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Poke Poke – Newmarket

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I absolutely love a good Poke Bowl.

Poke is the Hawaiian word ‘to slice’ and is essentially a raw fish salad. It consists of raw marinated fish (like tuna or salmon) and is often served by itself, but also on sushi rice with vegetables.

Many Poke eateries have been popping up around Auckland recently, so I thought I would go out and try a few, and also share with you my favourite one – Poke Poke in Newmarket. Here are five reasons why I love Poke Poke and why you should visit pronto.

1. The Poke!

All of Poke Poke’s ingredients and sauces are prepared in-house and taste delicious, fresh, and healthy, plus you will feel great after eating. There are two options available – you can choose from their ‘Poke Poke Bowls with Purpose’ menu or build your own poke bowl. Do the latter as it is more fun! Here is a lowdown on how to customise your own:

Step 1: Base: Offerings include white rice, purple rice and salad or choose to have half and half. I usually go with half purple rice and half salad. I absolutely love the purple rice as it is high in fibre and packed with antioxidants.

Step 2: Protein: If you choose the $13.90 poke bowl, you get to choose two proteins. If you choose the $15.90 poke bowl, you get to choose three proteins. If you are want a huge bowl, you can add an extra scoop of protein for $3. I usually go with the $13.90 bowl as this is enough to pleasantly fill me up. They offer many proteins which include sashimi-grade tuna and salmon, plus prawns, sous vide chicken, organic tofu and a seasonal special – on most occasions this has been squid.

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Step 3: Toppings: I love that Poke Poke’s toppings are super fresh and colourful. Toppings include spring onion, cucumber, edamame beans, seaweed salad, seasonal fruit (love the pineapple!), Japanese pickles, surimi crab salad, pickled ginger, plus the following at an extra price: scallops, masago (roe of capelin fish), avocado or mushroom salad. You can choose as many toppings as you want. 

Step 4: Sauces: Finally, pick a sauce… which can only be one, so choose wisely! My favourite is the Korean gochujang sauce (which I always overdose on when eating bibimbap), but they also offer shoyu, ginger miso, sriracha aioli, kimchi aioli, wasabi mayo, lemon yuzu mayo, beetroot mayo and toasted sesame kewpie. You can also add garnishes to top it off. 

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Lastly, choose to eat in or get takeaway. If you can, eat in, as I find the serving size is more generous and there is plenty of seating available (see below). 

2. The fact that they are open for dinner.

How many places can you think of that are open for dinner Monday to Saturday in Newmarket, serving possibly the healthiest meal? I love that Poke Poke is open until 8pm six days a week. I often go to Event Cinemas on Broadway, and on one occasion, a group of us had dinner at Poke Poke before watching a film. It is a great place to have dinner, as you know you are getting a healthy, delicious and affordable meal. While they do not have a liquor license, they serve a wide range of non-alcoholic beverages (see below), plus we took a beer into the cinema anyway, so no worries there!

3. The Decor and Layout.

Walking in, the space is clean and light. The design is minimalist, with white washed and tiled walls, hanging plants and modern lights. I love the life-size print of the orange Combi van and a blue neon sign with the words ‘What good shall I do this day?’. There is also plenty of seating – wooden bar stools and tables at the front, a long table plus couch seating at the back which is perfect if you are dining in a group of more than two.

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4. The Drinks.

Do not even think about sitting down without ordering a cup of their miso soup. At $2, it is super cheap and goes perfectly with your poke bowl. There is also a wide range of drinks to suit everyone’s tastes, including green tea (also $2), Karma Cola drinks, organic kombucha, organic juices, coconut water and bottled water.

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5. The Location.

Situated on Remuera Road, Poke Poke is in a prime location. It is right opposite Newmarket Train Station (so easy to get to if you are coming from the city), there is a bus stop right outside and loads of street parking nearby. It is also close to Nuffield Street and the many shops on Broadway, so it is the perfect spot for lunch or dinner after a morning/afternoon of shopping.

If you are looking for a healthy, delicious and good for the ‘gram meal, plus welcoming and friendly staff, then no doubt you will be dreaming daily about your next visit to Poke Poke.

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Poke Poke
17a Remuera Road, Newmarket, Auckland / Monday-Saturday 11.30am-8pm, Sundays 11.30am-3.30pm / Instagram / Facebook

Poké Poké Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gluten Free Lemon Meringue Pie

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When life gives you lemons, make a lemon meringue pie.

You may already know about the brand I Love Food Co. – they make the scrumptious I Love Pies (my favourite being the Free Range Butter Chicken) and sausage rolls, plus the I Love Baking Cookies – love the Peanut Butter Choc Chunk ones! 

All of their pies and sausage rolls are made with their homemade light and delicate sour cream pastry, which uses sour cream and New Zealand butter – no palm oil in sight! And, after the demand for it by consumers, supermarkets and gourmet food stores are now stocking their delicious pastry around the country. Check out their stockists here

I was recently sent some of I Love Food Co.’s Sour Cream Pastry, plus their gluten free version. Having never used gluten free pastry before, I wanted to try it out! And, having never ever made a Lemon Meringue Pie, I thought I would do that too!

This Lemon Meringue Pie was super fun to make, and tasted heavenly. Adapted slightly from this recipe here

Gluten Free Lemon Meringue Pie

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Ingredients

  • 300g I Love Co. Gluten Free Sour Cream Pastry (or pastry of your choice)
  • 4 large lemons, zest and juice
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 7 tablespoons cornflour (plus extra for pastry)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g butter, melted (plus extra for greasing pie dish/tin)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 300g caster sugar

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What You Need:

  • Pie Dish or Tin
  • Baking Beans
  • Greaseproof Paper
  • Rolling Pin
  • Scales
  • Lemon Juicer
  • Small Pot and Whisk
  • Your favourite Mixer (I love KitchenAid) or Beaters and Large Bowl
  • Piping Bags (if you want to pipe the meringue)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190C fan bake and grease your favourite pie dish/tin.

Sprinkle cornflour over your board, and roll out the pastry until it is big enough to generously fit the pie dish/tin – do not trim at this stage.  

Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Now trim the excess pastry using a sharp knife. Bake the pastry case blind for about 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is pale golden and dried out – remove the paper and beans for the last five minutes. Lower the oven heat to 150C.

To Make the Lemon Curd:

Mix together the sugar, cornflour and enough water to make a paste, in a large bowl.

Bring 50ml water and the lemon zest to the boil in a small pan. Gradually pour the hot liquid onto the cornflour and sugar, whisking all the time until smooth.

Beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and butter. Return to the pan. 

Cook over a low heat, stirring all the time, until thickened. Pour into the baked blind pastry case and leave to cool slightly.

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Making the Meringue: 

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric whisk until they form stiff peaks. Whisk in the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking well and at a high speed between each addition.

Transfer the meringue into a piping bag and pipe the meringue on top of the lemon curd.

Bake for about 35-45 minutes until the meringue is crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallow-like underneath.

Serve warm or cold in slices, with Greek yoghurt or vanilla bean ice cream. 

Enjoy!

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Belly Worship – Auckland

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Neon lights? Check.
Cheap and delicious Asian-fusion food? 
Check.
Friendly service? Check.
Unlimited corn chips and fizzy and closing time of 2am? Bonus. 

You will find all this and more at the newly opened Belly Worship, a Chinese-fusion style restaurant located on Dominion Road. On the menu, there are a range of dishes available – steamed and fried dumplings, taco buns, spicy pancakes, stir-fried noodles, chicken, pork, beef and tofu dishes. The restaurant is not licensed, but they do offer a self-service bar where you pay just $3 for unlimited soft drink, alongside popcorn, corn chips and pretzels. This is a great idea – something to snack on while you wait for the rest of your party. It is also self-service for plates, bowls, cutlery and added sauces. 

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Between three of us, we ordered quite a feast: 
– Spinach Taco Bun with Pork Belly ($7)
– Shrimp, Pork and Chive Dumplings ($12)
– Litchi Pork ($9.90)
– Spicy Pancake ($5), with Duck (+$8)
– Bamboo Chicken Wings ($14)
– KungFu Kebabs with Fish Tofu and Beef ($16)
– Scallion Fried Broccoli ($14)
– Coconut Rice ($3)

We enjoyed every dish (except one, see below), with our favourites being their signature Litchi Pork – similar to sweet and sour pork, but a little less rich and accompanied by potatoes and whole litchi (lychees). Priced at $9.90, it is a steal!

The Spicy Pancake was also a highlight – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. You can choose to have one of six fillings if you like (at an additional price) – we chose Duck. The pancake was huge, and with the extra duck and bean sprouts/slaw, this could be a meal in itself! It was also spicy, flavourful and the duck was cooked perfectly.

We also liked the deliciously spiced and crispy Bamboo Chicken Wings, the arrival of the Shrimp, Pork and Chive Dumplings sizzling in the pan, the KungFu Kebabs with tender beef (not sure about the fish tofu), and our two side dishes, Scallion Fried Broccoli (YUM!) and Coconut Rice

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The only dish we did not enjoy was the Spinach Taco Bun. Having read many great reviews, I had high hopes. Plus, the bun is green! (Thanks to the fresh spinach infused into the soft taco bun). However, we were super disappointed and left half of it. The bun was dry, the pork belly was dry and there was no flavourful sauce to tie all the ingredients together. 

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Serving sizes for all dishes were plentiful and everything is reasonably priced. We also had more than enough to eat (for three) for lunch the following day. 

So, what did I think overall? Belly Worship is definitely worth checking out, for its cheap and cheerful menu, Instagram-worthy decor, and quirky self-service bar offering unlimited snacks and soft drink.. bring on the Fanta!!!

[P.S. If you are Googling ‘Belly Worship’, make sure you put Dominion Road or Auckland too… otherwise you will be in for a surprise!]

Belly Worship
547 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland / Facebook

Belly Worship Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

American Express Restaurant Month: SOUL goes NOLA

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Food lovers rejoice because American Express Restaurant Month is here!

From 1-31 August, American Express Restaurant Month celebrates Auckland CBD’s diverse dining scene, offering 25 unique dining events and the chance to experience over 100 special menus, priced at $25, $40 and $55+.

It is also a great opportunity to step outside the box and eat odd – try a food you wouldn’t normally eat and have a whole lot of fun doing it!

Last Sunday, a friend and I were invited to dine at SOUL. In honor of Restaurant Month this year, SOUL goes NOLA! They have a limited edition menu which is inspired by the colours, textures, flavours and food trends of New Orleans! The SOUL goes NOLA menu will be available until 26 August for both lunch and dinner, for just $40 per person for a two-course meal or $50 including dessert. It’s bold, it’s funky, it’s pure southern deliciousness!

We indulged in their $50 three course lunch, matched with their Restaurant Month special cocktail featuring house-made limoncello, fig and thyme cocktail and two Church Road wines – McDonald Series Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. I particularly enjoyed their Fried Chicken with Hot Sauce Aioli, Creole Lamb Shoulder and Black Bottom Key Lime Pie.

Here’s a peek of the dishes we tried:

To start: It’s about fig and thyme cocktail’ with house-made limoncello, fig, thyme, lemon and tonic. Lovely refreshing cocktail with strong flavours. A great start to our lunch!

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For entrees:
Fried chicken with mint and hot sauce aioli. Wasn’t expecting to see fried chicken on Soul’s menu, but was presently surprised. And, my oh my, the chicken was beautifully cooked – juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside. I could have eaten another two plates!

Gem lettuce with calabrian chilli, soft herbs and cornbread crumb. This is the only vegetarian option on the menu, and to be honest, it is a strange one. A plate of piled high lettuce and topped with cornbread crumb (we enjoyed this), but drenched in sauce! We had to send it back to the kitchen and ask for the sauce to be on the side, because, wow, it was way too much!

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For mains: When it came to order our mains, we were told that the Monkfish ‘Fisherman’s Style’ with Collard Greens was not available! We were both disappointed by this as we were looking forward to trying this dish. Never fear, we did enjoy the other two main dishes on the menu. These included:

Cajun chicken with fat rice and pickled jalapeño. The chicken was perfectly cooked and it had a great kick! We also loved the addition of edamame beans. 

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Creole lamb shoulder with hushpuppies and celery. This dish was beautiful – the lamb fell off the bone and was melt in your mouth. As for the hushpuppies, well, like the Fried Chicken, I could have eaten two bowls of them!

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For dessert: Black Bottom Key Lime Pie
Beignets filled with Peanut Butter and Jerk Caramel

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The Black Bottom Key Lime Pie is one of the best desserts I have eaten this year.

It was amazing. Seriously. Dreamy lime curd, crunchy base and perfectly piped meringue. What more could you ask for in a dessert? A note to you all – you have until the end of August to enjoy this beauty, so get there quick!

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The second dessert – Beignets filled with peanut butter and jerk caramel, or fancy deep fried dough balls, were tasty, but nothing to write home about… I would skip this dessert and order two Black Bottom Key Lime Pies instead!

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Food aside, service was friendly and attentive – we couldn’t fault a thing! A special thanks to our waitress, Faye, who was amazing! The atmosphere was also buzzing and the setting always a highlight. Think spectacular waterfront views, that take in the super yachts and boats, plus it felt like Spring with the pretty white flowers hanging above.

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The SOUL goes NOLA menu is available the whole month of August and costs $40 per person for a two-course meal or $50 including dessert. Plus you can enjoy two glasses of Church Road wine for $18 per person or give their Restaurant Month cocktail a whirl for a cheeky $10. 

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For more information about American Express Restaurant Month and a full list of events, click here.

Photo credits for non food pictures: Heart of the City / SOUL

Soul Bar & Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Auckland’s Best Street Food

 

I absolutely love street food.

We are very lucky in Auckland as we are spoilt for choice when it comes to street food. There are many food trucks and stands offering a wide variety – think bao, dumplings, fried chicken, vegan burgers, tacos, sushi in cones, egg waffles, milk and cookies and gelato to name a few.

Below, I have rounded up my favourite food trucks and food stands around Auckland, so that you can go out and enjoy them as much as I do!


JUDGE BAO

Back in 2015, I wrote a blog post – 5 Reasons Why I Love Judge Bao. Everything I wrote in the post remains the same – the owners, Debbie and Jamie are so down to earth, very welcoming and passionate about their product. Their bao is delicious and I enjoy trying their new creations and love seeing them at various food festivals and markets.

Judge Bao make soft and fluffy Chinese steamed buns filled with mouthwatering tofu, pork belly or beef (and sometimes fish and chicken), fresh herbs and delicious sauces.

I’m a huge fan of their ‘Sloppy Po’ Bao with Mapo Tofu, Asian mushrooms, spring onion, coriander and chili mayo. I’m not strict vegetarian, but this bao is seriously good. They also make a deliciously crunchy and spicy Firecracker Chicken, which pairs perfectly with the bao.

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For my birthday party last year, I had a buffet lunch featuring all my favourite foods. Judge Bao kindly provided all the ingredients to make 15 Steamed Pork Buns, including Braised pork, Bao, Black vinegar syrup, Spring onions, Roasted sesame seeds and Coriander. We picked up all these goodies from Judge Bao in the morning and prepared the bao at home during the birthday party. Check it out here.

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THE ROLLING PIN

Gordon and his team at The Rolling Pin are some of the loveliest people I have ever met. They are a long time favourite of mine at food truck events, who serve scrumptious handmade dumplings, topped with a delicious slaw.

They make three delicious flavours – Buddhas Delight Dumplings with tofu, shiitake mushroom, pumpkin, bok choy and cabbage, Tsingtao Spicy Pulled Pork Dumplings and Penang Pulled Beef Cheek Dumplings with mirepoix and sambal.

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For the birthday last year, I had a buffet lunch featuring all my favourite foods. The Rolling Pin kindly provided me with three boxes of their delicious dumplings. Check it out here.

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WISE BOYS BURGERS

YUM.

This is what comes to mind when I think of Wise Boys Burgers. They make vegan burgers and they are so damn delicious. I have tried most of their burgers, thanks to the Vegan Food Fair, Late Night Art and Go Green Expo events.

My all-time favourite Wise Boys combination is their Kumara and Moroccan Spiced Patty Burger with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, relish and… their yummy homemade egg-free aioli on a toasted bun.

Coming in at a close second is their Smoke and Fire Burger made with Deep fried Crispy Tofu, Fix & Fogg ‘smoke and fire’ peanut butter satay sauce, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion and relish on a toasted bun. 

I love Wise Boys and their burgers and I think you should try one stat! #makeburgersnotwar

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TEMAKI TRUCK

Temaki Truck is one of my favourite food trucks in Auckland (along with Judge Bao and The Rolling Pin). The reason why I love them is because they are New Zealand’s first Temakeria, which literally means hand-rolled sushi… but theirs is different as it is served in a cone!

Their Temaki sushi cones are full of fresh and flavourful ingredients, and draw from Japanese and Brazilian influences. It is my favourite fusion twist in Auckland’s street food scene. Thanks to some foodie events over the past few years, namely Auckland ArtWeek’s streetARTdego and Food Space, I have been enjoying Temaki’s sushi cones for a while now. Each cone is filled with rice, your choice of protein – either Spicy Salmon (a crowd favourite), Kimchi Pork, Teriyaki Chicken or Tofu, paired with delicious sauces and wrapped in seaweed. They are healthy, tasty and fun to eat. Also, good for the ‘gram!

My favourite Temaki so far? Prawn! I recently tried this one at Auckland Food Truck Collective’s recent event ‘Winter Solstice Night Market’ – loved the presentation and the taste.

Also, if you want to spice your life up a little, don’t leave without trying their crunchy Karaage Chicken – it is seriously good!

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AKEMIS GYOZA

I enjoy seeing Akemis Gyoza at various foodie events, most recently at the Auckland Lantern Festival this year. Owned and run by Akemi Obata, her gyoza is authentic and delicious, and are made using her grandmother’s recipe. Flavours include Pork and Garlic Chives, Chicken and Prawn and Miso and Shiitake, all served with homemade ponzu sauce and chili oil. I have tried all three – my favourite being Pork and Garlic Chives which are very tasty.

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THE LUCKY TACO

I fell in love with The Lucky Taco back in 2013 at the Auckland Food Show, and it is definitely up there with one of my favourite foodie experiences to date! Delicious and authentic tacos in either a corn or flour tortilla plus an agua de horchata (a classic Mexican drink sweetened with rice milk and infused with cinnamon) and you are all set for the day!

Owners, Sarah and Otis Frizzell, run The Lucky Taco and are always so lovely, welcoming and friendly. These things always make me want to go back! Their truck is parked up at 230 Ponsonby Road and there is seating available – love the colourful chairs!

My all time favourite tacos include their Breakfast Taco – spicy chorizo sausage with egg (oh-my-gosh delicious!) and Pulled Pork Taco, which has a great kick! If chorizo and pork are not your jam, they also make the following tacos: skirt steak, spiced fish, stewed zucchini with tomato, beef tongue, tiger prawns, lambs’ brain, and ground beef.

If you can’t make it to The Lucky Taco truck on the weekends, you can also buy their Chipotle Chicken and Sizzlin’ Steak Taco Kits from Farro Fresh stores or order their Lucky Taco Fiesta Kits for your next Mexican party on their website here

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PEACH’S HOT CHICKEN

After many recommendations from friends and followers, and thanks to Auckland Food Truck Collective’s recent event ‘Winter Solstice Night Market’, I finally tried Peach’s Hot Chicken. Yes, I know, super late!

Between three, we shared their Chicken Sandwich with fried chicken thigh on a brioche bun with aioli and pickles [OMG] and the Pimento Mac & Cheese [OMFG]. The fried chicken was super crunchy, and tasted so damn good. But the Mac & Cheese… mouthwatering. I would definitely recommend ordering this as a side to your chicken dish. Next on my list to try is their Fried Chicken & Waffles with pure Canadian chili maple syrup and garlic butter. Ooh la la.

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DOUBLE DUTCH FRIES

Not particularly being a fry lover, I only tried Double Dutch Fries late last year… sad I know! DDF serve only one thing, but they do it so damn well, so much so, I now actually enjoy eating fries. Your choice of small or large serving of fries and toppings – tomato sauce, Dutch mayonnaise or satay sauce (or all!).

I chose a small serving of fries, drizzled with Dutch mayonnaise and satay sauce – both are heavenly. Also loved the addition of diced red onion on top. Their fries are very filling, so I recommend sharing with friends, or just don’t eat anything else [hehe]. 

*Double Dutch Fries have just opened up shop in Takapuna

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OTHERSIDE

Another street food discovery last year was Otherside. They serve plant based goodness – smoothies, acai bowls, a Jamaican jerk tofu bowl, and my favourite, a delicious Kimchi Burrito, which I tried at the Vegan Truck Stop event, held at La Cigale last November. Filled with chipotle, miso kumara, brown rice, black beans, kale, sesame cabbage, spring onion, kimchi, cashew sour cream and avocado sauce, it had a great kick!

Their truck is also fabulously cool as it oozes summer – it is painted pink with palm trees and a bright neon sign up top. Not to mention their insanely tasty food… which is all vegan! I can’t wait to try more dishes on their menu – see you in the summer, Otherside!

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KUYA

Kuya, meaning ‘brother’ in Filipino, is Auckland’s first Filipino food truck. The food is inspired by family recipes, and served LA street food style. On the menu, you will find Pork Adobo Tacos, Singigang Fried Chicken in a purple bao and the Fili Cheeseburger. 

I tried the ‘The Purrrp’ – a PURPLE BAO filled with Buttermilk fried chicken, red cabbage, sweet and tangy sinigang sauce and coriander. Kuya say the bao gets it purple colour from mixing the dough with ube, a naturally purple root vegetable from the Philippines. So freaking cool! The chicken inside was finger licking good, crispy on the outside and what she said – moist on the inside. 

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LALELE ORGANIC GELATO

Owners Mulan and Nathan run Lalele Organic Gelato and make delicious hand crafted gelato, using organic ingredients, and they have many vegan options available. My all time favourite flavour is their Mango Sorbet which tastes like he real thing! At recent foodie events last year (like Taste of Auckland), I enjoyed Lalele Organic‘s newest flavour – Black Sesame – which I highly recommend.

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EGLOO

Located on Albert Street, Egloo serves ice cream (topped with goodies) in egg waffle cones, just like they do in Hong Kong. I am interested in trying new things, and I love dessert, so I was super excited to check out Eggloo. I’m a chocoholic, so of course, I went for the ‘Just Chocolate’ combination – chocolate egg waffle cone, chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce and chocolate bar (at the time it was Snickers). It was delicious – who doesn’t love an overload of chocolate? Eggloo is the perfect treat come summer! Unless of course you like eating ice cream in winter… guilty…!

*Eggloo are parked up on Elliot Street and also inside Sylvia Park (near the train station)

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MOUSTACHE MILK & COOKIE BUS

There is nothing more satisfying than milk and cookies right?!

In 2016, Moustache, a popular milk and cookie bar, set up their kitchen and shop on Karangahape Road. Here, you can watch them make their famous cookies, then order your favourite, and if you are feeling over-indulgent, a shake too (I love their Nutella one). Last year, the Moustache team travelled around the North Island in their bright yellow Mo’Bus (see below), selling their cookies, milks and shakes to fans from all around New Zealand. I have seen the Mo’Bus a few times this year – at the Vegan Truck Stop event held at La Cigale last November and the Auckland Lantern Festival this year.

My all time favourite Moustache cookie is the Oreo Marshmallow, with the Vegan Peanut Butter coming in as a close second! Other delicious flavours include: Snickers, Chocolate Chunk, Nutella, White Chocolate Macadamia, Cinnamon Donut and Black Forest. Swoon.

*Moustache is located at 309 K’Road and also M-F at Auckland University Quad

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GROWN UP DONUTS

Last, but definitely not least, Grown Up Donuts. Okay, I am being honest here, I haven’t actually tried one of their doughnuts yet. At the most recent street food event I attended (Winter Solstice Night Market), the line for Grown Up Donuts was INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE. Plus I had already stuffed myself silly with all things savoury… but look at the doughnuts below!

Their doughnuts are seasonal, but some of the flavours you may find include: Cinnamon Sugar, Belgian Chocolate, Nana’s Spiced Apple Pie, Passionfruit Curd, Salted Caramel, Heilala Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee and Raspberry and Rosewater Jam. Yum.

I took a billion pictures because they reminded me of the doughnuts from Bread Ahead Bakery at Borough Market in London. I can confirm they are amazing – just by watching people after people buying them and exclaiming how great they are.

* I plan to try one next Thursday at Auckland’s Fried Chicken Festival – watch this space!~

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Hope you enjoyed my guide to Auckland’s Best Street Food!

Happy Eating! x

Poderi Crisci – Waiheke

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I love love love Poderi Crisci.

Situated on Waiheke Island, about a 25 minute drive from Kennedy Point Wharf, you will find Poderi Crisci, a vineyard and Italian restaurant owned and run by Antonio Crisci and his family. Surrounded by rolling hills and immaculate gardens, together with a stunning setting including an Italian style kitchen, displays of Italian cheeses and cured meats, and copper pots and utensils, you will feel like you are in Tuscany. 

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I dined here for my birthday with my family and it was a very memorable meal… and day overall. Everything was exquisite – from the surrounds and views, to the alfresco dining and beautiful food and wine. The service is also very welcoming, professional and friendly.

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For starters, we enjoyed a glass of prosecco, accompanied by three platters, all of which were beautifully presented and each dish was savoured:

Pane & Olio
A selection of homemade grissini, Italian inspired bread and olives with Poderi Crisci olive oil
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Contorni
A selection of Antipasti style side dishes, including free range egg frittata, braised capsicums with smoked olives, chargrilled eggplant and garden zucchinis
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Affetato
A traditional Italian selection of cured meats, Mozzarella cheese, olives, grissini and truffle paste
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For the main course, I loved their Gnocchi alla Norma – Homemade potato gnocchi with buffalo mozzarella, garden eggplant, cherry tomatoes and basil. It was dreamy and melt in your mouth.

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My parents also enjoyed their mains, which included the Agnello – Hawke’s Bay lamb rump served with potato and sage, zucchini, garlic sauce and jus and the Salmone Marinato  Home-marinated King Salmon served with almond and rocket pesto, mustard dressing and garden herb salad.

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And of course, dessert. You simply cannot dine at an Italian restaurant without ordering tiramisu. I think Poderi Crisci makes the most superb Tiramisu in all of the land – think Savoiardi sponge fingers with espresso and Italian liqueur, layered with mascarpone sabayon and dusted with rich dark cocoa powder. Dreamy…!

And the best part? It arrived at our table with a lit candle, while all the staff sang ‘Happy Birthday’. The Tiramisu was divine and it made for a very memorable lunch and birthday.

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Food aside, service was excellent – the waiters were attentive, welcoming and very knowledgeable about the menu and wine.

I would happily re-visit Poderi Crisci in a heartbeat… and I think you should too!

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Note: If you can’t get over to Waiheke, head to Non Solo Pizza (NSP) in Parnell as it shares the same owners as Poderi Crisci. Their food is heaven.

205 Awaawaroa Road, Awaawaroa Bay, Waiheke
/ Website / Instagram

Poderi Crisci Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Georgieats’ London Food Guide

Following on from my 15 Best Things to Do in London post, check out my London Food Guide below!

#1  Broadway Market

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Held every Saturday, Broadway Market is the best market I have been to in London and in the world to date. While it may not be the biggest market, it sure does have every cuisine you can think of, every treat you can imagine, and the street vendors are super friendly and passionate about their products.

It is THE market for ultimate food heaven. We enjoyed Haggis Scotch Eggs, Haggis Toasted Sandwich, Mini Meringues from Meringue Girls, a French/Caribbean vegetable stew and a Berliner custard cream doughnut. 

Other market highlights include: Mediterranean salads, tomatoes in all shapes and colours, olives, olives, olives, Ciabatta sandwiches (with fillings like salami and brie), ethnic dishes and salads, homemade pies, sausage rolls, rainbow bagels, falafel and Japanese satsuma chicken.

Plus, the array of sweet treats in general – think German fruit cheesecake, S’mores chocolate cheesecake, French pastries, sweet tarts, apple and cinnamon strudels, epic looking fudge, bounty brownie, eclairs, vegan cakes and doughnuts. Seriously everything!

~ READ: BROADWAY MARKET

5 Broadway Market, Hackney / Website / Instagram


#2  BAO

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On my second visit to London, BAO, an upmarket Taiwanese eatery located in the Soho area, was high up on my foodie list. It is a place where you will always have to wait in line and they don’t take reservations, but waiting for their bao is worth it.

Their menu is simple. It consists of Taiwanese small plates – 9 dishes, 5 bao, 4 sides and one dessert bao. When ordering, you simply tick the box next to the dish you want on your menu and then hand it over to the wait staff. While I wanted to order all 19 dishes, I only ordered three – for starters, the Classic Pork Bao and Taiwanese fried chicken. 

But my favourite dish was the Fried Horlicks Ice Cream Bao – a must order when dining at BAO. It is a scoop of creamy malt ice cream between two sweet buns. Simple, but done well. Plus, it looks super cute!

I can’t wait to go back to London, just so I can try more of BAO’s creations!

~ READ: BAO

53 Lexington St, Carnaby, London / Website / Instagram


#3  Chin Chin Labs

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Chin Chin Labs is located in Camden Markets, and is just wow. If I lived in London, I would be make a beeline for Chin Chin every weekend as their ice cream is deliciously smooth and melt in your mouth. The secret? Liquid nitrogen! 

I only visited once, and tried only one flavour – Valrhona Chocolate 80%, topped with hazelnut crumb. It was absolutely divine and seriously the smoothest ice cream I have ever tried! Highly recommend.

Camden Markets, 49-50 Camden Lock Place / Website / Instagram

~ READ: GOLD COAST EATS


#4  Harrods Food Hall

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Stepping into Harrods Food Hall was like all my wildest food fantasies had come true…

– Delectable desserts, sweet tarts and cupcakes ready to be boxed;
– Cookies, cronuts and doughnuts like you have never seen before;
– Wraps with exotic fillings and salads made to order;
– Perfect pies, Japanese delights and mouthwatering pizza breads; and
– Fresh juices with flavours like apple and raspberry.

And the best thing about all the delicious food is that it is handmade onsite, fresh everyday. Bonus!!!

Highlights included: A freshly made baguette with Thai chicken, spices, lettuce, red onion and peppers, a Mediterranean vegetarian pide pizza, a fresh raspberry juice, and another baguette with goat’s cheese, rocket and tomato… because they are that good!

Tip: Grab a few things for lunch and have a picnic in nearby Hyde Park.

~ READ: Harrods Food Hall

87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge / Website

 

#5  Duck and Waffle

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Like the name suggests, Duck and Waffle is famous for one dish – Duck & Waffle. Looking at the menu, it was on the pricey side ($34 NZD), so I went for the Porridge with maple pecans, toasted seeds and banana and a pot of English Breakfast tea, while my Mum ordered the Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast with hand churned butter. I loved the presentation of the Porridge and it tasted heavenly.

But, the best part about dining at Duck and Waffle? The view. Located in the Heron Tower (one of the largest buildings in London) and situated on the 40th floor, the views from where you sit are incredible.   

Duck and Waffle is one of those places I would visit just for the experience – dining up high, looking out over the spectacular views. However, next time, I would come back for a morning coffee or a drink after work, as I believe it is too pricey for what it is worth.

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate / Website / Facebook / Instagram

~ READ: BARCELONA EATS

#6  Borough Market

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Another favourite market in London is
Borough Market, for its overwhelming choice of different foods. Every cuisine you can imagine – all under one roof!

The market is bustling with people, and it does get quite packed so make sure you come prepared! I have been twice and both visits have been great.

On my first visit, Pieminister were serving the most delicious array of pies, all with free range meat and chicken. I loved their ‘Free Ranger’ Pie, consisting of chicken, ham hock, leek and thyme, while my sister ordered the ‘Classic Moo’ with beef and ale. The pastry was perfect and there was loads of filing. At £4 each, this was a steal!

On my second visit, I went back to Pieminister again to try their ‘Matador’ Pie with mushy peas (delicious as per the first time) and then devoured a Salted Caramel Doughnut from Bread Ahead Bakery – this is an absolute must!

If you are not into pies or doughnuts, other highlights include fresh fruit and vegetables, pungent cheeses, savoury breads, cookies the size of your hands, sweet treats, handmade chocolates, ice cream, ethnic food (for example from the ‘Soul Food’ and vegetarian Indian stands), haloumi burgers (The Veggie Table), fresh juices and smoothies.

~ READ: BOROUGH MARKET

8 Southwark Street / Website / Instagram


#7  Whole Foods Market

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If you are into healthy eating or are following a particular food plan, then my ‘go to’ lunch (or dinner) place in London would be Whole Foods Market.

It is part grocery store, part cafe and takeaway/eat-in self-serve food bar. You simply fill a box with your favourite foods, then pay by weight. There are so many options to choose from – hot meals (like curry, pasta, soups, chicken, pies and stews), vegetables of every kind, falafel and salads. You can also purchase fruits, vegetables, breads, wine, cheese, deli meats, plus homemade baking (hellloooo brownie) and health food products. All of these options also make it great place to stop by before a picnic!

We ate here on two occasions – for a takeaway dinner from the Clapham Junction branch and a sit down lunch at the branch in Soho near Piccadilly Circus station. I ordered (and loved) their falafel with dips and side salad, coconut iced coffee and a blueberry custard tart.

There are many food choices, so I can guarantee you will find something that you love to eat. They have several stores, but the best in my opinion is located in Soho near Piccadilly Circus station!

20 Glasshouse Street, Soho (near Piccadilly Circus station) / Website / Instagram

~ READ: PARIS EATS


#8  Ottolenghi

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After a morning spent walking around Notting Hill (including visiting the Portobello Road Market), stop at the famous Ottolenghi. Run by the Israeli born chef, Yottam Ottolenghi, you will be amazed once you step inside his Mediterranean inspired cafe.

Upon entering, you will gawk at the meringues piled high, cakes of all shapes and sizes, cheesecakes, brownies, cookies, tarts, scones, muffins, mini loaves, croissants, pastries, and many more delectable treats.

On a more savoury note, they have about ten different fresh and healthy salads and vegetable sides, all served on large platters and white bowls, like a buffet. Reminded me of Christmas! 

We picked up a few salads and a delectable treat (peanut and chocolate s’mores, yes please!) and enjoyed these at a nearby park. The reason we got takeaway is because seating is limited, with only a communal table out the back. 

Ottolenghi has a few different cafe locations, but Notting Hill is my favourite. Mainly because of the food displays and looking through the large window from the street… piled high with cakes, tarts, meringues, cookies, chocolate… it is a sweet lover’s dream. 

63 Ledbury Rd, Notting Hill / Website / Instagram

~ READ: HAWKE’S BAY Travel Diary

#9  Tas Pide

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If you are looking for a delicious and reasonably priced meal before/after watching a play at Shakespeare’s Globe, then I recommend Tas Pide, which is conveniently just around the corner. They serve Middle Eastern food, have plenty of seating and the service is great.

We ordered a selection of their Mezze, which included the following:
Maydanoz Salatasi (chopped parsley salad of tomatoes, onions, cracked wheat, olive oil and lemon juice);
Kisir (Bulgur wheat mixed with crushed walnuts and hazelnuts, spring onions and tomato sauce, seasoned with fresh mint, dill and herbs);
Ispanakli Yoghurt (made with fresh spinach and garlic);
Zeytinyagli Bakla (fresh broad beans with olive oil, red and green peppers, coriander, dill and garlic, served with yogurt);
Zeytinyagli Patlican (eggplant with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, pepper and chickpeas)
Mercimek Kofte (lentil and fine bulgur wheat patties, flavoured with spring onions, tomato puree, herbs and olive oil, drizzled with pomegranate sauce);
Borek (filo pastry filled with feta cheese and spinach); and
Hummus, Falafel and Homemade Bread.

We also ordered a bottle of Australian sparkling wine, and paired with the food, it was a very delicious dinner. Tas Pide’s food is great for sharing between two or three or in a large group. I would definitely re-visit next time I am in London, and on the way to watch a Shakespeare play. 

21 New Globe Walk, Bankside (nearest tube: Mansion House, then walk across
Southwark Bridge)
/ Website / Instagram / Facebook


Hope you enjoyed my London Food Guide post! Stay tuned for more travel posts coming very soon! x

15 Best Things to Do in London

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London is… Big. Thrilling. Multi Cultured. Fascinating. Inspiring. Food Heaven.

Check out my 15 Best Things to Do in London below:


#1  London Eye

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I am terrified of heights.

But, on my most recent trip to London, I faced my fear, and booked tickets to go on the London Eye. It is probably the most touristy thing to do, but it is one of the few attractions that offers amazing 360 degree views over London. Some of the attractions you will see from above include Big Ben, River Thames, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral…. and many more!

The London Eye stands at 135 metres above ground and is essentially a giant ferris wheel. You (along with a few strangers) are put into a large pod – do not fear, there is room to stand up and also a few seats if being up high gets too much (i.e. me!). There are numerous opportunities to take photos of yourself/friends/family in front of London’s most famous buildings.  

At night, the London Eye is colourfully lit up, so it makes for a great photo op!

Was it worth it? Yes! 

Tip: Book your tickets in advance online here

Getting to The London Eye: Waterloo is the closest rail station to the London Eye. Waterloo is about five minutes walking distance; take exit six for South Bank and follow the signs.

South Bank of the River Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament
Website / Instagram / Facebook


#2  Broadway Market

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Held every Saturday, Broadway Market is the best market I have been to in London and in the world to date. While it may not be the biggest market, it sure does have every cuisine you can think of, every treat you can imagine, and the street vendors are super friendly and passionate about their products. It is THE market for ultimate food heaven. We enjoyed the Haggis Scotch Eggs, Haggis Toasted Sandwich, Mini Meringues from Meringue Girls, a French/Caribbean vegetable stew and a Berliner custard cream doughnut. 

As well as the vast array of foods, you will also find stallholders selling flowers, vintage items, clothing and coffee.  Other things I loved about Broadway Market is that there are dogs everywhere! Dogs AND Food meant one happy me. Some may say that Broadway Market is super busy, and I totally agree. But it is truly an amazing market. If you are in London and are after some foodie heaven, then definitely add this market to the top of your list!

READ: BROADWAY MARKET

5 Broadway Market, Hackney / Website / Instagram


#3  Sky Garden

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If you are looking for some nature in the city (other than Hyde Park), head up to Sky Garden. It is essentially a glass dome 35 floors up, complete with landscaped gardens, exotic plants, observation decks and an open air terrace (check out the amazing 360 degree views of London). It also has a bar and two restaurants.

Entry is free, but there are a limited number of tickets for each day. You have to book your tickets online in advance, and you have to pick the day and time of your visit. I would recommend doing this about three weeks beforehand, to be on the safe side. In terms of what times to visit, we went in the morning – you could have a delicious breakfast (the food looked great) or a coffee, otherwise head up at night time and have a few drinks at the bar while you are there.

It was a very cool experience, mainly because we don’t have anything like this in New Zealand, and also it is free – bonus!

20 Fenchurch Street Website / Facebook

READ: BARCELONA Travel Diary


#4  Notting Hill

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If you have a morning or afternoon to spare while in London, then I highly recommend spending it in Notting Hill. Head down Portobello Road and take many pictures of the pretty pastel townhouses. Then, walk a bit further and enjoy the Portobello Road Market. Fridays and Saturdays are the main market days – we visited on a Friday.

At the top end of Portobello Road is the antiques – my Mum bought a lovely silver plated teapot and I eyed up all the old school cameras. At the bottom end of the market are the fruit and vegetables – we bought some fresh blackberries and olives. Yum!

For a nearby lunch, stop at the famous Ottolenghi. We picked up salads and a delectable treat – peanut and chocolate s’mores, yes please! We enjoyed these at a nearby park. I have also tried their hot chocolate, which was lovely.

Portobello Road, Junction off Westbourne Park Road / Fridays 8am – 6:30pm
Website / Facebook 


#5  Harrods and Harrods’ Food Hall

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Walking into Harrods was like walking onto a British film set. Yes, it is one of those places I had seen in countless of films, and visiting was like a dream come true. 

Harrods is a beautiful and glamorous department store located in Knightsbridge, which opened in 1849, and is one of the most famous attractions in the world today. The store spans over seven floors and has over 330 different departments, making it the biggest department store in Europe! 

Harrods stocks everything, and I mean everything. Designer clothing, perfume, accessories, shoes, makeup, children’s clothing and toys, technology, homewares, food (my favourite section), beautiful teas, decadent chocolates, wine, food hampers, and last but not least, souvenirs… but not the souvenirs you would buy from a street-side stand. They sell Harrods bags, cups and mugs, travel accessories, jewellery, soft toys, stationery… and many more things. If you are looking for a mug or a bag with a map of London on it, then the Harrods gift shop is your place! I love coming here to purchase gifts for family and friends. 

Tip: Don’t leave without checking out Harrods’ Food Hall, where all your wildest food fantasies will come true… I don’t want to give too much away (as this will be in my next post – Georgieats’ London Food Guide), but in the meantime, read more about it here

87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge / Website

READ: PARIS Travel Diary

#6  St Paul’s Cathedral

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St Paul’s Cathedral is a beautiful Anglican church which dates back to the 1300’s – it has been around for some 718 years! It is an iconic London landmark with very interesting history and once you step inside the cathedral, you will be amazed. If you are feeling adventurous, climb to the top of the cathedral dome for panoramic views over London. 

Having not visited St Paul’s Cathedral before, we opted to sign up for one of their free guided tours (check their website for gathering times). I would highly recommend doing so as you learn more about the history, more so from someone who is very passionate about it. On the tour, you will also be taken into an area in which a beautiful spiral staircase occupies the space. This can only be accessed if you do the guided tour. #Winning.

Both inside and outside, the cathedral is fascinating, magnificent and awe-inspiring. I was wowed from the moment we entered, to the moment we left. 

After the guided tour, be super brave and climb 528 steps to the very top of the dome of St Paul’s. I almost spaced out, because of the super steep staircases and little room, but I made it! My tip: Just don’t look down.

Once you reach the top of the dome, you can walk around outside and the views are spectacular. Definitely worth every minute. 

Tip: You can’t take photos inside the cathedral.

St Paul’s Churchyard, Blackfriars (nearest tube: St Paul’s) Website / Facebook 


#7  Tower of London

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Fun facts: William the Conqueror ordered the construction of the Tower of London in the 1070’s (wow) and over the years, it has been a fortress, a royal residence, and most famously, a prison and gallows. It is where Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s unfortunate second wife) was beheaded in 1536. It has also been the home of the British Crown Jewels since the 14th century.

Having not visited Tower of London before, we opted to sign up for one of their free guided tours with a Yeoman Warder or ‘Beefeater’. Our guide was Spike – who was passionate, funny and kept us entertained for the whole morning. The history of the Tower of London is fascinating and super interesting (it honestly reminded me of that Goosebumps episode “Terror Tower” which funnily enough looked vaguely familiar while walking through…).

I would highly recommend doing the tour as you learn more about the history and interesting facts, more so from someone who is very passionate about it, as opposed to just walking around and figuring it out for yourselves.

After the tour, head to ……….. to see the Crown Jewels. There is a line to get in, but it is pretty magnificent once inside. You are able to get a close up look of the Coronation regalia, St Edward’s crown, Sovereign’s Orb and the Jewelled Sword of Offering, Sovereign’s Sceptre, the Imperial State crown, a Giant Wine Cistern (which can hold the contents of 144 bottles of wine!), royal fashion, and of course, the stars of the show, all the beautiful jewels, in particular the diamonds. 

On the way out, there is a great gift shop which I recommend visiting – I picked up a few skulls and some London memorabilia.

Tower of London is definitely a must see in London!

Tower Hill, Aldgate, The City Website / Facebook 


#8  Tate Modern

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Tate Modern is a very spacious art gallery with a fabulous collection of artworks, sculptures, interactive  art and many other things to suit everyone’s tastes. 

On my first visit (22/07/15), I particularly liked the communist propaganda prints and Picasso’s works on show, namely the “Weeping Woman” and “Nude Woman with Necklace”. 

Another highlight was definitely the amazing gift shop. They sell a wide range of books, art prints, cards and stationery. I picked up an Andy Warhol print of Marilyn Monroe (have secretly always wanted one), plus a few gifts for family and friends. Highly recommend if you enjoy art and are in the area.

Bankside (by tube: Southwark, Jubilee Line) Website / Facebook / Instagram

READ: HAWKE’S BAY Travel Diary


#9  Warner Bros Studio Tour: Harry Potter World

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I have read the books. I have watched the films countless times. I have dreamed of going to Hogwarts… and I am sure you have too!

If you are a Harry Potter fan, then the Warner Bros Studio Tour featuring Harry Potter is a must if you are visiting London! Simply take the train from Euston Station to Watford Station (use your Oyster card), hop on the Warner Bros Harry Potter shuttle bus (only a few pounds return) and within 15 minutes, you will have entered Hogwarts.

On arrival, we were given a short overview about Harry Potter World and the highlights we would see once inside, and then we entered through a huge wooden door (if it is your birthday, you get to open the wooden door – my sister was one of the lucky ones!) and were led through to the Great Dining Hall. 

From there, you can see everything Harry Potter related: The Hogwarts Express (life size), The Chamber of Secrets (life size and my favourite film), Knight Bus, Forbidden Forest, Hagrid’s motorcycle, and sets of Dumbledore’s Office, The Burrows, The Cupboard Under the Stairs, Gryffindor Common Room and Boys Dormitory, plus a HUGE walk through set of Diagon Alley – amazing. You can also hop in the Weasley’s flying car or “ride” a broomstick. Don’t forget to check out the amazing miniature replica of Hogwarts too. There are also thousands of props and costumes to see.

At the end of the tour inside, head outside to see the original set of #4 Privet Drive and grab a butterbeer too – delicious! There is also an amazing gift shop on-site where you can purchase wands, costumes, cloaks, food products, and so much more. Highly recommend!

 Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Watford Website / Facebook / Instagram


#10  Hyde Park

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Hyde Park is the perfect place in London to get away from the hustle and bustle. And, there is so much to do. Have a picnic (courtesy of Harrods Food Hall), a nap, a session of meditating, people watching, dog patting, reading, rollerblading, flower smelling and admiring, bird feeding, renting paddle boats and/or swimming in The Serpentine, playing on the playground, admiring sculptures, playing a game of tennis, attending a concert and festival, or simply getting fit by walking/running the length of the park… seriously everything!

The park is massive (over 350 acres), so if you want to see it all, I would highly recommend hiring a bike (for a small fee). Super easy, practical and loads of fun. 

Various entrances – I recommend shopping down Oxford Street, then walking to Hyde Park from there (by tube: Marble Arch Underground Station) Website / Facebook / Instagram

READ: SYDNEY Travel Diary


#11  Borough Market

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Another favourite market in London is Borough Market, for its overwhelming choice of different foods. The market is bustling with people, and it does get quite packed so make sure you come prepared! I have been twice and both visits have been great. My favourite stands are Pieminister, who serve the most delicious array of pies, hot from the oven. I recommend their ‘Free Ranger’ Pie with chicken, ham hock, leek and thyme, the ‘Classic Moo’ with beef and ale and the ‘Matador’ Pie with mushy peas. The pastry was perfect each time and there was loads of filing. At £4 each, this was a steal!

Also don’t leave without trying a doughnut from Bread Ahead Bakery – this is an absolute must! Their Salted Caramel Doughnut is EPIC.

If you are not into pies or doughnuts, other highlights at Borough Market include fresh fruit and vegetables, pungent cheeses, savoury breads, cookies the size of your hands, sweet treats, handmade chocolates, ice cream, ethnic food (for example from the ‘Soul Food’ and vegetarian Indian stands), haloumi burgers (from The Veggie Table), fresh juices and smoothies.

READ: BOROUGH MARKET

8 Southwark Street (nearest tube: London Bridge Underground) / Website / Instagram


#12 
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

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“Look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under ‘t…” 🌸🐍

My favourite line from Macbeth… a play by William Shakespeare which I studied back in high school, and which was on show at Shakespeare’s Globe on my second trip to London. 

Did you know that this is the very theatre where Shakespeare used to hold his plays in? Well, the original building did burn down, then it was rebuilt, and rebuilt again, but still pretty cool right? It was thrilling, thinking that wherever I was standing/sitting, Shakespeare had been in the exact same spots. 

We booked our tickets online beforehand, so we had seats, otherwise you can stand in the Yard, where you are close to the stage and all the action… as long as you don’t mind getting wet from rain or standing for a long period of time. 

For those who are not familiar with Macbeth – it is a story about three witches who tell Macbeth his fate – he will occupy the throne of Scotland. Thereafter, Macbeth and his wife kill the first man standing in their path – King Duncan. But to maintain his position, Macbeth must keep on killing – first Banquo, his old comrade, and then anyone else who gets in his way.

It was a wonderful experience, and I would recommend it while you are in London. 

21 New Globe Walk, Bankside (nearest tube: Mansion House, then walk across
Southwark Bridge)
 Website / Instagram / Facebook

#13  Buckingham Palace

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Buckingham Palace is grand. Super grand. Like nothing I have ever seen before. Wait, hold up, that is a lie. Palace of Versailles, in my opinion, is still the grandest of them all. But anyhow, seeing as we don’t have palaces in New Zealand, it was pretty spectacular. But, the most exciting thing was not the actual palace itself, but the number of people lining up to get a good view for The Changing of the Guard

The Changing of the Guard is a ceremonial procession which takes place by the fountain outside Buckingham Palace. At 11am each day, a group of soldiers are relieved of their duties by a new batch of soldiers. What I enjoyed most were the guards’ outfits – they wear a striking traditional red tunic, black and red trousers, and bearskin hats. Plus there is a marching band and policemen on horses. Definitely a sight to see!

After taking numerous tourist shots and experiencing the mass crowds at The Changing of the Guard, head down The Mall. It is a tree lined royal road which has Buckingham Palace at one end and Trafalgar Square at the other.

Fun fact: As you all know, the palace is the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II. If the Queen is in residence, the flag on top of the palace will the the Royal Standard. The British flag (Union flag) is flown when the Queen is away from home.

Buckingham Place (nearest tube: Victoria) Website

READ: QUEENSTOWN Travel Diary


#14  Shop till you drop at Primark!

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If you have a few hours to spare and want to do some shopping at ridiculously good prices, then head to Primark – you will not be disappointed!

My favourite store is located on Oxford Street, near the Marble Arch tube station. My older sister recommended this store – she said it is like Kmart, but bigger and better. And she was right. It is like Kmart and Farmers on steroids!!! 

