Best for Brunch: Okra

Okra Menu Cafe Review

So I have done you all a great disservice. Somehow, despite being a regular at Okra for a couple of years now, it has managed to slip past a blog post. Let me remedy this now because, spoiler, this place is one of my favourite spots in Auckland for a relaxing weekend brunch. Its where I go when I need somewhere to unwind. Its where I go for a bit of time together with my husband. Its where I go when I want to take visitors out to somewhere reliably delicious. For me, Okra ticks all of the boxes and that’s what keeps me coming back despite the plethora of options we are lucky to have in Auckland.

Okra Cafe Review

Coffee here is a bit of a flat debate. Personally Edd and I both love it. It’s one of the few places where I can enjoy a long black and their lattes are still strong and full of flavour. My flatmate is not such a fan, so you will just have to go and try it yourself!

Okra Cafe Review

The good news is that it’s not just their coffee that is on offer, they also offer a selection of delicious smoothies and fresh juices. Their morning slap isn’t just random abuse (their staff are incredibly friendly in fact) but their orange, lemon and ginger juice which I order without question every time I visit. When I’m not feeling so healthy, their salted caramel smoothie is equally as mouth-watering.

Okra Cafe Review

This is me trying to show how much I love juice but actually just being a bit awkward. Sorry.

Obviously I eat when I come here. In fact I usually eat too much. The first 10 minutes or so are me debating whether I should go for something savoury, like the perfection that is their vegetarian big breakfast, or for something sweet, like their pancakes which are sandwiched with lemon curd, smothered in maple syrup and served with a side of yoghurt (to make it easier for me to pretend I’m not eating desert for breakfast).

Okra Cafe Review

This is the perfection that is their pancakes. Perfection I tell you.

Their menu is simple yet satisfies all of my tastes (check it out over at Zomato). There are full on brunches, light snacks and delicious lunch choices as well as a newly added nigh time menu so that you can spend all day here if desired. And everything is delicious. Their creamy mushrooms are to die for, I could live off their hash browns, their hollandaise is creamy and light and their eggs are always cooked to perfection. In other words, the food is reliably amazing.

Okra Cafe Review

The very delicious Eggs Royale (i.e. my constant brunch envy)

The cafe has a few different seating areas; outside in the sunshine, out back in the sheltered courtyard, inside where its busy or upstairs in the peace and quiet. Okra just has it all for me, friendly staff, delicious food, strong coffee and lovely surroundings. I see many more Sunday mornings spent here and I don’t mind at all.

Okra Cafe Review

Check out their Facebook page and keep them in mind for a free morning where you crave something local and delicious.

Okra Cafe Review

 

What are your favourite local brunch spots? 

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A Mexican Feast at Flying Burrito Brothers

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to my first Zomato meetup where I got to try enough Mexican food to last me several weeks.

This meetup was hosted at Flying Burrito Brothers in Newmarket, which had opened a little while ago and had a menu to delight any foodie with Mexican tastebuds (my hand is firmly in the air).

Virgin Mojitos Flying Burrito Brothers

Virgin Mojitos and dark lighting, sorry in advance for all the other photos

We started with a virgin cocktail; mine was mint and agave and all kinds of refreshing – which was much needed after dealing with Auckland traffic after work. We were then given a tasting board of their starters (bocaditos) to share around whilst we all were introduced to one another. Highlights for me included the Jalapeno Relleno (corn crusted jalapeno) as well as the Quesadilla De Queso, a delicious cheese, chilli and coriander quesadilla which went perfectly with their fresh tomato salsa. The highlight of this platter was the hot spicy cheese dip, Chilli Con Queso. I could live off the stuff (not for long though).

Flying Burrito Brothers

The Starting Platter

After gorging on starters, plate after plate of delicious dishes came out until our table was creaking. There were enchiladas, fajitasand burritos, but the highlight for me was the mushroom quesadilla (Quesadilla de Hongos) which was cooked to perfection and came with generous amounts of guacamole, sour cream and salsa. I must mention the Holy Mole Enchilada. Filled with chicken, I didn’t really try this but couldn’t resist tasting a little of the mole sauce which was rich and delicious.

Flying Burrito Brothers

Enchiladas, Burritos and Fajitas, Oh My!

