IMG_3819 IMG_3810 IMG_3827 IMG_3815 IMG_3821 IMG_3831 IMG_3829 IMG_3812 IMG_3795 IMG_3808 IMG_3834 IMG_3835 IMG_3841 IMG_3839 IMG_3843 IMG_3848 IMG_3833Saying the Eastern Suburbs are lacking in good eateries is an understatement, we are almost in the endangered specie situation. Charlie & George is in the Stonefields neighbourhood. I hate to say but the surroundings are pretty gloomy, the houses all look the same, there is a LiquorKing, a Speight’s bar, a Yoga place, a SuperValue store [coming soon] and that’s about it. Thankfully Charlie & George is bright and colourful and reasonably busy which gives the area a bit more ‘life’. Now the banoffee smoothie ($7.50) is highly raved about and rightfully so. The berry smoothie ($7.50) not as exciting. We enjoyed the Soup of the Day (chicken and corn, $12) as well as the Eggs Benedict ($16.50) but the hollandaise needed an extra flavour kick. The pea risotto ($18) was fairly standard and maybe a little bland. It was delicious on the first few bites but the portion was so large we’d had enough halfway through. Service is quick and friendly. It’s great to be able to enjoy solid cafe food without having to drive 30-40 minutes and battling it out with parking. Will definitely be back for the banoffee smoothie, and the soup and also to try some more of the menu!

P.S. There’s this little shop around the corner that stocks IKEA products only, feel free to go play pretend in the kitchen and bedroom sections.

Charlie & George
4/40 Stonefields Avenue, Mt Wellington, Auckland

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As we enter the cold, all we want to do is eat noodles and drink soup all day long. Ramen Takara has just opened along Ponsonby Road, just in time for Winter. The restaurant has a bar and a courtyard but it is small. There is next to none waiting space so bear that in mind when you are faced with a 40-minute wait time and howling wind and rain outside. The Tonkotsu ($13 + $3 for extra noodles) and Black Sesame Dan Dan Noodles ($15.50) were our favourites. The Tonkotsu wasn’t overpoweringly salty, it was perfectly creamy and the noodle texture just right. If we are comparing (of course we are), Takara has smaller portions than Ramen Do. The egg is also not as well done as Do’s molten goodness. Yet overall we prefer Takara because we just can’t get enough of those noodles and soup. Wouldn’t recommend the sides, stick to the ramen though if desperate, order the Karaage Chicken. Service though is still lacking as it is only a week or so old – the bartenders were definitely confused. Give it a few more weeks and we will definitely be back again!

Ramen Takara
272 Ponsonby Road, Auckland

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The road to Matakana on the weekends can be incredibly packed with people and traffic because of the popular Farmer’s Market. We headed to Plume a little later in the afternoon to avoid the rush (about an hours drive from Auckland) and it was bliss. Stepping out of the car the first and most noticeable thing was just how peaceful and quiet it was. It was simply music to the ears.

Fish of the day ($34) was kingfish with cauliflower puree and clams. Clams were incredibly fresh and juicy and the puree was delicious. I loved the passionfruit and mango cheesecake ($14), super creamy and perfectly paired with some tangy sauce. The creme brulee ($14) was slightly too eggy for me. Service was excellent, attentive and not overbearing at all. Decor is not as glam as wineries like Mudbrick and Cable Bay. Plume is definitely a great place to go for a small day trip and to get away from the city noise. After lunch you can also drive to the beautiful Omaha Beach for a walk! Plume also have a cafe in Matakana Village.

Plume Restaurant (closed Sundays)
79 Sharp Road, RD2, Warkworth

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Back a few years, bagel cravings meant a trip to Maccas for their breakfast menu. It was strangely satisfying, the eggs and bacon combo. Though now at long last we have a few of our own bagel hideouts. So long to the oily, sloppy, paper wrapped before 10:30am munchies. Goodness Gracious serves New York style bagels with a wide variety of toppings. Faced with so many choices I ordered The Sampler, so I could try more. The Sampler ($17) is three mini sized bagels of your choice. Between the CAB (chicken and avocado), the Classic (smoked salmon and cream cheese), and the B.L.A.T. the latter was definitely my favourite. The relish and crispy bacon won me over. The CAB chicken was too dry. My friends had the Bene Bagel ($14.50) and Vege Bagel ($11). The Bene is ideal if you are famished. It comes with two eggs and heavy hollandaise which thickens quickly. The Vege Bagel was delicious, satisfying even for meat-lovers. The bagelry is right at the mouth of Kingsland and is busy constantly. There aren’t a lot of seats, so you may want to consider takeaway. Service is a little slow, we’d almost finished our bagels before our drinks came. Check out their Instagram for some more drool-worthy pics.

