Thursday, 25 December 2014

La Bocca

Merry Christmas from New Zealand!!!

I hope you're all enjoying the holidays and having a feast. Songie is making dinner tonight, so I'm pretty keen(not for dishes though..). More about that in a later post, because it deserves it's own post for the effort he put in :)

Today's post is about  La Bocca in Parnell. We felt like eating Italian the other day so we drove through Parnell and found some.

It's not an immediately noticeable place, but once you see it and walk in, it's quite picturesque. Adding to this is a little sheltered part outside with brick floor, with little cloth covered tables and white chairs; ideal for summer.

Inside the café itself, the worn wooden tables, sweetly simple chandeliers, and antique looking wallpaper lend some nostalgic, traditional air to the place. On the coffee machine there is a cute "I <3 NZ" sticker. Strains of guitar and accordion music play peacefully in the background.

Spaghetti al ragu. I found it a very simple meal, but it was good, so maybe it was aiming for the straightforward flavour, letting the finely minced meat . The spaghetti wasn't exactly al dente like I prefer it but, it wasn't too soft either. in the bolognaise take over the taste. Overall not too bad.

The sausage of the sausage sandwich(I am not too sure of the name), as promised, was "juicy and bursting with flavour".  Twas a bit strong, but that's probably what the Focaccia bread was for. It wasn't my dish though so I just sampled the sausage.

Songie's meal

Now to my favourite part; dessert. Luckily the tiramisu wasn't only for the dinner  menu because I  was pretty keen to try it. Songie didn't enjoy it as much. For me, the first few bites were amaaazing and I was seriously considering getting another. It was sugar or something, that was crunchy and sweet, together with the cream and the sponge-y cake; altogether the layers of the tiramisu just mixed really, really well. In the end it turned out it was just right of a serving, I was satisfied and only barely stuffed.

My mother has this love of affogato. This one was...Unusual. Rather than the usual coffee and icecream, this one came with an extra cup of perhaps vanilla(?) syrup. You just "put it all in together and mix". So we did. I had a sip and it was a new kind of flavour but.. not bad. That being said I'm not a huge fan of coffee, so, y'know.

The only visible person was this middle-aged seemingly legitimate Italian man, though we did see a woman come out of the kitchen, maybe his wife or something. He's been here for about 30 years already apparently. He was friendly and charming, and though there was a mix up with a 7 year old spring menu coming out, we didn't mind too much. Of course, Songie was a bit disappointed about not being able to order beef lasagne. He did make a mix-up on the price too, with an added $20 onto the charge due to an apparent miss-type, and we didn't notice until we left(VERY IMPORTANT TO CHECK RECEIPTS!!).

Since there was a lunch special, it was $15 for eachmeal and $13 for the tiramisu.

All in all, I do like this place, and I recommend it as a cute date place or just somewhere to eat. Personally I would not eat there often but maybe once in a while when craving Italian and a nice tiramisu.

Thanks for reading~
Just the one Lamb

UPDATE: It has come to our attention that La Bocca has now closed down, much to our dismay at the loss of the tiramisu. Apologies to those who have been looking for it and couldn't find it. 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Starry Kitchen

Suuuup Ladles and Jellyspoons~~

Yes I know I blogged earlier this week but I thought it'd be cool to keep it up instead of going on a long hiatus again. So this week is about Starry Kitchen - at least I think it's called Starry Kitchen. It seems to be simultaneously called Starry Thai?

It says Starry Kitchen on the hood up there!!

This place is closed on Sunday except for dinner, between 5:45-9:30. Located on the corner, it's a little tricky to find parking while you're panicking about how you have to turn onto State Highway16 according to the GPS... No noticable parking available even without that so it was difficult. After asking the staff later, apparently on weekends the Kiwirail parking behind is fine, you wont get towed(So they say anyway). We used some vouchers we got off Yazoom(I don't know about you but Yazoom and GrabOne deals make me pretty happy). The door is a little hard to find and its sort of hidden, so you have to walk around the place and look hard for it because the places that seem to be the entrances, are not. In a parody of the "All that glisters is not gold" quote from Shakespeare(yes, The Merchant of Venice, my fellow Pre-IB English students), all that's entrance-like is not the entrance.


The décor wasn't quite as blatantly Thai as other restaurants we've been to, surprisingly. The placemats were, subtly Thai but apart from a few Thai pictures on the wall it didn't have much else. It actually looked like a classy buffet, which I suppose it is. It got steadily noisier as more people filed in over the evening, and there appeared to be several birthdays going on. In fact one girl even sang Lorde's 'Royals' song near the end while her friends and family listened carefully. She wasn't bad, I'll give her that. We were seated near the food, always the best seat for me yay. We weren't kept waiting by the staff and were seated almost immediately.

