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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

“Big Foody”, “Vineyard Hopper”, “Wild On Waiheke” & More: Foodlover Travel Tales from Auckland, New Zealand


Gourmet Travel, Travel With Locals, City Travel, New Zealand, Oceania, Travel Blog , , 0

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“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.

Starting off my food tour with Elle Armon-Jones in Auckland …

Starting off my food tour with Elle Armon-Jones in Auckland …

 

… we “start with dessert”, and what a dessert at that: Mouth-watering, succulent creations at a place called Milse Patisserie, with sweet little delicacies such as Rhubarb & Custard Bourbon Vanilla Verrine as well as Caramelised White Chocolate Blueberry Lemon Praline Tart.

… we “start with dessert”, and what a dessert at that: Mouth-watering, succulent creations at a place called Milse Patisserie, with sweet little delicacies such as Rhubarb & Custard Bourbon Vanilla Verrine as well as Caramelised White Chocolate Blueberry Lemon Praline Tart.

 

And not only that: Despite the “haute dessert cuisine”, the atmosphere here is relaxed & easy-going, what with looking the chef over the shoulder right from our table.

And not only that: Despite the “haute dessert cuisine”, the atmosphere here is relaxed & easy-going, what with looking the chef over the shoulder right from our table.

 

Back out on the street, I am amazed by how much Auckland continues to literally GROW UPWARDS!

Back out on the street, I am amazed by how much Auckland continues to literally GROW UPWARDS!

 

Love the diversity of old, rustic factory warehouses complete with a twist of modern foodie places …

Love the diversity of old, rustic factory warehouses complete with a twist of modern foodie places …

 

… such as this one: The atmosphere is inviting and popular with the locals & visitors alike.

… such as this one: The atmosphere is inviting and popular with the locals & visitors alike.

 

Dear Elle happily leads the way …

Dear Elle happily leads the way …

 

… for even more gastronomy (ad)ventures to come: Best for you to stop at “Vulture’s Lane” on Vulcan Lane …

… for even more gastronomy (ad)ventures to come: Best for you to stop at “Vulture’s Lane” on Vulcan Lane …

 

… and having a take on their crafts beer tasting: Prost – Cheers to a newly cemented friendship, and seriously: How often does one Elena get to meet another Elena – over such a delightful connection as food & drinks?!

… and having a take on their crafts beer tasting: Prost – Cheers to a newly cemented friendship, and seriously: How often does one Elena get to meet another Elena – over such a delightful connection as food & drinks?!

 

Next thing we know, Elle takes me to stop at a place called NICE, where this charming lady …

Next thing we know, Elle takes me to stop at a place called NICE, where this charming lady …

 

… serves us probably the best spicy chicken dumplings I have ever eaten in my whole life: Enjoy your meal, dear Elle!

… serves us probably the best spicy chicken dumplings I have ever eaten in my whole life: Enjoy your meal, dear Elle!

 

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?!

Giapo Ice Cream Parlour upon Queens Street, Auckland City really takes “I scream” to another level. ;)

Giapo Ice Cream Parlour upon Queens Street, Auckland City really takes “I scream” to another level. 😉

 

Here, you get to choose by being handed all the ice cream flavours on display in a personal tasting experience!

Here, you get to choose by being handed all the ice cream flavours on display in a personal tasting experience!

 

Having made the (very) difficult decision on what to settle for, my “New Zealand Lamington Ice Cream in a Chocolate Raspberry Cone with a big Marshmallow Hat on Top” is being handed over to me. (!).

Having made the (very) difficult decision on what to settle for, my “New Zealand Lamington Ice Cream in a Chocolate Raspberry Cone with a big Marshmallow Hat on Top” is being handed over to me. (!).

 

I am declaring myself speechless from happiness & delight to both the owner and his wife, happy Italians who are rocking the show here in Auckland City. A must-see (and enjoy!) when travelling to New Zealand !!!

I am declaring myself speechless from happiness & delight to both the owner and his wife, happy Italians who are rocking the show here in Auckland City. A must-see (and enjoy!) when travelling to New Zealand !!!

