In the North
German-born chef and baker Olaf Blanke has Auckland's artisan bread market cornered, supplying rock star Kiwi chefs (Peter Gordon, Al Brown, Josh Emett et al) in addition to his own café in suburban Mount Eden. Handcrafted sourdoughs and wild yeast ferments are the stars of a menu that transitions from breakfast and brunch to lunch. Pulled lamb shoulder slathered with tzatziki filled a sandwich made from chewy, cumin seed- and turmericinflected ciabatta. With a three-salad side (quinoa/roasted veg/fresh summer peas) and a hoppy brew called Semi Conductor, lunch at Olaf's was a delicious introduction to the current café scene in New Zealand.
In the suburb of Parnell, hanging plants, murals, fishbowl lights and candy-coloured chairs set the scene at Winona Forever, a bustling café named (reportedly) for Johnny Depp's tattoo. The vibe may be offbeat but the food is spot on. An acclaimed pastry chef is co-owner and the display of baked goods — towering layer cakes and gooey slices — is eye-popping. A short, interesting menu covers breakfast/brunch/lunch. I chose an oversized salmon hash cake topped with a luminously orange poached egg, with a chunky tomato chutney and a side of lightly spicy Asian slaw. A glass of Marlborough sauvignon blanc eased the impact of the noise level — deafening when this hugely popular place is full.
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