Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sake place: Ken Yakitori Bar

Good for late night snacks with mates, Ken is always S's choice of place to go. Yakitori is meats and other nibbles served on skewers, best accompanied by Japanese sake or beer. We had chicken gizzards, beef tongue, scallops, chicken thighs...
Catching up with visiting friends whom you haven't seen in a long time, over a bottle of beer or two - I like very much! :)

Monday, 30 July 2012

Brunch place: La Boulange, Takapuna

Croissants and coffee for breakfast reminds me of my time in Paris last year, as do baguette sandwiches and the delicate macarons as occasional sweet treats to myself. Seriously, macarons are my madeleines (Marcel Proust, remember?!). I spied the Takapuna branch of La Boulange and took M here for brunch last week. Situated downstairs on one corner of the Department Store, this takes up more space than its central city sister, mainly because of the spacious sitting areas. Since it was a gorgeously sunny day we placed ourselves outside, next to the French tricolor flag. Très français, n'est-ce pas ? We had a pain au chocolat, a ham baguette sandwich, and a pot of tea each. Plus one blueberry and one strawberry macarons to savour on our way back to class ;) Mmm, miam ..

Coffee place: Cafe Melba

Takapuna beach is wonderful to spend time in when the weather is warm and the sun shines on you. Lying on the grassy patch, you can watch the runners and dog walkers to past you, with Rangitoto island in the background.

If the weather is a bit chilly you can walk down the beach a bit until you find a bench to sit and chat. Hot drinks and something little and sweet to munch on helps, too.

From Cafe Melba, we got:

Sweet Chai latte, honeydew green tea
Choc chip cookie, lemon melts

I really liked the high quality tea they had there, the honeydew tea smelt lovely. Choco chip cookie was just what I needed at the time. The waiters were very friendly and nice. There was one in particular who made us feel so welcoming that I may very likely drop in again, soon.

Film place: Civic

Went to Civic, a historic building in Central Auckland where Aucklanders go to see musicals, concerts, or, like me today, International Film Festival films. M and I saw On the Road. It was a tad long but full of beautiful shots through the highways and cities of the States as the narrative took us on a journey of a struggling writer and his relationship with crazy mates in the late 40s/early 50s. The audience united in chuckles here and there in places along the way. It was good to be here again - lovely interior - the ceiling twinkles in starlight when the room darkens!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Ponsonby Road trip

How could I have only just discovered Ponsonby? I have been living in Auckland since 2007!
There are so many cool cafes, bars, boutiques, artsy places... like these cool colourful murals.
There were also many historic buildings along this long road, that looked beautiful. I'm so going to move here soon, haha.
M and I both decided that we have to come back to explore some more.
I have my eyes set on several cafes and a taqueria in particular ;)
Plus the Sky Tower looked especially beautiful in the distance, lit brightly this cool clear night.
All in all, this night was definitely a lovely one :)

Friday, 27 July 2012

Scone place: City heights coffee lounge

You know the places you pass by from time to time, wondering what they would look like from the inside? City heights coffee lounge on Shortland Street in Auckland CBD was one of those places for me.
Shortland Street is not really an area I frequent on a regular basis, especially up the hill where it is full of business buildings. The usual Shortland Street I know is the bit down the bottom, where it links High Street and Queen Street, and towards Beach Road.
But when you have a huge knight in armour out the front, you know this is not an ordinary coffee place.
I got myself a date scone and a regular cappuccino. The scone was soft (warmed up of course) with lots of chunky date pieces inside. I approved :)
As with the cluttered walls with various old English memorabilia, the plates were also appropriately delicately English. On the other hand, I tasted the hottest cappuccino ever. Slurping ever so carefully, lest I burn all of my tongue, I started a beautiful day :)

Dinner place: Cafe Cezanne

My first time in Ponsonby, can you believe it?! I sought out Cafe Cezanne for dinner tonight.
The cafe is colourfully decorated with wall murals and bohemian touches all around.
Yes.. Michaelangelo. I have a postcard of this from the Vatican just by my desk, actually. Along with his words:
"If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." 
This and another postcard of smiling Anne Frank keeps me motivated when I need it.
Beef nacho, small.
Vegetarian quesadilla.
They were more than satisfying for both of us.
A fortune chocolate each. Mine read:
"Changes are on the horizon."
Yes. I think I know that already :)

Ponsonby Road is full of cool little cafes and bars and boutiques, I fell in love. But more on that later!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Ferry over to Devonport

Grey weather, still putting off having to get a new umbrella to replace the current one with a few broken arms - I wonder how long it'd last?!

