Monday, November 24


Today, yet again I lost one of my best friends.

The first time it happened was when I left Glasgow for Singapore, leaving behind my Swedish best buddy. Now my French friend is leaving New Zealand, his journey here unfilled. It's the right decision for him, he lost his enthusiasm for life here, especially after falling in love with a girl who didn't reciprocate that love. That doesn't stop me from feeling very sad.

Over the last few months my best friends have been two French guys. We hung out at least once a week, were comfortable in each others company. We had the same sense of humour and outlook on life. We could talk shit for hours. We would meet up, just me and him and have good conversation. Now he's gone.

I most likely will see him again, but not for years and not for any length of time. Life in New Zealand isn't going to be the same without him. I've lost a great companion. Ultimately its going to encourage me to widen my social net, so that I can find a friend as good as him.

There is another part of my life which is melancholic (and won't describe here), and these elements together are dragging me down just now. I've come to realise that life is not static nor simple, and that I have to fight for my happiness.

People and events come and go. They are ever changing and I can't take life for granted. The happiness I have now, I may not have in a week. And this happiness I have to fight for. Nothing in my life has been easy, and if I was to give up and relax, it would all come crumbling down. I always have to be on, so that I can get what I want from life. If I stop, I die.

I'll miss you Alix.

Food Review: Federal Delicatessen

Cuisine: American/Deli
Price: <$20 most mains
Location: 86 Federal St, Auckland

If walking down Federal Street looking for a place to eat, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice with many exquisite dining establishments, such as Sean Connelly’s The Grill and Depot. On the same street is The Federal Delicatessen (The Fed), another quality eatery, serving hearty American deli food in a casual dining environment.

The restaurant’s diner inspired theme bestows a comforting and quaint ambience. Much of the seating is at the bar, with only a plastic veneer separating you from the kitchen, allowing you to be enthralled by the hustle and bustle of the chefs. The restaurant is often busy, and unfortunately suffers from feeling cramped at such times. Service is also affected, and often will take over 15 minutes for your order to arrive.

The menu changes based on the time of day, with the best fair available at brunch. The food is America deli inspired with plenty of bagels and sandwiches, and more unique items like meatloaf. Meat is heavily featured, and everything sounds delicious, which always makes it hard for me to choose what to order!

At The Fed I also found the king of cheesecakes with it’s smooth, creamy, yet light cheese. The griddle cakes are also incredible; filled with juicy, oozing blueberries and unlimited maple syrup on the side. Paradise! The ‘Chimney Sweep’ milkshake is also worth a try, for its incredibly luscious peanut butter and chocolate flavour, though it’s a bit overpriced for the serving size. Whether you pick savoury or sweet, You really can’t go wrong with your choice at The Fed.

The dishes are hearty and extremely filling, even the sandwiches. The bottle of hot sauce at each table is very much appreciated, as I always go liberal with chilli. Dishes of particular note at The Fed are the toasted reuben (bursting with succulent pastrami), smoked hash (smoked mackerel is so good!), cheesecake and griddle cakes. The savoury items are incredibly satisfying, though definitely on the heavier side with lots of meat and potatoes.

The Federal serves hearty American food, which will satisfy you time after time. The menu features strong, rich flavours and the rare treat of both great savoury and sweet dishes, with the cheesecake and pancakes must tries. Bring an empty stomach with you and enjoy!


Friday, November 7

Food Review: Sal's Pizza

Cuisine: Pizza
Price: $24 for 18 inch cheese pizza
Location: 183 Karangahape Road (multiple locations)

Sal’s Pizza is the closest thing you’ll get to an authentic New York pizza experience in Auckland, or at least the fastest and most widely available. The staff and interior are clean and serviceable, an appreciable few steps above other fast food restaurants. The glass counter top displays a tantalising variety of pizza toppings including greasy pepperoni, chicken and vegetable. 