Flying Burrito Brothers

Mushroom Quesadillas, perfect for any cheese loving vego

Flying Burrito Brothers

Luckily we had a bit of a break before desert, the conversation was pretty lively and the white sangria came out and was light and tasty. When the deserts arrived they were quickly demolished. We tried the Banana Chimichanga, tortilla wrapped fried banana served with ice cream and cinnamon sugar. Good but in my opinion, not as good as the Churros which came with three different dipping sauces. Yum.

Flying Burrito Brothers

Never too full for desert. Never.

 

It was such a fun night and an amazing way to sample some of the delicious dishes offered by Flying Burrito Brothers. I now can’t wait to go back with more friends and eat so much I can’t get home.

Flying Burrito Brothers

What the table looks like at a foodie meetup.

What are your favourite Mexican dishes?

Introducing: Auckland Food Tours

So my dream day is to be driven around to different delicious destinations where I can eat and buy as much food as possible and then nap the afternoon away. This came true last Saturday when I went along to one of the Auckland Food Tours with Edd and Mr 12. Dreams really do come true.Auckland Food Tours


I am a big fan of food. I am also a big fan of not having to put in a lot of effort in order to eat a lot of food. It’s a dangerous combination (just ask my waist line) but for those food-inclined, a food tour is like a mini miracle. Food tours obviously are a thing that have always existed outside of my imagination, yet somehow I have just never successfully encountered one until last weekend.

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Needless to say, when asked if I would like to come along on one of the food tours I did not take a lot of persuading.

All the details on the tour set up are located over on the website for Auckland Food Tours so I’m just going to mention a couple of my favourite places and then show you a few delicious photos.

Monsoon Coffee

Our first stop, Monsoon Espresso, was one of my favourites although my love of coffee may make me biased. We were shown the coffee roasting process whilst we got to down the good stuff in their beautiful roastery showroom, and whats even better is that they have a cafe in the city! The rest of the tour included Lebanese, Russian, German, Italian and Middle Eastern style cuisines and the type of stops varied from the cafe to a cheese maker in Dairy Flat, with everything delicious that you could imagine in between. Monsoon Espresso 1

There were several places that I will definitely go back to again, one of which is Barakah Foods, the Lebanese supermarket in Wairau that was full of hidden treasures for a super reasonable price. The little unassuming store is packed full of the most delicious things like pomegranate molasses, rosewater, tinned charcoal roasted eggplant, relishes and jams, fresh olives and feta. I’ve only scraped the surface of this shops offerings and I will be back there before Christmas to spend all of my money.

Barakah Food

Along the way we met a variety of incredibly friendly foodies who talked us through their passions in food and let us eat many delicious samples (we definitely did not need lunch). At one point I had a delicious German pastry, warm and doughy and full of creamy poppyseed paste (which does not sound as good as it tasted). As it was thrust in to my hand, still warm from the oven, I think I had some form of delicious bread related epiphany (perhaps along the lines of “oh my god, bread! Delicious!). I also tried Russian dumplings for the first time and may have eaten far more than my share (not my fault). I also ate a lot of cheese, but what else is new?

Massimo Lubisco

Overall Thoughts

Would I do another food tour again? This seems like a silly question because I would happily do one every weekend if I could. These would make such a great gift (oh hey there Christmas!) or the perfect experience for someone visiting Auckland. It was such a fun way to get to know some of those secret places that people discover and with the amount of tastings we received it would be well worth the price. Anne-Marie, who hosted us, was amazing and did a wonderful job of sharing her obvious love for food with each of us. Even Mr 12 was totally obsessed with the day and could not stop raving about how much fun he had.

Auckland Food Tours

Me. Eating Cheese. Because that’s pretty much what I do in every photo

 

Napoleon Pastry

In case you haven’t eaten a Napoleon before, you definitely should.

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Brunch Club #3: Ironique Cafe

 

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Hi All!

Today brings stormy weather to Auckland but what better way to enjoy the weather than to eat brunch with great people in a covered outdoor cafe? Well there may be better ways but regardless brunch was delicious.

We were planning to visit a popular new spot in Mt Eden but by the time we got there at 11am they had stopped serving breakfast…which seems kind of ridiculous to me but perhaps that’s just because “morning-person” is not a phrase that anyone would ever use to describe me. So cold and being buffeted by wind and rain we decided to take Brunch Club to the nearby Ironique Cafe  which both Laura and Maddy had previously been to and enjoyed.

ironique

We found ourselves sitting outside of all places, in an amazing covered courtyard area which was fantastic. The decor was funky and different, with pots and pans and little bits of rusty iron decorating the walls. Add to that the adorable sparrows that were milling around outside and I was pretty happy with the location.

