Category: Travel


Posted by Michael on May 8th, 2011 — 4:27am

Location: 240 Ponsonby Road, Auckland

Auckland 7th May 2011

Scran: Big on flavour, forgiving on the wallet, lean on the paunch – that’s pretty much what Little Doric’s opinion of Fatima’s was. Pretty succinct, pretty spot-on. And best of all it was one of those serendipitous gastronomic discoveries that so often lead to the best meals. We had only ended up under its glowing outside radiators because the ostensibly better Turkish shack on Ponsonby Road was fully booked.

So you have picked up the crux of this review: Fatima’s was great. From the friendly girl behind the till with tattoos all the way up her arms (you know the ones I mean, the ones that look like sleeves) to the guy who brought out our food, all the staff were welcoming and smiley. The pitas were hot with succulent lamb and the mezze? Like a Turkish equivalent of a Pringles advertisement – served with crispy pita tortilla chip things, sprinkled with parsley and a few sesame seeds, we physically could not stop. The dips themselves were a fresh hummus and then a sweet carrot blend loaded up with what we think was cinnamon, garlic and possibly more chickpeas. The L&P was cold and refreshing. Everything was pretty good basically. And for a very reasonable price.

Rick Stein would have been proud of us. We didn’t quite feel like Asian food and we didn’t quite feel like European food so instead we went for Turkish, a cuisine and a country that literally straddles the two.

Price: $33 NZ for two filled pitas, one mezze dip with ‘pita chips’, and L&P.

Website: nada

Burr: 4

PS I just wanted to say ‘straddle’.


Comment » | Food, Scranalysis, Travel

KeenKiwi: Chapter 6

Posted by Michael on May 2nd, 2011 — 5:56am

Auckland 2nd May 2011

Mmm. Cream!

Like a well researched Tim Dowling article this post is informed mostly by a quick Google about the Lamington. One .pdf titled ‘New Queensland Icons’ tells me what I need to hear. Amidst a series of articles about cows, frogs, rugby shirts and hills, the local publication from somewhere in Queensland informs me that the Lamington is named after Lord Lamington and his wifey, Lady Lamington, Governor and Lady Governor of Queensland around 1900. The language gets pretty strident towards the end of the article with regards to claims that New Zealand invented this cake. Whatever Australia, Wikipedia tells me that the cake is probably named after the town of Lamington, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Three words for you. Typical. Fucking. Scotland. TV, electricity, the telephone, the microwave, the automobile, cakes dipped in chocolate and desiccated coconut… The Scots claim all of them and more as their personal inventions: ‘Aye, we invented that, eh.’ Regardless, it sounds like the tastiest Lamingtons are found in New Zealand, who favour a Lamington (stale sponge, dipped in chocolate and dusted in coconut shavings) split in half and served with runny raspberry jam and thick whipped cream. (The Aussies like a bit of lemon curd in theirs.) And since I’m in New Zealand let’s call it a Kiwi thing.

The story behind the Lamington is that it used up any stale sponge cake on the go. However, although I did enjoy my Lamington today on Ponsonby Rd I couldn’t help thinking it was a bit dry. A tad… stale? Ah well, I’m going to put this down to charming authenticity as opposed to guff baking… Out of interest my special lady, who I’ll call Little Doric, would love Lamingtons, except she hates desiccated coconut. But as a proud, annoyingly patriotic, little Scot she will probably still lay claim to the sponge. After all, ‘pâtisserie‘, that’s a Scottish term, eh?

∼MJ out.

5 comments » | Food, Travel

Minus5 Ice Lounge

Posted by Michael on April 28th, 2011 — 12:43am

Location: 131-147 Quay Street, Auckland

Auckland 27th April 2011

Peer pressure, it’s a horrible thing.

Craic: Apparently there’s an ‘ice bar’ in London too. I imagine every night there is also an asian family paying the barman to take photos of them do shots through a jeroboam shaped ice sculpture. In Auckland this ice phallus rests on the bar (did I mention it’s made of ice?) angled downwards with a liquor conduit right down the centre, much like a urethra. The barman then pours down a shot of Absolut vodka while the recipient waits, mouth open, at the meatus. A miserable member of staff gets to capture this moment on a cheap digital camera for each member of the family.