I hate it when it's neither really pouring nor raining, it's just drizzling/spitting/sprinkling. When it's not really an umbrella weather, but you still get wet without it, especially if you wear glasses like I do. 

Actually, I got to avoid that kind of situation for most of this trip, but just saying...

Went up Mt Victoria in Devonport, Auckland with M. From the ferry terminal it's just a straight walk up the main road until you reach the bend at the end, then you can start climbing. It's the nearest, highest hill around, so you really can't miss it. M and I spent a bit of time at the summit, playing around the mushroom looking things around the bunker, and admiring the lone canon in its nesting place. The summit overlooks the historic little town, known for their good eating places and community craft markets. Devonport also hosts the annual Wine and Music Fest every summer in February, which, if you get the chance, is worth checking out. 
Dinner was a Greek fil wrap and Dolmades at Nicolino Restaurant on our way down the main road. Greek restaurants always make me think of Santorini, the Greek island that is one of my dream places to visit, and also the popular Greek restaurant with the same name, that used to be in central Christchurch before the earthquakes. 
Dolmades is a vegetarian dish with savoury rice wrapped in vine leaves. So nice. 
The trip lasted quite a bit longer than expected, but it was a good fun. Where will we go next?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sweet place: Little and Friday

Little and Friday is a name that will be familiar to all that are interested in the cafe scene in NZ/Auckland, especially ever since the pastry cookbook has come out with the same name featuring the many creations of this cute cafe.
Actually, there are two addresses, one in Newmarket and the other in Takapuna. I think the Takapuna one is the original, but since Newmarket is more within walking distance for me, that is where I went. I got a Baci cake, the oh so rich chocolate sprinkled with almond bits.
The Newmarket store shares itself with Martha's fabric house. The barista was friendly and the baked goods were being delivered as well as made onsite.
Did you guys have a nice day today? I did - was glad to get some errands done and out of the way. Also learnt about Ho'oponopono, an old Hawaiian practise of reconciliation and forgiveness, as practised in other similar cultures in the Pacific. Learning to say sorry, it's okay, thank you, and love you. :)

Little and Friday
12 Melrose St
Little and Friday Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Auckland Museum Photography exhibition

Check out this cute coffee cup! From Shaky Isles, the ever so cool cafe downtown. Made me smile as I went to meet up with M for our second 'let's see a bit of Auckland (that Viv knows)' trip - to the Auckland Museum for the Photography exhibition, today.
The photos were amazing. What I really mean is that the photographers' skills in capturing the beautiful photos are admirable. How do they know which camera, which lens to use, let alone at which angle, time and distance? I guess that is why I was the visitor and not a part of the exhibition, haha. Some of them are so young as well!!

If you have the time you should definitely make your way there to goggle at the wildlife on show. I wish I could have experienced the moments in real life, they are truly exceptional!

The exhibition runs until the 26 August, 2012.

Lunch place: Circus Circus

Up Mount Eden for a bit of high point sight seeing of Auckland, dragging our unfit legs along... Speeding downhill afterwards powered by hunger... to Circus Circus.

Clowns, clowns, everywhere!
Luckily they had a table free for us. We quickly bagged it before the others had the chance, then went back to the counter to order. The line was long, so think some people in front of us had the problem of finding places to sit for their ordered food to arrive. Ha. We were more clever.
The menu today was Moroccan chicken, ricotta and pumpkin filo wrap with salad on the side. M got spinach and feta quiche, but mine was nicer, so we shared. There was also carrot cake for dessert... No dinner necessary, or even possible, tonight!
How can you not help but liking this place? Another place where details have gone into even their takeaway coffee cups - sweet as! The only thing would have been the noise coming from the kitchen just behind us - was the kitchen hand trying some circus tricks? There were quite a few plates broken today, and don't think the other kitchen staff were pleased..

