[Image supplied | Tyson Sutton]
Daniel Pearson used to be the chef at Bracu. Now, he’s responsible for Egg & Spoon, a pop up restaurant that has most recently ‘popped up’ in Grey Lynn’s Wine Vault, with more events to come throughout the year, before the restaurant settles in a permanent home. The English-born chef began his career in the burger vans of Northampton, and arrived in New Zealand via London’s Michelin starred Foliage. Somehow, he’s amassed a list of Auckland favourites that include some of our old favourites as well as an impressive number of local secrets we knew nothing about.
The thing I love most about Japanese food is that I haven’t been trained in it, I haven’t studied it down to the molecule and I haven’t worked in any Japanese restaurants. So when I walk down the stairs through a door easily missed off Queen Street and enter a bustling restaurant like Kura, I know I’m going to relax and have a good time. Easily my favourite restaurant in Auckland.
Wow. What a wine! Even better than that, what a place to buy it from. I love anything that involves Waiheke Island. I’m a council estate boy from the middle of England; places like this only exist in your dreams or on TV where I come from. Highly recommend taking a bottle down to Hekerua Bay and watch the sun go down. If you’re lucky you might get to see a pod of orcas, too.
Awesome place for a flat white. Great coffee, great staff, great atmosphere. People are busting out on to the road in the evening. Reminds me of the bars in London, packed to the rafters with people enjoying the social side of life.
One of my favourite herbs meaning ‘peppery to the nose’ in Latin. This wild herb grows everywhere in Auckland! Next to train tracks, up walls, in fields, gardens, car parks, under bridges. Literally everywhere. When I was working in London, using flowers and wild herbs was just coming into fashion and were readily available. However, a punnet of nasturtium flowers was £15 ($30). Crazy. It’s everywhere here and it’s free.
Clevedon oysters are hands down my favourite supplier. When I was working at Bracu they openly invited our whole team down for the day to look around their warehouse, shucking systems, grading machinery and storage facilities. They took us out on a boat to the oyster beds and we were eating them fresh from the sea. They taught us how they produce their product and all the different techniques involved.
Galbraith’s Alehouse do a lovely pint. As a lover of real ale I highly recommend this one. It makes me giggle after a few and would put any burly geezer on his arse at around 8%.
7. Mercer Cheese
This little cheese shop is definitely worth a detour off the motorway. Albert Alferink has been making his legendary Gouda for some time now and just to prove its quality they have recently run out of wall space in the shop for all their gold medal certificates. Last time I was there they were joking that they would have to start turning the awards down (or invent their own). And if you don’t like Gouda, try the creamy walnut, or the feta, the stinging nettle, the blue, the edam, the parmesan…
Not the most attractive of markets it has to be said. It sometimes resembles a car boot sale. However, this is my type of market. No frills, down to earth, multicultural, good, honest produce mostly grown around the Franklin district. I go to Pukekohe market every week with $20 and buy a bounty of produce. From bitter melons to mini cucumbers, multiple varieties of fruits, Asian greens, punnets of herbs, rhubarb that looks forced, fresh eggs, cheese… the list is endless. Each week is a surprise. As a chef it’s a dream come true: constant seasonal inspiration and at a fraction of the price of other markets, and more importantly than the all-too-convenient supermarket (or the suppliers that can’t be bothered to make an effort).
This place is just cool. They haven’t had to do much to achieve that – it’s very unpretentious, in a great location, with brilliant atmosphere, wine, olives to nibble… When sitting with a nice glass of red I feel like I’m back in Soho. There aren’t many places I’ve been to that have made me smile like my first time here.
In the Awhitu Peninsula, Orua Bay is my number one favourite place in Auckland, possibly the planet, as it’s where my daughter, Alice, had her first paddle in the sea. Scenery that words can’t describe and the Sky Tower very much on the horizon letting you know that the hustle and bustle of life is at a safe distance.
A beautiful place for a picnic with all the ingredients picked up from Pukekohe Market on Saturdays or Awhitu Market on the occasional Sunday. If you want an ice cream from the shop, make sure you take cash as Eftpos is a foreign entity in this neck of the words.