Favorite Meals in New Zealand

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Afghan cookie and cornflake ice cream from Giapo in Auckland

I know, I know. I’ve been retracing each step of my New Zealand trip in excruciating detail.

There’s still a few more sightseeing posts to share, but today, I’m taking a break from that and instead talking about the yummy food in New Zealand.

You know me, I usually like to do a complete travel food diary (breakfast-lunch-and-dinner-each-day), but there were just too many tasty things. So, today I’ll just showcase the ones that stand out.

I already did a whole post on our wine tasting day at Waiheke Island, including the wine country lunch at the Shed. Now that we’re heading into fall, I’m craving their sweet potato deconstructed “cheesecake.”

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A fun quick breakfast from the Auckland area was this egg salad and bacon bagel from Best Ugly Bagels. The name is strange, right? But ugly is fine by me when the bagels are so tasty. 

Perhaps the most indulgent things we ate in Auckland were the creative ice creams from Giapo (the Afghan cookie version is pictured above). This one below is hazelnut and toasted merengue.  The selection changes every few months and I’d love to see what new versions are concocted each season. IMG_0064

Moving on to Queenstown, we loved the burgers there including the famous Fergburger and Devil Burger, both of which I recommend.

However, everybody goes to those places, so I want to highlight two other great meals we had. The first was this giant steak and fries platter with herbed garlic butter from Atlas Beer Cafe. Yes, that slab of butter melts all over the meat and fries… and it’s a bargain for less than $20 New Zealand dollars. (NZ beef ain’t cheap, ya’ll).

The other was this halloumi cheese avocado toast and ice milk from Vudu Cafe and Larder. The ice milk has all the components of a milk shake,  but it’s not blended.

Everything is plopped put in a glass and then time works it wonder, gradually melting the ice cream into the milk and chocolate syrup.

I already talked about our wonderful road trip day through Otago region and our stop at the Cardrona Hotel. This garlic knot was recommended by some people we met and it came out of the oven piping hot and salty and buttery.

In Christchurch, I already gushed about how we stuffed ourselves at the Farmer’s Market. However, other favorites were Pedro’s House of Lamb. (Try it if you’re in the area- one serving feeds a small family!)  and we stopped at Dmitri’s Greek Food for falafel. Guys, this falafel rivaled the best we had in Greece last summer…

Nelson, New Zealand was home to some of our best dishes on our trip. First up was this giant turkish food platter at Paasha. We thought there’d be no way we could finish this much food. Um… it was inhaled in about 10 minutes.  

I also discovered hazelnut merengue cake with kailua frosting from the Grape Escape.  Turns out these merengue style desserts are popular in Australia and New Zealand, so there’s lots of great recipes for them online. I’ve since researched how to make this exact version at home. 

Finally, in Rotorua, we visited the Wednesday night Night Market and enjoyed a whole range of things including this pita with venison, couscous, greens, and spicy sauce.

Our last special meal of the trip was our breakfast at the Hamurana Lodge. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Warm croissants. Charcuterie. Cheeses. Fresh berries with cream.

Incidentally, we were the only people at the inn on this day and we got such fun service and attention. There’s a lot more to say about this place, so stay tuned for my upcoming Rotorua post. 

Dinner at Pineapple and Pearls

Don’t let the name of this restaurant fool you. It’s no frothy lightweight experience.

In fact, this year Washingtonian magazine ranked Pineapple and Pearls the number one restaurant in DC.

And let me tell you. Getting a reservation here is no easy feat. You have to be on the website the second, er no, millisecond the reservations open and hit “reserve” before you can blink. Do not hesitate.

This is how you beat out 2,000 other eager diners (so we were told by our server)  for a dinner spot. But even then, your meal might start at an awkward time like 9 pm on a Wednesday night and go until almost midnight like it did in our case.

Even though I’m more of a person at heart who’d rather be in her pajamas in bed by 10 pm, we were so excited about going here.

The restaurant is a classy tiny space for only about 30 diners at a time. Because we were a party of two, we sat at the chef’s counter, where we got to see all the action as it happened in front of us.

The chef right in front of us was assembling a dish with what resembled mashed potatoes all night. Only later did we find out what it really was!

Like our meal at Minibar, it is truly fun to watch the chefs in their habitat, and the whole scene unfolds like a perfectly choreographed event.

The meal starts with something called “Afternoon Tea” which offers up a trio of beautiful little bites including a foie gras canele paired with a teacup of gin with Cloosterbitters, rum, and quince.

Next, we had a series of more little dishes including the most intense beef tartare & caviar, charred octopus, split pea consommé, and a french omelet.

All delicious, but I have to say I was partial to the octopus. Didn’t know it could taste that good.

The next course was black sea bass (another fish I didn’t know could be so delectable)

This was followed by probably my favorite of the entire night, a sweet bread taco served along side a mescal Paloma cocktail.

At about this point, we could’ve stopped and been perfectly happy with the meal.

But there was one more savory to come!

This trio of sides (persian rice, white beans, and dolmas) for the lamb dish.

The savory part of the meal completed, the next course was a resheshing pineapple granita with beet soda.

This was followed by our last fancy drinks of the night, amari and coffee and dessert.

I think you need a closer look at the dessert. It was Okinawan purple potato ice cream (ice cream close to our hearts) with chocolate cake and chestnuts.

 

Finally, the meal rounded out with the most exotic fruit plate with starfish, banana chocolate lollipops, and candied gooseberries.

All in all, the food was delightful and the service was top notch.

But in the end, perhaps one of the most luxurious parts of the experience is there is no bill at the end.

No check. No waiting. No figuring out the tip. You pay upfront for all of it when you get the coveted reservation (food, drinks, and gratuity).

So, you just decide when you’re ready to leave, get up, and go.

Daily Looks

Hi ya’ll… how are YOU all doing this week?

Here’s my latest round of looks and a recap of what I’ve been up to here in DC lately.

Sunday 

Sunday is brunch day and Net-a-porter inspired me to wear this off-shoulder black top (perhaps more suited for Saturday night) with a crisp white button up. Also, I’m so excited that long statement earrings are IN. Happy to bring mine out of the jewelry box.

Once again, brunch is at my absolute favorite spot, Le Diplomate. I know I sound like a broken record, but what can I say? The pancakes are really good! off-shoulder-top-white-blouse

Monday

Monday morning and it’s off to work. Today features a tie-neck blouse with a chunky sweater and ankle black pants from Theory. These suede pink pumps add a nice contrast of color, don’t you think?

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Tuesday

This day was rainy but on the warmer side. This green skirt is actually a silk sundress with a black turtleneck on top. (You may have noticed I try to get as much mileage as I can from the same pieces.)

My mom bought me this floral umbrella for my birthday, and today it came out with me. I did not coordinate the umbrella with my outfit. It just sort of happened like that.

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Wednesday

These pants were purchased from a Michael Kors online sale last year, but I almost didn’t keep them. They were an impulse buy and deep down, I really prefer solid pieces to prints. Somehow I took the plunge, and thankfully they are actually versatile and comfy.

These shoes are from an Italian brand called Fornarina. I bought them ages ago, but have loved them so much through the years that I’ve taken them to a cobbler several times.

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Thursday evening

Some Thursdays, my husband and go somewhere casual for dinner. This night we went to Five Guys for burgers and fries. It was a nice evening, so we took the dog and ate outside.

These stretchy pants are from Athleta and can I say, they are so worth the price. I think I paid about $60 for mine, but the quality is really good and they are so comfortable.

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Casual Friday

Working from home on Fridays, this is what I wore for errands around town. It turned COLD again, so the puffer coat (which I thought had retired for the season) was pulled out of the storage.

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Thoughts on the New Year

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Happy New Year everyone! I hope you have a healthy, prosperous, and exciting 2017! I’m currently in Charleston, SC soaking up some sun (yes, it’s 70 degrees here) before heading back to Washington DC.

This outfit was worn in DC before my trip on a cold gray winter day. I was trying to brighten up the day with a bright pink dress … but more about the outfit later.

First, let’s talk about the New Year.

Do you go all out on Dec 31st? Do you have a list of resolutions? Does Jan 1st represent a fresh start, or is just another day for you?

I’m one of those people who LOVES the blank slate of a new year, and I usually have a lofty list of resolutions.

But this year, I’m keeping it simple with a few goals focused on GIVING and EXPERIENCING.

My main resolution for 2017 is to make OTHER people front and center. I want to listen more than talk, give more than take, have more fun with my relationships.  To get the ball rolling, I’ve invited groups of friends over for two separate brunches in January. (Bloody Mary’s and omelettes, oh yes!)

The other big resolution is to pursue more new experiences. A couple of fun things are already in the works for this year including a road trip through New Zealand, my parents 50th wedding anniversary in Florida, and a two week visit from my 9 year old niece at my house over the summer. I’m sure all of these events will have their ups and downs, but you know what? I’m taking it all in. Accepting everything.

What about you? What are your thoughts on the New Year? What are your goals and what are you looking forward to?

Outfit details: Tahari Seamed A-line dress/Leather jacket (similar here)