How Do You Eat Out So Often?

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I get asked how we eat out so often on a regular basis. The answer is pretty simple really and I will give you a couple of tips. I got thinking about this today when Mr and I were at Gr8 Tandoori Indian in Lower Hutt. Their lunch menu is a main, rice and plain naan for $9.90 , you can pimp your naan for $1. Today we splashed out and had Onion Bhaji for $6. Oh those fried morsels were good, so good. Our two mains and bhaji came to $28.40 and was easily enough for a main meal, in fact we declared our selves Christmas Day full! I sometimes pay that in a cafe for a coffee and breakfast for 1.

Lunch Time

Eating out at lunch time can be really cheap. We enjoy Indian and Asian food, often they are the places with the good lunch time deals. The portions are never stingy and always enough for a main meal. Our favourites change and do often base our weekend outing on where to have lunch!

Drink The Water

In New Zealand cold water is put on the tables in most restaurants. If you eat out at lunch time and stick to the water it makes your meal pretty cheap. On occasion one of us might splash out and have something but generally we stick to the water. A beer could nearly the same as your whole meal at lunch time. If you want the beer, have the beer…. I am Emma the Enabler and not a party pooper.

Be Brave

Go for lunch in the place that looks dingy and dark. Walk in the door of the noisy  place with picture food. Try things you wouldn’t otherwise pick. If you are not paying full price for an evening meal it is a good excuse to give something different or somewhere different a go. You may find the perfect lunch spot and it may always remain a lovely lunch place but keep you happy.

Discount Vouchers

When we do eat out in the evening we will more than likely choose somewhere in the Entertainment Book. Having the app on our phones has meant we have used it so much more. Using the vouchers is also a way to discover new places and helps with the being brave part.

Go Out Separately 

I am the one who eats out the most in our family. We do not always eat out together and when you see my food pics, I am often out with friends. This cuts the cost of eating out and means that as the foodie, I get to eat out more. We do do pocket money accounts and I then have my own food fund.

Joining a group of like minded foodies is also a good way to eat out without your partner or non foodie friends. Wellington Foodies is a great place to start and I have met some fab people through belonging to this group.

I am not going to write a list with links, you need to discover these places for yourself. Ask away  on FB if you would like any top tips or have something to add.

Eating Auckland, OK it was work really but I did eat rather a lot.

*not a sponsored post*

In my other life I work for a major Australasian bank. Training for a new role took me up to Auckland last week. This was for 4 days with a rather nice hotel room and a fairly decent expenses budget. My first thoughts when booking the trip all involved food and eating out. I wasn’t keen on the idea of eating out alone and so I asked for company. I used social media and soon got myself 3 dates and some locals food knowledge. I love social media and I love food. Work is pretty great too.

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My lovely view.

Sometimes being the oldest in a group of people is a good thing. I had the foresight to join the club of the hotel I was booked in and give my club number when checking in. I also got to the hotel first and that may have influenced my excellent room. I was on the 13th floor, with a king bed and a city view with glimpses of the harbour. I stayed at Rydges Auckland and found the location fantastic. I felt safe walking around the area by myself and the hotel is a nice size.

So ….. the eating.

Beruit 

I had what was probably my favourite meal of 2016. It blew me away. Back in July I went to Ottolenghi’s and I did love it but thought the portions could have been a lot larger. This meal in Auckland was more what I imagined and so very good. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. This is what I wrote on Zomato.

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The atmosphere, surroundings and service were spot on. The food was incredible and even the bathroom is nice.

Between two of us we had the Afghan bread, smoked yoghurt labna, fattoush, wedding tabbouleh and the slow braised goat. Every dish was full of individuality , taste and flavour.

Next time I up up in Auckland this will be my first stop. I now have a new food aim, to eat their breakfast. In an ideal world I would try all of both menus. My one regret is I couldn’t fit pudding in.

Thank you for a lovely evening out Sarah, it was lovely to meet the real you.

The Federal Delicatessen

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Love this place and I just couldn’t resist a return visit. OK, so I went twice.

My first visit was for dinner with Wendy Wings and her lovely daughter. You can’t book so we waited for a table at the bar where you get to watch the kitchen, it is a pretty fab spot. I love the diner feel of the place and it has a happy feel. This visit I had a hot dog, poutine and New York Cheesecake. It was all spot on and I also loved the Black Cherry Soda.

My second visit was for breakfast and I just had to have the Griddle Cakes – blueberry buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon butter & strudel nut crunch. They were as good as I remembered from a past visit and I could see them being carefully cooked and the blueberries in the top being individually popped. The coffee was good too, I do love a bottomless cup.

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White and Wong

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I met another social media friends here who works for the same bank as me. He choose the place and it is a lovely location. We sat outside watching the harbour. White and Wong is good but not the cheapest Asian. The food was lovely and so is the location. I rather loved the steamed pork buns and the custard buns we finished with were rather fab.

Thanks for the company Andrew and Greg.

Heaven Scent

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I have to admit that I didn’t get the chance to try a pie from Heaven Scent. I did however have two breakfast (not at the same time). This place is right near The Rydges but if you weren’t looking for it you wouldn’t know it was there. It is upstairs in a loft space and it light and airy. My first visit I had the lovely muesli and the second time I had a delicious apricot and walnut brioche. The coffee was good too.

Federal and Wolfe

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This cafe is not far from the hotel either and rather lovely. I had a great start to my day as you can see above. Yes, I ate the lot and still managed lunch. The whole pile was delicious. You seriously can’t beat a good NZ avocado. The ricotta was lovely too, everything was great.

That was my main eating. I also went to the Albert Street Food Court because you have to, got a take away cake for Milse, a sneaky slice of Sal’s Pizza which was spot on and a healthy lunch from The Little Bird Unbakery. I mustn’t forget Mexicali Fresh, that is my kind of fast food.

Oh how I love food.

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Al’s Deli – at last !

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Eating my Al’s Deli Poutine Burger

A while ago I had a few days in Auckland to eat all the things. Al’s Deli was one place on my list that we just didn’t get to. When I found out I was going to Auckland for work I decided I must remedy this and test the place out for Mr Muffin. I am rather pleased I did, and I met up with a great bunch of people that I know mainly via Twitter, they all enjoyed their meal too.

Al’s Deli is one of those places that you either know about or are surprised about when you find out about it. It is at the top of Queens Street and on that little hill (City Road) that leads up the back of The Langham Hotel. It is decorated like a diner and has marvellous 1950’s tables. Order a Coke and it comes in a Coke glass, we all know that makes it taste better? I had the cherry coke in my special glass. I rarely drink Coke or fizzy drinks and really enjoyed the fizzy cherry bubbles.

The Al's Deli Poutine Burger.

The Al’s Deli Poutine Burger.

For my main I had the Poutine Burger, it is a burger bun with a delicious beef patty, fries, gravy and cheese curds. It was satisfying, the stuff of future dreams and I succeeded in eating it from the bun and not using cutlery. I did cut it in half after the photo was taken and would recommend this method.

Others had an assortment of food including chicken wings, fries topped with pulled pork pork, chicken burgers and falafel burger. There were moments of eating silence, which is always a good sign. There were also claims of being very full (including me) but most of us found our dessert stomach.

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Moose Ear with Nutella and Banana

On my last visit to Auckland I was very curious about the Moose Ears on the Sweet Treats section of the menu. I asked a staff member which version she recommended and the Nutella and banana topped Moose Ear was ordered. Others ordered the Banana Split, Moose Ear with bacon and maple syrup and lucky Wendy Wings got the last Apple Pie Fries. My Moose Ears were delicious and I really enjoyed trying something different, I liked the fried base and would have it again. It would make a good breakfast. I also got to try one of the legendary Apple Pie Fries, they were good too and I would certainly try to get a whole portion at some point.

Al’s Deli is certainly somewhere I would go back to and take the family. I really liked the diner style setting and the food. It is one of those places where you have to be prepared to eat fried things and leave very full. I look forward to my next trip and it worth the walk up Queens Street.

Blueberry griddle cakes with cornmeal – Nearly as good as yours, Al Brown!

