of New Zealand.

I love the Vegetable Frittata (NZD$10)! It's filled with seasonal vegetables like pumpkin and spinach, and served with a green salad and relish. Everything was delicious!

The Grilled Beef Sandwich (NZD$14) looks pretty good as well. There's caramelized onion and beef slices set on a toasted Foccacia, smothered with a blue cheese horseradish sauce.

The Banaffee Tart (NZD$9) was great! It's homemade and served warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Fresh walnuts, bananas and caramel make up the tart and it was just lovely!

The cafe has a very pub like feel to it and I imagine that it would be full with locals at night. Service was very friendly and efficient.

I didn't expect to find this gem here! The food is outstanding, presented beautifully and extremely value for value. In retrospect, I like the food here the most out of all the other places I've tried on this roadtrip.

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3:29 PM

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Tongue & Groove Café
19 Bow St, Raglan
07-825-0027

All the walking and climbing has made me hungry! Late night dinner was at this cafe on the main street of Raglan.

The Graze Plate (NZD$11.50) had an assortment of pita chips, roasted garlic, olive, sundried tomatoes, feta and hummus. Of course, the hummus was my favourite!
The Tofu Open Sanga (NZD$13) was surprisingly good! It came with pumpkin, roasted capsicum, spinach, sprouts and hummus. Even though the tofu was deep fried, it wasn't oily at all. I think the next time I'll get to eat tofu is next year when I'm back in Singapore!


The Caesar Salad (NZD$16.50) had the usual croutons, anchoives, egg, bacons and chicken. I didn't like it as it's too creamy.

Surfboards and Raglan beach scene oil paintings line the walls, along with some lovely rimu frames for sale. The walls are funky sea blues, with sunset red accents along the bar wall.

The food is generally tasty and the servings are generous. I like the relaxed feel of Raglan and the friendly, if a bit random, service.

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7:07 PM

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Squid Row
224 Symonds Street, Auckland
09 379 9344

Don and I met up for dinner to discuss further plans for our roadtrip this Friday. Knowing how much I like seafood, he brought us to this gastro bar specialising in fresh seafood cuisine.

We shared the Squid Row Tapas Plate (NZD$42). There's a generous amount of tiger prawns, slipper lobster, oysters, mussels, salt and pepper squid, crumbed calamari, tempura prawns and dipping sauces served with French baguettes. My favourite was the mussels which were so fresh and delicious!

The Dip Plate (NZD$14.50) has olive tapenade, hummus and baba ghanoush dips served with toasted turkish bread. The bread was more like garlic bread and not the traditional type of turkish bread. I like all the dips but find that the price charged was too expensive.

We couldn't decide between the lemon tart or the Homemade Apple Pie (NZD$11) but the pie won in the end. I was expecting a slice of apple pie like those found in Singapore but this rendition looks more like a meat pie. I was a little disappointed as the apple filling was not substantial enough, the pastry was too thick and the vanilla bean ice cream was almost non-existent.

The gastro bar seems to be doing quite well judging from the number of diners on a weeknight. I like the whole decor of the place and the relaxed and laid back atmosphere.

I wouldn't say that I would come back for the food again but this is a nice place to chill out with friends on weekends, especially since they have a 2-for-1 special for mussels on Sunday!

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8:29 PM

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Middle East Cafe
23a Wellesley St. West, Auckland
09 3794843

I've been eyeing this cafe near my apartment everytime I walk past it on my way to school. Finally, I got to have dinner here since Don and I decided to meet up to discuss our upcoming roadtrip.

The Mezze Platter (NZD$12.50) has a variety of olives, hummus, pickles and dips. I've got a thing for hummus and dips ever since I went to the Auckland Food Show.

Toasted pita wedges are served with the platter. They went very well with the hummus and dips!
The Falafel (NZD$7.90) is the main reason why I want to eat here. The toasted pita pocket is filled with salad, hummus, tabouleh, and four deep-fried falafel patties. They were delicious but a tad too salty.

The Cafe is famous for its award winning Chawarma (NZD$7.90) which is a toasted pita bun filled with spiced lamb from the spit and lettuce salad. The lamb was very tender and fragrant!

Since the food was fabulous, we also ordered the Sis Kebab (NZD$12.50). There were cubes of skewered marinated lean lamb with onion, tomato and capsicum, served with hummus, tabouleh, lentil and rice salads. The tabouleh was very refreshing and I couldn't find fault with lentils which I eat almost everyday.

For desserts, Don ordered the Baklava (NZD$4.50) for us. It's a traditional sweet commonly found in the Middle East. The filo pastry is filled with finely chopped pistachio nuts and sweetened with honey. This is my 1st time eating Baklava and I like it! But it was a little too sweet.

I always thought that the cafe is very small and can only seat about 10 people but I was wrong as there's an extension at the back. The whole cafe is decorated with all things associated with camels, from paintings to miniatures.

One word to describe the food here: fantastic! I like everything we ordered and I think we've tried almost the entire menu. It's great that the cafe is so near my apartment since I can always have a quick bite here to satisfy any craving for falafels.