1ST PLATE As a general rule of tongue(ha ha) I try to avoid spicy food, but lately my mother has been slipping in chilli to our food in an attempt to make us more resilient(in case, as she oft says "What if one day you have nothing to eat but spicy foods, will you starve?") and I thought I'd see how that worked. Therefore I was a little more adventurous and tried the fried tofu on stick(it's not the actual name, its just the only tofu on a stick you can see so, self explanatory). I found it not too spicy, but the tofu was a bit dry. Garlic butter potato was probably one of my favourites; it was fried with salty, crispy bits on the outside. The soft potato kept it from being too salty but overall the flavour was really nice.

The cucumber had a nice sauce, with perhaps a hint of caramel? The tofu with veggie stir-fry was nice as expected. The dumpling I had some misgivings about because it looks kinda sad but it actually tastes alright; the mince and veggie inside tasted fine and the dumpling was thin, so it slides in your mouth easily. Wendigo(my nickname for Wendy) says they were store bought and she used to eat them a lot as a kid. The Cantonese braised pork belly, nice, not too oily; but still kinda fatty as expected with Asian meat. Songie really liked this one. I found it hard to cut, and it's more than a polite mouthful. The fried rice was normal, but i found a curly hair(clearly not mine) embedded in it and it was just really, really gross to think about. The crispy spring roll with veggies was pretty good actually, but it didn't have any meat in it(yay for the vegetarians!).  Right after I got my plate, I got glowing recommendations from a stranger about the Laksa and Tom Yum soup. Bit fiery for the non-spice eating me but... I do like the taste. The laksa didn't seem spicy for the first few seconds but then the heat kinda spread from the middle to the back of my tongue like a surprise ambush.

2ND PLATE Vegetarian red curry wasn't too hot, and I could actually taste the food and I must admit it was good. The tofu soaked with sauce which I believe also came with some vegetables was juicy and soft with a pleasant flavour. Stirfry beef with cauliflower was marinated well in sauce, meaning that it wasn't dry. Thinly sliced but not too thin, so that agreed with the palate. Seafood salad wasn't that great, the fried fish wasn't crispy and yet still dry inside. The red wine pork was good,  Songie really liked it. The noodles were ok, kinda thick and.. Nothing special really. The mixed sauce with the other stuff in the plate, made them quite tangy so that was a plus. Overall the garlic butter potato was probably still my favourite.

I always wonder after I eat, why did I not head straight to the dessert area and eat my meal backwards; dessert and then some dinner?

Usually the selection of dessert is impossible to cram in after a big meal, but luckily this dessert corner wasn't tooo large so I got to try the main things.

The Gelato Corner
There's really only 3 flavours and the vanilla(yellow) was best. Just saying.

 The cream puffs(pictured below) were fluffy and creamy(well duh).

Caramel slice: soft creamy chocolate layer on top, the caramel in the middle was not overly sweet, it was in fact just right, and the coconut-y, biscuit at the bottom, me gusta. You can tell it was my favourite dessert. Plus it's  small so you're not in danger of feeling you indulged too much, just a small bite of deliciousness.

Okay, the chocolate cake. I normally adore chocolate cake but this time I didn't like it. It was soft but so... thick, in a bad way, and it just stuck in my throat. The taste didn't redeem it either, it was alright but I wasn't keen. On the other hand it's not too sweet so older people who don't have a sweet tooth may like it. Carrot cake on the other hand, mmm(well okay I'm quite partial to carrot cake). The icing was delicious(did I mention I really like carrot cake?). It was another soft cake but in this case it was fluffy, not sticky like the other one. For the ice-cream (gelato), a general consensus at the table decided french vanilla as the favourite. Our mother raved about the banana fritter with pandan(?) sauce drizzled over it. To me it was just a thin slice of banana lightly fried, which I'll admit was good but I'm guessing she just liked that it wasn't overly sweet and went well with the vanilla gelato.

Cream puff, chocolate cake, caramel slice, carrot cake.

Sorry it doesn't look as nice as it tastes...

