“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
~ A.A. Milne
Quick post, ‘cos I want to dive back into Jostein Gaarder’s “The Castle in the Pyrenees” after this. I’m so keen to read tonight that I don’t even have time to cook… I’m eating a pie. An honest-to-goodness, really-bad-for-you and not-even-that-nice-tasting pie. And cheese + crackers. Tonight, I’m doing away with dishes and I’m feeding myself with words.
Photo above © Babiche Martens
I just wanted to pop in quickly to say Queenie’s Lunchroom is one super place. I don’t know what I like best about it – I just know that in the two times I’ve been there recently, there was so much to smile about before the food even came… and then there was no quittin’ smiling. Quality coffee (all the more noticeable in Auckland, city of hit-and-miss in this area). Candy-striped seats. An avalanche of magazines available to read, which I left untouched only because I had engaging company. Cute stone steps set into the grassy patch outside. Happy-looking customers. Whimsical walls and floors. A fun array of baking on the counter. The warm generosity of Grandma in the air. An enticing menu where I actually couldn’t decide between options simply because I actually wanted them all… oh I already look forward to my next visit.
Everything I have tasted here has been delicious. The sight of “Turkish eggs with baba ghanoush, yoghurt, hot chilli butter & toast” on the menu was hardest to resist on my first visit, so I eventually (after re-reading the menu at least 20 times) chose that. It turned out to be a medley of sweet and smoky, warm and wonderful with the gently spiced eggplant, temperate chilli butter and silky cool yoghurt weaving a gentle blanket around the poached eggs. Fresh warm toast sat in a comfortable, lazy stack next to it. Tucking into this, I felt like a snug worm in a cocoon.
Mom, my sweet dining companion on that occasion, ordered the omelette, which is the most ordinary item at most places – but not here. Here it comes with smoked fish (!), spring onions, capers and cream cheese and a mini garden of greens – fresh and flavourful, she enjoyed it… and I certainly enjoyed my bite (or two) of it too. Mom and I also shared a serving of citrus dressed avocado – the pairing of sharp citrus and nutty creaminess was perfect. Spring on a plate.
My second visit to Queenie’s was with my friend Carmi, who made brunch a most beautiful occasion – we talked about things deep, and also things funny. I so enjoyed being in her presence… Carmi ordered the Greenlip mussel, chorizo & red capsicum fritters with lemon aioli & rocket – all ingredients that shine in a NZ kitchen, me thinks! And I got the Kosheri, having been told by the waitress that it was her favourite dish. When I tucked into that impossibly fluffy Egyptian rice with lentils and spinach nestled in it, and that creamy tomato, avocado and yoghurt salad on the side, I could totally see why she recommended this. It was humble, real, and bursting with light.
It’s always worth listening to a waitress whose eyes shine when you ask her what her favourite dish on the menu is, and why. :-)
After a long and leisurely brunch, Carmi and I ordered a meringue to share, which came with a generous helping of crème fraîche and berries. It was light, biscuit-y, crumbly and firm; tart, cool and sweet… the perfect sweet finish on a sunny afternoon.
Queenie’s Lunchroom – 24a Spring Street, Freemans Bay, Auckland – Phone: 09 378 8977