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Little Penang

Little Penang

Little Penang (40 Dixon Street)

I don’t think it would be an outrageous call to state that Little Penang is basically a Wellington institution. Located in the heart of the city, Little Penang has made a name for itself by serving extremely cheap, hearty and delicious Malaysian food. It doesn’t serve alcohol, but the atmosphere is always so vibrant and loud that you would never guess that was the case (until you tried to order some of course!).

These days there are two Little Penangs – one is located up on The Terrace, conveniently placed to nab those CBD workers during their lunch breaks, and of course the other is on Dixon Street. At both locations you are greeted upon entry by a huge blackboard with the basis of their menu written up in chalk. There is also hard copy menus available if you prefer.

For absolute cheapness, I would recommend the curry and roti option – it is less than $10 at both locations! (I have noticed that the prices on The Terrace are slightly higher than those at the Dixon Street branch.) There is a variety of curries available, both vegetarian and meat options and varying levels of heat. The cabinet food, especially the pork steamed buns are tasty and cheap. I always find it hard to go past the noodle dishes, which at $13.90 are an absolute steal, because I almost always get lunch out of it the next day too. If you are feeling like dessert, the pandan cake is pretty good (coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of Asian desserts).

My boyfriend has spent almost two years in Wellington and had somehow (it still baffles me how this happened) missed every single opportunity he had to go to Little Penang. We are currently doing alphabet dating, and for my J date I took him to Little Penang “JUST ‘coz” I thought it was basically a crime he hadn’t been there already!

Butter chicken (healthy)

Butter chicken (healthy)

We all love ourselves a good ol’ butter chicken, and as you will see by my other butter chicken post it can also be pretty indulgent. However not with this recipe. This recipe is surprisingly light without compromising any of the rich flavours that butter chicken offers – after all, it’s all in the spices. The vegetables add some extra nutrients, and the fact they are grated means they are barely noticeable. Serve with the turmeric rice to brighten up the dish, and the crunchy fresh cucumber to provide some contrasting textures.

Collect for the turmeric pea rice

  • 1.5 c basmati rice
  • 2.25 c water
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 2 c frozen peas
  • 1 T butter

Collect for the butter chicken

  • 650 g chicken thigh, boneless, skinless and chopped into 2 – 3 cm pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 T each of garam masala, ground cumin, smoked paprika
  • 1 t ground coriander, ground turmeric
  • 0.5 t ground chilli
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t ginger
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 c grated pumpkin
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 c coconut cream

Cucumber mint salad

  • cucumber, match sticks
  • 2 T chopped mint leaves
  • 2 T chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 lemon zest, juice of whole lemon
  • splash of olive oil

Create

  1. Combine rice, water, turmeric and some salt into a medium-sized pot and bring to the boil. Cook rice for approximately 15 minutes, remove from heat but leave the lid on for a further 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, combine the chicken with onion, spices, garlic,ginger, lemon zest and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes in a medium pan. Don’t worry if the chicken isn’t yet cooked, there is still plenty of time for it to finish.
  3. Stir in the grated pumpkin, carrot, tomatoes, tomato paste and cream. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes or until sauce is reduced slightly and chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Combine all the cucumber mint salad ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Fluff up turmeric rice with a fork, and combine with butter and peas.
  6. Garnish with coriander.

 

 

Afghans

Afghans

Afghans are SUCH an understated biscuit. I think the reason for this is probably because the spectrum of afghans is pretty wide, that is, the store-bought ones can taste very different to the ones your grandma makes at home. Homemade afghans are seriously the best, although I do have to admit I am a pretty big fan of the Cookie Time afghans too (a little bit biased perhaps?!). But anything else I can always resist. This recipe is super easy: it also has minimal ingredients so is usually quite easy to whip up at the last minute.

Collect

  • 200 g butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1.25 c flour
  • 1/4 c cocoa
  • 2 c cornflakes
  • 1.5 c icing sugar
  • 1 T cocoa
  • 50 g butter, softened
  • 2 T hot water
  • 16 walnuts

Create

  1. 180°C bake. Grease or line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Sift the flour and cocoa into the creamed mixture. Add the cornflakes, half a cup at a time.
  3. Spoon balls of mixture onto the tray, flatten slightly.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until set (if you take them out too early they may not hold together).
  5. Let the afghans cool for 20 minutes.
  6. Once cool, make the chocolate icing. Combine the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add softened butter and pour some of the hot water over. Mix together, adding more water as necessary to achieve a smooth consistency (don’t add too much water at once because a little water goes a very long way).
  7. Spread over the afghans and top with a walnut.
The Fork & Tap