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When we went to Auckland, as mentioned on my Eating Auckland post, we visited The Federal Delicatessen and I had their very lovely  –

GRIDDLE CAKES-  blueberry buttermilk pancakes w/ cinnamon butter & strudel crunch
I haven’t got as far as replicating the strudel crunch but haven’t done bad with the griddle cakes. Mine didn’t have buttermilk, just normal milk, but were very close to The Fed’s version. I think cornmeal may be the key here?
This time I followed a recipe, next time I will tweak this to include buttermilk and use 50/50 cornmeal and flour. I think I won’t be far off. I will leave the strudel crunch as something to look forward to on a future visit. I am hoping that they open a branch of The Federal  in Wellington. We have Grill, Meats, Beer and it is great and an actual Deli would be a great addition.
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The reason I chose this recipe is because it contained cornmeal and isn’t too sweet. I love the texture of cornmeal and you can see in the photo  that they don’t look like ordinary pancakes.  I used a 1/4 cup to scoop the mixture and tip into the pan, I think The Fed used crumpet rings to get theirs in neat little packages. Might give that a go.
This is the recipe as I will make it next time, the original can be found on PopSugar. I served mine with maple syrup, lemon curd and yoghurt.

Blueberry griddle cakes with cornmeal- http://www.muffinmum.com

  • Servings: 8 large pancakes
  • Time: prep time, 5 mins, slowly cooking 15 mins
  • Print
1 cup ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk ( or buttermilk)
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Vegetable-oil cooking spray

Mix together cornmeal, flour baking powder and salt
Whisk together milk, 1/3 cup honey, oil and eggs in a separate bowl
Fold wet ingredients into the dry
Fold in blueberries.
Heat nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
Spray lightly with cooking spray and dollop 1/4 cup batter for each cake.
Turn when bubbles appear.
Remove from pan when both sides are browned
Serve with the usual and lemon curd is a good addition.

We ate Auckland-well as much as we could in nearly 4 days.

My lovely parents are visiting from the UK at the moment and we had a few air points that needed using. In built babysitters meant Mr Muffin and I could get away for a long weekend. Auckland has changed a lot since we last visited in 2008 and I kept hearing all these things about restaurants and so I just had to go and try them for myself, Mr didn’t object.

I was given a top tip on getting a good rate for The Langham. After years of backpacking I love the idea of staying in the nicer hotels. This top tip meant we hit the jackpot and stayed at The Langham for a very reasonable rate . How to get a good rate can be found here –  The Langham. Look at the reservation box and follow the instructions for Best Rate Guaranteed and make sure you join  the 1865 club. It was a very lovely hotel to stay at and in a great location. While it is not in the middle of town and up the top of Queen Street, around the corner is K-Road and a short walk away, Ponsonby. This gives you so many extra choices for eating. If you do go down the hill, you can always catch a bus or the hotel shuttle back up. I saw the positive in the hill, it meant excersise.

I have posted my reviews on Zomato as we used the site all the time and it means more get to read my reviews! Seriously, the site is good and we used the maps to figure out where the places were.

I would like to mention a couple of people before I go off on a food tangent, I would like to thank Glen for our steak tartare show, @Wendywings and AnnaRosa for Giapo memories and my birthday buddy Lucy blogged about an Auckland food frenzy too –

Wellington Foodies in AKL for 48 Hours of Diehard Foodie Adventures with Auckland Foodie

Friday

We arrived at lunch time (everything in my life revolves around meal times) and headed off along K-Road to look for lunch.

Hanoi Village 

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Lovely fresh food, I had lemon grass chicken and there was plenty of it.
The bowl could have done with a bit more flavour added with a bit more dressing and chilli. There wasn’t  any sauce out on any tables to add some power.
Would go back and ask for a side of chilli.

In the evening we heading for a few drinks, I asked twitter where we should go and was told about Vultures’ Lane Craft Beer Bar. We enjoyed ourselves trying a couple of new beers before heading to The Grill.

It had taken me a long time to decide where I wanted to be my Friday night dinner, this being the first night. A week before we left I booked The Grill and I am mighty glad I did.

The Grill-

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From the beginning the service was excellent and it stayed that way all evening. It is hard to define what good service is and I would say that here it was making you feel like a guest that was expected and welcome. The food was excellent too.

We enjoyed the bread and Lewis Road Creamery butter, moved onto the steak tartare which was prepared at the table. This was an experience in itself and excellent. It tasted even better after seeing how it was done and adding the right amount of Kaitaia Fire for our tastes.
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For mains I had the excellent burger and Mr had the rib eye aged on the bone.