In Minus5 everything is made out of ice. Even the glasses were made out of ice, which was cool. Jesus… That wasn’t even supposed to be a pun. It reminds me though, all the drinks had ice-themed names. I sprung for a ‘Vanilla Ice’. They didn’t play the song. Right… I think I have exhausted that part of the evening. What else… Two other tourists came into the ice bar during our one hour arctic extravaganza. Two German girls. One moderately attractive. One not. They had their cocktail, played one game of ice air hockey then left. When our group decided it had thoroughly explored all corners of this 8m x 8m freezer compartment and left I found the hot German was sitting outside having a smoke. ‘Why the hell did I just pay for that. It was exactly what I expected and still I went in.’ That’s what she was thinking I bet. That’s probably what every westerner thinks when they come out of Minus5… I was broken out of my leering trance by the gaggle of asian Kiwi tourists exiting the ice bar. They loved it. They were already reminiscing.

I have a comparison for this experience. In Hong Kong I wanted a t-shirt with Asian writing/characters but all sloganed merchandise in HK instead has imprinted on it a poorly constructed sentence in English. (Presumably Asian characters on all those t-shirts in the UK with ‘Osaka 6’ have similarly poor grammar. Either that or they say ‘I’m a western knobhead’ – I hope it’s the latter.)  My point is Hong Kong was rubbish when it tried to be western. That’s why I shouldn’t have tried to do western things. ‘You feel me?’ Just like in Hong Kong, when Kiwis try to do western things they are also rubbish. So, I plan not to indulge in a single other European/North American vice while I’m here in NZ. I just regret it afterwards. Plus, there’s easily enough cool natural shit to keep me entertained instead. I’m in New Zealand after all. Kia ora!

Price: $30 NZ to get in, which includes your first cocktail; all subsequent drinks $12.


Burr: -5

∼MJ out.

2 comments » | Travel

KeenKiwi: Chapter 4

Posted by Michael on April 27th, 2011 — 5:21am

New Zealand is pretty cool…

Tongariro 24th April 2011

Tongariro 24th April 2011

∼MJ out.

Comment » | Travel

Jus’ gi’s a f**kin’ coffee pal

Posted by Michael on April 20th, 2011 — 12:51pm

Auckland 20th April 2011

I have never wanted to sound like Alexander Chancellor but, at the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, I really, really hate coffee culture. I love coffee but I hate coffee people.

Maybe it’s because everybody is really buzzed about the series finale of FRIENDS airing next Wednesday night but Auckland is really obsessed with coffee. It’s a ‘coffee town’. Like Seattle. Which is good. I like Seattle. And I like coffee as much as the next guy. But when everybody is so fucking au fait with coffee types and I know jack shit I start to run into problems. Like today, my consultant asks me, ‘Do you want a coffee?’

‘Sure, just a regular black coffee.’

‘As in a short black?’

‘Sure, a short black coffee.’

‘So an espresso?’

‘No espresso, just a regular black coffee.’

‘But short? Okay…’


Granted I got an espresso twenty minutes later.

There’s something wrong with food or drink when its nomenclature becomes so goddamn byzantine that the words you are speaking are no longer intelligible. Breaking it down, I see where I went wrong. I should have said americano.

‘Regular americano. Black.’ Boom. Done.

But I didn’t. Karl Pilkington thinks there are too many words in the English language. I would be more likely to disagree with him if this was the only time this had happened to me. But it’s not, it’s like the third or maybe fourth time it’s happened to me. And one of those times I think I did ask for an americano. And one time I asked for a filter coffee. For none of these occasions have I gotten a regular black coffee in return. Come to think of it I’m pretty sure the right answer is ‘long black’. But then that just sounds like it’s going to be massive… I don’t want a gargantuan coffee. I just want a regular black coffee.

I guess I’ll try again tomorrow…

∼MJ out.

3 comments » | Food, Travel

Back to top