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7:44 PM

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Orbit
Top of Sky Tower, SKYCITY
Corner Victoria and Federal Streets, Auckland
0800 759 2489

Su Ling and I decided to have dinner at this revolving restaurant at the top of Sky Tower since guests can enjoy complimentary access to the observation deck. This means that we didn't have to pay the admission price of NZD$25 which is certainly not cheap. The lift took us directly into the restaurant and we were greeted by the friendly staff.

What else would I choose but my beloved salmon? The Grilled Akaroa Salmon Fillet (NZD$30.50) comes with a warm salad of artichoke, vine tomatoes and new potatoes, dressed with mustard honey vinaigrette. It was good but the "warm salad" was misleading since there's no greens at all.


The Roast Hawke’s Bay Lamb Loin (NZD$33.50) is served on potato mash, with a tomato, rosemary and kalamata olive compote and grilled spring onion. I find that the lamb was overcooked as it was too tough. It took 25 mins to prepare this dish!

This is the first time I'm dining in a revolving restaurant and I have to say that the amazing views offered when the restaurant rotates are second to none. It adds a different dimension to the whole dining experience.

The interior of the restaurant is extremely dim but has an intimate feel. Service was very professional with a specific waiter serving the same table throughout the whole evening. Our waiter was friendly and made recommendations on the menu before we ordered.

There is a time limit of 2 hours dining per table and each guest must spend a minimum of NZD$30. The food was average and the portion was small for the price paid. But I guess diners here would willingly pay the high price for the awesome views and dining experience.

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7:06 PM

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

French Style Market
La Cigale, 69 St Georges Bay, Parnell, Auckland

Since I'm such a fan of weekends' markets, I did a google search on all the markets in Auckland and decided to go to them by myself. This French market is more upmarket and caters to the expats here.

There were so many food stalls selling gourmet food. Everything looked and smelt so delicious! I tried some hummus, traditional Turkish stuffed bread, passion fruit yoghurt, vegetarian lentils puff and cakes.

Many people bought these freshly baked loaves of bread.

The baked goods looked so yummy! But I didn't buy them as they were too expensive for a poor student like me.

All the goodies are apparently homemade and I think they are quite popular with the regulars here.

There's even fresh flowers on sale. They looked so lovely!

What can I say? I just love weekends' markets. There's just so much to see and the people are so friendly! I'll probably go to another one tomorrow.

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1:07 PM

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Friday, August 1, 2008

The Auckland Food Show
ASB Showgrounds
217 Greenlane West, West Epsom, Auckland

I was really excited when I found out that my stay here coincides with the annual Auckland Food Show. Since everyone else I know had school today, I went by myself. The admission fee was NZD$20 which seemed a little expensive but it was totally worth the experience and of course, the good food!

The show started at 10am and I thought I would be one of the earlier ones since I arrived before 11am. Boy, I was wrong! The exhibition halls were already packed with people and the buzz of excitement was in the air.

The Food Show is actually a platform for exhibitors to launch any new products and also promote their existing products. We, as consumers, get to sample everything and provide feedbacks. Here are some of my favourite exhibitors:

I discovered that I've got a thing for pesto, dips and chutneys. They are so convenient and tasty!

The New Zealand Natural gave away very generous samples! One whole scoop of any flavors. I think I went back 3 times to try different flavors.

Kohu Road has really awesome ice cream which is very rich and decadent. It's organic ice cream at the highest level.

The yoghurts were delicious! I like the passionfruit flavoured yoghurt which has a tangy taste.

There were also many wine exhibitors. I only tried a couple of them since I don't really appreciate wines.

I think this has to be my favourite booth. I kept going back to eat the falafels which just taste amazingly good.

Chocolates! There were many booths exhibiting chocolates but I think the ones from Marakana Village tasted the best.

The Boston Mudcake was so rich yet not very sweet. Perfect!

We could even sample fresh seafood like blue shelled abalone.


I also went to watch the cooking demostration by Gabriel Gates. I was really lucky to catch this famous French chef in action and to sample the scallops and john dory fish dishes he cooked. They were very simple but full of flavours.

Within an hour, I was already so full! All the samples were really generous. There were just too much gourmet food to eat. This is truly a foodie's heaven. To make my money well worth, I stayed here for almost 6 hours, doing nothing but eating all day long!

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5:09 PM

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WELCOME!

In ancient Greek mythology, sirens are creatures which have the body of a bird and the head of a woman. They have such sweet voices that sailors who heard their songs were lured into grounding their boats on the rocks on which the nymphs sang.

To me, food are like the sirens in so many ways. Intoxicating, wonderful, beautiful and yet, so very deadly if you let them get the better of you. Food is a big part of my life and it’s meant to be appreciated and savored slowly. I admit that I am extremely particular about what I eat. If it’s not something I want to put in my body, I’d rather not eat. Some people eat to live while others live to eat. I’ve yet to discover which side of the camp I’m in… What about you?

I hope that you will enjoy reading about my food adventures as much as I like writing them. And many thanks to my family and friends who always wait patiently for me to take photos before digging in!

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT