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Krispy Kreme Chancery Square

 

Attention doughnut lovers, the HYPE is real… Krispy Kreme is opening a third store in Auckland CBD’s Chancery Square… tomorrow!!!

This world-famous doughnut and coffee chain first opened in 1937, and the brand is still going strong, having celebrated its 80th birthday last year (on 13 July). There are over 1,000 stores around the world – with New Zealand now in the mix, 35 countries selling these divine doughnuts!

In February, Krispy Kreme opened its first New Zealand store in Manukau and its second store last month at Auckland Airport’s domestic terminal. It has been a roaring success ever since!

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The new Krispy Kreme store in Chancery is extra special – it is not just a second store, but a brand-new look for Krispy Kreme – first of its kind in the world. It is Krispy Kreme like you have never experienced before! Are you excited yet?!
Details for the Grand Opening below…

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Tonight, Evo and I went along to Krispy Kreme’s new store in Chancery for an exclusive sneak peak! This new branch is dubbed as the Kaleidoscope store and is super cool.

Set to be a more colorful sensory experience, the outside resembles the dozen doughnut box with Krispy Kreme’s iconic dots, and neon signage out front. The inside of the store is playful and fun – there is a ceiling of sprinkles, neon lighting and a giant pink doughnut seat. Sold. 

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There are many enticing doughnuts to choose from, such as Original Glazed, Caramel Iced, Caramel Delight, Kookies N Kreme and Strawberry Jam. Doughnuts range from $3 to $3.50 and if you get a box (say 4, 12 or 24), the price is cheaper per doughnut. Krispy Kreme have just brought out four new Christmas doughnuts, which are available in store now. These include: Krispymas Pudding, Wreath with M&M’s, Christmas Tree and Snowy, complete with a sour strap scarf – too cute!

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Coffee, Milkshakes, Thickshakes and Sundaes are on the menu too, plus my forever favourite Kreme Shakes. The best one (in my opinion) is the Original Glazed Kreme Shake, topped with whipped cream and a quarter mini glazed doughnut. It tastes EXACTLY like an Original Glazed Doughnut in liquid form. Swoon. Also highly recommend the Hokey Pokey, which has a nice chocolate-y taste and pieces of honeycomb to munch on. Yum!

The Krispy Kreme Chancery Square store is also available on Uber Eats, giving users in Central Auckland the chance to get delicious doughnuts delivered to their door. Check out the pick up and delivery window below!

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I am so excited about the new Krispy Kreme store in Chancery, Auckland CBD. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Krispy Kreme 
Store B/101, Chancery Square, Auckland CBD
Website / Menu / Instagram / Facebook

Krispy Kreme Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Choc-Almond Slice with Cocavo

Baking is one of my favourite hobbies. Cookies, brownies and slices are my favourite things to bake. So, when I was sent the whole range of Cocavo products recently (and having never used their products in baking or cooking before), I was super excited to create a recipe using Cocavo’s products. 

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For those of you that are not familiar with Cocavo, they are a New Zealand owned and run company which produces a unique blend of extra virgin coconut and avocado oils, bringing the healthiest cooking oil to the market. Their products are made from all natural premium ingredients and are dairy and gluten free, and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Cocavo has five delicious flavours, including:

  • Cocavo Original (used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes)
  • Cocavo Light (the light flavour does not have the aroma or taste of coconut, which makes it the perfect cooking oil for everyday use)
  • Cocavo with Chili and Lime (use for seafood or stir-fry dishes)
  • Cocavo with Cilantro, Lime and Ginger (will bring out the flavours in Thai or Indonesian dishes)
  • Cocavo with Turmeric and Lemon Zest (perfect for cooking Indian and Middle Eastern dishes)

Using Cocavo’s Original Coconut and Avocado Oil, here is a decadent recipe for my
Choc-Almond Slice. This slice is easy to make and very moorish!

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CHOC-ALMOND SLICE with Cocavo

Ingredients

Base
1 cup oats
210g nuts (I used almonds and a few walnuts)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons Cocavo coconut and avocado oil, melted

Filling
3 tablespoons Cocavo coconut and avocado oil, melted
3/4 cup of almond butter (I used Matakana Nut Butters)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla 

Chocolate Topping
1/4 cup Cocavo coconut and avocado oil, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used a mix of Whittaker’s, Lindt and Ocho)

Method

In a food processor, pulse together base ingredients. Firmly press mixture into a slice tin lined with baking paper, and place in the freezer for 1 hour.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together filling ingredients until smooth. Pour mixture onto base and smooth out evenly with a spatula.  Place back in the freezer for 1 hour.

On low heat in a saucepan, whisk together the topping ingredients until melted.  Pour mixture over base and spread evenly with a spatula. Place in the freezer to set for 1 hour, until ready to eat.

When ready, slice, serve, eat and enjoy!

Store in the fridge or freezer. 

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Stay tuned for more recipes coming soon! x

Ditching the Dairy: Coffee Options in Auckland CBD

Having recently started switching up my coffee order to include drinking dairy-free milk, and also having no idea which cafes in Auckland CBD were offering dairy-free milk options (and specifically which ones), I have decided to create this post, so that when you feel like dairy-free milk in your coffee, you will know where to go!

For each cafe, I have also added my recommended treat/breakfast dish too, because food is life!

Note: I have researched about 20 places all up, mainly visiting these places to check out their prices and if dairy-free milk is on offer. If a place is not included, it is either because their coffee with dairy-free milk is way too expensive or the coffee tasted like burnt toast. 

Stolen Summer

Stolen Summer is at the top of my list because it is my most recent coffee discovery and currently my favourite place to get a great coffee. The cafe is small, but cute, and fairly new to High Street. The owners are friendly, the cafe fit out will look good on your ‘gram and I love their coffee. At work, we buy all our baked goods from here, and can confirm they taste great too!

I usually order a medium flat white with almond milk, which costs $5. Stolen Summer’s coffee is consistently good – I have never had a bad one! On some occasions, my coffee comes with a mini chocolate chip cookie – too cute! Tip: Bring your own keep-cup and receive 50c off! Because their non-dairy milk is an extra 50c, you basically get it for free!

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy and Almond (+50c each)

Recommended food: One of their homemade muffins or scones, made fresh daily.

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18 High Street / Weekdays 7am-3pm, Saturday 11am-2.30pm

Le Chef

I love going to Le Chef because the owner and staff are always friendly and welcoming. Here is a little secret – it is also the warmest place in winter, thanks to the brick interior!

Their coffee is excellent– always extra hot, creamy and loads of fluff, especially when I ask for dairy-free milk! They have a great special deal lasting all day, every day – order a Large Flat White and pay only $3.50! With soy and almond milk being only an extra 50c, you will only pay $4 for a large flat white. Out of all the cafe options in this list, Le Chef has the cheapest option when buying a large coffee with dairy-free milk.

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy and Almond (+50c each)

Recommended food: A freshly baked croissant or pain au chocolat!

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Upper Vulcan Lane / Monday-Saturday 7am-11pm, Sunday 7am-4pm / Instagram / Facebook

Chuffed

One of my favourite all-round cafes in the Auckland’s CBD is Chuffed, for its delicious coffee, food and decor. On my most recent visit, we noticed they have changed their coffee cups to pink! #YAY and great to brighten up the ‘gram! Their coffee is excellent too and like Eighthirty, they offer three dairy-free milk alternatives, including soy, almond and coconut. A medium coffee with coconut milk is $5.10. Would recommend dining here also, because their food menu is A+.

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy, Coconut and Almond (+60c each)

Recommended food: Anything from their cabinet – love their Gluten Free Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie, and the look of their savoury scones and lemon tarts!

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43 High Street / Weekdays 7am-4pm, Weekends 9am-4pm / Instagram / Facebook

Eighthirty

Walking up High Street, you probably would not notice Eighthirty cafe as it is hidden from the street. I love everything about this cafe – the welcoming staff, the fresh and clean look and design and their delicious coffee. They also have a standout pink feature wall, which is great for the ‘gram! 

Eighthirty offer three dairy-free milk options – soy, almond and coconut. On my first visit, I took a long time to decide, because I had not tried almond nor coconut milk in a coffee before. The girls behind the counter were super helpful, and even gave me samples of the almond and coconut milks to try – bonus! I ended up ordering a small coffee with coconut milk ($4.90) which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy, Coconut and Almond (+70c each)

Recommended food: Definitely a sweet treat! I love their Gluten Free Raspberry and Chocolate Slice.

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35 High Street / Weekdays 7am-3.30pm / Instagram / Facebook

Misters Real Food

Misters has the widest range of dairy-free milks available, with their homemade milks being no extra cost. These include: Almond Milk, Cashew Milk, Hazelnut Milk and Coconut Milk. They also offer Soy Milk, which is 50c extra. I have so far tried their hazelnut milk, which is slightly less creamy than the others, but gives the coffee a nice subtle flavour. A regular coffee with hazelnut milk costs $4.40. 

Dairy-Free Milk available: Almond, Cashew, Hazelnut and Coconut (Free) and Soy (+50c)

Recommended food: For breakfast, the Midnight Baker Freedom Loaf with Free Range Organic Scrambled Eggs ($11.80) is my top pick, otherwise one of their raw treats from the cabinet!

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12 Wyndham Street / Weekdays 7am-3pm / Instagram / Facebook

Coffix

Fancy a coffee while you wait for your laundry, or while you get your hair done? Well, you can do just that at Coffix, which is situated between a laundromat and barbershop on Beach Road. Did I mention their coffee is only $2.50, plus Fairtrade and organic?!

I pass this place every morning on my walk to the city. The $2.50 coffee sign entices me every time, so one day, I just had to try it! I ordered a large cappuccino with coconut milk and this came to only $4.50! A regular coffee is also only $3.50 with dairy-free milk. Like Le Chef, it is the cheapest option if you want a coffee with dairy-free milk.

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy, Coconut and Almond (+$1 each)

Recommended food: They sell the most delicious slices for $2! I am eyeing up the Chocolate Caramel one for next time! 

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2 Anzac Avenue (corner of Beach Road) / Weekdays 6.30am-3pm / Facebook

The Receptionist

The Receptionist is a small coffee kiosk located next to Khartoum Place and a few of my favourite spots (like KAYA, Revive and Auckland Art Gallery). It is owned and run by a guy called Kay (an ex-Deadly Ponies designer(!!)), who is friendly and welcoming. He offers three ‘Special Milks’ which include soy, coconut and almond. I am loving coconut milk at the moment, so I ordered a medium coffee with coconut milk which costs $5. It was delicious, creamy, and loved the chocolate on top. Will definitely be back. 

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy, Coconut and Almond (+50c each)

Recommended food: No food available the time I visited, so just enjoy the coffee!

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32 Lorne Street / Weekdays 7.30-4.30pm, Sat 8am-3pm / Instagram 

Scarecrow

I have been frequenting Scarecrow since March 2015 when it first opened. Back then, it was a small and cozy cafe and grocer. Fast forward to now, it has undergone renovations, and now has an open kitchen, a large grocer, an extensive range of food and drinks available and there is also a florist on-site. It is a great place to have breakfast and lunch, and also catch up with friends over coffee and many sweet treats. 

They serve delicious Kokako coffee – I ordered a medium flat white with coconut milk in my new SOL KeepCup, which would have originally come to $5.50, but if you bring your own KeepCup, you receive 50c off!

While waiting for our coffees, we perused the shelves which are filled with all sorts of fabulous food goodies. Be sure to check out the fresh section because we discovered Little Island’s Coconut MilkBarista Style! Having never ever seen this been sold in retail, it was an exciting discovery! Scarecrow also uses this milk in their coffees, which I think it makes the coffee taste so good. 

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy, Coconut and Almond (+$1 each)

Recommended food: Scarecrow has one of the best looking food cabinets in Auckland CBD, with a range of baked goods (love the Paleo banana bread), cheesecakes and tarts, plus handmade chocolates. Swoon. 

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33 Victoria Street East / Weekdays 7am-5pm, Weekends 8am-5pm / Instagram / Facebook

Giles Luncheonette

What I like about Giles Luncheonette is that it is one of the few places in the CBD that serves All Press Coffee – one of my favourite coffee roasters. What I did not like about this cafe was that when walking in, we received no friendly or welcoming greeting from front of house – to be frank they did not seem enthusiastic at all. I ordered a medium flat white with almond milk which cost $5 and it was okay. The reason I have included this place in this list is because the dairy-free milk available is only an extra 50c, so it is one of the few cafes in Auckland’s CBD offering it this cheap. 

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy and Almond (+50c each)

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21 Shortland Street / Weekdays 7am-4pm, Weekends 8am-3pm / Facebook

Huffer

Last but not least, Huffer. While technically not a cafe, every Friday, the Huffer store in Britomart offers free small coffees. My workmates and I usually meet here every week, because 1. Their coffee is Allpress, 2. It is free (although at the moment they are asking for a gold coin donation for the Mental Health Foundation which I think is great) and 3. They offer soy milk – at no extra charge! They always have doughnuts available too – sometimes small cutie pies and other times the Little & Friday doughnuts which are the best in my opinion.

Dairy-Free Milk available: Soy (Free)

Recommended food: Complimentary doughnuts!

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12 Customs Street, Britomart / Fridays 7am-10am / Instagram

Stolen Summer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taste of Auckland 18

HEADS UP FOODIES… TASTE OF AUCKLAND IS HERE!!!

November is the most exciting month of the year, for three reasons:
1. It is my birthday month;
2. It is starting to feel like summer; and
3. Taste of Auckland has arrived – woohoo!

2018 is a big year for Taste of Auckland presented by Electrolux as they are celebrating 10 years! This iconic food festival has helped launch brands, watch restaurants come and go, and of course, provide the public with an amazing event each year. 

Taste is also being held in a brand new location – occupying the entire space of Queen’s Wharf on the waterfront! I am in love with the new seaside location, as it is more spacious, and easier to get to. You could drive, but why not walk down from work or take public transport if you can?! 

On Thursday night, I attended my fifth Taste of Auckland, including the VIP Opening, where Taste presented the ‘Best in Taste Awards’, judged by Chand Sahrawat, Lachlan Colwill and Amanda Linnell. The winning dish was Xoong’s Ruakaka Kingfish Tartare. We then enjoyed drinks and canapes, followed by eating our way around the festival. 

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From left to right: Lachlan Colwill, Chand Sahrawat, Xoong’s executive chef Cameron Knox, Xoong owner David Dau, Farina owner Sergio Maglione, The Shucker Brothers’ owners Ana Schwarz and Geoff Tippett.

Held over four days (1-4 November), Taste of Auckland presented by Electrolux is ideal for those who love food, cooking and everything in between. In other words, it is the event for ultimate foodie heaven! Taste showcases some of Auckland’s best restaurants, all in pop up style at the festival, and each restaurant offers 3-4 dishes for you to try. Check out the restaurant menus hereTaste has their own festival currency, namely ‘Crowns’ ($1 = 1 crown). You use a Crown card to purchase food, drinks and experiences. Restaurant dishes cost between 6.50 and 14 crowns, while a restaurant’s ‘Icon Dish’ (limited availability) costs between 12 and 30 crowns. Crown cards are available for purchase at the entrance, and are also included in some of the ticket options. More about crowns and tickets here

Your ticket entry to Taste also includes trying new and existing food products from all over New Zealand, enjoying healthy products at the Good Taste Zone, watching your favourite chefs cooking in action (Electrolux Taste Theatre), cooking with some of New Zealand’s top chefs (Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets) and listening to live music while enjoying the sun and sea. 

Check out my highlights below at Taste of Auckland, including my favourite dishes, food stands and photos! Enjoy!

Restaurants at Taste

There are 12 restaurants featured this year, with four making a comeback: Baduzzi and Farina (both Italian), Paris Butter (French bistro), The Vodka Room (Russian-inspired).

Plus there are 8 new featured restaurants (very exciting), including: Culprit. (Modern Kiwi yum cha), Gerome (Greek-inspired), Little Bird Organics (Plant-based), Low Brow. (Contemporary fast/good food), Miann (Desserts), The Shucker Brothers (Seafood), The Smoko Room at The Sawmill Brewery (Meats) and Xoong (North-East Asian). Check out the restaurant menus here

From the 12 featured restaurants, I tried the following over three sessions: 

Baduzzi

Baduzzi is back this year serving ‘Food of the People’ – pasta, crayfish and the most divine handmade meatballs… which I highly recommend trying! Read more about Baduzzi here

Highlight of the night was Baduzzi’s Icon Dish: Wood-fired Karitane crayfish with Burro Provencal = 26 crowns

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With Baduzzi’s Executive Chef – Ben Bayly.
Do you see the resemblance?… We share the same last name!

We also tried Baduzzi’s Slow-cooked lamb meatballs with rosemary and Mamma D’s sauce = 12 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Little Bird Organics

I was so excited to hear that Little Bird Organics would be popping up at Taste this year. They are the festival’s first dedicated vegan eatery, and have a delicious and innovative menu. They will be trialing out four dishes which could potentially go on the menu of their new dinner offering at their Ponsonby Unbakery. The idea is to showcase seasonal organic bites, meals and desserts, paired with an all-natural wine list and organic cocktails menu. Can’t wait! Read more about Little Bird Unbakery here

HIGHLIGHT: Hemp Taco with BBQ cauliflower and fermented sriracha = 8 crowns

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Smoked Watermelon Sashimi with watercress, yuzu and miso = 12 crowns

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Kimchee Slider with Gochujang black bean pattie, melty ‘cheddar’, kimchi, cashew aioli, pickles, lettuce and coriander and on an activated charcoal bun = 10 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Paris Butter

Paris Butter serves French fare, and having not experienced their Duck Fat Fries, we ordered two lots of these, which were devoured in minutes! 

Fries “sarladais” – 
Duck fat fries, dried local mushrooms, parmesan and garlic = 10 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

The Shucker Brothers

What festival would be complete without oysters? Last year, there were none, so am excited that The Shucker Brothers will be featuring at Taste this year. They have brought their ocean-fresh oysters (freshly shucked to order) that are sourced locally from Clevedon, Mahurangi and Waiheke’s Te Matuku. Yum!

HIGHLIGHT: Trevally kokoda with chilli, lime, fresh coconut and nuoc cham = 12 crowns

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Freshly shucked oysters with mignonette or lemon = 12 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Farina

Italian restaurant Farina are making a comeback and have brought their wood-fired oven to create delicious dishes. Read more about Farina here

HIGHLIGHT: Spaghettoni Parmigiano E Gamberi [Spaghettoni pasta tossed in a parmigiano reggiano wheel, aromatic king prawn salsa] = 16 crowns

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Spaghettoni Alla Nerano [Spaghettoni pasta tossed in Parmigiano Reggiano wheel with zucchini, basil and black pepper] = 9 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Xoong

Xoong is Mount Eden’s newest restaurant serving North East Asian fare, with tastes inspired by Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. Read more about Xoong here

Soft Shell Crab Gua Bao with Gochujang mayo and pickled shallots = 10 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Low Brow.

Low Brow. are currently creating a stir on Auckland’s foodie scene with their infamous free-range fried chicken…

Note I didn’t get a chance to try their dishes, but I can however recommend their
Free Range Fried Chicken which I have enjoyed previously at their restaurant! Served with ranch, original or hot spice = 8 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Miann

Last but not least is another exciting Another eatery popping up at Taste this year is Miann, the festival’s first eatery serving only desserts! I have been following Miann’s journey from the beginning and they make some outstanding desserts, plus I love their handmade chocolates and ice cream. Read more about Miann here and here.

Absolutely loved Miann’s Waffle with caramel bananas and chocolate = 8 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Beverages

You are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to the beverage choices at Taste, whether it be wine, spirits, beer and non-alcoholic drinks. Perfect to enjoy with your favourite restaurant dishes, or while lounging in a sun chair, listening to live music and enjoying the sunshine – bliss. Check out the beverage options available below:

Wine

Sip, swirl and savour these wine options at Taste of Auckland…

  • From Hawke’s Bay, Mission Estate – my favourite winery

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With Evo from Island Girl Blogger trying Mission Estate’s Fete Sparkling Cuvee

  • Also from Hawke’s Bay, Black Barn 
  • From Malborough, Sacred Hill – currently loving their Pinot Gris!
  • Also from Malborough, Churton, Mud House Wines, No.1 Family Cuvee Estate, te Pā Wines, Nautilus Estate, Tohu Wine and O:TU Wines
  • From Auckland, Villa Maria Winery
  • From Waiheke, Man O War
  • From Central Otago, Mount Michael Wines, Gibbston Valley and Rockburn Wines

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No1. Family Cuvee Estate

Spirits

Spirits available for tasting include Blush Gin (RRP $85) who are also selling Gin Slushies (yum!), Hidden World Gin ($80), Monkey 47 Gin (RRP $90) and Thomson Whiskey. 

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Radio Hauraki Craft Beer Trail

And, for all you beer lovers, there is a special area dedicated to beer, namely the ‘Radio Hauraki Craft Beer Trail’. Here, you can go on an adventure, and discover your favourite brew, while talking to the owners behind the brand. When it comes to beer, the simpler for me, the better. One of my favourite breweries was present – Good George – I love their lager, as it is a nice refreshing drink to accompany all the food!

Other breweries present are Lakeman Brewing, Laughing Bones and Liberty Brewing, or hop over to the Pale Ale Bar with brews by Tuatara, Black Dog and Lagunitas. Also featured are New New New, RenaissanceHarrington’s Breweries, Funk Estate, Ultimate Brew Company, plus Te Aro are bringing their craft beer all the way from Wellington!

Electrolux Taste Theatre

This year, I didn’t have the chance to attend one of the free cooking masterclasses as part of the Electrolux Taste Theatre – mainly because I was too busy eating my way around the festival! This part of Taste showcases cooking demonstrations from some of New Zealand’s top chefs and food personalities. If I were attending Taste every day, highlights  would include watching Megan May of Little Bird Organics on Friday afternoon, Nic Watt from Masu on Friday night, Sachie Nomura from Sachie’s Kitchen on Saturday afternoon and Josh Barlow from The Sugar Club on Saturday night. Full timetable here.

Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets

If you dream of cooking like a professional chef, then be sure to book into the Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets! It is a hands-on and intimate cooking class with some of New Zealand’s leading chefs – the line up this year includes Lesley Chandra (Sid at the French Cafe), Nobu Lee (Clooney), Jason Kim (Sidart), Gareth Stewart (Euro), Nishant Arora (Cassia), Dariush Lolaiy (Cazador), Man Mohan Singh (1947 Eatery) and Neil Brazier. You will learn cooking secrets and tips, before sitting down to enjoy the meal with a te Pā wine and a sweet treat. Tickets cost 15 crowns and are limited to 16 people per session. More about Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets here.  

Producer Food Stands / Tastings

Another great reason to visit Taste of Auckland is the producer food stands and tastings! For me, I love the opportunity to try and buy new and existing products, meet the owners behind all my favourite brands, and sample, sample, sample! Below is a list of my favourite products from last night (along with festival specials):

Culley’s Hot Sauces 

My favourite hot sauce brand in Auckland. They also make delicious gluten free corn chips, spice mixes, and most recently, BBQ Sauces! This year, Culley’s are celebrating Day of the Dead with their new limited edition sauce – only available for purchase at Taste

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Festival Specials: Day of the Dead sauce $10, 1 bottled sauce $8
(Retail price: Bottled Sauces $8)

Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Food Snob

If you are looking for products for your next platter party, then definitely check out Food Snob. I love their huge green olives, stuffed bell peppers, Mediterranean Medley, and cheeses galore… try the haloumi!

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Festival Specials: Any 2 cheeses and/or pottles for $10. Any 2 for $15 (Dutch Gouda, Cumin Gouda, French Camembert, French Brie)
(Retail prices: Pottles $5.90 each, Sheep Feta $6, Havarti $8, French Camembert $11)

Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Puhoi Valley

Selling their cheeses and yoghurt. They were very generous with their tastings of cheese… we just kept coming back for more! They have some new cheese available for purchase (launching at supermarkets next week) – love the Washed Rind!

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Festival Specials: Cheeses: 2 for $10, 3 for $14. Yoghurt: 2 tubs for $8, 3 tubs for $11. 
(Retail prices: Cheeses about $4.50-$10, Yoghurt $6).
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Little Bird Organics

One of my favourite clean-eating eateries in Auckland, who are selling their raw, vegan, gluten and dairy free sweet treats at Taste, as well as their food products – my favourites are their macaroons and their most recent release, Good Cookies!

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Festival Special: Buy 2 products, get 1 product free
(Retail prices: Good Cookies $6, Macaroons $11.75, Grawnola $17.90, Crackers $11.25)

Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Kaikoura Cheese

Owners Daniel and Sarah originally lived in Christchurch, but after the earthquakes, moved their family to Kaikoura. In 2011, they opened the award-winning Kaikoura Cheese and it has been a roaring success ever since… just check out the reviews! All of their cheeses are made with Jersey cow’s milk cheese…. mmmmm! Kaikoura Cheese is available at Sabato and The Dairy in Auckland. 

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Festival Special: 200g cheese for $12
(Retail price: Kaikoura Love and Fury, 
$26.50 for 200g)
Socials: Website / Facebook

Duck Island Ice Cream

I was so excited to see the return of Duck Island Ice Cream at Taste as I love their ice cream! I went three times to Taste and enjoyed the following flavours:
– Salted Chocolate Brownie (a winner in my books!)
– Coconut Passionfruit
– Strawberry & Beetroot Sorbet
– Coconut Caramel Sesame Praline with Peanuts (another winner!)
– Peppermint
– Ambrosia (complete with marshmallows and jelly!)

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Festival Special: $6 for one scoop (two flavours), $8 for two scoops (three flavours)
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Petal Cupcakes

Forever a favourite for their mouthwatering cupcakes. My favourites are their salted caramel and passionfruit – melt in your mouth!

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Festival Special: Cupcakes $5 each (which come in a cute Petal box)
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Pic’s Peanut Butter

Good news for all your peanut butter lovers out there because Pic’s Peanut Butter is debuting at Taste this year!

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Festival Special: 2 small jars $10, 1kg tub $15
(Retail prices: Small jar $6.50 each, 1kg tub $16, PB Slugs $5 for 6pk, Boysenberry Jelly $5)

Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Trade Aid

Trade Aid is a social enterprise helping talented people around the world improve their lives through fair trade. The company was founded in Christchurch in 1973, and today, Trade Aid is New Zealand’s largest fair trade coffee importer. They also produce fair trade chocolate, tea, nuts, seeds and baking products. I am a huge fan of their chocolate, which is available for tasting and purchase at Taste

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Festival Special: Chocolate, 3 blocks for $12
(Retail price: Chocolate $5 each)
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Häagen-Dazs

This much-loved American ice cream brand launched in New Zealand last year and is already becoming popular among us Kiwis. Häagen-Dazs are selling small tubs of their ice cream at Taste, with flavours such as Belgian Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Salted Caramel, Caramel Biscuit and Cream and Vanilla. 

Festival Special: Small tubs for $1 – such a steal!
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

All the details…

Taste of Auckland
Dates Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 November 2018
Times Friday (12pm to 4pm & 5.30pm to 10pm) Saturday (12pm to 4pm & 5.30pm to 9.30pm) and Sunday (12pm to 5pm)
Venue Queens Wharf, 89 Quay Street, Auckland
Tickets Available on the day or via the Taste website – GA from $30, Premium $65 and VIP from $95. A new multi day pass with access to all six sessions is also available. By recycling crown currency cards and other fundraising measures, the festival aims to provide 4,000 lunches for kids in need via social enterprise Eat My Lunch.
Getting there Walk from work, Uber, take a bus or train, catch a ferry, or park in the nearby Downtown Parking Building or Britomart Car Park
Socials Website / Instagram / Facebook

This post is not sponsored, however the lovely people at Taste of Auckland, Lemongrass Productions and Sauce Shop PR provided my entry. All opinions are my own.

Georgieats’ Guide to New York

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New York.

A few months’ ago, I visited The City That Never Sleeps – New York. I am already dying to go back. Why you may ask?

Well, New York is like no other place I have ever visited.

The majority of my time spent in New York made me feel like I was on the set of several films I had ever seen. Yes, I admit, the majority of films and television shows I have watched inspired me to visit New York. Coming from a small scale city, New York was draw-dropping in real life. From the skyscrapers, to the office buildings, the wonderful street art, the eclectic mix of people… plus the fact that you can get any cuisine you want any time of the day AND the endless amount of things to do. Every day I spent walking around this exciting city, I felt like I was in a dream because it is a truly magical place!

One of the main reasons why I travelled to New York was because a few years ago I went on my very first Contiki around Spain, and on that trip, became friends with a super cool person (Christina). At the end of the trip, I said to her “One day I will come and visit you in New York”. Two years later, I booked my flights and accommodation and was all set to go!

Below are some of my tips for New York: 

New York: Before You Go

  • Give New York enough time. I was there for 10 days, so was able to fit in most of the attractions and activities, however, the minimum time I would spend there is four to five days, just so that you can do all the fun things! And also so you can spend time away from Manhattan in say, Brooklyn.
  • If you are from New Zealand / Australia, you will need to apply for an ESTA Visa before you go, as this is your entry into the United States. It only costs US $14 and you can apply here. Be aware that a lot of websites offer this as well – but these are scams! One of my friends was charged in the hundreds because she applied for an ESTA Visa on a different website.
  • Download the YELP app! I use YELP whenever I travel, as you can bookmark all the eateries, attractions, parks and markets etc. that you want to visit. Each place on Yelp states the business’ opening hours, whether they have free WiFi or not, plus reviews and tips from other users.
  • Tipping! In the United States, tipping is a must for the following: dining out at restaurants (table service), buying a drink at a bar, for hotel porters if they help you with your luggage, taxi drivers (although not Uber…), or any other service like getting your nails done, haircut, spa etc. For restaurants, tip between 15% – 20%. 
  • Packing: Definitely include comfortable walking shoes (as these will become your best friend), US travel adapter, portable charger (a definite must if you plan on taking a lot of pictures on your mobile), big camera, notebook and pen to write about places you visited and some handy New York subway apps
  • Weather: I visited in the peak of summer (as New Zealand is cold at this time). It was insanely hot and brimming with people. Next time, I will definitely visit in the fall/autumn, as it is a bit cooler and no longer the summer holidays.  

New York: Transport

The public transport in New York is great – don’t be afraid to use it! Prior to my trip, I heard from friends that taxis are expensive, and if you are in a rush and the traffic is bad… well you are not going to get to your destination on time.

  • Instead, buy a 7 Day Unlimited MetroCard for $32 – you can use the pass not only on the subway, but also on local buses too. The subway is awesome and an interesting experience. Tip: Do not stare at people, ever. I love to people watch, so I wore dark sunglasses every time I caught the subway, just so that I could stare people – mainly I love looking at what people are wearing!
  • If it is really late at night, or you are tired from all the walking, catch an Uber. They are super reliable and the cars are nice too… you won’t see a Toyota Prius anywhere in sight!
  • Walking is great – if you are not pressured for time, I would recommend walking. On some days, I walked from downtown Manhattan to uptown! Yes, it did take a while, but you discover so much more when walking, which is exciting!

Long Island: What I Ate, What I Did:

After spending nearly two weeks in Mexico, I flew to JFK Airport and arrived on a mild Friday night. Christina was there waiting for me… very exciting! From there, we drove to her place in Long Island where I stayed for the weekend. For dinner, we headed to one of her favourite restaurants in Long Island, had breakfast at a traditional American diner, met her family (!!!), explored the Williamsburg area and also did a street art tour in Bushwick. Here are my highlights from the weekend and also from Williamsburg and Brooklyn:

Bay Shore / Babylon

EAT: Nicky’s On The Bay

On my first night in New York, my friend Christina took me to one of her favourite restaurants on Long Island – Nicky’s On The Bay, which serves great seafood, has good service, and the best part, a view overlooking the Bay Shore Marina! There is ample seating, both inside and out, and we managed to get one of the last tables outside right next to the water which was stunning.

We ordered a cup (more like a bowl) of their seafood bisque with lobster, shrimp and crab meat, which surprisingly came out pink (!!!), fresh oysters to share (with cute mini Tabasco bottles!), and the linguine with clams. The linguine portion was very generous – enough for two or three meals! All dishes were fantastic, and we also tried a local beer. Being by the marina, eating seafood and in good company reminded me of home and made for a very nostalgic night. 

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150 South Clinton Ave, Bay Shore / Website 

EAT: Glen’s Dinette

I would have breakfast at Glen’s Dinette every day if I could. A traditional American diner located in Babylon, Glen’s Dinette serves the most extensive and delicious breakfast menu I have ever seen. Christina said this place is always crowded, whether it be a weekday or weekend, and she was right! We had breakfast here on a Monday and there was literally only one booth left. A few minutes’ later, a line had also formed outside. 

Back to the menu – it is HUGE and trust me, you will have a hard time choosing what to eat. I love pancakes, and really wanted to try some truly authentic ones, so I ordered a stack of their traditional buttermilk pancakes. They also make buckwheat pancakes, blueberry pancakes, banana and blueberry pancakes, and even pumpkin pancakes. Wowzas! I also ordered an egg and sausages, plus my friend ordered waffles for us to share. It was literally the best breakfast I have ever eaten – the fluffiest pancakes served with loads of real maple syrup and butter (nothing like I have tasted back home), and again, the best waffles, all washed down with a few cups of bottomless joe! Would highly recommend a trip to Glen’s Dinette!

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23 East Main St, Babylon / Website 

Brooklyn: DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Williamsburg 

EAT: Smorgasburg Market

Smorgasburg is the market for ultimate foodie heaven.

Held every Saturday in Williamsburg, this open-air market has over 100 food stalls and attracts thousands of people each weekend. Not surprising, as the food here is EPIC! I loved the variety of food available… different to back home! You will find LOBSTER, Japanese shaved ice, spaghetti donuts, Philly cheese sandwiches, Korean fried chicken, Juice in your favourite hulled-out fruit, Ramen burgers, Fresh mango on a stick carved into a flower, and so much more!

While I wanted to try one of everything, I paced myself and only ended up eating a Nutella S’mores Ice Cream (topped with torched meringue) from Bona Bona Ice Cream and a Philly Cheese Sandwich, which I think is the culprit here due to it being very “philling!” Both were delicious. I enjoyed these (and bites of various other things) by the East River, while taking in the views of the Manhattan skyline. 

Tips: Bring your camera, sunscreen (there is hardly any shade), water bottle (which you can refill at the market) and loads of cash!

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Address: 90 Kent Ave, East River State Park, Williamsburg – North Side
Nearest subway station: Bedford Ave
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: Egg Shop

After our street art tour around Brooklyn (see below), we headed over to Egg Shop for lunch and it was so worth it. This cafe was recommended to me by a friend, who said it was one of her favourite places. Egg Shop literally serves eggs, in a whole lot of different ways. I ordered their Pepper Boy – scrambled egg, maple cured bacon, caramelised onion aioli on a panini roll… it was delicious! Also loved their Frose with fresh pressed watermelon. Heavenly. 

Don’t forget to follow Egg Shop on Instagram for some daily egg porn!

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Address: 138 North 8th St, Williamsburg – North Side
Nearest subway station: Bedford Ave
Socials: Website / Instagram

DRINK: Berry Park

A group of us ventured to Berry Park bar after spending the afternoon at Smorgasburg Market, and after drinking quite a few beersies. I really enjoyed Berry Park, in fact it was the only rooftop bar I went to while in New York City. It was bustling when we arrived, has great views of the city (including a glimpse of the Empire State Building), and the cocktails delicious. Highlights included bumping into a photographer from the New York Post who was doing a photoshoot (which we joined in on) and ate his loaded fries which were so yummy. We also got talking to some people, who evidently shared their Krispy Kreme donuts with us. It was a great night!

Address: 4 Berry St, Williamsburg – North Side
Nearest subway station: Nassau Ave
Socials: Website / Instagram

DO: Street Art Tour with Graff Tours

I had heard that Brooklyn has the best street art in New York, so I thought I would do something different and book a street art tour for my friend Christina and I. After reading many reviews, I chose Graff Tours, as they came highly recommended. The tour started in Bushwick, and when we arrived, the area was dead. Like no one around. We thought it was a bit sketchy and maybe we had been ripped off, so we rang the company and they told us the guide was just running a little late. Phew. 

We turned out to be the only ones on the tour (as a few people did not turn up), so it ended up being a private one hour tour around the industrial area of Brooklyn. It was fantastic. Our guide was awesome – we learnt a lot about the history of the area, the street art and the meaning of each one, the street artists involved and got some great photos! Would definitely recommend. 

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Address: 282 Meserole St, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Nearest subway station: Montrose Avenue Station
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

DO: Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is a must do while in New York.

Staying in East Village, I was lucky enough to just hop on the subway (L line to City Hall Station) and get off right near the Brooklyn Bridge. Definitely wear comfortable walking shoes and bear in mind the throngs of people! It was exciting to walk across – with the commuter traffic underneath and all the pedestrians above. The views are excellent too – you can see the Statue of Liberty and also views over Brooklyn, and once you are on the other side, views over Manhattan. I only walked across the bridge during the day, but I think at night, it would be magical!

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DO/EAT: Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop

After walking across Brooklyn Bridge, the only thing I had planned to do was visit Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Shop. The store in DUMBO is the place where it all started. You will find handmade chocolate treats, hot chocolate and ice cream sandwiches. They also have wonderful packaged chocolate gifts, so I bought a few of these to take home! 

Seeing it was a super hot day, it was a good excuse to order one of their frozen hot chocolates. Boy, oh boy, it was rich… but very good! I recommend ordering one of these and sitting in the nearby Empire Fulton Ferry Park to enjoy such treat, while taking in the Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge and city views.

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Address: 66 Water St, DUMBO
Nearest subway station: High St – Brooklyn Bridge Station
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook


Manhattan: What I Ate, What I Did:

After a lovely weekend staying on Long Island, I caught the train into Manhattan where I stayed in an apartment in East Village for a week. There is no doubt about it – Manhattan is HUGE. While I planned on doing literally everything on my 10 page itinerary (including visiting over 100 eateries), and while I was sure I could accomplish it, there was no way it was possible. I had also planned to have brunch every morning at a different cafe, but when looking at the menus, I figured out I would be spending over a thousand on meals for a week… hence not many breakfast/brunch places are featured in my list below. For ease, I have listed which eateries I dined at and things I experienced in each neighbourhood located in Manhattan. 

Upper East and West Sides

DO: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located at 1000 5th Avenue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is the largest museum in the United States, and the second most visited museum in the world – wow! Walking up to The Met, it is very grand, from the outside, to the inside and throughout. Plenty of photo opportunities!

You could spend a few days at The Met, but I managed to narrow my time down to 2-3 hours, focusing on what I really wanted to see. This included: the Greek and Roman Art, the Egyptian section (including a life size Temple of Dendur – do not miss!), the classical paintings (Monet, Manet, Matisse and Picasso) and their current exhibition ‘Heavenly Bodies’. There is also a great gift shop ‘The Met Store’ – I only picked up a few bookmarks for gifts, but they had some really interesting products. 

Tip: No need to book your tickets online, simply head to one of the kiosks at the entrance to purchase your ticket. 

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Address: 1000 5th Ave, Upper West Side
Nearest subway station: 86th St Lexington Ave
Socials: Website / Instagram

DO: Central Park and Strawberry Fields

After being amazed at The Met, head across to Central Park and get lost in there (literally this happened to me). Central Park is HUGE. I thought it would be easy, walking from the east side to the west side (30 minute walk), but of course, got distracted. Mainly due to the number of dogs I saw – it is just like the films, where a young girl/boy is walking 10 dogs at one time, which is quite a sight to see! If you are a dog lover, definitely visit Central Park. Also came across the ‘Shakespeare Garden’ which was super pretty with all the flowers. While on the west side of Central Park, check out Strawberry Fields with the IMAGINE mosaic which is the memorial for John Lennon. 

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EAT: Levain Bakery

I had been recommend to check out Levain Bakery by a few foodie friends. They are famous for one thing only – COOKIES. Cookies as big as your hands, which almost look like muffins! Their Chocolate Chip Cookie is out of this world. Best cookie I have ever eaten, hands down.

Prior to devouring Levain’s cookies, I had been getting lost in Central Park, so it was a nice way to end a sort-of stressful moment because I thought I would be stuck in the park for ever and ever. Their bakery is tiny, so takeaway is your best option. I ordered two cookies – Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate, plus an Iced Latte. It was the perfect combo in the New York City heat!

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Address: 167 W 74th St, Upper West Side
Nearest subway station: 72nd St
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Midtown

DO: Museum of Modern Art (MoMa)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) was the highlight of my New York City trip (funnily enough not food!). Being on my own, I whizzed around all five floors like a maniac, taking many pictures, and being amazed by all the beautiful art. Highlights included: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, The Golden Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, Water Lillies by Claude Monet, as well as impressionist art from a number of other famous painters.

I then spent about an hour in the gift shop. Seriously the best gift shop I have been to around the world, it had books, posters, cards, ornaments – all inspired by different artists. I picked up a poster of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh and a beautiful book all about Frida Kahlo’s life and paintings (very excited to purchase as had just spent time in Mexico and visited Frida Kahlo’s house).

Tips: No need to book your tickets online, simply head to one of the kiosks to purchase your ticket. Each floor has an information desk and all staff were helpful. There is a small place to purchase drinks (next to the gift shop), however you have to drink your drink then and there, no taking around the museum. Next to the gift shop, there is power points to charge your mobile. Plus, FREE WI-FI. Woohoo!

I would highly recommend visiting the MoMa – it was worth every cent.

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Address: 11 West 53rd St, Midtown West
Nearest subway station: 5 Ave./53 St
Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: by CHLOE. 

I have been following by CHLOE. on Instagram for a while now, so as I had to kill some time before Top of the Rock, I bought a takeaway dinner from by CHLOE. This particular branch is within walking distance of the Rockefeller Plaza where I was about to view the New York City skyline.

I love everything about the by CHLOE. brand – all the food is 100% vegan and housemade daily. But never fear, the food is not boring. You will find salads, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, breakfast and brunch meals, fries, sweets, ice cream and a huge range of beverages. Their menus are also super cool – love the design and the brightly coloured emojis of food, which make me want to lick each one!

Back to the food, I ordered their Classic Burger with a tempeh, lentil, chia and walnut patty, plus pickles, onion, beet ketchup and special sauce on a potato bun. This was an easy option for a grab and go bite and was super satisfying. 

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Address: 1 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown West
Nearest subway station: 47-50 Sts – Rockefeller Ctr
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

DO: Top of the Rock

If there was one thing you had to do in New York, it would be to visit Top of the Rock. Located at the top of the Rockefeller Plaza, Top of the Rock is a 360 viewing platform with three observation decks on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors. From these decks, you can see a full-view of the Empire State Building on one side and stunning views of Central Park on the other. If you want breathtaking views of New York’s skyline, then this is for you!

Tip: You must book your tickets online and choose which day and which time, and you will see why. I was recommended to go up around 7.45pm (in summer) – this way you see the day, the sunset, and the skyline at night time. It was a great experience, and despite the insane amount of people and steep price (around NZD$40), I would highly recommend it to all. Don’t forget to bring your camera!!!

Click here if you want to check out the sunset times for the different seasons. 

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Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown West
Nearest subway station: 47-50 Sts – Rockefeller Ctr
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

DO: Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal is featured in countless films and television shows – it is probably where most of you know it from. One particular television series in fact – Gossip Girl, where in the first episode, Serena is ‘spotted’ at Grand Central Station. Aside from that, a visit to Grand Central is a must-do when in New York City. The station has beautiful architecture and inside interiors. Don’t forget to look up to admire the ceiling mosaic of horoscopes! Visiting any time of the day is busy, but that is what makes it exciting!

Grand Central is not just a terminal – it also houses over 60 shops and 35 places to eat, plus holds various events during the year. 

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Address: 89 E 42nd St
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: Grand Central Oyster Bar

Situated underneath Grand Central station, Grand Central Oyster Bar is definitely touristy, but it is pretty cool in the sense where it is located, and the decor and layout is old school, with red and white checkered tablecloths, gigantic menus and counter seating. 

Upon arrival, we were seated in the main dining area as we were having dinner and I was surprised by how quickly it filled up – mainly families, groups and tourists. We ordered beers and you guessed it, seafood. Their menu is EXTENSIVE – it took ages to decide what to order. They have appetizers, like fried oysters and clams and a surprising discovery – New Zealand Greenlip Mussels! Plus a raw bar, featuring oysters from around the United States, soups, stews, lobster, fried seafood, shrimp, a cold buffet and ‘today’s catch’ served with vegetables and steamed potato. Everything sounded delicious to be honest. I ended up ordering the Blue Point oysters, but chose fried instead of fresh (big mistake), with tartare sauce and French fries. I thought the portion size was very small, considering the price – $24.90 excluding tip, which works out to about $38 NZD! The oysters were okay, but nothing special. Instead, I would recommend coming to New Zealand for some fresh and affordable seafood!

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Address: Grand Central Terminal, 89 E 42nd St
Nearest subway station: Grand Central – 42 St
Socials: Website / Facebook

DO: Times Square

Touristy? Check. Cliché? Check. Crowded? Check. Chaotic? Check.

Times Square is all of these things, but for me, I think it is a once in a lifetime experience.

I literally just went here to take pictures, because I love dazzling neon signs and seeing gigantic ads on sides of buildings, well we don’t have those back home. But, Times Square is not just about the bright lights, it is also where you can catch a show on Broadway (unfortunately, I did not end up seeing one), and there are many places to eat and drink. One of my friends did recommend trying the cheesecake from Junior’s, so if you are feeling famish, head there for a sweet treat. 

Without thinking, I decided to visit Times Square on a Saturday, at lunch time – do not recommend as the crowds were INSANE. I felt like I was in a mosh pit. However, I discovered a few avenues were closed off because there was a market on! There were many stalls selling food, clothing, bags etc. Very exciting as I picked up a colourful bag (made in Thailand), which was actually something I had hoped to bring back from Mexico, but had not found one over there… so all in all, it was worth checking out Times Square!

Side note: On my first day in Manhattan (after catching the train to the city from Long Island), I caught an Uber to my apartment, which ended up going through Times Square. It was fascinating! If you are not too keen on crowds, then catching a taxi to go through Times Square may be the perfect option for you!

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Address: 1 Times Square, Theatre District, Midtown West
Nearest subway station: 49 St
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Chelsea

EAT: Los Tacos No.1 at Chelsea Market

Prior to walking across The High Line, I ventured into the Chelsea Market to check out the lunch options – it is a famous market / food hall, offering a variety of foods and fresh produce. I had received many recommendations to try Los Tacos No.1 – apparently it is quite famous. And, having just eaten tacos in Mexico every day for two weeks, I thought why not? I ordered three tacos – Carne Asada and Adobada, and also a horchata. There was a bit of a wait, but that is always a good sign, and the tacos did not disappoint – tender and juicy meat, and flavoursome ingredients.

Their horchata also hit the spot, and was perfect for sipping on while walking over The High Line afterwards. What I loved most about Los Tacos No.1 is that while you wait for your food, you can watch the chefs in action, and there is also a self-service station for salsas and sauces, so you can add more goodness (and spice) to your tacos. YUM.

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Address: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave
Nearest subway station: 14th St. 
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

DO: The High Line

After eating a delicious lunch at Chelsea Market, head to The High Line which is nearby. 

The High Line was originally a freight rail line, elevated above Manhattan’s West Side, which was transformed into a public park in 2009. It runs for 1.45 miles (2.33 km) from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District all the way to Midtown. It is somewhere where visitors can experience nature, art (my favourite being the Dorothy Iannone ‘I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door’ colourful mural) and design. It is also a great place to relax away from bustling Manhattan. 

What I loved most about The High Line is that it is the perfect opportunity to get a higher perspective of New York City… without all the crowds. Boasting views of The Hudson, Chelsea, the Manhattan skyline and even a small glimpse of the Empire State Building, this greenway is filled with beautiful gardens, flowers and artwork along the way too.

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Address: Various entrances (I entered at W 16th St as was near the Chelsea Market)
Nearest subway station: 23rd St
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Greenwich Village

EAT: by CHLOE. 

As mentioned above, under ‘Midtown’, I checked out the by CHLOE. branch near the Rockefeller Plaza and enjoyed one of their burgers for dinner. After walking all day over the Lower Manhattan area, I stumbled upon by CHLOE. and had a delicious lunch here. 

Having just been to Mexico, I was still on a taco buzz, so ordered the Quinoa Taco Salad with chopped romaine lettuce, quinoa, spicy seitan chorizo, black beans, sweetcorn, avocado, tomato, tortilla strips, tofu-crema and agave lime vinaigrette. Just typing that makes me drool. The portion was very generous, so much so, I had the rest for dinner back at my apartment! I would highly recommend a visit to by CHLOE. for some seriously delicious vegan food!

Also, if you are feeling like a sweet treat after, head next door to Sweets by CHLOE. where they serve vegan cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and pastries. 

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Address: 185 Bleecker St
Nearest subway station: West 4th St
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

SoHo

EAT: Jack’s Wife Freda

Jack’s Wife Freda is another eatery which was recommended by foodie friends, and which I had been following on Instagram for a while now. It seemed like THE place to have brunch, so following the ‘gram, I did!

Owners, Freda and Jack, are South African and Jewish respectively, and have drawn on their family histories to create a menu that works perfectly at their all day bistro. I barely perused the menu, as having seen on Instagram their Green Shakshuka (two baked eggs in a green tomatillo shakshuka, served with challah toast) and fresh watermelon juice, it was all I wanted. The meal was perfect and the challah toast melt in your mouth.

Food aside, service was friendly and welcoming, and I did not have to wait long for a table. Upon arrival, the line was quite long outside (but having read many reviews, I was prepared to wait), however, I did not have to wait long because no one wanted to sit at the second empty table outside as it was meant to rain, so I got a cute table to myself. It did not end up raining FYI, which made me LOL a lot during the time I was there.

I also got talking to the people sitting next to me and they too had been following Jack’s Wife Freda on Instagram for a while now. Oh, how I love social media. Definitely worth the hype!

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Address: 224 Lafayette St
Nearest subway station: Spring St
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Chinatown

EAT: Taiyaki Ice Cream 

Taiyaki NYC serves up traditional Japanese fish-shaped cakes stuffed with soft serve ice cream. I love the concept, and I knew it would be great for the ‘gram, so I headed here on a very hot day… after a lot of walking I must add! The shop is small, with only a few seats inside, so ideal for takeaway.

I ordered their Unicorn Taiyaki Cone (in memory of my friend who loves unicorns and was celebrating her birthday on the same day) with vanilla ice cream and a custard filling, which arrived topped with rainbow sprinkles, Unicorn ears and horn. It was super cute and delicious! Just beware, it melts very quickly, so you have to eat fast… BRAIN FREEZE!

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Address: 119 Baxter St
Nearest subway station: Canal St
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Union Square

DO: Union Square Greenmarket   

Union Square Greenmarket is located within the center of Manhattan and has been running since 1976. It is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and has many stalls selling the following: MAPLE SYRUP (the main reason I visited), fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, artisan breads, jams, pickles, baked goods, fresh fish, pies, beautiful flowers, plants, wine, cider, and much more!

Back to the maple syrup, I had been reading about a company called Deep Mountain Maple, who make maple syrup, maple candies and maple sugar on their farm in Vermont, and sell these at the Union Square Greenmarket every Friday and Saturday throughout the year. Their maple syrup is dreamy, so I brought some back to New Zealand. At the greenmarket, I also loved the rows and rows of punnets filled with summer fruits, such as blueberries, tomatoes and cherries.

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Address: E 17 Th St and Union Square West
Nearest subway station: 14th St – Union Square
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

DO: Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s is a supermarket worth checking out. I ventured here during my trip for five reasons:

1. While staying at my friend Christina’s house, for breakfast every morning, she made avocado and eggs on toast (YUM) topped with a seasoning I had never heard of or tried before. Introducing the ‘Everything but the Bagel Seasoning’ exclusive to Trader Joe’s… I was hooked! The seasoning is named after the ‘Everything Bagel’ (which uses a spice mix consisting of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt). I admit, I went to Trader Joe’s a few times, just so that I could buy a few jars of this seasoning to bring back home. I ended up with 12 jars… which evidently increased my luggage weight!

2. Because I made a decision not to have breakfast/brunch out every morning, I went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on bread and spreads, which (somewhat) happily fulfilled me for the week.

3. The fact that they have super cool carry bags with colourful fruits and vegetables on them. I bought one for myself and one for my Mum, because we love going to supermarkets!

4. This branch was only about a 15 minute walk to my apartment. This meant I could go here before catching the subway uptown, OR visit after a day of sightseeing and pick up some yummy things to eat on my next day’s adventure.

5. Even though Trader Joe’s is always super busy and the lines are long, they have a great checkout system, and everyone was super friendly and interested to know more about New Zealand. Would highly recommend popping into Trader Joe’s!