"What happened to the fiscal spending cuts plan?" K asks me. Haha.... I know... It's been thrown out the window this month, really. Will get more stuck onto it from next week! Ditto for more exercise/running...

Sweet, like the candy floss

Finally, the three-week TESL course I had started at the beginning of this month has ended. Well, not quite, because I will probably go in for more observations and training next week. I really liked the people I met at the course, both the staff guiding us and the students putting up with us, as well as the fellow wannabe teachers who went for the ride with me. It has gone past so quickly, but it was also quite tiring as well, so I am really glad I have gotten the certificate, finally.

Anyway, this evening I got to show some of the class members a bit of Auckland downtown. 

We started off at the bottom of the Sky Tower - the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Down the main street, Queen St, and around the Viaduct/Wharf area. Matariki, the Maori New Year's, is tomorrow and also another sailing event, so there were a bit of rehearsals/setting ups going on. We didn't understand which were for which, but we did get to enjoy a bit of 'movie' and light show. It was actually pretty awesome, how the lights were projected to only certain parts of the scaffolding that was acting as a part of the screen. Just really careful calculations?! Perhaps..
Dinner was at my favourite, Mezze bar. The place was packed, but I am glad they were able to experience it. They are looking for waiters at the moment. Hmm, should I try out?! haha. For dessert we went out for some ice cream. The flavours of the night: blueberry (čučoriedka) crème brulée and lemon sorbet, with a fluff of candy floss and flower on top. 

Ďakujem, obrigada, kob kun kaa, for an enjoyable evening, guys. :)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Beer place: Occidental

This is one of my favourite streets in Auckland, Vulcan lane, between High Street and Queen Street. One of my friends are leaving town, so we had a get together at Occidental, a favourite Belgian place (I have many favourites, as you can tell!). Belle-vue Kriek, a lovely cherry beer, how I had missed you! There are a wide selection of Belgian beer here, plus all the typical Belgian cuisine fare, such as mussel platters or pots, and another of my favourite, the seafood chowder. Yum!

Coffee place: Remedy coffee

 Remedy coffee is a small cafe found next to the STA travel agency across CIVIC, on Queen St, Auckland.
 I had been eyeing the place for quite some time, bidding an opportunity to spend some time inside. They have book exchanges along one wall, and an arcade game machine in one corner. Cool!!
 The cafe is small but well lit and cosy. They had school chairs, haha.
 It's a cool place to come to chat with friends or colleagues, or even just by yourself.
I had a mochaccino and a passionfruit cake, which came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a shot glass. Nice :)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

If I were in San Francisco...

  1. Ride the cable cars
  2. the Golden Gate Bridge - bike across, ferry back
  3. Chinatown
  4. Little Italy, North Beach
  5. Ferry Building
  6. Farmers' markets
Ideas from here, and here.

----Other suggestions from friends (thanks so much, guys!)-----

  • Mission district for hipsters, amazing tacos and pupusas, and funky shopping
  • Haight Ashbury for authentic hippie culture and the best thrift shops in the Bay area
  • De Young museums for cool art exhibits
  • Good eats:
    - Ikes sandwiches (Castro - the district also have the best bars and a cute and vibrant gay scene. Nice boutiques and very cool people)
    - Burma superstar (Inner Richmond)
    - Umami burger (Pacific Heights)
    - Brenda's soul food (Tenderloin)
    - Mama's cafe
    - Bi rite ice cream
  • Chantal Guillon
  • Golden Gate park
  • Palace of fine arts
  • Sutro baths
  • Turtle hill
  • UC Berkeley campus:
  • - going up the campanile
    - going up the big C to see the sunset on both sides of the bay
  • Alcatraz - the prison island - take the ferry, and go on the night tour, even though at an extra charge, and will need to book at least a month in advance.
  • View of Union Square from the top floor of Macy's Cheesecake Factory - plus try their cheesecakes
  • Concert/ballet/theatre with SF symphony/ballet/theatre
  • Ghiradelli square and ice cream/desserts/chocolate
  • Seals at Fisherman's wharf and seafood
  • CA Academy of Sciences - events every Thursday night for 21+.
  • Pier 39
  • the Mission Dolores church
  • the painted ladies at Alamo square.

If I were in Las Vegas...

  1. Cirque du Soleil's O show, of course!
  2. Bellagio fountains
  3. Casino hopping
  4. the Strip
  5. Side trip to the Grand Canyon
  6. Try not to drink too much so as to blow up all your money, or wed a stranger - but then again, this is Vegas, where anything can happen, and what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?!
Ideas from here, and here.

If I were in NYC...

  1. Central Park (picnic, bike ride)
  2. Outdoor film screenings in Summertime
  3. Grimaldi's over the Brooklyn Bridge
  4. Empire State Building ($22 - buy online - and LINES) / Rockefeller Center
  5. Jazz cocktail bar
  6. MoMA for modern art fix ($20 - buy online - and LINES)
  7. Grand Central Terminal - lunch at Oyster Bar & Restaurant?
  8. Breakfast at Tiffany's - re enact the film scene, haha. (Fifth Avenue)
  9. Deli sandwich - Reuben sandwich
  10. Broadway via Times Square
  11. Statue of Liberty - sight seeing cruise (there is a free hour-hour one?)
  12. Union Square Park (Farmer's market), Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village
  13. American Museum of Natural History
  14. Bagel
  15. Hot dog
  16. High Line Park
Ideas taken from here, here, and here.

-----Other suggestions from friends-----

  • Intrepid museum
  • Free kayaking on the Hudson
  • Museum of sex
  • Musicians in the subway
  • Hipsters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • More art museums - the Frick, Guggenheim, the MET
  • Music venues - like the Blue Note

Sandwich: Elvis sandwich

Peanut butter and mashed banana, can be added with bacon, fried until golden in butter. Did Elvis Presley die of heart stroke from the fat of his favourite sandwich and not of drug overdose?! A definite comfort food, though.

from here
This was my lunch yesterday.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Coffee place: Relax lounge

One of the best cafes at the University of Auckland. Popular with both the students and staff, Relax caters good food and Fairtrade coffee, which is excellent. Above all, it also opens on Saturdays, which is awesome for students who need to come in for weekend study sessions.

Mon-Fri 6am-6pm,
Sat 8am-3pm,
Sun closed.

Ice cream place: Kapiti

Favourite cheese shop, Kapiti, also sells award winning ice cream. My favourite is blueberry muffin. Sis approves :)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Coffee place: Grassy Knoll

Grassy Knoll is a new-ish cafe in town and I love it! The kitchen has crates of fresh ingredients, the cabinet is full of French style sandwiches and pastries, the people working there are nice and good looking, haha. 
Despite the small interior, it does not give one an impression of being too cramped, but comfortable. If I were to work in the offices in the area, this would definitely become my hang out spot!
As it is, Grassy Knoll is close by my place, so I am definitely coming here again. I will take more pictures next time to share with you. Next door, of course, is my favourite cheese store, Kapiti, as well! :)

Sunday night market, Glenfield

Sunday night market in the carparks of Westfield Glenfield last night with S and Y, for the first time. There were SO many people!!!!! Among rows of  food stalls and market tables, live music, we wandered for hours goggling over the different ethnic selection of foods before carefully making our selections.
Among the numerous things we ate, there were okonomiyaki,
a red bean toast,
a waffle with berries and ice cream, as well as corn cobs, wontons, seafood, hot dog, fruit juice, etc. We were so FULL by the end!!!

Thanks S for driving us there and back :) It was such an unusual experience for me, and I enjoyed it immensely.
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