I have a mixed review here; one waitress with glasses and a ponytail was really onto it, and smiley. The rest... well, small, short-haired one wasn't really focussed, and even as she took our drinks she didn't seem to really hear what we were saying because she was busy looking at the bar. The ginger ale Songie ordered came like 30 mins later(despite it just being a bottled drink) and my pineapple juice just never came. Another waitress just looked like she cbs, and barely smiled. The guy was pretty focussed on his computer but he was alright I guess. One older guy directing the others around must've been the manager, but he didn't talk to anyone. Then again it's not exactly necessary. They took the plates in time for the next plate though so that was fine. The computer guy took the ginger ale off our tab to make up for not remembering my drink so yay~ They've redeemed themselves a little.

I think it was reasonable because there doesn't seem to be a short time limit as to how long you can eat, and I find myself sufficiently full and then some. The food was fairly good so for a $15(lunch) to $29(weekend dinner) range buffet I think it's worth it.

On a side note, Songie, Wendigo and I made crème brulee~ Well alright it was mostly Wendy, and Songie did the crust. So if I think back on it, I did provide moral suppor-- okay okay I did nothing but eat hahaha.

Tbh it was delicious even without the sugar crust!! But the sugar crust pretty much just adds the extra delightful texture and flavour of lightly burnt sugar, which while not the healthiest is certainly an agreeable taste.

So anyway back to the main item of this post, Starry Kitchen is pretty cool. They're located on 2 Stanley St, Parnell, and you can contact them at 09 940 5678 (I think the last 4 numbers is pretty convenient). More info here !

Thanks for reading this far,
The Lambs(but mostly just the one Lamb)

Why did the rooster cross the road?

To cockadoodle doo something~

I thought it was appropriate okay, since the emblem of Nandos is a rooster.
Haha okay lame jokes aside my lovely ladles and jellyspoons, greetings again!

This is going to be a pretty short post because we've probably all had Nandos and do I really need to review it if I've only had 2 things from there? I'll do it anyway, just to say I have covered it, kinda.
So I went Christmas shopping(sort of) at Sylvia Park, and ate with Songie and some mates. It's a pretty clean place, the decorations are all about the food and the stories related to the rooster and such.

I like the odd curve, like some abstract birdcage

Service was fine, and the food came out within 20 minutes.


My personal favourite is the 5 BBQ Wings(Obviously in Lemon and Herb because its not spicy yay). The skin wasn't crisp but it was firm and had a nice texture, perfect for tearing with my teeth*caveman style*. The flesh was cooked through but still soft, always a plus; I really hate dry, overcooked meat. It was a tad burnt on the wing bits, though some may say that adds extra flavour. It came out quite hot, so I couldn't dig in immediately. I do like it because I haven't the stomach to eat something bigger. Its a good portion size, fills me up without making me overeat(I have this need to finish everything on my plate because that's how I was brought up). Unfortunately its not exactly a balanced meal, as you can see by the pitiful sprinkling of lettuce on the side there. I suspect it's just to alleviate the guilt you feel from eating only meat.

Another favourite of mine(and Songie's) is the Nandos chips with peri-peri seasoning. While the chips themselves are not marvellous, combined with the peri-peri seasoning it is just delicious. A bit of salty, a bit of spicy and a lot of flavour, it's often a hunt to get the chip with the most seasoning(unless courtesy dictates we eat politely when with others, then we'll take whatever chip is in the path of our fingers while secretly eyeing the most seasoned chip and wonder if anyone will eat that).

Yummmmmm. I know which chip I want ;)
Songie's half chicken and the beloved peri-peri seasoned chips.
Once you took off the bowl of chips from Songie's plate it becomes immediately apparently how lonely it looks, especially with zero salad to fill up the gap.

Isaac's .. half chicken ? I think? But hey he got some sprinkling of lettuce too.

I personally found it an OK price at $11.90 but admittedly more on the expensive side. Then again the prices never really go past $16 so it really depends how you want to spend. I personally don't spend heaps on lunch if I can help it, in the interests of being a frugal student(not sure how that's working for me tbh), but I know lots of students who think it's an easy amount.

Isaac pretending to smoke a chip....

On another note; I was a little bored one day, and with the abundance of grapes in the fridge and my own little pot-plant of basil at the window, I decided to see how they'd taste together.

Aren't they just adorable?

I made a few; and my first impression was that it was some curious mint jelly mix(Not sure if you all have had it, but it goes amazingly with roast lamb, seriously), so I was quite keen to try more. However, a few bites later the basil really overpowered the grape and I was not happy ahaha. I did rope in mother and Songie to try it and they had some rather perplexed looks on their faces but Songie agreed with the initial label of mint jelly. So I guess that's how you make a substitute mint jelly ;)? Just kidding, I'm not sure it's a good mix haha.

As I thought, basil is best with crackers, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, and perhaps some hummus.

