Posts Tagged ‘Pizza’

North Island, New Zealand Part II

So Part I was all about Lake Taupo, and Napier. Now the second part is about driving back from Napier to Auckland and stopping at Rotatua, spending a few days in Auckland and a few days in Bays of Island.

After Napier, we drove all the way to Auckland, it was about a 6 hour drive but we did stop in Roturua – we had originally going to stay overnight here but ‘The Mother’ decided against it and went straight to Napier. We sent to Polynesian Spa which I loved, however, Dragon, not so much! The water was WAY too hot for her and she said that it smelt like ‘poo poo’ LOL. We even got a private pool (only 30 mins) and we stayed at the Lake Spa for a bit. I would definitely have loved a massage, but ‘The Mother’ was eager to stop by a park (I can’t for the life remember the name) before Auckland. There were SO MUCH SPACE and GRASS!!!! LOVE!


Where we stayed: a 4 bedroom house (found on air bnb by ‘The Mother’s aunt) which was nice and spacious. Only problem was the walls were so thin, we could hear a pin drop!

What we did: nothing much, we had a wedding at Abbeville Estate – it was a beautiful place for a wedding and Dragon again wore her favourite and BEST outfit for the day!

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What we ate – for breakfast we ate at home, and obviously a wonderful meal for the wedding and dim sum (yum cha) for the day after wedding. I did have a pretty good meal with one of my oldest and dearest friend in Auckland – Blue Breeze inn which serves a delicious Modern Chinese food.


Chef Che Barrington is the chef behind Blue Breeze Inn and in 2011, he opened MooChowChow, Auckland’s first modern Thai restaurant. There were so many options on the menu. We started with the steamed bun of roasted pork belly and pickled cucumber (NZD10 each) – that crackle, it was sublime and the bun itself was soft and pillowy which was excellent.


We also couldn’t go past the steamed bun of five-spiced tofu, kimchi, and coriander (NZD9 each) – I have to say, this was pretty good. I may have preferred this over the pork belly one and that says a lot!


The bang bang chili chicken with black vinegar, sesame-chilli dressing (NZD18) was ‘bang bang’. The chili really gave it a nice kick! It was a little spicy for Dragon unfortunately but she definitely enjoyed my pork belly more.

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The beef unfortunately wasn’t as tender as I had hoped. It was a little on the tough side.


For dessert, we ordered a couple of things to share. Mango, tapioca and lemon sorbet was refreshingly light and was a great palate cleanser!


The taro dumplings were more on the heavier side but it’s not something I have eaten before. It was good but I definitely prefer the mango, tapioca and so did Dragon!

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Service was good and food was pretty good, especially the pork buns, shame about the beef though, as I was craving beef!

Before we left Auckland we had a quick lunch at Toru Café which is located in Ponsoby – I am really loving that area. It’s a little like Paddington, if you live in Sydney.

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the beef cheek, tomato, kasundi, carrot pie which was served with crinkle chips (NZD16.50) – oh how I fell in love with the crinkle chips! My my! It was crinkle potato chips, slightly fried, it was delicious. The pie itself wasn’t too bad either.

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I couldn’t go past the spiced chicken, halloumi, cous cous, raisin, harissa, date (NZD22.50) – I love cous cous, and not to mention squeaky cheese! Unfortunately Dragon wasn’t a huge fan of cous cous, nor the squeaky cheese, she did however, eat all my chicken.

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Service was polite and friendly, it’s a pretty cool little café, it was in the middle of a shopping arcade and was very relaxed. Food was good and everything on the menu sounded great! Those chips though – worth coming back for just a bowl of crinkle cut chips!

We were in Auckland for about 3 days, and then we drove up to Bays of Island. It was about a 2-3 hour drive, very scenic but lets be honest here, I spent most of it sleeping! Every opportunity I had, I was sleeping, I was SO TIRED and besides, cars and I – sleep! Who doesn’t? Come on?

Where we stayed: Waterfront Suite Paihia – Herritage Boutique Collection, 100 Marsden Road, Paihia, Bay of Islands, Paihia, New Zealand. We got the 2 bedroom apartments – don’t ask why but we definitely enjoyed the space! LOTS OF SPACE! And had a view of the ocean, which was beautiful!

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What we did: if it was summer or if Dragon was a little older, we could have gone swimming with the dolphins, go kayaking etc. But alas, our little Dragon is still 2.5 years old. We hung around town, there was a lovely grass area, and a piano where Dragon could not stop playing! I believe she has musical blood in her, just like her mama!