From the moment I saw the menu I was confident the food would be delicious and we weren’t disappointed. After much (painful) deliberation I chose to go with the Vegetarian Big Breakfast, which was highly recommended. Where do I even start? This meal was packed with so much deliciousness my brain could hardly believe it was all vegetarian. Let me list it for you: perfectly cooked scrambled eggs, homemade spicy potato rosti, crunchy ciabatta bread, slow roasted tomato, fresh avocado, pesto topped mushrooms (which I must learn how to make), flavoursome homemade baked beans, and my personal favourite, pan-fried haloumi.

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Everything was cooked well and the serving was generous  (what I would expect for $18.90). Laura’s chorizo/rosti/poached egg dish looked drool worthy and all in all the food was without criticism (its hard to critique with a mouth full of deliciousness).

The coffee was reportedly good but nothing mind blowing and my feijoa smoothie was fresh, refreshing and full of feijoa flavour (which I should just mention now is my favourite fruit).

All in all, with lovely decor, delicious food and a great variety of options I can see myself heading back there soon.

Gratuitous haloumi shot...because I can

Gratuitous haloumi shot…because I can

Have a great Sunday and keep safe in this stormy weather! And if you ever want to join our little bloggers brunch club just contact me via twitter or facebook 🙂

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Brunch Club #2: Al’s Deli

So I sadly missed last month’s Blogger’s Brunch Club but this month was back in motion with a visit to the trendy new Al’s Deli near the top of Queen Street in Central Auckland.

DSC_4821 We chose this place due to its central location and delicious sounding menu! Maddy and Laura were there as well as Sandi who it was a pleasure to meet! We started off with drinks and luckily the coffee here is strong and full of flavour.

als deli 1

On to the good stuff, what we ate! Al’s Deli is famous already for its delicious homemade bagels (they even do gluten free ones!) as well as their selection of amazing sweet treats. Naturally most of the lovely ladies opted for the Bagels, testing out “The Plateau” (crispy chicken, aioli, roquette and tomato) as well as “The Saint” (featuring their home cured maple smoked salmon with the classic combo of cream cheese, capers and red onion). Being a newly fledged vegetarian I couldn’t wait to get my hands (or rather fork, I have some rare manners) on their Roast carrot, beetroot and haloumi salad. My salad was nothing short of wonderful with a generous amount of roast vegies, thick slices of tasty haloumi, crispy bagel chips and lemon vinaigrette. The bagels looked delicious and seemed to go down a treat however the twice fried chips didn’t quite live up to our hefty expectations.

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We couldn’t leave without tasting a few sweet treats (despite being rather full) so shared a Maple Butter Moose Ear (a unique Canadian pastry, something between a pancake and bread), a cronut (if you haven’t tried these yet you are seriously missing out!) and the apple fries with caramel sauce. I love a good cronut but the highlight for me were the apple fries which were too delicious for my brain to handle, especially when smothered in home made caramel sauce (ie the best thing ever). What a wonderful way to end a meal with lovely people and a nice location! You can read more about another time I tried some of their sweeter menu items over at nzgirl!

Look at all the delicious things to enjoy! And the funky decor :D

Look at all the delicious things to enjoy! And the funky decor 😀

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The amazing apple fries with homemade caramel sauce. Could life get any sweeter?

Can’t wait to find out where we are going next month!
If you would like to take part in Blogger’s Brunch Club just let us know on twitter (@liz_lock).

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One more photo of a cronut….just because. Drool.

Lizzy xx

p.s. Go show my facebook page some love!

Brunch Club Part 1: Mozaik

Hi All,

Happy Weekend! So this week was a bit of a challenge with work stress and trying to resist gluten as well as being a bit exhausted however the work week ended on a high with a work get together last night that was a lot of fun! Then the weekend rolled around, bringing with it my first brunch with two beautiful and lovely blogging friends, Laura from The Dizain Collective and Maddy from Madicatt (both awesome blogs, grab some tea and take a look!).We had so many options in Auckland for great brunch spots but decided to go with something tried and tested, Mozaik in Mt Eden (I have never tried a Mozaik but everyone else had always had positive experiences). My main concern was that being in the middle of my gluten free trial I might not be able to find something delicious to eat but luckily Mozaik was a great choice with the option of gluten free bread instead of the normal (delicious) stuff.

