Wellington Chocolate Factory Tour, Thank You Zomato.

Look at all those cocoa beans.

Last week I received on of those emails that makes any day better, an invitation from Zomato to attend a Wellington event. This invitation was to a tour of Wellington Chocolate Factory. I am not going to repeat the tour and tell you much information , if you are in Wellington you need to go yourself and if not, go when you visit. Even if you just pop in for a hot chocolate and have a look around, it is well worth the trip. The hot chocolate alone will blow your mind as will the chocolate scented air.

On our tour we got to hear the lovely Rochelle express her passion for what they are doing at the Wellington Chocolate Factory and why.  Wellington Chocolate Factory is about very good quality organic chocolate which has been ethically made. They support the people in the process from bean to bar. It would be very easy to sit , nod, look trendy and think – that is pretty cool. It isn’t just cool, it is amazing. To get the full picture and to fully understand their commitment, have a read of their blog –

https://thewellingtonchocolatevoyage.wordpress.com

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At the end of the tour we got to try a section of the chocolates and savour the pieces. Tasting a small piece at a time gave me chance to really taste the flavours. Different beans have different flavours depending upon their origin. I had forgotten how much I love good quality chocolate in small amounts as opposed to the off shelf cheap bars that magically vanish without a thought.

I had a great evening a loved the tour. One thing that struck me was if small producers like Wellington Chocolate Factory do not  go to that extra effort to use cocoa beans of differing varieties the world could end up with just two types of cocoa bean. Imagine just two types of wine with no variation! No thanks.

Wherever you are in the world, but ethically farmed chocolate and give the fame a chance to keep traditions alive and be paid a fair wage. Support local businesses who are going that extra mile to make a difference.

Anzac Bar.

Anzac Bar.

At the end of the evening we were given the choice of bars to take home. I came home with the not yet released Anzac Bar, keep an eye out for it, it is very good. It was a hard choice to make but I couldn’t resist going with the new bar.

Thank you Zomato and Wellington Chocolate Factory

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First Wellington Zomato dinner at the Chameleon, oh the food, company and wine was fine.

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Last night I went to the first Zomato Wellington dinner event. The dinner was held at Chameleon, the restaurant inside Wellington’s Intercontinental Hotel. You may remember that I have already had a very enjoyable meal here, thanks to Lucy from Wellington Foodies. That was the summer menu, this return meant getting to try the newly launched autumn menu.

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I walked into the hotel with a few butterflies in my tummy and was shown to where our group had gathered in the bar area. The group included several other bloggers, Geoff from the hotel, Shaun and James from Zomato and Helen from Ata Rangi wines. The evening started with a gin or vodka from the bars special syphons and a few chats about what blogging is. We started off strangers and after a wonderful meal with matching wines, ended up a very chatty group indeed. It was a lovely evening and I have spent the day today smiling. I have also told a fair few people about my meal and how they too must go and enjoy the wonderful food and beautiful space that is Chameleon.

You can read two of my news friends reviews and then you don’t have to believe just me! Dani  and Kahurangi both have lovely things to say with some more great photographs.

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The meal began with us finding our places and our personalised menus. The lovely Geoff explained about the concept of the menu and how it isn’t divided into courses, but more choices for what you would like to eat and when. We also learnt about the Martinborough Ata Rangi wine selection from Helen. It was all very interesting and listening to a small wine producer with a great passion for her job was awe inspiring. All evening much food was talked about and the conversations flowed freely for a bunch of strangers, it was great.

I will finish up now and leave you with a few pictures of the food. It was all excellent. Chameleon has defiantely kept its place on my fabulous meal out radar. In fact, it would be my number one choice for a meal out for date night, friends catch ups or any other excuse I could muster. The Ata Rangi wine was also excellent, I am not just saying that. I am not a big wine drinker but I found this a very good drop, there wasn’t one glass I didn’t like. I could taste the difference between the varieties and the quality. All round, a great night and I am very grateful to all involved.

Amuse Bouche- duck with chicory and some other fancy bits. Was a very lovely mouthful.

Amuse Bouche- Duck with chicory and some other fancy bits. Was a very lovely mouthful.

Avocado tartare, cornichons, roasted saganaki, beetroot chips and coriander juice. The cheese is similar to haloumi and from Greece.

Avocado tartare, cornichons, roasted saganaki, beetroot chips and coriander juice. The cheese is similar to haloumi and from Greece.

Kingfish gravlax, Creme fraiche, vodka, cucumber, tomato jelly, watercress. A lovely refreshing dish which was well matched with Craighall Chardonnay. I declared it all tasted like being on holiday.

Kingfish gravlax, creme fraiche, vodka, cucumber, tomato jelly, watercress. A lovely refreshing dish which was well matched with Craighall Chardonnay. I declared it all tasted like being on holiday.

So good, yes, Chardonnay never went away.

So good, yes, Chardonnay never went away.

Lamb rack and braised neck, wild thyme honeyed caramelised yoghurt, black garlic, brussels and shiitake. A lovely dish and went very well with both reds. My favourite match was the Syrah.

Lamb rack and braised neck, wild thyme honeyed caramelised yoghurt, black garlic, brussels and shiitake. A lovely dish and went very well with both reds. My favourite match was the Syrah.

Pina Colada coconut yoghurt mousse, rum pineapple and coconut sponge. A full of wonder that left us all silent as we devoured this delightful dessert.

Pina Colada coconut yoghurt mousse, rum pineapple and coconut sponge. This caused a moment of silence as we devoured this delightful dessert.

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A last minute surprise of Petit Fours, a sampler of what is offered on the dessert menu. A perfect way to finish a perfect evening.

Thank you Zomato, Chameleon at the Intercontinental and Ata Rangi Martinborough.

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.