Happiness is cheese, right? Last night I attended the “Yelp’s Powerhouse Pairing: Kapiti & Wild Side” event which was outstandingly sumptuous. I had never even heard of ‘Wild Side Cider’ until yesterday; now it’s my favourite (low alcohol) beverage. No spoilers – however the winning cider/cheese combination (for me) has to be ‘Wildberries’ paired with glorious grilled (Tuteremoana Aged Cheddar) cheese. Just wow. I then sampled the refreshing ‘Feijoa & Passionfruit’ cider with Kanuka Waxed Havarti. Apparently this is the most popular cider, however it is a little sweet for me, just saying. The Havarati was extraordinary: rich, dense & creamy. Next up is the ‘Strawberry & Lime’ cider with Kikorangi Blue. This cheese is my favourite, by far. Smells divine & is explosively flavoursome. ‘Blackberry & Plum’ cider with Tuteremoana Aged Cheddar was delightfully paired with fruity & sharp flavours to satisfy. Lastly ‘Apple & Pomegranate’ Cider poured over Spicy Apple Crumble ice cream was orgasmically exciting. I wanted more – a lot more. Meg from ‘Kapiti’ was extremely erudite about cheese, which made me smile ear-to-ear. Andy from ‘Wild Side’ knew a thing or two about cider – loved their logos and each back story behind the animal – especially the ram. There was also a special treat on offer from ‘Chuffed’: Ginger crunch, chocolate fudge and gluten-free bread I think! Truly a flawless ‘Yelp’ event that showcased some of the best & ‘hot’ NZ brands in the market.
Recently I attended the much anticipated second event for #Aucklandmade – in conjunction with Yelp Auckland, ‘Auckland In A Box’ and Bonnie Oatcakes. This startup began a few years ago – founded by Morgan Claire Maw. These wheat & dairy-free oatcakes have no added sugar and taste wholesome & delectable. The Yelpers sipped complimentary Huia Brut & Huia Chardonnay from Marlborough which I’d never had the pleasure of tasting until now: sumptuous. ‘The Cheese Room’ is truely an orgasmic experience for all cheese-lovers & enthusiasts alike. I indulged in heavenly Smoked Paprika, Canterbury Linseed & Orginal Oatcakes with lashings of goat, cheddar or blue cheese. Morgan shared her entrepreneurial, engaging story about the small beginnings of ‘Bonnie’ making oatcakes in her own kitchen to now stocking into 60 NZ select supermarkets, delicatessens, Artisan markets & specialised foodie stores nationwide. Now ‘Bonnie’ is in my pantry instead of buying my weekly ciabatta. Sold: hook, line & sinker.
As luck is on my side – I was recently invited to attend the first series of ‘Artisan’ talks hosted by Yelp Auckland at Lot 23. First up (of these talks) was Otis & Sarah Frizzell who founded, own & presently operate “The Lucky Taco”, since May 2013. I was intrigued to hear all about their entrepreneurial journey and their ‘go to’ product; so far they have collaborated with the likes of Nice Blocks, The Collective NZ (no bull yoghurt), BMW and endless others. Like all start-ups – Otis & Sarah – have had an action-packed ride on the path to success. I was delighted to try some of the ‘hot’ sauces on offer including Halanero, Jalapeño & Chipotle. Now stocked in 60 ‘New World’ supermarkets across New Zealand, so you can now have this on tap in your pantry! I purchased some (not on the market yet) ‘Chilli Salt’ which I can’t wait to try on poached eggs! ‘Auckland in a box’ were showcasing too – with a giveaway of local artisan products. Lot 23 is an exceptional space for events, executed to a high standard. The crowd finished off all the sample tacos in record time. Impressed. Nice one Yelp: Gold. That’s all.
Odettes is red-hot: appearing in Denzien, Metro and recently Vogue Living Australia. The aesthetics are pure eye-candy to patrons: carefully selected mosaic tiles, European-style seating, exquisite art hanging on the wall, with intimate lights to drool over. I have been here for coffee and lunch/brunch a few times. Service is excellent and the wait staff are very attentive. Food is orgasmic: salmon salad for a healthy option, or decadent crepes (with blueberries) for a sweet choice. Full bar. Good wine list, I had Miners Daughter by the glass- great. Loos are shared by both men and women which proved an interesting experience. Nothing feels rushed or onerous. Beautiful place for a meeting, celebration or utter indulgence. Try the crab sliders, if you dare.
I recently attended ‘subject to change’ art extravaganza showcasing at Lot 23. What a feast of work by Philippa Blair & Natalie Tozer: both New Zealand-born abstract painters who collaborated with their bold, experimental & ambiguous paintings – that provoke and excite. All the guests celebrated the 1st birthday of Lot 23 surrounded by frisky, vibrant & intoxicating art: (also) for sale. The exhibition continues until mid-December. Definitely worth a visit; the Brazilian coffee is magical too.
Interesting name isn’t it? ‘Boy & Bird?’ Owned and operated by Mike Van de Elzen, ‘The Food Truck’ guy & Marie Colosimo. This red-and white decor has a young, American-diner style influence with matching teatowels, as napkins. After enquiring about the wait time at 6pm: every table was occupied with small children and accompanying family – it would be approx 15mins. Apparently you can book tables here – great, now I know. We were offered a table outside under a roof heater, which was pleasant while pondering the menu/s. The wait staff were exceptional: very articulate and communicative. Wine by the glass was reasonable, around $12-$13 for a good drop. Offered complimentary chicken-flavoured popcorn which was tasty, at $4. Mains were inexpensive from $10 for a quarter chicken, to $16 Caesar salad. I had the Quarter box with chunkies (fries) and slaw with a small jug of gravy for $15! Yummo! Also, a glass of Spanish red wine and a deconstructed cheesecake – with almond crumbles & citrus for afters. Pleasantly satisfied. Menu also includes non-chicken fare too, like gnocchi or schnitzel. Good addition to Ponsonby Rd, just by Prego or the top of Franklin Road. Go people.