What we ate:

We arrived early afternoon, and thought we would have an early dinner at Alongside which is situated over the water in the stunning bay of islands. It’s a very laid back place, very casual, we sat there drinking and eating whilst watching the sunset. It was a tad cold but it was still quite pleasant.

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I couldn’t go past the braised beef croquette – 4 generous size croquette with lots and lots of beef. The outside was slightly burnt but the inside, my my my… it was absolutely amazing!

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the soft shell fish tacos with our local catch, apple and mango salsa. He demolished this before I could even take a photo of it.

We also ordered a side of chunky street fries with rosemary salt and smoked aioli – they were demolished by the three of us! So good!

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They even had a kids menu for Dragon. Not pictured but for NZD10 – a bowl of Bolognese pasta and juice. She loves pasta so had no problems demolishing it.

It is really a nice way to spend the afternoon / evening. I can envisage many Sunday lazy afternoons sitting here, drinking and catching up with friends. It was really a very nice and pleasant area.

The next morning we had breakfast at Upper Deck, which was next door to our apartment. I ordered the big breakfast to share with Dragon – 2 fried eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom and hash browns which was served with some brown toast. Pretty large serving, Dragon isn’t really a toast kind of girl for breakfast, she usually eats rice and leftovers for dinner. She loved the sausage and mushroom though, the toast she thought was a little hard.

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‘The Mother’ had something more simple – he was a little over big breakfasts (HOW COULD HE?) and opt for muesli, yogurt and fruit which was surprisingly good! Fresh fruit and the yogurt was surprisingly good!

We had dinner at one of the local pizza place near our apartments. The pizza wasn’t too bad, very big but it was for four of us. We ordered two of it and managed to finish it all!

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Overall, it was a great trip I love New Zealand, it’s such a beautiful place. However, the driving – the driving with Dragon almost killed me! Never again I think. We did have a good time, and would be keen to go to the South Island at some point.

Blue Breeze Inn

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

146 Ponsoby Road

Auckland, New Zealand, 1011

Ph: +64 9 360 0303


GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

16 – 138 Ponsoby Road

Auckland, New Zealand, 1011

Ph: +64 9 555 1229


GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

69 Marsden Road,

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Ph: +64 9 402 6220

Upper Deck

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

76 Marsden Road

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Ph: +64 9402 8147

Ciak – in the kitchen, Central, Hong Kong

Ciak – in the kitchen has been opened for a while now, it is located on the 3/F of landmark where three-sixty used to be. Now there’s also Urban Bakery Works, Pret and Ciak which is a casual dining venture by Italian chef Umberto Bombana of three-Michelin-starred 8 1/2 Ozzo e Mezzo.


There are two sections of the restaurant, a walk-in section for buying take away and a restaurant section for eating in. Now the choices for walk-in section is very limited, they have soups, salads, pizzas and desserts on offer which are ordered directly from the counters.

I was here for lunch and opt for the set lunch. I had a quick look at the a-la-carte menu and it was not cheap. 2 courses for HKD268 but the option i have to say was pretty good.

The bread was nicely warm, fresh from the oven


We both started with the mushroom soup – it was deliciously creamy and hearty and a perfect way to start the meal.


I couldn’t go past the char-grilled US sirloin steak with arugula salad. I was a little surprised when it arrived on the table – the serving was TINY but it was excellent. Succulent, tender and cooked to perfection.


R opt for pan-fried salmon, french bean and mashed potato. I am always a little wary about ordering salmon, most of the time it is over cooked but this was perfect, pink on the inside and wasn’t dry. Her gripe was that the same as mine – definitely could have eaten more of it.


Unfortunately I didn’t have time for dessert, however, the chocolate brownie with hazelnut ice cream sounds good. I have always enjoyed at Ozzo, so really enjoyed my meal here, even though I didn’t even try the pizza or pasta – definitely next time!

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Ciak – In the Kitchen

Shop 327-333, 3/F, The Landmark

15 Queen’s Road

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2522 8869

La Casa Ristorante, Russell Lea, Sydney

I have heard wonderful things about this restaurant, La Casa Ristorante which can be found on the busy street of Lyons Road in Russell Lea. Now Russell Lea is not a suburb I go very often but I have noticed that there are a few restaurants along this strip. Definitely worth checking out on my next visit to Sydney!


My bro’s birthday was coming up, it was a shame that I couldn’t extend my visit! We decided to come here for dinner, I had left the reservation quite late but thankfully managed to get a table. The place was BUSY, it must be a good sign we all thought! The menu was vast, it took us a while to decide what we want. We started with the garlic wood fire pizza (AUD9) and this went so quickly that when I looked up for a second piece it was ALL GONE!


