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Tonys Lord Nelson

Tonys Lord Nelson

Tonys Lord Nelson (37 Victoria Street West, Auckland)

An institution I was told; I was yet to be impressed. My brother’s choice (a steak house, so not surprising), my mum informed me that my family had been coming here for years, and that I had probably been here as a child. The place is very, very cool. Deliberately old-school, dingy and exclusive feeling. The place was massive, it was packed, AND there was a second storey, which was also packed! The menu was your typical bar menu, but add on about $15 to the expected price and it was basically what we were looking it. I have to admit I was rather impressed by the MASSIVE steak menu; probably every different cut and every different sauce I would have thought possible. Unfortunately for me, beef is off limits so I opted for a classic chicken schnitzel, fries and salad. It was tasty, and almighty delicious, but rather expensive, and more than what I think it was worth. The staff were super friendly and our food came out pretty quickly.

Conclusion: considering that it’s not really my kind of place, I really enjoyed the experience and the food was good. Too expensive for my liking though; it just felt like well cooked pub food to me.

Ubud

Ubud

Ubud had been described to me as Bali’s food capital, so I was pretty enthused to be going there. We were staying in an Air BnB about a 20 minute walk from town, and without scooters it made getting around sometimes inconvenient. We did our best though; and I managed to eat at some pretty awesome places.

The best of the bunch was an incredible spot known as The Clear Cafe. We were the first customers of the day (we were on our way to The Yoga Barn) and I can only imagine how amazing the vibe would be when the place is full. You enter through a massive circular door (think ‘Open Sesame’), which straightaway makes you feel as though you have entered somewhere magical. It has an open air feel, close to nature and big comfy couch seats that make you never want to leave. The cafe sprawls for what literally feels like miles, and there are so many nooks and crannies to explore.

The menu was somewhat intimidating because it was so large, but thankfully at 7am the menu was essentially cut in half. It still took us a while to decide though – when you know a place is good you can afford to take a risk with some of the more adventurous options. The food was delicious, the prices reasonable, and the staff lovely. I could not recommend it more – and I highly suggest you take a visit to the bathroom!

 

Completely in contrast to the spaciousness of The Clear Cafe is GrandPa’s Cafe. This place is teeny tiny, but gives rise to an atmosphere of hustle and bustle. An ideal place to go with just one or two people, but with the group of four we had, it was a bit of a squeeze. Goodness knows how they even cook in the small space they call a kitchen! Another tasty menu; the coffee was cheap and delicious, and my brother claimed that his pulled pork was his favourite dish in Bali. The portions were massive – which sure makes a change. Right near the markets, GrandPa’s was the perfect spot for some people watching, so long as you didn’t feel pressured to move on for lack of table space.

  

We were lucky to be staying right next door to Juno’s. Having only opened in the last year or so it radiated tranquility – we felt like we were in the waiting room before a spa treatment. Designed by someone with serious taste, it was a beautiful area to spend some time in. The bathroom was absolutely unreal; I had never seen anything like it – I won’t reveal any spoilers, but again I suggest it as a must-visit! Oh yeah, and the food was pretty good too!

  

  

 

We had been recommended a number of places that we unfortunately didn’t make it to, including Kafe Ubud (vegetarian, burgers), Seeds of Life (raw food), AA Juicery & Cafe (breakfast bowls) and for a good ol’ cup of Luwak coffee, Seniman. Another must visit is Ibu Oka, where you can order the local specialty pork suckling. The meat is delicious, the crackling even more so – and while you wait (which won’t be long) you can check out the squirrels and cockatoos outside.

Starlake Restaurant

Starlake Restaurant

Starlake (18/27 Te Mata Road)

The Starlake Restaurant has long been a family favourite. Growing up, it was always a default for weekend take-aways, and as we have gotten older we tend to dine in more frequently when we come home for holidays. I can’t recommend more highly that when you go to Starlake you order a few different things and share them amongst the table. My Dad always likes to order for us, which is fine, because by now he basically knows the menu inside out and knows exactly how to cater to our tastes. Some of our favourites that have remained throughout the years include the 5-spice squid, the mountain pork (spicy though!), the sizzling steak and the almond chicken. I have only recently discovered the roti here, and the peanut sauce is so incredibly spectacular that I just had to ask for the recipe (successfully too, although I swore I wouldn’t share it!). It’s BYO, and the prices of the mains are reasonable, but probably more expensive than some Asian restaurants. Typical of Asian restaurants though, the service is spectacular and the food always comes fast.

Amisfield Vineyard & Bistro

Amisfield Vineyard & Bistro

Amisfield Vineyard & Bistro (10 Lake Hayes Road)

All I knew about Amisfield is that Princess Kate and Will had eaten here when they came for their visit to New Zealand. Based on that, my expectations were high – and they were certainly exceeded by the absolutely fantastic experience that we had. It was a birthday celebration, so collectively we decided to do the ‘Trust the Chef’ menu, paired with the wines to match. After asking whether we had any dietary requirements (no beef) they told us that the chef intended on just cooking what he pleased, therefore our food mayn’t be the same as the tables next to us – how exciting!

As demonstrated by the photos above, we were treated to a number of delicious courses which included delights such as smoked eel, a beetroot number (which came with blue cheese crumb), a fish chowder and then my delicious dessert – wild sorrel icecream with a pistachio sponge. The most interesting dish that day was the toasted sandwich – which was actually a dessert. It came with Amisfield’s own olive-oil ice-cream, candied olives and what looked like half an olive tree! It was such a cool dish to see, so beautifully presented.

After lunch we definitely needed to move some, so we went and had a wee explore of the grounds. Again, so stunning – although it took us awhile to move past the petanque pitch as everyone’s competitive sides came out. All in all, it was a lovely afternoon and I’m sure that if Kate and Will walked away half as happy as we did, then they would have been pretty satisfied customers!

Sixes and Sevens Deli

Sixes and Sevens Deli

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Sixes and Sevens Deli (51 Taranaki Street)

As a member of the gym across the road I always knew that Sixes and Sevens existed, but it wasn’t until I had their donuts at the Wellington On a Plate pop-up stand that I knew I needed to visit the cafe itself. They were the best donuts I tried, and the funky exterior of the cafe promised so much more for the inside.

I visited for lunch, and not only was the coffee bang on, but the cabinet was sensational and the donuts were again unreal. Pictured above was the plum and vanilla mascarpone donut, as well as the lemon curd and pistachio cream. The lemon and pistachio donut was single-handedly the best donut I have ever had in my life. The cabinet was full of various goodies, from salads and croissants to bliss balls and other sweet treats. It is relatively small, but the staff are super friendly which gives it a cosy vibe and a place where you could happily whittle away an afternoon. Sixes and Sevens, I will be back – and not just for donuts.

 

Tropical Turmeric Smoothie

Tropical Turmeric Smoothie

One of the things I look forward to most about summer being on the way is the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available. Finally mangoes and coconuts can be commonly found at the markets, without costing an arm and a leg. This deliciously refreshing smoothie is one of my favourite ways to kick-start the day – it tastes healthy and is jam-packed full of protein (from the chia), nutrients from the fruit and the turmeric adds a natural anti-inflammatory boost.

Collect

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 mango (ideally fresh, but if you are making this in the off-season frozen might be necessary)
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 1 T chia
  • Ice
  • Spinach (entirely optional – and certainly affects the colour)

Create

  1. Blend and enjoy.

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Hittin’ the slopes

Hittin’ the slopes

New Zealand is well known for its diverse landscape, beautiful scenery and its ability to satisfy even the most crazed adrenaline junkie. Ohakune checks out on all three counts. A cutesie little village located at the foot of Mt Ruapehu, it provides easy access to both Turoa and Whakapapa ski fields (and in the summer it’s a great place to stay if you are doing the Tongariro crossing). As the North Island’s only skiable mountain Ruapehu can often be busy, and the weather is rather unpredictable, however it still makes for a great getaway weekend.  On your days off the mountain, make sure you check out Utopia cafe where the coffee is exceptional, the Powderkeg (known by everyone in Ohakune for its nightlife) and the extensive range of walks and mountain bike tracks around (including the Old Coach Road). There is also an indoor rock-climbing arena for the brave, and don’t forget to check out the local monument – the infamous carrot!