 

More beautiful snapshots from walking around town: “The Show Never Stops”!

More beautiful snapshots from walking around town: “The Show Never Stops”!

 

Nor does the magic, as I capture the evening light of the setting sun at Auckland Harbour on this summer’s day.

Nor does the magic, as I capture the evening light of the setting sun at Auckland Harbour on this summer’s day.

 

Heading for the bars, be sure to stop for great wines & probably the best cocktails in town at a place called Hotel De Bretts! This pretty little design hotel with their great staff definitely will see me back next time.

Heading for the bars, be sure to stop for great wines & probably the best cocktails in town at a place called Hotel De Bretts! This pretty little design hotel with their great staff definitely will see me back next time.

 

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 …!

The best thing to start any tasting, beer or wine, is with food: Enjoying a fresh mussel fritter with homemade Tartar sauce & salad …

The best thing to start any tasting, beer or wine, is with food: Enjoying a fresh mussel fritter with homemade Tartar sauce & salad …

 

… sets me in the mood for this first craft beer tasting on Waiheke Island, the island’s only craft beer brewery to be found as part of “Wild On Waiheke” Estate.

… sets me in the mood for this first craft beer tasting on Waiheke Island, the island’s only craft beer brewery to be found as part of “Wild On Waiheke” Estate.

 

Cheers to their amazing vineyard setting with a glass of fresh 2014 Riesling …

Cheers to their amazing vineyard setting with a glass of fresh 2014 Riesling …

 

… before visiting the neighbouring wine estate by the name of Te Motu, set on the gently rolling hills of Waiheke Island.

… before visiting the neighbouring wine estate by the name of Te Motu, set on the gently rolling hills of Waiheke Island.

 

Here, local general manager Craig warmly welcomes me to a tasting of a kind, including their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend with Merlot & Cabernet Franc from 2005 & 2007.

Here, local general manager Craig warmly welcomes me to a tasting of a kind, including their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend with Merlot & Cabernet Franc from 2005 & 2007.

 

Last but not least, I move over to another wine tasting at Obsidian Wine Estate …

Last but not least, I move over to another wine tasting at Obsidian Wine Estate …

 

… whose vineyard hills faintly recall a memory of the Southern Styria wine district back home in Austria – only that there are of course no cabbage trees in the foreground there.

… whose vineyard hills faintly recall a memory of the Southern Styria wine district back home in Austria – only that there are of course no cabbage trees in the foreground there.

 

Here is the entire selection of great wines on display (and the toilet, if needed!).

Here is the entire selection of great wines on display (and the toilet, if needed!).

 

Love the taste of this 2012 Syrah: There goes a happy #winelover visitor!

Love the taste of this 2012 Syrah: There goes a happy #winelover visitor!

 

And would you believe that most wine tastings on Waiheke Island throw in spectacular vistas such as this one?

And would you believe that most wine tastings on Waiheke Island throw in spectacular vistas such as this one?

 

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.

The atmosphere at Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar is casual, to say the least – and always packed, as word about it has obviously spread!

The atmosphere at Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar is casual, to say the least – and always packed, as word about it has obviously spread!

 

Fresh mussels on display make my mouth water …

Fresh mussels on display make my mouth water …

 

… and much of the food here is for sharing: Elle and I choose between three big & small sharing plates, such as these Hapuka fish sliders with preserved lemon mayo & watercress. Mmmh …

… and much of the food here is for sharing: Elle and I choose between three big & small sharing plates, such as these Hapuka fish sliders with preserved lemon mayo & watercress. Mmmh …

 

… not to forget the beautiful lamb ribs we had right after, followed by this Kingfish belly with eggplant kasundi, a chutney-like spread to sweetly spice up your fish, lime & toasts. A TRUE FOODLOVER’S DELIGHT: Be sure to come here one day!

… not to forget the beautiful lamb ribs we had right after, followed by this Kingfish belly with eggplant kasundi, a chutney-like spread to sweetly spice up your fish, lime & toasts. A TRUE FOODLOVER’S DELIGHT: Be sure to come here one day!

 

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.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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