I came home this evening after a movie and a wine, having moseyed up Courtenay Place and Cuba Street thinking about how much I love Wellington. Yesterday I returned from two weeks in Auckland, and gosh it was fun. I was constantly hit with reasons to love it there too, and am sitting rather pretty with my dual city love. And while chances are my next move will be further afield, depending of course on either who next sweeps me off my feet or where my travel/food show will be filmed (deleting one as necessary) it's nice at the moment to have homes, friends and good coffee in two cities.
Auckland began with bright orange nail polish and gin and coopers, moved through to coffees and lunches and brunches and jugs, stumbled upon a runny nose and a puffy eye, included some delicious Japanese, a turret, two $1 op-shop dresses, Mum's lasagne, a train ride, pies, a quiz night, the Happy Heartbreak! album release (I could relate!), and a film amongst other things. Auckland finished with afternoon tea with an old friend, the Modest Mouse concert and a 6am flight before cooking on Good Morning. At Modest Mouse, the trumpet playing was a highlight (I get pretty excited by trumpet-playing males) and I lost it when they played this song:
Oh I had so much fun. Auckland, more so than when I last lived there, has plenty of sweet bars and cafes. Here's a couple of my favourite Auckland eats from my most recent jaunt:
Domain and Ayr, Parnell
The cafe formerly known as Kokako has delightful staff, big brunches, delicious Kokako coffee and smoothies in jars. My sassy little sister and I had a brunch date here one Sunday, and whilst she raved about only the second eggs benedict she'd ever had (with organic ham off the bone) my big breakfasty thing defeated me. It was so delicious but a ridiculous amount of food. To be fair, the coffee/banana smoothie pre-cursor wasn't the wisest of moves. When will I learn? Rookie. We rocked off for who paid though, and mighty rock beating scissors meant it was her shout. Ideal!
Ollies Ice Cream, Royal Oak
The word "institution" gets bandied around, about as much as "gourmet" and "gluten free". It takes a little more than being the latest cool place to really become an institution, and I think Ollies, having sat at the Royal Oak Roundabout since 1973 with the same owner, deserves the label more than many others. My friend Campbell rolled scoops here back in '01, and his Mum many years before that. Aforementioned little sister and I decided that after a huge brunch and then Mum's lasagne for dinner, that ice creams were in order. They most definitely weren't - especially with that hungover indecisiveness that comes on a Sunday night where you insist on two flavours and not just the one. We actually sat there in agony, and it still hurts looking at the photos, but the coconut-marshmallow and triple chocolate-nut was a winning combo. No fancy gelato here, oh no - just good old tip top by the scoop.
Papa's Pizza, Kingsland
I caught up with some school friends and their other-halves for quiz night at Papa's Pizza (61 Sandringham Rd) on a crisp Tuesday evening. I caught the (clean, quick and efficient) train (my colleagues: "you'll feel like you're in a real city!") and the gawky old man who sold me my $1.70 ticket from Britomart to Kingsland told me he liked my perfume. The quiz night was a slight shambles, and while some members of our table felt sorry for the young girls hosting, others felt the need to slightly-drunkenly heckle them ("they put themselves in that position and were asking for it!" was one argument in defence).
It was cheapish, cheerful and fun. Again, not quite woodfired traditional Italian pizza, but still really fricking yum. Washed down with $5 glasses of cheap red (during happy hour - be sure to move onto buying by the bottle if you're with a group once happy hour finishes!) we came second (out of three) which gave us a $40 voucher to use then and there; great result.
There's plenty of others which I'll get to - right now I have to go and prepare for my date with Morgan Spurlock tomorrow! Wellington on a Plate starts on Friday and I'm eating 17 burgers on 17 dates over the 17 days. Crazy? Yes. But fun! You'll be able to read all about it, just you watch this space.