La Bella Italia- Petone Wins Again.

Last night I went out for a meal with a friend. Normally we go to a place where the Mr wouldn’t eat and decided to throw a bit of variety in and head out for Italian. We both like to use the Entertainment Book voucher and that did help with making the decision to go to La Bella Italia.

We met for a sneaky pre-dinner pint at Sprig and Fern. I enjoyed a limited addition red IPA. As it was a Friday night it was bustling and a great atmosphere. After our pint and chat, we walked to the industrial area where La Bella Italia is based. We had booked and on arrival, I was happy we did as it was busy.

My dining partner and I often order exactly the same and have very similar tastes. This time we realised we were both conflicted between two choices. We took the logical route and ordered one of each and shared. Both dishes were delicious and sharing was a fantastic idea.

The dishes we shared were-

Cannelloni di Crespelle -Crepes filled with spinach, ricotta and pecorino cheese with sage butter.

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They were good and very tasty. Rather than the cannelloni tubes, they were actual delicious crepes. We both really enjoyed these. I would have this dish again and eat it all. The balance was perfect.

Margherita- Fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes – san marzano

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We attacked the pizza before I got a good photo. This pizza was excellent, I think it would be my favourite in Wellington. It reminded me of the pizza I get in my hometown (Brighton) where there is a big Italian community. The base tasted of being cooked in an authentic way, the cheese was stringy and there was a good splash of a decent olive oil. I would go back for pizza.

For dessert, we didn’t share. That is not something either of us would do! I choose the Bombolone. I did enjoy them but I can’t say they left me amazed, they were just good. My dining companion had the Attaccadito and found it a little dry. On the way out I noticed an orange and almond cake in the cabinet and next time I will inquire about that.

We did have a lovely meal and a lovely time. It is a great place for people watching as there is no place to hide and it is well lit. I look forward to going back one day.

Bombolone -A warm cinnamon donut with vanilla gelato

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30 Day Entertainment Book- Excellent For Your New Zealand Or Australian Holiday.

Kangaroo and cheeky fantail.

15% off at Australia Zoo.

This is not a sponsored post, just passing on my knowledge (I can be thanked in food! )

The Entertainment Book is a New Zealand and Australian thing. It is sold by charities or organisations and a fundraiser and is fantastic. I have included it a good few posts as we get it every year for the Wellington region. As mentioned in a previous post, we got one for our holiday in Port Douglas and Cairnes a few years ago.

Lamb Pizza

25% off the bill at Miss Moneypenny’s, Noosa Heads.

Previous Entertainment Book Posts.

This year there was a new idea, a 30-day book. I say book, we used the fab App.There isn’t really a book. With this new feature you can pick a start date and you have 30 days from then to use it. This came at a perfect time for us as and our family holiday to Noosa and Brisbane (Brisbane 17/18). It was easier to use in Brisbane but we got great use out of it and not only did the Entertainment Book save us money but it also saved our sanity.

Chicken Laab

25% off at Phat Elephant, Brisbane.

On the App there is this fabulous button and I was mocked by my family for my love of this button, it is called, Near Me. It finds where you are and pulls up the information for all the things around you with offers in the book. It is great. Many of our eating decisions were made based on if they were in ‘The Book’ or not. This wasn’t just for saving money but because if a place is in The Book then generally they are used by locals and worth a visit. Some you may have not have even noticed or gone to if you were an average tourist. We went to a lovely Italian we wouldn’t have visited otherwise and ventured more out of Noosa Heads because we had ideas of what was there.

We used our Book not just for food but for adventure too. We went on The Wheel Of Brisbane because The Book got us 50% off. Our Australia Zoo tickets were 15% off and booked online.

The Wheel of Brisbane

50% off The Wheel Of Brisbane. My selfie.

I have been passionate about The Entertainment Book for a while now and I often tell people about it.  I do like to feel as if I am clever and saving a few dollars here and there. We paid $30 for 30 days and gained this amount in savings in 2 days. It is so worth it, even if your family do mock you every time you stand still and shout, ‘I’m just going to press near me’.

Our value received was calculated by The Book to be $245.

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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.

A Walk In The Woods And Then Yatra.

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I have a 13 year old, she is a very typical 13 year old and we always love each other. That is all I will say.

This weekend she was grounded for doing the things 13 year old people do. Being grounded means a family walk with no technology. In the past couple of months we have had a couple of good walks including the beautiful Pencarrow Lighthouse.

Today we headed for Pakuratahi Forest , just past Upper Hutt. Tanes Track was a lovely a 1 hour round walk including the small diversion to go and look at the old railway tunnel. I must admit we didn’t walk through the tunnel, just in a bit. It is long and Miss wouldn’t come in.

The walk was of course followed by food. We didn’t picnic but headed to Yatra Restaurant in Upper Hutt. Now Yatra does not do the usual lunch time deal but they are in the Entertainment Book.

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Yatra is a beautiful little place, the tables are chunky dark wood with engravings and the water cups were stainless steel. We loved it. The food was excellent too.I think the onion bhaji were some of my favourite ever and the portion was huge.

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I had the Reshmi Paneer for main and really enjoyed it. I must confess to bringing half home as it was a big portion. The plan was to eat it for lunch tomorrow but I ate it for tea tonight. I am not a fan of left overs so this was a miracle. Mr had Chilli Chicken and it had a good tang, I would eat it too. Miss had the Chicken Tikka Masala and made a very good dent in it. The chicken was in good size chunks.

Next time we go to Yatra we will have two mains, a bread each and the onion bhaji. There will be another grounding, another walk and an excuse to go to Yatra.

Co’Ed Cafe on Queens, Lower Hutt- What A Find!

A while ago the Little Cafe popped up by the library and theatre in Lower Hutt. I meant to go when it first opened. It is now The Little Cafe and Co’Ed on Queens . Co’Ed sums up nicely what they are about in their twitter bio

“Coffee, it’s the world in your hands. Our passion is quality barista & cafe training for all, with a focus on diversity in the Coffee Industry”.

It is set partly inside a cafe with tables out in the spacious corridor, it is rather lovely and anyone who misses Reka should head straight there. We enjoyed hotcakes, very good coffee and chatting with a staff member about how she should love her tattoos. She was rather taken aback that I have a half sleeve, work in a bank and am rather older than her. She was lovely.

There is also a Co’Ed on Kings, I will let you know what I think when I go there. I would certainly head back to the Queens cafe and try all the huge slices.

So next time you are in the Hutt, ditch the mall coffee and head on out. that is an order. They are in the Entertainment book under Little Cafe.

Degustation at Jano.

Last night I went to Jano on Willis Street with three lovely friends. You may be looking puzzled and pondering where on earth Jano is in Wellington? It is up the top end of Willis Street in a cute yellow cottage that was once Citron.

For me, it was one of those places that you think you must try and then you forget to go. This time I remembered and my friends and I made a concerted effort to book a table. We were spurred on by the Entertainment Book voucher and the fast approaching end of the 2015/16 book. We all left feeling very happy that we made the effort and felt like we had had a special meal out.

I have to say, we were not easy customers. If a song could have played as the four of us walked in I am pretty sure it would have been Taylor Swift, I knew you were trouble when you walked in. We were not intentionally awkward and we were very much accommodated.

Out of the four of us, two of us wanted to know what the menu would be and two of us didn’t. I was on the not wanting to know team. Eventually , we came to a compromise and the two fuss pots specified what they didn’t want. These demands included no dairy, no lamb and no raw meat. Each person was given the right meal for each course . On top of that each plate was also impressive. The only gripe through the evening was that some of our party felt the need to season some of the plates. I would put this down to personal taste. The salt and pepper grinder was worth asking for just to have a play.

The service through out the evening was brilliant, right down to the French accent. Jano really is a lovely bistro with the whole package. Go on, stop putting it on your list. It is certainly now one of the tops on my must use the Entertainment Book voucher list and my fancy meal out list. I hope they are part of Wellington On A Plate this year.