Primark is seriously awesome. You will find clothing, sleepwear, swimwear, bags, shoes and accessories (for women and men), makeup and lots more. Just all mass produced. On my first trip, my sister and I picked up a variety of things – scarves (£2 each), tops (all under £5), pajamas, a colourful Aztec bag, shorts, socks, earrings and a London-inspired bag. On my second visit, I bought about 10 makeup foundation brushes (£2 each), leggings, t-shirts and sunglasses.

Be prepared to spend a few hours here because this store is on two levels and is massive. Also, the line for the changing rooms is super long. If you’re daring enough, find a corner and try on your clothes there – we did it and no one even cared. There was also another girl next to us doing the same thing! 

499-517 Oxford Street, MayfairWebsite / Facebook / Instagram

#15  Victoria and Albert Museum

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Lucky last, but not least, the Victoria and Albert Museum (the V&A) – my favourite museum in London. Walking in, the building and interior are architecturally stunning.

The V&A was established in 1852, spans over 5,000 years of art and is one of the world’s largest museums. They have a great variety of exhibits, and you will see everything from sculptures, paintings, photographs, medieval objects and prints, to costumes, textiles, glassware, silver, jewellery and furniture. I particularly enjoyed the exhibits of art from Asia and the Middle East, and the David Bowie section, in which the V&A holds a unique collection of David Bowie photographs, album artworks and memorabilia.

Ticket entry is free, however you have to buy a ticket if you want to see the special exhibitions on display (if I was re-visiting London this year, I would definitely check out the Frida Khalo exhibition, which opens on 16 June). We just roamed around by ourselves, and even though we didn’t see any special exhibitions, we still had a wonderful afternoon. There is so much to see and explore – you could literally spend a whole day here!

Cromwell Road, South Kensington (nearest tube: Tube: South Kensington or Knightsbridge)
Website / Facebook / Instagram


Hope you enjoyed my 15 Best Things to Do in London post! Stay tuned for my A Foodie’s Guide to London post coming very soon! x

5 Reasons Why I Love Gemmayze Street


I would love to share with you one of my favourite hidden gems in Auckland –  introducing Gemmayze Street in St Kevin’s Arcade. Here are five reasons why I love Gemmayze Street and why you should visit pronto. 

1.  The owners. Chef Samir Allen runs the kitchen and produces the most beautiful, divine, mouthwatering and moreish Lebanese food (more on that below), while his mother, Liane Farry, is front of house. I read in one review that said she was ‘scary’ – she is definitely quite the opposite. Always friendly, always welcoming, and once on a very busy night, Liane took over our table of five and we received great service!

2.  The beautiful Lebanese food. I have dined at Gemmayze Street four times now, and the food has been excellent every visit. I generally order my favourite vegetarian dishes (a selection of mezze), and also a larger dish if I am feeling super hungry. These dishes come highly recommended:

Hummus – this is my family’s favourite dish, for it’s beautiful flavour and texture, creaminess and lovely presentation. Dip your complimentary flatbread in it and I guarantee you will swoon.

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Falafel – served with parsley cream and pickled turnip, this dish is my second favourite, for its generous serving and overall deliciousness. I could literally eat Gemmayze Street’s falafel everyday if I could and/or turn vegetarian if I had a limited supply of their falafels.

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Tabbouleh – I have fond memories of my Mum making this dish when my sisters and I were young, and she continues to make it to this day. It is a fresh, healthy and delicious salad made up of Bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, tomatoes and lemon. It is super easy to make too. I love ordering this dish at Gemmayze Street, not only because of it reminds me of Mum, but also because it is the perfect fresh accompaniment to all the other dishes.

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Frekkeh Risotto – In January of this year, Gemmayze Street updated their menu and this beautiful risotto was added as one of their larger dishes. It is served with broccoli, garlic, olives and a bright egg on top. It was a delight to eat and is a delicious vegetarian option.

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3. The presentation. Each dish is perfectly plated, with a mix of different colours and textures. The food is made for sharing, so each diner also gets their own special colourful plate – every time I visit I am excited about which coloured plate I will end up with. Also, I love the unique wine and beer glasses!

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4. The service etc. Consistently good service, with water glasses always topped up, and attentive wait staff who are always on hand to explain the dishes and make suggestions for both food and drink. In regards to booking, I would recommend booking online via their website in advance. Gemmayze Street are only open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner, so it does get busy and it is a popular place for work and celebratory functions. Even though when I have dined there (around 6pm) it has been quiet, after 30 minutes, the whole restaurant has filled up quickly. 

5.  The decor and location. Tucked away at the back of St Kevin’s Arcade, Gemmayze Street takes up the space where Bestie is a cafe during the day. The restaurant is set up like a real Lebanese restaurant/cafe – there are rugs, colourful table settings, mix and match furniture, greenery, photos of Lebanese families by the bar area, and traditional artefacts, plus the tables occupy one whole end of the Arcade, making it a great place for dining al fresco. If possible, request a table near the large windows – you will get a full view of the Sky Tower. At night, the view is magical… just like Gemmayze Street is too. 

Gemmayze Street
Shop 15-16, St Kevin’s Arcade, 183 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD / Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm until late / Website / Instagram / Facebook

Gemmayze St Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eden Noodles Cafe

 

I tried Eden Noodles Cafe for the first time last Friday.

I know, I know, I am super late on the bandwagon. It might be that for a long time, I was put off by the long queues out the door or the fact that I can’t handle extremely spicy food. Anyhow, I finally made it… and I am so glad I did! It was everything I imagined and more.

Eden Noodles Cafe is located on Dominion Road in Mount Eden and specialises in Sichuan cuisine. The menu is lengthy, and all dishes are reasonably priced. You can order fresh and handmade dumplings, noodles, soups, wontons, hotpot, rice dishes and Sichuan snacks. Their main drawcard is the Dumplings in Spicy Sauce. Ya Qin Zhang, aka ‘The Dumpling Queen’ makes between 3000-4000 dumplings a day at Eden Noodles Cafe. She can even make them with her eyes closed!

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Ya Qin Zhang aka ‘The Dumpling Queen’

We ordered a FEAST, because, well, I didn’t want to try only one dish, and it was also my first time trying Sichuan cuisine. We ordered the following: Pork and Chive Dumplings in Spicy Sauce (20 for $12), Dan Dan Noodles with Crispy Pork on top (medium for $8.50), Cucumber Salad ($8), Sichuan Pickles ($4.50), Wonton in Chicken Soup (small for $5) ‘Make Your Own’ Hot Pot ($13) and Spicy Pork Ribs on Rice ($13).

Every dish was super tasty, especially the Dumplings, which pack a punch! They are the perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy… all the good things in one! I also highly recommend the Cucumber Salad, which balanced out the spice nicely. The Make Your Own Hotpot was a super fun experience too – you can literally choose any ingredient you want and it was delicious! However, I did not enjoy the Sichuan Pickles – so weird.

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Pork and Chive Dumplings in Spicy Sauce

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Dan Dan Noodles with Crispy Pork on top

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Cucumber Salad 

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Sichuan Pickles

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‘Make Your Own’ Hot Pot with shredded tofu, pork luncheon meat, beef slices, crab meat, broccoli and noodles

In terms of dining times, we arrived early (around 5.30pm) and we were seated right away. By the time we left (7.30pm), the queue was out the door. There are only about 10 seats and the restaurant is tiny. If you can’t get there around 5.30pm, I would recommend getting takeaway. This seemed to be a very popular option for the locals.

So, what did I think overall? Eden Noodles Cafe is definitely worth the hype – check it out now.

Eden Noodles
105 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland / Website / Instagram

Eden Noodles Cafe 四川担担面 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato