Anna King Sha­hab has the in­side word on a win­ter’s break in our big­gest city

Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

LOVE IT OR HATE IT, you can’t deny that these days, our big­gest city knows how to do food and drink pretty well. With a cou­ple of days to ex­plore, you can sam­ple a good spread of the im­pres­sive culi­nary va­ri­ety Auck­land has to of­fer. Take in the re­gional fare of the city’s Chi­nese and In­dian en­claves, just 10 min­utes from the city cen­tre. En­joy a top chef’s mod­ern take on the tra­di­tional cui­sine of his home coun­try, and a love let­ter to Tus­cany staged in a grand, exquisitely re­dec­o­rated historic wa­ter­front build­ing. Taste gelato made by an Ital­ian im­mi­grant bent on break­ing with old-world tra­di­tion, and slurp bril­liantly fresh oys­ters with a tum­bler of sau­vi­gnon blanc. Cap off a day of de­li­cious dis­cov­er­ies with a cock­tail at a bar tak­ing a peel-topip ap­proach, or let the bar­tender in Auck­land’s down­town an­swer to a New York cock­tail bar flaunt his or her knowl­edge of the clas­sics.

DAY ONE The won­der­ful thing about break­fast at

Amano is that as well as the in­ter­est­ing break­fast menu, an ar­ray of de­li­cious good­ies is avail­able at the ad­join­ing bak­ery – take your pick of breads, pas­tries, piz­zas and sand­wiches. Cof­fee comes with buf­falo’s as a milk op­tion – do it, it’s nat­u­rally sweet and silky and de­li­cious. Since you’re just start­ing a day of great eat­ing, you might want to keep it light, which Amano does very well – try the tamar­illo with or­ganic yo­ghurt or the smoked ka­hawai pâté, poached egg and cam­pagne. But if you’re crav­ing some­thing to warm you up, then the savoury por­ridge with mush­room, parme­san, egg and truf­fle is an umami-rich de­light. amano.nz

For lunch over­look­ing one of Auck­land’s much-boasted-about wa­ter­ways, take a stroll or bus along Ta­maki Drive to Am­per­sand in Orakei Bay Vil­lage, over­look­ing Orakei Basin. Lauded chef Mikey New­lands and his part­ner, front-of-house star Amanda Rogers, have teamed up with Espresso Work­shop to of­fer an ex­pe­ri­ence pair­ing re­laxed but ex­pertly ex­e­cuted food with geek-wor­thy cof­fee. New­lands’ cheese­burger will surely be­come your new bench­mark, but con­sid­er­ing it’s still only lunchtime, you might like some­thing lighter – in which case the smoke-roasted beet­root with ma­cadamia and Xeres vine­gar, which Rogers rec­om­mends pair­ing with a glass of Foxes Is­land ‘Fox’ Marl­bor­ough Pinot Noir, is su­perb. A wee mooch around this new com­plex will bring you to Broth­ers Beer, where you can sam­ple from a host of their lo­cally made craft beers and guest brews. am­per­sandeatery.nz; broth­ers­beer.co.nz In the bustling down­town precinct,

Gi­apo is where it’s at for an af­ter­noon pick-me-up. Go OTT with their fan­tas­ti­cal new cre­ation , the Vi­sio – an homage to the colos­sal squid on dis­play at Te Papa, com­plete with 3D-printed moulded choco­late ten­ta­cles. If you think that sounds kooky, there’s also Gi­apo’s pou­tine: caramel “gravy” with ice cream “cheese curds” and Gis­borne Agria fries. Or you might pre­fer the pure flavours of ei­ther Can­ter­bury hazel­nut or Waikato matcha tea. While you’re on a sweet roll, call in to neigh­bour­ing Miann to pick up a box of their fa­mous mac­arons to take home – the rasp­berry and basil is sub­lime. gi­apo.com, miann.co.nz

Din­ner at Cas­sia is a one-of-a-kind ex­pe­ri­ence – chef Sid Sahrawat’s take on mod­ern In­dian mar­ries lo­cal pro­duce with both tra­di­tional and in­no­va­tive tech­nique, and the ser­vice is warm and in­tu­itive. The lick of the tan­door oven graces many dishes, and the rich depth of flavour of care­fully cho­sen, warm­ing spice blends, along with the cool con­crete bunker vibe, makes Cas­sia a very cosy win­ter hang­out. The five-course tast­ing menu is the best way to ex­plore Sahrawat’s ge­nius. And do let your­self be per­suaded to sam­ple from the im­pres­sive gin list at Cas­sia – the lux­u­ri­ous saf­fron gin sour is a favourite. Con­tin­u­ing on the ju­niper trail, take a post-din­ner stroll to The Gin Room for a last hoorah; the ex­pert bar­tenders will mix up a mar­tini to per­fectly com­ple­ment your mood. cas­siarestau­rant.co.nz; gin­room.co.nz

Visit Pon­sonby Road Bistro in the late af­ter­noon for a glass of wine and some­thing snack­ish, then walk around the cor­ner to K Rd’s Apero for spothit­ting wine-bar fare

AN UP­TOWN-BASED PLAN B for the evening might take the form of a pro­gres­sive din­ner. Visit Pon­sonby

Road Bistro in the late af­ter­noon for a glass of wine (from a great list, served by knowl­edge­able staff) and some­thing snack­ish from their in-be­tween menu that runs till 5.30pm dur­ing the week. Walk around the cor­ner to K Rd’s

Apero for spot-hit­ting wine-bar fare and an ex­cel­lent wine list. Do not leave with­out try­ing the ¼ me­tre spi­ral of pork sausage with pick­les and mus­tard; and if there hap­pens to be a ja­mon Iberico perched at the bar, or­der a sweet-salty, nutty help­ing of it. Fin­ish the night across the road at Love­bucket, where bar man­ager Bran­don Walker takes a peel-to-pip ap­proach with his cock­tail list – no biff­ing away limes af­ter one squeeze here – with the whole of a fresh in­gre­di­ent made full use of in gar­nishes, pow­ders, tinc­tures, syrups and mar­malades. pon­son­by­road­bistro. co.nz; apero.co.nz; love­bucket.co.nz DAY TWO Suck up some fresh morn­ing air walk­ing along Pon­sonby Rd to­wards

Or­phans Kitchen, where they re­ally walk their sus­tain­able talk, and where chef Tom His­hon’s break­fast crum­pets are about as far from the pack­aged sort as you can get: thick, spongy wedges, crisp on the outer and in­side moistly in­fused with burnt but­ter and honey – which comes from the rooftop hives. or­phan­skitchen.co.nz

Head into mid­town for lunch at Al Brown’s De­pot – a favourite that keeps on giv­ing. Pick some oys­ters and clams from the raw bar, fol­lowed by a few shared plates. Brown favours sec­ondary cuts and gutsy flavours, seen in dishes like ha­puku side with egg­plant ka­sundi, lime and toasts. eatat­de­pot.co.nz

A 10-minute cab ride from the city is all it takes to reach Bal­moral. This strip of shops along Do­min­ion Rd is Auck­land’s un­of­fi­cial Chi­na­town and, come night­fall, it’s abuzz with folks flock­ing for a taste of var­i­ous re­gional Chi­nese cuisines – from Can­tonese roast pork to Beijing dumplings and Uyghur cumin-spiked ha­lal lamb ke­babs. There are sev­eral Sichuan op­tions, from which my pick is Spicy Cui­sine (674 Do­min­ion Rd), where the hus­band-and­wife duo work at a fre­netic pace, serv­ing up dan dan noo­dles, fiery home­made beef jerky, dumplings in spicy sauce and one of the best noo­dle dishes in town, per­fectly al dente fer­n­root noo­dles in spicy sauce – a tan­gle of black brack­en­fern noo­dles nes­tled in a chilled dress­ing of black vine­gar, Sichuan pep­per­corns, se­same oil and soy sauce, topped with co­rian­der. FYI... if you’re crav­ing dumplings but can’t make it out of town, Brit­o­mart’s XuXu has you cov­ered (they of­fer gluten-free op­tions too). xuxu.co.nz

A PLAN B IS TO HEAD TO head to Bal­moral’s par­al­lel, In­dian sub­con­ti­nen­tal coun­ter­part, Sandringham. There, you could opt for veg­e­tar­ian Mumbai-syle chaat, Hy­der­abadi cur­ries and tan­door­fired naan, or Sri Lankan fare. For a jolly at­mos­phere matched with great ca­sual food, check out Satya Chai

Lounge. Chef Noor sends out a steady stream of snacky street-food clas­sics with twists. You must try the pep­pery, Hy­der­abad-gone-Ja­panese chicken kur­ryage and the creamy, dry-spice coated pa­neer 555. Save room for the smashed baklava for dessert though, and ask pro­pri­etor Sammy Akuthota for a tour of the beer fridge – he’s a craft brew nut and he has one of the most var­ied and eclec­tic beer se­lec­tions of any eatery in Auck­land. They also have a list of batch cock­tails – the hard chai is a win­ner. If you’re head­ing back in to town, fin­ish things off with a night­cap at late-night hang­out Care­taker in Brit­o­mart. An un­der­ground New York­style cock­tail bar that aims to per­fect the clas­sics, it’s the cosiest end­ing you could hope for. face­book.com/ SatyaSpice­andChai; care­taker.net.nz


Brit­o­mart lights INSET A cock­tail at The Gin Room OP­PO­SITE Amano


TOP LEFT De­pot; Cas­sia; Broth­ers Beer Orakei; Gi­apo’s Vi­sio; Am­per­sand; The Gin Room; Xuxu

ABOVE An el­e­gant dessert at Miann LEFT Brews and snacks at Broth­ers Beer Orakei BE­LOW Brit­o­mart

FROM TOP Tom His­hon of Or­phans Kitchen; char­cu­terie good­ness at Apero; cock­tails at Care­taker

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