Here are a few photographs of my courses in the order they were served. The degustation was 7 courses and these were taken from the A La Carte menu. It is a great way to broaden your horizons and eat things you may not have ordered. I wouldn’t have picked the venison or the pork and they were my favourites.

Just look at the cutlery and plates, aren’t they lovely too?

 

 

A mango and vodka amuse-bouche , a lovely palate cleanser.

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Jano Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Going on Holiday With The Entertainment Book.

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We paid $55 NZ for the Entertainment Book and saved roughly $360 Australian. That saved us over $300 on things we would have paid for any way!

We have just returned from ten days in Cairns and Port Douglas. They were ten lovely memory creating days and we had a fantastic time. We did all the tourist thing and even relaxed. The relaxing part was made easier and cheaper by my brain wave to buy the Entertainment Book for the Cairns, Port Douglas and Palm Cove Region.

The Entertainment Book is an Australasian thing, correct me if I am wrong. For those not in the know, it is a voucher book you buy for your area through a fundraising organisation. It can be a school, charity or other such organisation, they get a percentage of the cost for each book purchased. If you purchase another book the donation can still go to your local charity.

It gives you discounts for restaurants, attraction, hotel bookings and more. Last year the first digital editions was launched and we loved ours. Having the book on the phone was an excellent way to get maximum use out of it. Not having to carry a book or vouchers made life much easier. It also made the thought of having an Entertainment Book for our holiday easier.

Just a small lunch!

Just a small lunch! Al Porto.

We checked into our hotel Cairns and wandered out the door.We were hungry, confused and in a new city. I pressed the Near Me (circle with marked quarters) button and found we were right outside Al Porto Cafe. We ordered lunch and one of our adult up meals was free (roughly $20). Later that evening we went out for a fancy Thai meal and yet another meal was free (mains were $30). In just one day we had just about made the cost of the book back! Both meals were excellent.

Wallaby, yes, I ate the cute fluffy creature.

Wallaby, yes, I ate the cute fluffy creature.

Our holiday continued like this, we used the book as a guide of where to eat and where to visit. It became a running family joke overtime we went anywhere, “is it in the book?”. I even chose my birthday dinner using the book and we had an all Australian meal at Ochre, we saved $45 on that meal.

I am so impressed that I felt I just had to blog about it. Holidays are not cheap and it isn’t always easy to figure out what to do and where to eat in a new city. Having the Entertainment Book made our decision for us.

Double Shot Cafe banana pancakes.

Double Shot Cafe banana pancakes.

We also ate in some spots that we probably wouldn’t have even noticed or considered, I had some of the best banana pancakes I have ever eaten at Double Shot Cafe. I have to admit it is not somewhere we would have gone to without the voucher but it is one of the first places I would return to for excellent banana pancakes and good strong coffee.

My moussaka , it was vey good.

My moussaka , it was very good.

Not only did we go to different places, we were also helped out when we got to our chosen Italian and it was fully booked. We pressed the Near Me button and found we were just below Yaya’s Hellenic Kitchen and Bar. It was right above the Italian. After checking the menu out we headed up and had some of the best Greek food we have eaten outside of Greece. It was very good and will certainly be on our must eat in Cairns list.

As we moved onto Port Douglas there are less eating opportunities but more activity based vouchers. We did visit Siam By The Sea in Port Douglas and saved $20. It was a lovely meal. Also we visited the Wildlife Habitat and one adult was free. Our biggest saving of the trip was an incredible 30% off our Great Barrier Reef trip.

The Silversonic boat.

The Silversonic boat.

The trip is not cheap , using the Entertainment Book we saved a massive $150 , yes, you read right. They took 30% off the price of our booking . Our trip was with The Silver Series Dive and Snorkel and we had an epic day out on the reef. It was everything it should have been and more. We even saw the first whales of the season on our way back to shore.

I have not been sponsored to write this post, I am just writing how much we got out of the Entertainment Book on our family holiday. It made life so much easier and saved us money at the same time. Below are some screen shots of our savings. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

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