Monthly Archives: July 2013

VOP: Sweltering in the Paris heat… if you care!!

I said from time to time we would venture outside Ponsonby (VOP) which is what we’ve done – and is the reason for being no posts since July 12th cos I’ve just got to a pc and can’t seem to do it right on an ipad.

Anyway we left Auckland on July 14th bound for London via Shanghai. Why Shanghai – well Air New Zealand fly there and we still like to fly the flag or Star Alliance and you get to go Virgin Atlatic from Shanghai to London. And by the way if you are looking for a shower en route during the 4-5 hour layover at Shanghai be prepared to pay around NZ$50 but it needs to be cash in the local currency (RMB250) which you can buy at the currency exchange booth.

Anyway I digress. On to London for a few days then the Eurostar to Paris for 7 nights. We happen to be in Europe when summer is at its sweltering worst. Paris was 32 to 34 degrees every day. Stinking hot as my dad used to say – but we expect no sympathy. And we were in Paris for the last day of Le Tour which was very special – bit like being in Auckland for the rugby world cup final. Seriously.

Of course I thought I’d been very clever in booking an apartment through airbnb rather than those tiny hotel rooms and it was in the heart of the Marais. Outcome in the heatwave was no airconditioning so had to sleep with the windows open which let all the noise in from the noisy street below. Went out to buy a fan on day 2 for 40 euros and left it at the apartment! Didn’t get much sleep – small price to pay for being in this fabulous city.

But you’ve gotta love Paris – we went to some great bistros, loved the Musee d’Orsay, went to the Moulin Rouge (awesome) and did a 4 hour bike tour which was fantastic – sore bum though. Also if I could have worked out how to get some photos from iphone to this pc I’d have posted photos of my role as Huffer’s European brand ambassador where i posed in huffer t’s around the major sights of Paris – they’ll come – sorry Steve, not good for the brand image but I couldn’t help myself haha.

Well that’s about it for now. More Paris and London stories to come. “Wicked” was wicked and you can get a great flat white from Federation Coffee in Brixton – and not many other places in London – Even Sacred (off Carnaby Street) has gone off I think.

Am sure missing the great coffee from Diz, Farro and Douglas Supreme. Nothing as good over here.

Later, and look out for my travel tips blog being launched soon.


VOP – La Cigale “a touch of France on our doorstep”

On occasion we will venture outside Ponsonby (VOP) and in this instance it was for a family dinner last night. I’m a bit into French things at the moment and in fact this time next week we’ll be in Paris, but more about that later.

Elizabeth & Mike have done a fine job with the whole concept of La Cigale (over in Parnell) and we chose to attend a dinner performance. Great concept where you order your mains when you book. Our night it was rotisserie chicken or La Cigale’s version of cassolet. Our table of 8 were not very adventurous and went chicken 6 v cassolet 2 but on the night one switched to the cassolet. Another great feature is they cater for large tables/parties of 8 or 10 – there has to be 7 or 8 of the large tables.

Great big tables for family occasions

Great big tables for family occasions

It’s like sitting in a large French market and you can shop while you wait – there’s an impressive range of (French) wines on sale (to drink in or takeaway).Entrée was choice of two: Seasonal platter 6 v snails 2 (the snails were yummy)

Try them, you'll love them

Try them, you’ll love them

The mains choice was La Cigale’s take on the traditional cassolet with duck, pork and Toulouse sausage (good place to try it for the first time) or rotisserie chicken with stuffing served with jus and a lovely garlic aioli.

And the puddings were sticky fig & date pudding with butterscotch sauce or white chocolate & ricotta. The fig was a “crunchy” addition to the trad. sdp – I really enjoyed it.

Forgot to take the photo before tucking in - so scrummy

Forgot to take the photo before tucking in – so scrummy

So the venturing outside Ponsonby was well worth the effort. I love the authentique French feel of La Cigale. Give it a go and make sure you try the snails.

And by the way, Deb & I are off to London this Sunday and our travels will include a week in Paris. So I’ll be blogging from sunny Europe with a bit of luck!!


Afternoon tea at Diz for a change!!!