The burger was a perfectly balanced and delicious, the rib eye was declared in the top 3 for the best steak ever. As for sides, mine came with a cone of duck fat chips, we also had onion rings and the Curious cropper’s tomato salad with red onion, basil, olive oil.
The tomatoes were fantastic, haven’t had a green tomato for years. The onion rings were the best ever, I likened them to my favourite best bits of hot chips, those crispy bits in the bottom, with onion inside. Chips were great too.

We managed to read the dessert menu over our full bellies and were advised of the 20 minute wait for Valrhona chocolate soufflé, vanilla ice cream as it is made from scratch, this sounded like a perfect wait so we ordered that and the Pippin’s strawberry soup, strawberry sorbet and basil. The soup had Mr giggling at how odd it was but how good it was and I may have sighed a bit whilst eating the chocolate soufflé .

If you are reading this wondering if you should go, do it, book it and eat it all.

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Saturday

We were too full for breakfast. I had a lunch planned that was really a high tea, or as they call it at The Langham, Tiffin Tea. After a great coffee me and Mr parted ways and I headed back to the hotel to meet a friend.

Palm Court, The Langham- 

I have had a few high teas in my time and have often come away not really full up, there was no way this was going to happen here. When I found out the session times I opted for the 11.30am-2pm Tiffin Tea time. This seemed to be the most logical as it covered lunch and then meant I could still have dinner later.
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I met a girlfriend at the hotel for a catch up and we both wore pretty dresses. We were seated in our lovely comfortable chairs and given the tea menu. We both went for the same iced tea , Rose C’est La Vie and enjoyed it.

Our triple layer tiffin tea tower arrived and we were talked through the food. We did as told and started at the bottom and slowly made our way towards the top. This included smoked salmon, ham and a slight odd melon jelly.

After the middle tier was finished we were served scones with clotted cream. The cream was rather on the runny side and had no crust, I am a clotted cream fan and was slight disappointment. It all tasted good though and the scones were nice and light.

After the scones we moved on to the sweet morsels and a second iced tea. We both went for the Pharaoh of the Orient, a mint tea with liquorice bark, this was refreshing against all the sweet and a good choice.

We finished the sweet and were offered more cake. We were given a sample of each type available, yes, more sweet. I wasn’t complaining.

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To sum up, don’t have breakfast, don’t plan lunch-be prepared to eat and eat. I thought that 2 1/2 hours was a long time to fill, no it isn’t when conquering a mound of Tiffin Tea.
This is the best High Tea I have had.

Sawadee, Ponsonby-

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As we fancied Thai food we used Zomato, read the reviews and as it was raining hard we ended up here at Sawadee, not too far from hotel we were staying at. This place fills up fast so it may be wise to book.

The building is beautifully fitted out and the look is very Thai. It was well staffed and we were looked after.

We started with the Garif Puff and Deep Friend Corn Cakes. Both were good and served in large portion sizes. We could have managed on just one. For mains we each had different dishes to what we would normally choose.  Mr went for a hot one- the Gai Fai curry, it wasn’t hot enough for him but he enjoyed it. I had the Tiger Milk Curry, I couldn’t resist because it sounded so strange. It was odd but did work, the bits of banana were nice. I enjoyed the dish but would have liked a few more vegetables in with the chicken.

All up, this was a lovely meal in a lovely location and we would go back. I would probably go for the stir fries or salads next time.

Sunday.

We didn’t wake up intending to eat as much as we did on this epic eating day, it just kind of happened. There was a ferry trip over to Devenport, lots of walking ( about 13kms ) and a few trips up and down Queen Street between food stops.

The Federal Delicatessen- 

Loved it the minute we walked in. We had an aisle table near the counter and could see everything being made fresh and it was great. I went with the idea of having something light but the words-blueberry griddle cakes came out of my mouth.

Mr went for the half grapefruit and a hot dog. We both had the coffee and went for Havana, it could have been stronger. It was a fair bit weaker than I would make at home. It was good to get it topped up.

The food was enjoyed by both of us.Mr actually got a whole grapefruit for his serving, this kept him happy. He also enjoyed the hot dog and the novelty of having it for breakfast.

