“The best way to start anything is with dessert!” Elle’s simple, matter-of-fact statement still rings in my ears, or should I say, lingers in my mouth … ? Oh how I love following determined, knowledgeable and highly entertaining Elle around town. Also known as “The Big Foody“, namesake & kindred foodie spirit Elena “Elle” Armon-Jones gladly offers to take me on one of her personalised food tours around the city of Auckland. After having last visited New Zealand’s largest city well over five years ago, “food-touring” the inner city around Queens Street, Britomart & Vulcan Lane is the perfect way for me to re-discover an ever-changing, rapidly evolving and truly global (foodie) metropolis.
“We have a good connection in New Zealand: Elle Armon-Jones. She is the Head of Mission of our (World Food Travel) Embassy in New Zealand and knows everyone in the country’s food and drink scene. She will be an excellent place for you to start.”
Word by dear Erik Wolf, founder & president of the World Food Travel Organization, who I have connected with earlier this year as part of my upcoming trip to Portugal, attending the World Food Travel Summit in Lisbon in April 2015. (It’s a hard life!). Quizzing him for good foodie travel tips around New Zealand, Erik went straight to the point, referring me on to Elle who successfully runs “The Big Foody” food tour company in Auckland City. Spending good quality (food) time with her, I am pleased to confirm exactly what he says, and truly recommend you to go out and meet her over a drink (or two): Elle is a true force of nature, and always happy to point you in the right direction – food, beer, wine or else.
And once again, just as I mentioned in my previous article about food & “beer-touring” the smaller town of Taupo in the Central North Island, the magic does not stop there.
“Elle is amazing. I am sure you will have a great time with her. Be sure she takes you to Giapo!”
Once again, there goes word by World Food Travel Organization’s Erik Wolf about taking me to what is perhaps the single best ice cream shop I have ever been to in the whole wide world. Seriously. And I have been to the world – times over, if I may say. The whole concept of Giapo “Haute Ice Cream” quite literally takes ice cream to the next level: Giapo truly deserves, and lives up to its claim. Upon entering this unique ice cream parlour, you will see … not your ordinary display of different ice cream flavours, but a gold menu of the most bizarre sounding ice cream creations: New Zealand Lamington. Banana chocolate cake. Kiss Kiss! Giapo Buono. Villa Franca Lemon Hawkes Bay. Right. So what? How do you actually get to choose, being the ice cream princess in a fairytale welcomed by such thing as a personal host / hostess upon entering this ice cream fairytale?!
Next thing I know, I find myself on a ferry across the Hauraki Golf, arriving to peace- & blissful Waiheke #Winelover Island on a perfect day trip out of Auckland City.
It is almost as if you were back home in Vienna and headed out for the vineyards of my city, Krems by the Danube river, for a nice & easy day out in the countryside. Only that the distance here … is covered by boat across a turquoise seascape, not by road travelling on a highway. Here & there, beautiful landscapes mix with nationalities of people from all over the world who have come to enjoy the local wine & food scene. Choosing my “Vineyard Hopper Experience“, a package including both visits & transfers to the local wineries as well as the ferry tickets, I visit Wild On Waiheke, Te Motu, Obsidian & Cable Bay wineries on cute little Waiheke Island. Time & distance become somewhat relative here, the only palpable rhythm being the gently lapping waves against the beautiful, golden sandy beaches. And the bus timetable of course, besides your very own wine tasting (drinking) rhythm …!
To conclude my visit, and right before leaving New Zealand on my next flight to Japan as part of this #CreativElenaRTW trip of mine, I suggest you go to (another) heaven on Earth. Of course, once more I have to credit dear Elle Armon-Jones, the “Big Foody“, for arranging our “last supper” together: “Let’s go and eat at Depot Eatery before you go. It is easily the best restaurant around town, and perhaps New Zealand.” Words such as these naturally get me curious, and being the foodie traveller I am, I do find it hard to resist temptation from fabulous-looking vineyard restaurants, cafés and promising places such as the “Oyster Inn” on Waiheke Island. … But it is worth it. Heading back over to Auckland Sky City, I truly find Depot Eatery one of the best places I have ever eaten at. Everything is stellar, yet simple. Fresh, yet refined. Easy-going, yet highly organized. The boss … happily serves us one of our main courses, casually dressed in a cap, T-Shirt and wearing a tea towel across his shoulder. The smile & pride in his eyes give him away, though: “I love your food”, is all I manage to tell him between bites. Simple, yet straight to the point – much as you will find the spirit of this place to be.
More, my dear? PLEASURE.
Disclaimer: Thank you Elle Armon-Jones for having invited me to join your food & restaurant tour of Auckland City. All opinions are my own.