According to Lonely Planet the coolest capital in the whole world is right here in New Zealand!
Move over London, Rome and Paris – Wellington is the world's coolest little capital city.
No only that Lonely Planet has named Wellington the fourth best city to travel to in the whole world, behind only New York, Tangier and Tel Aviv. Go Wellington and that is exactly where I went on the weekend.
Arrived Thursday night and headed out for a late bite. Cruised along the waterfront and happened upon Foxglove. The new bar on Wellington's waterfront. It has several spaces within the one building. There are 3 bars within Foxglove each different from the other. All a little decadent with a little vintage glam.
There is a lovely dining room with great views of the harbour and plus a separate banquet table under a 2 story living wall - the largest example in New Zealand and quite spectacular.
It was a lovely evening so we were able to sit outside as we were only after a few small plates and a little vino. We opted for Flat bread with cedar smoked snapper, Slow roasted duck terrine with apple gelee and toasted brioche, Crispy prawns with soy and truffle aioli, Goats cheese and mozzarella balls with palm sugar and manuka honey drizzle. For me the stars were the cedar smoked snapper which was light and fragrant and I can never go past goats cheese balls! If you are also a fan and in Auckland you should head along to Didas or La Zeppa.
First morning in Wellington and for us nowhere else to go but Floriditas, or Flo's as the locals call. My favourite cafe in the whole world so it gets a whole blog to itself! Read all about how wonderful Flo's is here.
For lunch I was lucky enough to finally get to Martin Bosley's. It was the Supreme Winner of Cuisine Restaurant of the Year in 2007 and was again a finalist this year. Their philosophy on food:
Eat what’s in season, what’s local, and what’s fresh. We also believe food should please the eye as well as the palate.
It is a beautiful venue right on the waterfront and one of those dining rooms that has that wonderful air of elegance with crisp white linen and sparkling glassware. The service throughout was impeccable, really some of the best service I have had...friendly, unobtrusive and everyone just made you feel so welcome.
To start things off homemade bread and for an entree I just couldn't go past the Black Pudding Ravioli, Young Carrots, Black Olive Powder, Red Wine-Cassis Sauce, Orange Peel Puree, Sage. It was the black pudding that hooked me, though I was tempted by the 65/65 Egg Yolk, Almonds, Radish, Charred Cucumber, Freeze Dried Asparagus, Buffalo Mozarella, Truffle. It is an egg yolk cooked at 65C for 65 minutes and it sounded and looked amazing. However I was not in the least disappointed with my choice, the black pudding ravioli was sublime, combined with the orange peel puree it was one of those mouthfuls that is just completely heavenly. Beautiful ravioli and then the spiciness of the black pudding and the sweetness of the orange peel pure and the perfect little carrots.
For main course Canterbury Duck Breast, Caesar Salad, White Anchovy, Fennel Puree, Pomme Dauphine, Ginger Gelee. The duck perfectly pink with crispy skin, a beautiful combination with the fennel puree. The pomme dauphine crispy on the outside and creamy potato on the inside...I could eat a whole bowlful of them. The Caesar salad deconstructed and lovely delicate flavours with the white anchovy.
And for dessert a tasting plate...oh my! A little creme brulee, a little cheese cake, a little chocolate, a little caramel ice cream and a little warm apple cake. You get the picture...right here. Tasted as divine as it looks.
An exceptional lunch and up there with my all time best meals.
For dinner back to out favourite haunt Floriditas which you can read about here.
Head out Saturday morning for a spot of breakfast to find Cuba Street in darkness. Hit by a power cut. So we re-routed to check out Moore Wilson. It is where the cafes, caterers and restaurants of Wellington shop for fresh produce and also sorts of small appliances, kitchen utensils, glasses, crockery and what not . A fantastic range of fresh produce and a wonderful deli selection.
Thanks to the power cut we came upon Cafe L'Affare which was doing a roaring trade, just across the road for a little breakfast.
Founded in 1990, Caffe L’affare (pronounced la-far-ray) is a little bit of a Wellington icon as far as coffee goes. It was certainly bustling but service quick and friendly and most importantly great coffee. Mum finally found the somewhere where they serve the perfect Americano.
After breakfast a brisk walk around the water front to check out the St Kitts Underground Market, underground as in in the underground carpark just on Jervois Quay, at the lagoon end of Frank Kitts Park. A very sensible idea given Wellingtons windy and unpredictable weather! A real showcase of the grass roots Wellington fashion and jewellery scene plus makers, bakers and crafters. Really a lot of lovely things on offer. Picked up a gorgeous necklace from Helen Underwood Jewellery if you can't make it to the market you can check Helen out here.
Then on to Kircaldie & Stains as had to check out the Christmas store....makes you feel all festive.
A slightly blustery afternoon, well it is Wellington, and we took the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens, a good time to go with rhododendrons in full bloom.
Saturday night a very special treat: dinner at Logan Brown. World famous in NZ! Set up by by Kiwi chefs Al Brown and Steve Logan who wanted to take the standard of fine dining in New Zealand to a new level. They have certainly succeeded there and in 2009 they were the Supreme winner at the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards. The restaurant is set in a 1920s revamped bank chamber on the bustling Cuba Street. Their focus is on the best seasonal ingredients from local producers and also organic, fair trade and sustainability.
A little blogging confession: Mental note to self, either take a copy of the menu or write up blog posts sooner! Apologies, but they have changed the menus so I can't quite remember all the lovely little accouterments that went with my meal! However trust me this place is amazing, the food delectable and the service impeccable.
A little aperitif to start the evening off. When in Rome...so we went for the VIP, Logan Brown’s most famous cocktail. Passion fruit and citrus with Plymouth gin, Dolin Dry & Pimms....yum! On to the main event and for me paua ravioli with a lime beurre blanc, another Logan Brown classic, and I thought what better place to try paua for the first time. It was delicious, rich and a little sweet wrapped up in perfectly cooked ravioli.
For my main course duck breast, as you'd expect perfectly cooked with crispy skin, served with confit pork and sauteed greens. And being such a special evening had to have dessert. So we had warm apple cake with salted caramel ice cream and cheesecake with strawberry jelly tip and 100s and 1000s. Both were amazing but the highlight was the salted caramel ice cream. Our lovely waiter was kind enough to offer us a couple of extra scoops...would have been rude to refuse!
A really wonderful evening all round.
Sunday and off to Te Papa as an exhibition of the European Masters. Great exhibition with Monet, Degas, Renoir, Picasso to name but a few on display. We also popped in to see the Brian Brake exhibition, one of New Zealand's most renowned photographers. Probably New Zealand’s best known photographer from the 1960s to the 1980s. He first made his name as an international photojournalist, photographing for picture magazines such as Life, National Geographic and Paris Match. His most famous work was on the monsoon rains in India in 1960. This series is famous for Monsoon girl, an image of a young woman feeling with pleasure the first rains on her face. When you see this at the exhibition you find out that it is probably the only photo that was actually staged. So many amazing images, I highly recommend that anyone in Wellington check it out.
Only one way to finish things off and that was back to Flo's. Thank you Wellington for a fantastic weekend.