My griddle cakes were the best pancake/hotcake/griddlecake thing I have ever had, they were perfect. I didn’t get a photo as I was busy helping them to vanish. All the components served with them helped make them so wonderful. I would certainly order these again. I wish they would open in Wellington.

My one gripe would be the dreaded plate being removed while someone else was still eating. All of Mr’s side was cleared while I was still half way though mine, awkward.

Baduzzi-

Lovely, said with a sigh, that sums up Baduzzi.

This visit we went for a late lunch, next time we will return in the evening. Mr has already decided we must go back so that he can have all the meatballs, I am happy with that idea.

We just shared one portion and some amazing bread as a starter. The lamb ones were judged as the ones to be tried this visit. They were good, so good.
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For mains I chose the buttered maltagliati with buttercup, crystallised pumpkin seed and pickled black walnuts. When I ordered I was advised that the version with the duck is better but as I am not a duck fan and fancied vegetarian , I went for this option. It was lovely, all the tastes went together wonderfully and the pasta was perfect.  Mr had the flat iron steak with rocket and mashed potato. He enjoyed his meal too.

Baduzzi was a lovely experience and I will look forward to going back.  Next time will involve more bread, more meatballs, a main and dessert.

Shortly after finishing this meal we were due to meet @Wendywings and family at Giapo. We rushed across town , raced up the hill and met with Wendy and her family. We also met AnnaRosa and children, Giapo himself was overseas. This is an amazing place and so very clever. It is a must.

Giapo-

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The attached photos doesn’t do this place justice. Many have posted decent photos and you really need to see the creations with your own eyes, have a look on Facebook and Instagram .

Every time we walked past there were queues, I got a message from a twitter friend that she was going to be in town and we could meet them there. After a very fast walk from Baduzzi we made it and took our place in line.

Thanks to Wendy Wings and family we had our turn, tried many flavours and made our choices. We were told that these choices change regularly so don’t go expecting to get what you may see in a review, just go, try and chose. You can’t see the ice-cream so your choice is based on flavour, very clever.

I went for the dark chocolate cup with freeze-dried raspberries and a raspberry and pavlova ice-cream . It was so good, the stuff of dreams and the decoration was excellent. Mr enjoyed his too, it involved nuts, toffee and salt. Do it, go in, face the queue.

Besos Latinos 

Photo 18-01-15 7 44 14 pmWe came here for a small meal after eating all day.

It was a lovely spot in the corner and out of the hustle and bustle of the main area.
I had a mojito and have to say, it was fantastic. So fresh and well made. Mr tried to order a beer he hadn’t tried from the menu but it wasn’t available.
For meals we started with the Bean Dip, it was nice and tasty. The bowl was a good depth so there was plenty of dip, nice touch.
For mains I went with chicken and cheese quesadilla, it was a large size and had a lovely side salad. Mr went for all the meat and had the tacos Don Hugo, they were meat, more meat and some meat. He enjoyed them.
This was a good simple light meal and I would go back to try more of their menu.
What a day of eating that was, it was what I wanted out of a day in a different city. In fact the whole weekend was everything I hoped it would be. There is just one last review on our eating Auckland trip, breakfast.
Monday.
Yes, we managed breakfast. We went back to where we had a good coffee.
The Scullery-
Am giving a 5 because I can’t fault this place. We stopped by one morning just for a coffee and it was a very good coffee so we came back for breakfast.
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Our second cups of coffee were excellent too, as was the breakfast. It wasn’t a speedy affair, so don’t come in a rush. It was done carefully and well.
I had been dreaming about the brioche, there were 3 options and I went for the peanut and chocolate one. It was shaped like a huge muffin and I had mine toasted. It was cut in half and came with butter. It was good, oh so good. The balance of the bread and filling was perfect. This was a seriously good bread based experience.
Mr had what on the menu as a toasted sandwich with half inch think bacon, fried egg and tomato kasundi. It was rather fancy. It was beyond your average toasted sandwich. He ate it with a smile.

We would both go back for the coffee alone and now the food too.

So, we did it. There are still more places I would like to try and I am sorry we didn’t get to Al’s Deli , that was my one missed place. I am sure I can find a reason to go back, stay at The Langham and eat.