Out of the half or so dozen choices, my favourites are the mushroom and meatball. The pizza can be bought by the slice or as a whole, and are very generously sized. A single pizza will easily feed two to three people! Toppings are delicious and fresh, the cheese a gooey mess and the crust is the perfect consistency; slightly crispy on the outside with a softer, chewy inside.

There are a few side options such as mozzarella sticks, garlic knots and pizza rolls. The pizza rolls are fatty, cheesy, doughy, glutinous treats. You know there is nothing healthy in them, but damn do they taste good. They tastes even better in the early morning, after a night of drinking. 

There isn't too much else to say. Sal's is a simple place, with a small menu, but it's the king of fast pizza in Auckland. The chain captures the elusive balance between affordable, fast food and quality ingredients and taste. It’s hot, fresh and greasy and I wouldn't have it any other way.


Wednesday, November 5

Food Review: Il Mee

Cuisine: Korean
Price: <$15 for most mains, $12 for bibimbap
Location: 480 Queen Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland
Website: NA

Il Mee is one of the nearly identical looking Chinese and Korean restaurants lining the upper part of Queens Street. It’s apparently one of the best Korean restaurants in the city, but if true speaks poorly of the quality of Korean food available in Auckland.

The restaurant is modest, with frayed menus and water served in plastic bottles. The staff are pleasantly friendly. The menu features an assorted selection of Korean dishes, including the eternal classic bibimbap. As with any Korean restaurant, complimentary side dishes are provided. The ‘pancakes’ are absolutely delicious, moist and sweet. I could eat plates of them by themselves! The rest of the side dishes are rather standard; bean sprouts, kimchi etc. I've eaten at Il Mee on several occasions and although I've enjoyed myself, I've never felt any desire to revisit. Most of the dishes are slightly too oily or sweet, reminding me more of Chinese food than Korean. Prices are reasonable and your belly will be satisfied. Just don’t bother with the dry dumplings.

Il Mee is an inoffensive venue to eat Korean, but there are certainly better restaurants out there (if not significantly harder to find). Only go to Il Mee if you are desperate for a Korean fix. 


Tuesday, November 4

Food Review: Little and Friday (Newmarket)

Cuisine: Bakery
Price: <$10 for most sweet goods
Location: 12 Melrose Street, Newmarket, Auckland

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and looking for a new place to try (though not quite hungry enough for a full lunch) we made our way to Little and Friday. The café itself is part of a larger establishment; a fabric store, which combined with the flaky white tables and décor leaves a memorably quirky impression.

There were dozens of extravagantly presented baked goods in the cabinet and we found ourselves dithering over what to order. Eventually we settled on the feta and onion quiche, followed by a cinnamon doughnut and a chilli chocolate doughnut. The male staff member who served me was listless and unenthusiastic, leaving something to be desired. Nor was I fond of the seating arrangements. Initially we sat by the window, but began to roast in the New Zealand sun. The only other option was two large, communal tables. No, I don’t want to sit next to other people and have to listen to their conversation, while they overhear mine. Would smaller, separate tables be too mainstream for this café? We reluctantly sat down at the large table.

Aside from the pretentious seating arrangements and dull staff, the food was distinguished. The quiche was wonderful with its creamy filling and crumbly pastry. The onions provided a caramelised, sweet, balance to the rich cheese. I thought the sparse, large chunks of feta were overwhelming though and would have preferred them to be portioned throughout the quiche more evenly.
I'm a massive doughnut fan, to the point I can endlessly gorge on them, so was desperate to try Little’s delicious looking goodies. The cinnamon doughnut was perfectly crunchy, the light cinnamon touch adding an extra dimension of spiced flavour. The fluffy inside provided a nice contrast in texture, absolutely fabulous. The chocolate chilli doughnut is also a must try. The incredibly luscious dark chocolate centre and the gentle bite of chilli make for a sinful indulgence.

Little and Friday undoubtedly serves great food, but the lifeless staff and limited seating arrangements leave much to be desired. Grab your food, and find somewhere nicer to enjoy your well-earned treats.