Address: 142 East 14th St
Nearest subway station: 14th St
Socials: Website / Instagram

East Village

COFFEE: Bluestone Lane

I had not had a decent coffee in weeks. Prior to my New York trip, I was in Mexico, where we only had filter coffee, which is fine, but I was really missing a flat white or cappuccino like I would have at home. Luckily, I found Bluestone Lane! 

This coffee shop is Australian-owned, with several branches around New York City. I enjoyed a delicious cappuccino from the branch by Astor Place Station which re-fueled me for a long day of sightseeing. The coffee was great, and reminded me of home. They also have free Wi-Fi – bonus. 

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Address: 51 Astor Place, East Village
Nearest subway station: Astor Pl
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: Tompkins Square Bagels

Despite having toast for breakfast every morning for a week, there was however one breakfast food I had to try while in New York – a New York Bagel. There was no way I was going to leave New York without trying one!

Tompkins Square Bagels was just around the corner from my apartment and after reading some excellent reviews, I popped in here early one morning. There was already a line forming, so I knew it was going to be a goodie. The menu is extensive – there are many toppings and spreads to choose from and I like the fact that you can see the staff preparing your bagel right in front of you. I thought I would go all out and order the Lox & Cream Cheese on an Everything Bagel. This bagel is the ultimate – it is a spice mixture consisting of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt.

The bagel was HUGE. More like eating two bagels in one, and so different to back home… but in a good way! Nevertheless, I ate the whole thing, washed down with some filter coffee. This particular branch is cash only, and there are plenty of seats available, with a window bar at the front – great for people watching! 5 stars for Tompkins Square Bagels – cannot wait to go back! 

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Address: 165 Avenue A, East Village
Nearest subway station: 1 Av.
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: Artichoke Basille’s Pizza

One piping hot slice of Margherita Pizza and I was all set for dinner! The slices at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza are HUGE. Like nothing I have ever seen or tasted before. Each slice is $6 which I thought was reasonable compared to prices back home. Their pizza is heavenly and I highly recommend stopping by. Note that this branch is small, with only a few seats and is cash only. 

Address: 321 E 14th St, East Village
Nearest subway station: 3 Av.
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: Shake Shack

If you are looking for a funky and hipster burger place, then Shake Shack is a good option. Unfortunately we don’t have Shake Shack in New Zealand, so it was a good reason to eat here! I dined at the branch near Astor Place Station, which was super busy, but they have a good ordering system so I did not have to wait long for my food. I ordered the original ShackBurger – a single cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce, plus a Chocolate Thickshake. The burger was delicious and fresh – just check out that lettuce and tomato below!

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Address: 51 Astor Place, East Village
Nearest subway station: Astor Pl.
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: Stuffed Ice Cream

How does ice cream stuffed into a glazed doughnut sound?! Umm…. AWESOME! That is exactly what I was thinking when I walked into Stuffed Ice Cream. I like that it is something different, and again, something that we do not have back home. I ordered the Stuffed Cruff – a perfectly toasted, glazed donut stuffed with Rocky Road ice cream and topped with rainbow sprinkles. It was super delicious and fun to eat. And, if you enjoy taking cool pictures of food for your ‘gram, then this is the place to visit!

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Address: 139 1st Ave, East Village
Nearest subway station: 1 Av.
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Financial District / Battery Park

DO: Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

For many years now (long before food), I have been interested in the Holocaust and Jewish history. I have read many autobiographies about survivors and watched many films, and aim to one day (hopefully next year) visit Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam and also Poland to visit the camps. In the meantime, I have been visiting Holocaust and Jewish museums and memorials around the world, most recently in Berlin, which was a very moving experience. I had read about the Holocaust Museum in New York, so planned to go there before hopping on the Staten Island Ferry (a short walk nearby). 

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is located next to Battery Park, at the southern end of Lower Manhattan. I loved that the building is surrounded by beautiful manicured hedges, green trees and gardens, and inside it is clean and also light near the end. I spent about two hours at this museum, reading all of the exhibits, which are very detailed and informative. There are also many items which I had not seen previously. Would definitely recommend if you are interested in the Holocaust and Jewish history.
“Always remember. Never forget.”

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Address: 36 Battery Place
Nearest subway station: Bowling Green
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

DO: Staten Island Ferry – Whitehall Terminal

If you have a spare morning, afternoon or night, head to Whitehall Terminal (southern tip of Lower Manhattan) and hop on the ferry to Staten Island. The best part? It is FREE! On the way, you will also see the Statue of Liberty! The ferry runs 24 hours, 7 days a week and each ride is 25 minutes each way, and runs every 30 minutes (except during peak hours). Check out the timetable here

On the day I went, it was a weekday morning, but there were still throngs of people, both waiting in line and on the ferry. It was a good test for patience! I think it would be a great family activity to do and also a great opportunity to see the Manhattan skyline at night.

Prior to the ferry trip, I walked past a line of people who were waiting to board another ferry, taking them to the Statue of Liberty. Not joking, but there were probably 300 people in the line. It was a phenomenal sight to see! To skip those horrendous lines, catch the Staten Island Ferry – it will save you the ticket price and waiting time, and you will still get a decent view of the Statue of Liberty. 

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Address: 4 S St
Nearest subway station: South Ferry
Socials: Website 

Lower East Side (LES)

EAT: Katz’s Delicatessen

Katz’s Delicatessen is a 24 hour deli and a New York institution, where many well-known people have dined. It is also featured in the film When Harry Met Sally, and you can sit at the very table where the scene was filmed. Most people go to Katz’s Deli to try their Hot Pastrami or Corned Beef Sandwich. With almost 10,000 reviews on Yelp, I knew I had to check this place out. Luckily, my apartment was only a 20 minute walk away!

Walking in, you simply take a ticket from the reception desk, line up at the counter, order and receive your food (you can also request to try a slice of pastrami while you wait) and pay at the end. Just make sure not to lose your ticket – there is a fine for US$50 if you do!

Their Hot Pastrami Sandwich was definitely on the cards, but the portion size is massive – it would best be shared among two or three. Luckily, they do a half size, and this was perfect. So, I ordered the Half Pastrami Sandwich and Matzo Ball Soup, a side of pickles and an iced cold beer. The Pastrami was melt in your mouth delicious and writing this now, my mouth is drooling. It was honestly my favourite meal of my trip in New York – nothing compares to it! 

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Address: 205 E Houston St
Nearest subway station:
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: il Laboratorio Gelato

After feasting at Katz’s Delicatessen, head across the street to il Laboratorio Gelato for a sweet treat. This is a real life laboratory where they test out interesting and exciting flavours, such as: Acai Sorbet, Black Sesame, Lucuma, Pistachio, and Black Cherry. I ordered my two all-time favourites – Coconut and Espresso, which did not disappoint!

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Address: 188 Ludlow St, Lower East Side
Nearest subway station: 2 Av.
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

EAT: Supermoon Bakehouse

I have been following Supermoon Bakehouse on Instagram for a while now, so was super excited to check out their store in the LES. They are famous for their Cronuts and Croissants, filled with exciting and delicious flavours. Also check out their website here, which will have you drooling for days. 

While on my way to catch the Staten Island Ferry (see above), I popped into Supermoon Bakehouse on the way. They have many croissants to choose from, and while I could have eaten them all, I chose the Chocolate Chip Cookie Croissant topped with meringue and the Salmon and Cream Cheese (Lox) Croissant. They were both excellent, with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Croissant taking the prize for the most EPIC croissant I have ever eaten! Their shop is also super cool (see below) and their packaging is the best – they have cute holographic bags and boxes! 5 stars for Supermoon Bakehouse.

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Address: 120 Rivington St
Nearest subway station: Delancy St.
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Hope you enjoyed my Guide to New York! If you have any questions feel free to comment! And if you are planning on visiting New York, have an amazing trip!

Georgie x

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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Instagram / Facebook / Website


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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Instagram / Facebook / Website


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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Instagram / Facebook / Website


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