Friday, 18 June 2010

An Auckland affair

My relationship with Auckland spans many years. It's not an entirely amicable relationship and usually involves a quick dash into the city to attend to whatever business I have there (a conference, a concert), quickly rushing over to the North Shore to visit my best friend and her family, then a relieved trip to the airport to go home again to Wellington. It's not to say that I hate Auckland, but our on-again off-again affair is always punctuated by frequent bad weather and general feelings of wanting to be elsewhere.

I am currently in Auckland on a mini-break while my sweetie is working here. I have loose plans to meet up with people but also a day to just hang out in downtown Auckland all by myself. What to do? I consulted the experts, aka the Auckland Twitterverse, for a few suggestions about the basics: food, coffee, gelato, sushi, etc. The ideas came thick and fast. Awesome!

We had dinner last night at Raviz Indian Cuisine in town, where our curries came with a satisfactory bite. We then got to meet Giapo, world famous in the Twitterverse and conveniently located just a block or two from our hotel. My first choice was the heavenly stracciatella over cookies and cream gelato. He gave us lots of other samples to try, so we'll definitely be back too see what other delights he has for us.

This morning, I spent a few hours wandering around downtown Auckland based on the recommendations of complete strangers. What an amazing way to see a city - through the eyes of other people! First up, after eating breakfast and reading the newspaper in the sun, I headed down Lorne Street. There are lots of little gems tucked away here and in its side streets, some of which resemble the outdoor malls of Melbourne. It's amazing to realise that all this is just one street over from the grimness of Queen Street and its multitude of stores selling sushi and tacky goods imported from Asia.

Egg roll hamburger
I was looking for La Caroume Bakery after reading about Delissimon's experience there. This gorgeous bakery makes the most creative cakes and buns and smells divine from the moment you walk in the door. I bought something called an egg roll hamburger to have for lunch. It looked like nothing I'd ever seen before and I was curious about whether it be savoury or sweet. It turned out to be a savoury treat set inside a delicate bread-type bun - a really unusual taste sensation.

Then it was coffee time. In Wellington, it is a common sight to see people in transit cradling a takeaway coffee cup in their hand. This is something I had never really associated with Auckland before but see this is now changing. Coffeeslewth had recommended Grind on High - great choice! This tiny café was positively humming mid-morning as a cast of regulars shuffled their way into its retro interior. I would never have found Grind on my own and can see why it is popular; baking fresh from the oven looked too good to resist and the service was unbelievably friendly. I enjoyed a freshly baked pesto cheese scone with my cappuccino. Bliss.

I ventured further down to the waterfront and saw a man walking around wearing a bright pink raincoat done up around the waist. I have no idea why this intrigued me so much; each to their own, I guess! Valentino's Gelato was my destination (another recommendation from Coffeeslewth) but I felt that eating gelato at 11am on a Friday was too indulgent even for my standards, so that will have to go on to tomorrow's list.

Auckland, I am delighted to see how you have grown up. I am warming to our sporadic affair and imagine it will continue for years to come. Don't worry, Wellington, I still love you the best. After all, there's no place like home, but I'm enjoying getting to know Auckland better.

1 comment:

Amelia said...

Sounds fabulous!!! I would love to sightsee based on other peoples recommendations.