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To eat I ended up choosing the Field mushrooms with blue cheese sauce and bacon on gluten free toast (tip for bunch blogging, choose more attractive looking food to blog about). My dish arrived sans bacon which was very unfortunate (but handled pretty well by the friendly staff) but was still very delicious! I am a big fan of mushrooms and these were juicy and perfectly cooked with a subtle blue cheese flavoured creamy sauce. The pesto drizzle around the edge was also divine. The gluten free bread was plain but much nicer than I had envisioned. Maddy had a big breakfast which looked delicious and Laura chose the homemade hashbrown which will be my first pick once I am off my GF trial! To drink I had a feijoa smoothie (I can never resist the allure of feijoa) and then also had coffee to take home to Edd which was satisfying especially after a pretty big night.

 

All in all the food was delicious and with many yummy items on the menu I will definitely be back. More importantly than the food was the great opportunity to catch up with friends and share lots of information with each other. I think we sat there for about an hour after eating because there was so much to talk about. This brunch club might be the best thing ever! We plan to do it about once a month and so I will hopefully get to share some other great cafe’s with you. If anyone is interested in joining us just tweet me (@liz_lock).

Oh and I almost forgot, I set up a facebook page for myfoxycorner so please go check it out!

My Big Little City: Barilla

So this Dumpling restaurant hidden under ugly bright green decor and a pretty plain sign is no secret from the Auckland hipster scene and I just could not help but feel slightly interested in what this Dumpling restaurant had that the 99 other dumpling establishments (on the same road) didn’t. I am not really a big dumpling fan personally, especially being allergic to seafood and finding hidden prawns minced up in all the “veggie” dumplings I try. However, one day last week Edd and I went with 5 friends from work out to test out the dumplings and judge it for ourselves.20130930-194128.jpg

The service was lackluster which is kind of part of the charm of this no frills, no nonsense dumpling paradise. Don’t bother asking for a fork or expecting everything to come at the same time with a smile because odds are it won’t. I wasn’t too fussed as I knew this going in and was just looking for a decent feed and a good night with friends. Well both of those expectations were met and exceeded.

So I guess I should discuss the food. Dumpling wise we chose the lamb and chilli, chicken with mushroom and spring onion and beef with …. maybe capsicum? I would like to try the Pork and Chives which I heard lots of good things about but this time around we were accommodating for my intolerance of seafood and someone else’s non-pork preference. The dumplings are approx $12 for 20 and you choose them to be either fried, steamed or boiled. We tried one with each method to test it out and figure out what we preferred. The dumplings were nothing short of delicious. The fillings were tasty and fresh and the dumpling pastry was light and perfectly cooked. My favourite method was having them steamed with the fried dumplings next on the ladder. The boiled were my least favourite and I would skip that next time.

Aside from the dumplings there is a big menu of stir-fries and side dishes. The advice I had heard was to pretty much ignore everything except the dumplings and the fried french beans. We (stupidly?) decided to get a dish of fried rice which was very generous and was a nice little way to soak up the juices but in all reality was a very average fried rice. It kind of seemed like just boiled rice with some frozen veggies stirred through. Very average but if you need some carbs it does the job.

The french beans on the other hand were a whole other story. On the menu they sound a bit strange (Fried french beans with seasoned salt) but once at the table these were a definite crowd pleaser and my favourite thing from the whole night. The beans were fried in a crispy light batter (similar to tempura) and sprinkled with the most delicious “seasoned salt” I have ever tasted, Salty, spicy and full of amazing flavour I could have taken a whole plate of these home for desert.
20130930-194143.jpg All in all we each paid $10 each for our delicious meal and yet were very full and extremely satisfied. The only change I would make to Barilla would be to make it BYO because the lack of alcoholic options was dissapointing for some (personally the endless tea did the job quite fine for me!). Would I go back? In a heartbeat. Delicious and yet affordable and a great option for a big group of people who want an affordable night out. We are already planning our next trip.

Go try Barilla out! Its situated at 571 Dominion Road, Balmoral (close to St Lukes and to Mt Eden) and is open 11.30am-12am so perfect for a family lunch in the holidays or a dinner with a big group of friends. And don’t be put off by a D rating that they became a little infamous for, they now sit pretty at an A to the delight of many Aucklanders (hipsters and average Joes like me included!).

p.s. Please excuse the very average iphone photos. I would feel like a bit of a weirdo with our heavy duty Nikon out at the dinner table and was a little too distracted by deliciousness to take good photos. You really have to try it anyway, photos can’t do justice.