The Fork & Tap

The Fork and Tap (51 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown)

A cosy little pub in the corner of Arrowtown, how could you go wrong? Everywhere needs somewhere warm to go after a day on the slopes and The Fork and Tap has a pretty good name for itself. Live music each Wednesday night, a massive blackboard with a bunch of beer and cider options (including craft beer – I was stoked to see Garage Project on the menu) and an expansive food menu, stocking all the bar classics and more. We turned up on a Saturday night and were definitely lucky to get a table. The place was buzzing, the staff were super friendly and the meals were all decently priced. After seeing a whole bunch of people eating fish and chips as we arrived, our table was sold and we basically all ordered the same. We were not to be disappointed; the fish was fresh, the batter crunchy and the chips well seasoned. I would have no hesitation in going back next time I’m in Arrowtown.

Akarua Wines & Kitchen

Akarua Wines & Kitchen

Akarua Wines & Kitchen (265 Arrowtown – Lake Hayes Road, Arrowtown)

 

Previously known as Walnut Cottage, Akarua is a cutesy little cottage located just out of Arrowtown, not much further than Millbrook. After pulling into the gravel carpark, we made our way to the entrance across the sun-streamed patio and outdoor tables. We were welcomed at the door and seated immediately, despite not having a booking. Given that it was winter, we were torn whether to sit inside or out, but the sun-streamed patio really was too good to turn down.

As we sat, our waitress told us about the daily specials and we were all super impressed to hear that all of the fish dishes were actually different types of fish (not just the stock standard ‘tarakihi’ – which is delicious mind you). I found the roasted parsnip and pear soup just too delicious sounding to resist, and I was stoked to see the big bowl of fried ciabatta that came out for the table for dunking. The meals were all very well balanced, delicate and absolutely beautiful to look at.

The prices were definitely above average, but it was definitely a ‘pay for what you get for’ type lunch because the food really was outstanding. I had a warming glass of mulled wine that was extremely aromatic.

Around the back of the restaurant (by the toilets) is a massive sandpit which seemed like a really good way to keep the kids entertained while the adults enjoy a longer lunch. I would definitely recommend this spot!

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

A tourist destination as popular as Gili Trawangan usually means one of two things: lots of incredible food (survival of the fittest and all that) and lots of tourist scams. Unsurprisingly we got both, despite our best efforts to avoid the latter. Fortunately, we stumbled onto some real crackers very early on, so we always had some great go-tos during our stay there. Of anywhere we went in Bali, Gili T was the most hit and miss. It’s absolutely worth loading up Trip Adviser if you are going somewhere new – because no-one really wants to endure a tourist scam if possible. If you have got the time, check out the following:

 The Banyan Tree. An early discovery, and located so close to our accommodation we sure made ourselves at home at The Banyan Tree. Serving a wide range of extremely healthy food, this place sure knew how to do some killer #cleaneats. Both vegetarian and vegan options were in absolute abundance, and even the most healthy unusual dishes sounded delicious. All of the seating is upstairs and you can sit inside or out. Takeaway options are available, and the staff were absolutely fantastic; extremely attentive and accommodating. I would highly recommend a stop here, and don’t forget to take your shoes off before you go inside.

 

‘Same same but different’ is how some would describe the Kayu Cafe compared to the Banyan Tree. Serving up healthy numbers from sunrise until mid-afternoon, the Kayu Cafe has a huge selection of smoothie bowls, raw treats, pastries and brunch items available and a super relaxing vibe to enjoy them in. The food is moderately priced – perhaps before expensive that what you’d find elsewhere in Bali, but still cheaper than anything you’d find at home – and definitely one of those places where you can take confidence that whatever you order will be tasty.

While on holiday there is only so much healthy food that one wants to eat, and as soon as you’re feeling like a more indulgent meal, head right over to Regina’s. One street back from the main drag lies one of the best pizzerias you may ever visit. The prices are cheap (I’d almost go as far to say half the price of a few of the places we ate at), the pizzas were massive (the four of us ordered four pizzas and ended up taking the equivalent of a whole pizza home) and the food was as authentic as what you could find in Italy. As always, full marks for great service – the Balinese way it would seem, and we left as very content customers.

Last but not least The Roast House. Sooner or later you’ll probably crave a taste of home, and when you do, head along to The Roast House for some pub-style grub. Admittedly the decor is slightly odd (kind of dark and vintage feeling) and the kitchen is across the road from the restaurant. However, the food is really tasty. Ironically, I went for the mi goreng (when in Indonesia right?) but everyone else ordered meals like sausages and mash, chicken parmigiana and fish & chips. Although the food was pretty tasty, I thought on the whole it was relatively overpriced for a sub-par meal that we’d get at home.

 

French Toast

French Toast

One of my favourite things to do is to wake up on the weekend and make brunch. Not only does it start my morning off in a productive way, but who doesn’t like starting the weekend off with some delicious food! As a kid, I was pretty excited to make the transition from pancakes to French toast – I suddenly felt a whole lot more grown up. This recipe is actually incredibly easy to execute, and French toast always presents so well – it’s a very easy meal to make look sophisticated! It’s a great way to use up bread that is starting to get old.

Collect

  • 4 pieces of brioche/sour-dough (any bread will do though, even just stock-standard sandwich bread)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla essence
  • bacon, to serve
  • maple syrup, to serve
  • banana, to serve

Create

  1. Mix the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla essence into a shallow bowl.
  2. Dip and soak each piece of bread into the mixture, flipping it over to make sure that it is well saturated.
  3. Fry each piece of bread in a medium to hot pan with butter to ensure it doesn’t stick.
  4. Flip after a few minutes to cook on both sides.
  5. Garnish with bacon, banana, maple syrup and additional cinnamon.
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!

Toasted Spiced Chickpea Salad

Toasted Spiced Chickpea Salad

I love finding new salad recipes, especially at the end of the summer when it can be hard to get new ideas so you end up having the same thing every day. This salad is quick, easy and fresh – and like the best of summer salads, it is super colourful. The haloumi adds a new texture and creaminess to the dish, but if you wanted to use other cheese instead that would totally be fine – except maybe reduce the quantity a tad.

Collect

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • 2 x 400g can chickpeas
  • 3 carrots, julienned (I just use a peeler)
  • 1 c fresh coriander
  • 1 c mint leaves
  • 200 g haloumi, grated
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 T olive oil, extra

Create

  1. In a pan, heat some oil and then add the cumin, paprika, salt and fennel seeds and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  2. Add the chickpeas and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Place the carrot, coriander, mint, haloumi, lemon juice, honey and extra olive oil into a bowl.
  4. Top with the chickpeas and serve.

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

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It’s hard to go past a good curry, and a delicious green curry would have to be up there with the best. As I travelled through South East Asia, I found green curry to be pretty hit and miss. I learnt it was because I really dislike shrimp paste, and the tolerance of the people for it over there seems to be pretty darn high! There is shrimp paste in this particular recipe, although that is only because I know it is traditionally present, and not because I think it needs it – therefore whenever I make this recipe, I tend to omit the paste. It is also super easy to mix and match the vegetables used; basically anything goes- so I tend to use whatever leftovers we have in the house. In saying this however, I do think that the cherry tomatoes are a real highlight.

I like making the paste from scratch: I got given a mortar and pestle for my birthday and I absolutely adore it. I use it at every possible opportunity, so making a curry paste from scratch is perfect. It’s such a satisfying job! The paste can be frozen, although it also entirely possible to buy a ready made paste from the supermarket.

Collect (for the curry paste)

  • 2 big green chillies
  • 1 T lemongrass
  • 1 T shallot
  • 1 t garlic
  • 1/2 t lime rind
  • 1/2 t coriander seeds
  • 1/2 t cumin seeds
  • 1/2 t peppercorns
  • 1/2 t shrimp paste
  • 1/4 t salt

Create (for the curry paste)

  1. Grind all of the seeds in a mortar with pestle.
  2. Add everything else – adding the shrimp paste last.

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Collect (for the curry)

  • 1 T peanut oil
  • 800g chicken
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 400 ml coconut cream
  • 2 zest limes
  • veges = beans / cherry tomatoes / baby corn / snow peas / mushroom (or anything else!)
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • rice

Create (for the curry paste)

  1. Blend the curry paste, garlic, onion, lemongrass, cumin and chillies with 1/2 c of coconut cream.
  2. Heat oil.
  3. Add curry paste mixture and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add stock, lime zest, remaining coconut cream and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add chopped chicken, simmer for about 15 minutes.
  6. Add veges.
  7. Add brown sugar, lime and fish sauce.
  8. Serve with peanuts, chilli and coriander.