Popped into Dizengoff for a late afternoon tea! As you can see Troy, Mark & Anita were on duty – well Troy anyway haha. This is one of my favourite cafés in the whole world.

Troy (working), Mark (working!!), Anita (texting)

Troy (working), Mark (working!!), Anita (texting)

When I was here a couple of weeks ago I was sitting outside and took a photo that shows a great late afternoon winter sky – so blue. I thought the photo was quite good considering I took it on my iPhone.

Sitting outside - a great late afternoon winter sky - amazing blue

Sitting outside – a great late afternoon winter sky – amazing blue

I am a bit of a regular at Diz, often with Oli who is 3 and a half. The fantastic staff are very accommodating and tolerant of us both. Oli keeps himself reasonably occupied but I was thinking of keeping a colouring book under the counter for when he gets a bit restless. Jackie tends to be in charge of child care.

Today however it was just me, a yummy cake and the usual excellent coffee.

Awesome rhubarb, coconut & lemon cakette, great coffee

Awesome rhubarb, coconut & lemon cakette, great coffee

Life is good

Good old fashioned service

If you’ve been into the Z Ponsonby service station on Williamson Avenue lately you’ll notice one thing you don’t get from any other service station around here – forecourt service. I’m barely out of the car before an attendant is waiting with smile on face and nozzle in hand. It actually gives you quite a buzz. I make an effort to get my petrol there. Well done Z Ponsonby. 

To market, to market

Over the last couple of years a lot of new food stores have opened that encourage the daily trip to the market to buy fresh produce so reminiscent of the European life style and I love it. Nosh has been around a while and do it well and Farro just off Richmond Rd has added an exciting new dimension. A special mention here for their coffee. They’ve got Supreme and Allpress and their baristas are very friendly. And they do a mean “sub” sandwich on Fridays.

As well as great restaurants Ponsonby Central offers fresh fruit and veges in a market setting and the long established Bhana Bros on P Rd have responded to the challenge, refurbished and expanded their range of food products. And they sell a wicked bunch of flowers.

And speaking of Ponsonby Central the Produce Market opened last weekend and it is fantastic. Amongst other things we bought Top Shelf’s Beetroot & Onion Feta Spread – soo yummy. And I couldn’t talk about Ponsonby Central without mentioning Tim and the boys & girls at Neat Meat – what a great job they do and so friendly. We’ve taken our own marinade along and they’ve vacuum packed it with the butterfly lamb. Brilliant

What’s not to love about living in Ponsonby?Beetroot spread


GPK RIP Sat July 6th 2013

I see GPK is no more. It’s been an institution on Ponsonby Road forever. We’ve been there heaps of times over the years and it was a great place for families. I remember when their chicken burger & fries was $12.95 (last price was over $20)!! Great pizzas and the kitchen stayed open late so you could get a meal after 10 o’clock – which is something of a rarity. We’ll miss GPK.

It’s been re-incarnated as Mekong Baby so we’ll be off to give it a go soon. Will keep you posted.

Absolutely fantastique


La Cantine du Torchon   Thurs June 13th 2013

My daughter Rebecca and I had dinner at this wonderful French bistrot tonight. The place was full when we arrived at 8.15pm but we sat up at the bar for our meal. Being a Thursday night French Toast were playing. They are a trio made up of the renowned chanteuse Linn Lorkin with Hersh and Peter on accordion & bass respectively. They added considerable authenticity. The staff were friendly and helpful. The food was fantastic. I had the snails – so yummy, my daughter the French onion soup – delicious. We both could not resist the Boeuf Bourguignon – divine. We almost didn’t have dessert until we spied “le café gourmand” – a trio of mini desserts – crème brulee, chocolate mousse and a crepe plus an espresso and two spoons! Superb and very reasonably priced at $10.50. In fact the prices overall are very reasonable. Just over $100 for the two of us. A glass of excellent Bourgogne Pinot Noir for me and a Bordeaux Merlot for Rebecca completed a fantastic meal. Authentic Paris on our doorstep. The food, wonderful staff, ambience and great music combined to provide a memorable evening. Go there. You’ll love it.

Escargots & French Onion soup at La cantine

Escargots & French Onion soup at La cantine