We went to Auckland for just one night, so I’m sure I missed tons of what the city has to offer, but we still managed to pack in some great views and fantastic food.
As soon as we got to the city, we drove straight to The Bluebird Vegetarian Cafe in Mount Eden. The cafe is really cute inside and has a bunch of delicious options served as bowls over potatoes, kumara (sweet potato) or rice. I got the Bali High (vegetables and peanut sauce) over kumara and it was FAR more delicious than it looks!
After lunch, we drove to the top of Mt. Eden and got some great views of the city. Then we checked into our hotel right in the middle of the city and walked along the Quay, past Victoria Park, and up to the shops on Ponsonby Road. My favorite was a cooking shop called Milly’s, which had an amazing variety of pots, pans, cookbooks, aprons, gadgets, and cake decorating supplies. I am now kicking myself for not buying a kiwi (bird)-shaped cookie cutter.
For dinner, we drove across the Harbor Bridge to Northcote Point, and ate at The Engine Room. It was voted Best Local Bistro of 2010 by Metro Magazine, and I loved it. The service was relaxed but attentive (none of that annoying “how is everything tasting?”) and my water glass was never empty for long. The only major disappointment was the cocktail I ordered, which was supposed to be a ginger-lychee fizz but ended up being overpoweringly lemony.
All the food was outstanding, although the vegetarian options were very limited. Just after getting our drinks, the waiter brought an amuse-bouche, which was a green olive stuffed with mint and ricotta and deep-fried. The combination sounded a little odd at first, but it was really good! For dinner, I got the pumpkin risotto topped with mascarpone and crispy sage leaves. It was creamy and buttery and perfectly flavored, plus I loved the textural contrast from the toasted breadcrumbs and fried sage. We also got a side of perfectly-cooked tender brussels sprouts that were so delicate and buttery I will do everything I can to try and make them at home when brussels sprouts season rolls around again.
Dessert was a steamed apple pudding sitting on a pool of Calvados caramel sauce and stirred custard, with a few delicately sweetened rhubarb stalks on the side. Absolute heaven on a plate. I’m sorry I’m a bad food blogger and forgot my camera, but it was pretty dim inside so I’m sure the pictures wouldn’t have been very good.
The next morning we took the ferry across the harbor to the charming little town of Devonport. It was an absolutely gorgeous day!
We went to the Devonport Stone Oven Bakery, which appears to be a very popular choice for breakfast (particularly for the moms-with-strollers set).
They have a great breakfast and lunch menu, plus a FULL case of baked goods, salads, and sandwiches.
The staff was really friendly, and the coffee was good. My breakfast was kind of boring, just a bagel with cream cheese, tomatoes, and eggs, but my dad got french toast and it looked AWESOME! Banana on the bottom, french toast in the middle, and bacon on top! Apparently that’s typically how french toast is served here.
Although it was a really quick trip, I had a GREAT time in Auckland and hope I can visit again someday!
On the way back up to Whangerei, we stopped at Cafe Eutopia in Kaiwaka. Not only is the building like something out of a new-age fantasy movie (or maybe a crazy hippie’s acid trip), the coffee was great and the ginger slice was pretty awesome too.
There was also a great Dutch import shop next door with about 30 different kinds of cheese and a bunch of other Dutch foods, mead, and Organic fruits and vegetables. If you ever find yourself in Kaiwaka, it’s totally worth a visit!