We couldn’t go past the Don Pietro – tomato, mozzarella, hot Sicilian salami, capsicum, olives (AUD 22) – loved the thin base pizza!


F couldn’t go past the spaghetti ai fruitti di mare e pomodoro – spaghetti pan tossed with mussels, octopus, calamari, prawns, fish fillet tomato concise, garlic, chilli and parsley (AUD26) – a favourite amongst the diners.


The taglierini al tonne e aromi catanese – housemade hand cut linguini with yellow-fin tuna, capers, chili, limoncello lemons, parsley leaves, black olives and toasted pine nuts were good but lacked a little ump – not enough chilli they said.


I ordered the corn fed range chicken Maryland which came with potato mash – the original version had traces of nuts so the chef kindly made Dragon and I one with just potato mash and it was perfect. Tender chicken and creamy potato mash – perfect dinner for Dragon!


We noticed someone near by having the Lombata di Manzo con peperonata, jus (AUD38) – 400g riverina grass fed marble score 2 + rib eye sautéed red capsicum salad beef jus and couldn’t resist. The steak was cooked to perfection, it was definitely not enough for the 6 of us!

The polpette di casa – La Casa’s famous meatballs served with our pane di casa baked fresh daily on the premises (AUD17) were also a hit. (sorry no pic, it was so blurry!)

We were really all quite full and considered dessert, however, they ran out of tiramisu! Probably a blessing in disguise as I am sure I wasn’t the only one who were about to unbutton their jeans! Food was really good, I am sure the family will be back soon. I definitely wouldn’t hesitate!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

La Casa Ristorante

271 Lyons Road

Russell Lea, NSW, Sydney

Ph: +61 2 9712 3882

La Casa Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Vivo, Soho, Hong Kong

Part of the aqua group, Vivo is the sister venue to Tivo. Vivo is a very contemporary and slick restaurant, I love the sculptural lighting, the colour and the ambience. The menu is mainly Italian with a few modern Asian influenced items for those with more adventurous palates. We were here for dinner one week night, ‘The Mother’s’ cousin, E, was in town and thought we would check out this place.


We started with some bread, focaccia and warm bread, served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it was good.


We all went straight to mains, ‘The Mother’ opt for the crab meat ravioli, blue summer crab mousse, cherry tomato, morel mushroom and rocket leaf. This looked good, however, ‘The Mother’ didn’t think much of it. He thought the ravioli were dry and lacked flavour. I was rather surprised he ordered this, as he is usually a spaghetti bolognaise kind of guy!


E had the special from memory, smoked salmon pizza. The base was quite thin and crispy, I personally prefer the thicker base but this wasn’t too bad. Thinly based pizza usually mean that you can eat more!


I on the other hand couldn’t go past the grilled tenderloin of beef, duck fat roasted kiplfer potato, confir of watermelon, truffle veal jus. The beef was cooked to perfection, medium rare, and it was tender. The kipler potato roasted in duck fat was excellent, even Dragon loved it and she doesn’t usually like to eat potatoes!


We were all quite full and didn’t opt for any dessert. Service I thought was polite, the waiter and waitresses kept Dragon entertained which was good. Despite ‘The Mother’ not enjoying his meal, both E and I thoroughly enjoyed ours.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10


G/F, 41-43 Elgin Street,

SOHO, Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 3106 2526

Piccolo Pizzeria Bar, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Piccolo Pizzeria and Bar can be found on Kennedy Town on Davis Street. We have walked past this place many times and wondered so thought we would give it ago one day. It was after Dragon’s swimming lesson and our local lunch spot has been Kennedy Town and we always seem to go to Boulangerie which I don’t mind as I adore their quiche but wanted something different.


The place was relatively empty when we rocked up at about 2pm, there were 3 tables and all were eating pizza. Unfortunately ‘The Mother’ was suffering from a slight stomach bug so didn’t want to eat anything too heavy and that meant no pizza!

He ordered soup – minestrone soup – it didn’t look very appetizing to me. He said it was ‘ok’ but then again, with a stomach bug, everything tastes ok.


I couldn’t go past the porcini mushroom served with chicken and bacon.. oh my.. the porcini mushroom was deep fried and HUGE!! Unfortunately the batter was a little thick and I ended up scraping it off. The chicken and bacon was a wonderful complement though.


The pizza did look good though – will definitely have to try it next time. Service was a little slow at times, my meal took a good 40 minutes to come!

GA’s ratings: 6 / 10

Piccolo Pizzeria and Bar

Shop 1E, Davis Street

Western District, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2824 3000