Goodness Gracious
2A New North Road, Eden Terrace, Auckland

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Japanese cuisine is hands down our favourite type of food. So Japan Day, we thought must be our kind of heaven. Except it was quite the opposite. There were gazillions amounts of people and hardly any food for sale. It wasn’t strictly Japanese food either, of the six or so stalls there were hotdogs and Chinese takeaways, what. There were also lines, lot of lines and lots of waiting. We spent about 20 minutes in the line for yakitori skewers and then found out that after the 30-minute wait to place an order, there was another 40-minute wait for the actual skewers. I stepped out immediately. We left Japan Day with empty stomachs and empty-handed. Feeling a bit ripped off we went to Ramen Do to satisfy our Japanese food craving. The place was small but there was a constant flow of customers. Thankfully wait for food was 10 minutes. Of the three, the miso ramen was the best ($15). #1 most popular according to their blackboard and rightfully so. Second place would go to the Soy-sauce based Mukashi ramen ($12). Skip the Takoyaki and Paitan. This is the first ramen spot in Auckland that we have come across serving delicious molten eggs!

Ramen Do (click for link to the menu)
167 Symonds Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland

So we said we’d share more South Island extravaganza, three months on and we’d only posted two lots of photographs. So here is more.

You will find that 90% of these photos have mountains in the background. Wherever you go, they follow. It is so easy to forget about the city lights after spending a week lake and mountain hopping.The sunsets are the most breath-taking thing ever. We probably took a couple hundred ‘on-the-road’ snaps, it was a scenic drive 24-7. We can’t wait to go back!

Lake Wanaka
The water is just as clear as Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. There are of course more towering mountains and also this famous #thatwanakatree. To my surprise, the houses here are modern and very flash, like those you see in design magazines. We spent a day here and did a 3 hour walk up Rocky Mountain. There are two ways which you can get up the top, we recommend going west for up and east when coming down. You have to use your hands and climb a few sections, but walking different routes mean you get to experience it all. Bring a picnic to have at the top too!IMG_0606 IMG_0604 IMG_0594 IMG_0631IMG_0662IMG_0657

Lake Tekapo
The Lake Tekapo/Mount Cook area has the clearest skies in the whole world. The best place for stargazing, if of course you don’t bump into a full moon like we did. It’s also home to the most photographed church, The Church of the Good Shepherd.  Pro tip: book early and get a place to stay in Tekapo. We lucked out on all the accommodation and had to stay at Fairlie, which is a 30 minute drive away and not very convenient. On the 2 days that we stayed there, it was all rain and thunderstorms in Fairlie while Tekapo had sunny blue skies and beautiful sunsets.IMG_1087

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Mt Cook/Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki was my favourite lake. The water is a striking baby blue caused by sediment deposit from glacial erosion. It is the most beautiful thing ever. You have to see to believe. Mt Cook sits with a family of other mountains which tower over you. We stopped at the info centre first. This info centre has more than just pamphlets and toilets, there are artefacts, old cameras, maps, and stories of the first climbers. We did the short walk to Kea Lookout, just 30 minutes. It’s the best walk when you’re tight on time. At the lookout point you can see Mt Cook, Mount Sefton, The Footstool, Hooker valley, and Mueller Glacier lake. Unlike Lake Pukaki, the water here is grey.IMG_1064 IMG_1047 IMG_0916 IMG_0910 IMG_0889 IMG_0888 IMG_0887 IMG_0885 IMG_0878 IMG_0979 IMG_0987 IMG_1000 IMG_0997 IMG_0995 IMG_0994 IMG_0968 IMG_0986

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