Saturday, 28 July 2012

Weekend Cooking - Eating out in New Zealand

Even on vacation, being mom, I still had to feed the family.  It can be difficult in a foreign country, but I try my best.  With little more than a camera, I caught this big fish.  Actually, we are in Mangonui, New Zealand at the 'World Famous Fish Shop'.  This location was recommended to us long before we even step a foot on the airplane.  Mangonui is located in the far north-east of the north island.
 Very picturesqe location right on the harbour.  We ate Blue Nose fish, freshly caught that morning.  I don't know how to describe Blue Nose, other than to say it was fluffy.  Usually I would say that fish is flakey, but this was way beyond, it just seemed to jump apart.  Wonderful.
 This was a new experience for me.  I had never had fish served wrapped in paper before.

 My friend Linda and her daughter Michelle (the one that stayed with us for six months a while back) were travelling with us on this side trip.  They told us that this was a really expensive serving of fish, and that we could have probably got similar for half the price at the other fish shops in town.  Still, it was worth the experience and the taste.  Later in the vacation, we bought fish from the shop near our rental house. Yes it was half the price .  They also served fresh fish, snapper one day and tarakihi the next time.

At the end of June, hubby and I celebrated out 25th wedding anniversary. We decided to save dinner out with the family till vacation time. It was interesting trying to decide upon a restaurant amoung the many hundreds that we found online and within a reasonable driving distance. Hubby found one called the Gumdigger just a short drive from us located in Birkenhead, one of the oldest settlements on the North Shore in New Zealand.  Not sure what to expect, we asked my friend, who was to join us for dinner.  She hadn't been there either, but a close friend of hers goes there for all her family celebrations and said she had never been dissappointed.

 This was fine dining done very well.  We sampled and variety of appetizers, scallops, shrimp, mushrooms and cheese(?).  We each chose a different entree, all of which were cooked to such perfection that none of us would share with the other.  While the fellows sipped espressos, the three of us ladies had very tasty desserts.  I can't remember the last time, if ever, that I had a tart lemon pie stacked with inches of fluffy meringue. 
When in the Auckland area, don't miss a chance to dine here, but be sure to book ahead and there is only one dinner seating and it is a small restaurant.
Thanks to the Gum Digger Restaurant for use of the stained glass window image.
To learn more about the history of gum digging in New Zealand, be sure to visit the Kauri Museum website.  In this earlier post, I introduced you to Tane Mahuta, the largest living tree in New Zealand.  Gum, is the sap from the Kauri tree. Throughout history, gum has been used in a wide variety of products, varnish being one you might recognize.  We were able to spend a short while at the museum,. but could easily have spent several hours.

This little kiwi is made from melted and moulded gum. 
You can see the mould in the background.

This bench is carved from one piece of kauri.  Large enough to seat two adults.

My niece Michelle suits this throne carved from a solid piece of kauri.
Behind her is the outside of a spiral staircase carved from a kauri tree truck.

Wattie's Hearty™ Butter Chicken soupKnowing that we couldn't eat out all the time, we ventured to  Countdown, the local grocery store.  One of our best buys was Watties Butter chicken soup.  It really did taste as though you were eating a dish of butter chicken.  I found a recipe and will be trying it soon. Hope to have a post about it next Saturday.

Thanks to Watties for the use of the soup image.
Not to survive on soup alone, we tried the national favourite, meat pies.  These are handheld, rectangular pies with meat based fillings.  While my kids ate sandwiches in their school lunche, in New Zealand, the students favour meat pies bought hot from numerous vendors.  my niece assures me, that after a night out on the town, it is popular to stop at a gas station/variety store for a pie to hold you over.  We bought at least 7 packages of six pies each , all Big Ben brand. (couldn't find a website for them).  Bought from the grocery store, they are about $1.00 each, bought hot from a vendor, about $2.50.
One final place that I must recommend when you are on the North Shore, is the bakery/cafe Little and Friday in Takapuna.  Chef Kim Evans has a tasty assortment of sweets and savorys that will tempt the most reluctant taste buds.  My family hates it when I pull out my camera in a restaurant, so no photos.  The lemon cupcake I demolished was fluffy and nice and tart.  Later at home I sampled one of the cream filled donuts, and they put to shame every other donut I have ever tasted. Daughter enjoyed the banana cake, and the author kindly shared this recipe at Penguin Books New Zealand.

I loved the serving dishes, an assortment of fine china and mis-matched silver ware.  Kim has out a wonderful cookbook, Treats from Little and Friday, photography by Rene Vaile (his food phototgraphy debut).
Thanks to Penguin New Zealand for the cover image.

Hope you have enjoyed these tidbits of culinary enjoyment from my recent trip to New Zealand.  Notice that I have omitted the chocolate.  Being vacation I did not skip out on sampling the local favourites.  Whittaker bars are for indulging and I did not shy away from that task.  Cadbury has varieties that I had not imagined.  Daughter brought home several bars as souvenirs to share with her girls. 

I am curious, when you travel, do you stick with food you know, or do you go native and try local foods?

For more foodie fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Post.  You are invited to add a link to your recent food related post.


(Diane) bookchickdi said...

What a wonderful trip and happy anniversary to you and your husband. I like to try local favorites when I travel too, and I so enjoyed reading about your culinary adventures in New Zealand

Carol said...

Happy Anniversary! What a wonderful way to celebrate. The trip sounds fantastic. And delicious. If I were traveling I'd try local favorites.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

those chairs are so awesome!!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Tell your family that your readers love for you to take photos of the food you are eating! :-)

What a lovely time you had!

Beth F said...

That wood is just so beautiful. WOW. I wish we had those trees here.

I loved your food travel adventures. I've always wanted to go to New Zealand ... maybe some day.

I always try the local foods when I travel. That's one of the highlights of any trip I take.

Jessica said...

Too funny. I was in New Zealand over a decade ago and the one meal I really remember? Fish and chips in brown paper. I can still taste them. I think were in Queenstown, though. Hope the rest of your culinary adventures are equally fabulous! It's such a lovely country.

Chinoiseries said...

Belated happy anniversary! Sounds like you had quite the culinary holiday in New Zealand. I didn't know that fish & chips were a big thing outside of the UK, or that butter chicken is not just a curry but can also be a soup :) Thank you for sharing your holiday adventures!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

What a fun foodie travelogue post!

We don't eat as much fish as we should, and I'll admit that the sweet treats (and even the canned soup -- buttery!) appeal to me more.

Those crafts - the gum makes that kiwi figurine look like it's made of amber!

Cheryl Coville said...

Ya have ta go native otherwise, what's the point, right? Looks like you had a great trip. I'm so glad you took photos. I feel like I went, too. (Sort of.)

Anonymous said...

happy anniversary ,love the wooden chairs lovely pieces of wood ,all the best stu