Tag Archives: parnell

My idea of a productive shopping session

Eating is really one of your indoor sports. You play three times a day, and it’s well worth while to make the game as pleasant as possible.
~ Dorothy Draper

When you eventually find a park and make your way across the carpark in response to your nose’s instructions, you will find:

People who truly love food and people, who are generous and lively even on the rainiest of weekends as they offer the work of their hands to us.

Non-uniform, healthy vegetables and herbs which all but scream “I am fresh and free of bad stuff!” That bunch of basil pictured above took my breath away with its scent… dare I say I’d much rather a boy give me a bouquet of basil than flowers! ;-)

Amazing baked goods – whoopie pies, almond croissants dusted with fairy magic (icing sugar), good sourdough, pull-apart bread which you can’t wait to get into your mouth.

An array of options for the hungry breakfast lover (everything from savoury tarts to French crepes and Spanish paella).

Fresh juice. ‘Nuff said.

Good cheese. See above.

Smiling shoppers. VERY telling… especially when you consider the number of miserable-looking people I have to squeeze with at a certain supermarket that I hate on many weekdays after work.

What can I say? We are tremendously fortunate in New Zealand to have the people, produce and markets that we do. One place I like in Auckland is La Cigale.

La Cigale – 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland – open Saturday and Sunday mornings [delicious bistro open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays]


Duck at St Tropez (and a giveaway)

Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.
~ Michael Caine

“Duck” is one of my favourite words in the world. Is there anything so happy as a rubber duckie, or a duck pond in a garden, or ducking quickly behind a pillar to surprise someone as they unknowingly stroll past? Oh, and of course… needless to say… duck, you are sooooo delicious!

Mmmm. I am, tonight, close to quacking with happiness following a delightful catch up/dinner with my friend Cam who has recently made (the most excellent) choice of moving to Auckland!

Following a quick perusal of the Entertainment Book, we decided on St Tropez since it was close by, and, more importantly, the menu sounded too good to pass up.

What was even better than reading the menu was eating the food off that menu. The garlic bread was superb – warm and crisp and flavourful, with just the right amount of sweet tomato bits on top… and for mains, Cam ordered the lamb with caramelised onion, mushroom and bacon with a potato mash. I got to try a piece of the lamb – one which required both knife and fork and some skill to transport to my lips, so tender it was! I could not decide between the “Char Grilled Fish, Lemon Beurre Noisette Sauce w Capers & Tomato, Jasmine Almond Rice” and “Duck Leg Confit, Haricots White Bean Casserolette, Red Wine Plum Sauce” – thankfully, the charming maître d’ came to my rescue – I went with her recommendation.

I do not regret taking her advice – my dinner was beautifully cooked and plated. When it arrived, I saw a bouquet of green beans tied in a carrot ribbon; white beans bubbling merrily in a ramekin; and the prize duck confit, bless its soul, standing proudly on the right, lightly bathed in sauce. Wonderful. I stared at it for a while, trying to commit the sight of it to memory… I can still see it now. The flavours met and embraced on my tongue…

And, Cam treated me to dinner this evening – which was really so generous (thank you Cam!)… and sparked a mini idea…

If you have been reading my most recent blog posts, you may have read that for nearly no reason at all, various friends have lately decided to bless me with meals fit for a King. My cup runneth over! I have wined and dined at three top Auckland establishments in two weeks – and had my meals paid for, and my heart filled with their friendship and conversation.

So – I’d like to offer you the chance to win a $50 voucher for any New Zealand restaurant/café of your choice ($60 if they only sell vouchers in $20 instalments), as long as they offer vouchers for sale.

What’s the catch, you ask? Ah, yes, there is a catch.

You will do the work, and the voucher will go to someone else. No, don’t go away… read on, you’ll see why in a minute.

I thought of offering the voucher to readers directly, but I’m going to draw inspiration from Oxfam and UNICEF – and give you the gift of giving.

It’s easy –

1. Close your eyes and think of a beautiful meal you’ve eaten, and how much you smiled eating it.

2. Now think about giving a bit of that smile to someone… in the form of a voucher for a nice place they might not ordinarily visit?

3. Then leave a comment on this post, writing a sentence (or two) using the word “delicious”. Please type your email address in carefully, because I will need a valid way to reach you if you win!

