A few Auckland related links to fill in some time:
Dirty Dining Diary
I usually don’t think much of The Herald but this new recurring feature is genius. 29 eating establishments were given D ratings by the council during the last round of inspections and The Herald is reviewing them all during September.
I can personally recommended Day 3 – Saigon in the Food Alley, I deem it well worth the risk.
The Auckland Transport Blog continues to whip itself into a giddy frenzy over the new electric trains that will debut next year. And why not? The trains look fantastic and I can’t wait to give them a try when they finally start (literally) rolling out on the Onehunga line.
A friend of mine is in a band called 2am Orchestra which has been getting some buzz. This is your chance to get in on the ground floor before they hit it big.
Google Street View currently claims this place is called Golden Age, but I am sure it was the decidedly more dodgy sounding Loving Hut when I visited today, so that is what I will call it. Whatever the name, Loving Hut is a cheerful restaurant on Victoria St West just down the hill from the Sky Town on the other side of the street.
There are no sliced pigs ears here, Loving Hut is completely vegan. The atmosphere is unpretentious and relaxed, perhaps a little too relaxed since I was the only customer for the duration of my lunch. The business has a religious air, with crystals on display and colourful literature available which perhaps puts people off. It doesn’t affect the food though, which is reasonably priced, speedy, and delicious.
This is the Cantonese-style noodles dish with lashings of ginger, the perfect start to a crisp winter’s afternoon. On a previous visit I had the curry vegetable soup which was also great.
So MacDonald’s have announced that they are bringing back the original Georgie Pie mince and cheese pie. For some reason this is seen by some people as wonderful news.
Maybe it is because I came late to the Georgie Pie phenomenon, experiencing it only when they opened a branch in Dunedin while I was at University, but I never developed a taste for Georgie Pie. To my mind they really only had 3 things going for them:
- Relative cheapness, even compared to service station pies.
- A location in Dunedin that was halfway between University and my flat in North East Valley.
- The temperature at which they served their pies, which seemed to be about 750°C. This was very welcome after 20 minutes trudging through icy streets on a dark Otago evening.
Of these points, the first is no longer true, the second doesn’t really apply, and the third probably contravenes modern health and safety practices.
The other side of the ledger only has one point:
- You paid good money for what tasted like a cardboard envelope filled with beef flavoured mucus.
Apparently MacDonald’s is not changing the recipe (except for not adding MSG – that was the best part!), so this will still be true. I will not be rushing along to MacDonald’s to try the new pie anytime soon.
Tuesday morning brought me a dentist appointment and general work-related ennui. But even Tuesday mornings eventually turn to noon and noon comes with a friend – lunchtime!
Today we visited a modest little Chinese place with a modest little name – Xi’an Food Bar on the corner of Anzac Ave and Customs St East. It doesn’t look like much but Xi’an Food Bar has two standout features.
The first is that you sit at your table and order via a strange retro-futuristic device that looks a bit like a calculator. The waiter gives you a menu but rather than place your order with the waiter when he returns, you type in the number that corresponds to your chosen meal into the device. Once everyone has chosen their meals the device transmits your table’s orders to the kitchen. A kitchen which is all of 3 metres away and clearly within sight.
This manner of ordering is completely silly and quite wonderful. It feels like you have walked into a cheap 80s scifi movie. I plan to go back on a rainy evening and pretend I am hunting replicants.
The other great thing about Xi’an Food Bar is that they make their own fresh noodles. The service is very quick, and in a couple of minutes you will have a fresh bowl of lumpy noodles covered in tasty sauce. The flavours are strong but well balanced, and the texture of the noodles is very appealing.
The first time I went I made the adventurous mistake of ordering the sliced pigs ears. It wasn’t the worse thing I have eaten, but even the best sauce in the world couldn’t make a silk purse out of that. I think it is probably meant to be a side dish.
So long as you keep the pigs ears to a minimum, Xi’an Food Bar is worth the walk. Get there early though, it gets busy.
Ever read a recipe and know that it is your destiny to try it? I saw this fantastic method for making creme eggs on food52.com and was obsessed. It is a bit more fiddly and time-intensive than most things I make but the results are impressive even if mine look nothing like the photos on the web site.
My ingredient list was slightly adapted for metric measurements and local supplies:
½ cup of golden syrup
85g of softened butter
Tiny pinch of salt
1tsp Vanilla essence
2⅔ cups of icing sugar
Bag of dark chocolate bits
Yellow Food Colouring
Toothpicks and Potatoes
It took about 3 hours from start to finish but a lot of that time was waiting for the mixture to cool down in the freezer to a workable consistency. I completely messed up tempering the chocolate, but that just makes them slightly harder to eat.