Anyway, thanks again for joining us on another random food review~ we appreciate the company.

Just the one Lamb

Veni, vidi, vici.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Bann Sang

Greetings ladles and jellyspoons~

Songie and I went to Bann Sang the other day which I believe is located on High St in Auckland CBD. It's actually tucked away so I probably would not have found it by myself. The service was good, all the waitresses were fast, and the food was pretty fast too. Nice wooden tables. When I walked in I had this impression of a pretty small room but they somehow managed to not make it feel cramped despite having a lot of tables. We were there with some friends for some photoshoot discussion(well a few of us were just tagging along for food but yeah) by the way.






The atmosphere I found to be comfortable, not gloomy, but since it was tucked away in a building it wasn't overly bright either.

The menu had a lot of variety so that's great, but I went with Bulgogi because that's generally a pretty safe bet that it won't be spicy.


It came out on a hot stone plate to keep it warm, and trust me when I say you shouldn't touch those. Trust me. The bulgogi itself tasted nice, it wasn't dry and stringy like some that I've had and it had a mix of sizes. The sauce kept it moist and the vegetables mixed in helped make it a more balanced meal, which was good/ I always like how there usually a balance of meat and vegetables available with Korean food. I loooooved the side dish of potato cubes that were, according to Uhyoung; soaked in sweet sauce and thus made slightly chewy and squishy before you got to the soft mushy insides. Seriously good. It's filling for other people even without my relatively small appetite, if you included the bowl of rice on the side that I was a little too full to finish. I gave kimchi to Melissa, had the cold broccoli(it was cold on purpose, and it came with nice sauce), and the sour, tangy pickled(?) radish. It cost $13 which I think is worth it.

Just a cute little planter I saw on the way out.
After lunch we moved to Gloria Jeans down at Khartoum Place, which is a little square with trees and sitting areas next to Lorne St. I'm not totally sure if it's actually Gloria Jeans but the only way you can get in is via there so I assume so. It has some photographs and art set up around it and it has a sort of classy yet grunge-y vibe to it. It might be just me. But yeah, every time I pass this place I look at the chandeliers and silently promise myself I'll go inside one day. Well it was that day.


Seriously, look at it.

art on the walls

On the way there though, I stopped by La Couronne that my friend Angela works at to say hi and grab some snacks. I ended up getting some custard snaps and a complimentary jelly(I'm lucky like that, and I feel so loved when I get yummy food hahaha. Thanks Angie!!).

The jelly: It was a good type of jelly, not that easily cut, hard and tasteless agar agar jelly. Soft but at the same time a little rubbery, enough so that its a lil tough to break, which just added to the charm. The taste was nice, the sweet syrupy taste like those Asian jellies we all love. Inside were lil preserved strawberries, and they were tangy and cute. The packaging was adorable, I kept it even afer I ate it haha.

Custard snaps: I'll say first off that they're not like brandy snaps. In contrast to the crunchy, toffee like roll of a brand snap, it was all soft. The "shell" is actually a really soft, sponge-y cake, and the inside is some odd but still tasty rubbery(in a good way!) custard. You can get it for $5. I'm a little curious as to how the cake thing sticks together but maybe that's a trade secret so I can't ask?

Other things I've gotten from La Couronne include this little bag of snacks as comfort food after exams. In my defense I only ate the pudding and the macaron.

As a person who had to spend weeks eating failed macaron shells from my brother's and my own failures(he was ultimately much more successful and I enjoyed eating his results a lot more than my own. Though the gloopy mess of mine tasted OK too), I haven't had many macarons since last year. The macarons that I have occasionally been gifted by aforementioned awesome Angie, I am happy to say do not bring me memories of those blue shelled messes. As with all successful macarons, these shells had feet. I still don't know why they are called feet because I just dont see any resemblance between those little crusty bits to our feet. Anyway, this shell just caves in as you eat it but I like how it goes with the filling; Together the ganache inside feels refreshingly cool to the mouth even if it hasnt been in the fridge. I really like it when its like that. Unsure about the prices of the macaron and jelly but definitely under $5.

The maple pudding or whatever it is, is delicious. Caramel topping on the jelly, then some plain custard, then a little surprise(spoiler alert) of sponge cake hidden inside that really just adds some texture and new flavour into it, it's flan-tastic(Thanks for pudding up with my lame puns)!!Definitely a pick-me-up-worthy treat after a bad exam hahaha $5. So worth.

So yeah that's my little review of Bann Sang and some treats from La Couronne, you should give them a try. Especially the maple pudding thing(really, what is that called?).

Just the one Lamb