The winner will be drawn at random – I will email you and get the name and postal address of your “giftee”, and the restaurant/café of your choice – and then I will purchase the voucher and send it on to your giftee anonymously. And, alright, I’ll sweeten the deal – you get a batch of homemade chocolate truffles (if in Auckland) or something equally nice/less fragile than truffles which will survive a courier ride (if elsewhere in NZ) from me. (By the way, I can’t guarantee you’ll love my baking, but I’ll try to make it loveable).

Sound good?


Questions, sing out… otherwise, thank you for reading – and good luck!

Please note that this is open to readers residing in New Zealand only – comments must be in by 11pm (NZ time), Wednesday 10 August.

PS. Visit St Tropez.

St Tropez Restaurant – 149 Parnell Road, Parnell, Auckland – Phone: 09 309 0996

On dining at La Cigale

Food was a constant topic of conversation in our household.
~ Paul Lynde

Are you a leftovers sort of person? I know people who love the joy of going to bed after a good meal, knowing there is more of the same to come the next morning. I am, however, seldom the person who asks the waiter to pack the rest of my food in a takeaway container. Probably because there is usually no remainder on my plate, save garnishings and bones. At any rate, any food that remains forlorn on my plate is probably food I have not enjoyed, and would therefore not enjoy even with microwave magic applied to it at home. I am also just loathe to consider cold soggy food waiting in the fridge for me to heat up.

I can’t remember the last time I got leftovers at a meal out to be packed.

So… don’t ask me why, but last night, I did it – I guess I just enjoyed dinner and when the waiter came towards us for our dishes, I blurted it out before I could think about where I was. “Would you mind packing these for us to take away?” I mean, I chose an unthinkable (?) place to ask for my food to be packed – it was a French bistro. But… it wasn’t a stiff and formal place, the red wine had me all relaxed – and – if you met waiters as friendly and forgiving as the ones I encountered last night, I am guessing you would forget your manners too :-)

We got a lovely table at the back, airy and quiet and just warm enough – I really loved the atmosphere of this place, it’s the kind of feeling I’d love to have in my own restaurant, if I ever owned one. Rustic and comfortable and roomy and fun – the sort where you can wear a beautiful dress and heels, or jeans, and feel 100% at ease with yourself. The kind where you want to be elegant, but won’t panic if you drop your fork or napkin. The kind where – even with a migraine plaguing your brain, all you want to (and can) do is laugh merrily.

We enjoyed a very delicious dinner. The meal just seemed to go on forever (in a good way). First – starters. The charcuterie platter came, adorned with silky chicken liver, tasty olives, stubby pickled gherkins and all – so yummy with the basket of bread! I frankly had to make myself stop, knowing we had more to eat after! The waiters came at just the right time, when we’d had enough time to taste all this at a leisurely pace… and just when I felt like we’d already had our dinner… there was more!

The mains – beef bourguignon and chicken tarragon, I had ordered two of each – arrived in generous bowls of warm deliciousness. Both beef and chicken were impossibly tender and flavourful; the beef was rich and strong, the chicken creamy and gently sweet with the dreamlike quality of tarragon – something in the sauce rounded it off perfectly, my guess is coconut milk but I can’t be sure. We were pleasantly surprised when a large bowl of fresh salad and an equally substantial bowl of crispy roast potatoes also made their way to our table. All in good time, while our stomachs began to feel rather heavy. Oh, and we got a bottle of Domaine Grand Veneur Côtes du Rhône les Champauvins to share too – this was listed as having “notes of kirsch and dark cherry” – it was a nice complement to the meal, thank you kind Waiter for your recommendation!

There was a bit of a mix-up with dessert at the end, and the yummy prune (I think) dessert which should’ve found its way to another table found us instead, with four sparkling forks to boot – and my brain did not wake up to the fact that it was a mistake until we’d all taken our first sweet bite (and horror and joy at once leaped into my heart). Despite my attempts to protest at the counter, they did not charge me for it.

I intend to visit them again. And not just because of the kindness with dessert.

PS. Re the leftovers. I KNEW it just wouldn’t taste as fantastic – but you know what, after a rather crazy day, this was JUST what I needed. I was so glad to have this waiting patiently for me when I got home tonight! Maybe there’s more to Leftover Logic than I thought.

PPS. Photos are of my leftovers (still looking rather edible, I must say!)

La Cigale – 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland – Phone: 09 366 9361