For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather out and about hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…

Archive for the category “Sweet treats / High teas”

New hands at Martha’s Pantry

I also enjoyed a beautiful tea at Martha’s Pantry recently, now in new hands after sale by founder Mary.

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The cafe has been redecorated and is lighter and crisper, with an overall more modern feel.

The focus is, of course, still on tea and treats, so I couldn’t pass up the white Jasmine blooming tea and Dunedin cheese roll, with a baby cupcake to round things out.

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The tea was a thing of beauty (and fascination) from the initial bud floating in the carafe to the fully opened floral bouquet at the end. I particularly liked that it was a low-caffeine option, refreshing and different.

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The service was pleasant and efficient, and on a quieter weekday (they get pretty booked up with high teas on weekends), a very nice place to have a catchup with friends or even a business meeting.

And you can tick off your gift shopping while there too – flower fairies, cupcake soaps, traditional children’s games, bone china tea sets and more.

Cnr Karo Drive and Cuba Street.




A wee hiatus…

I am about to blast off for the northern hemisphere for four months this weekend (lucky me!), so there’ll be a wee hiatus until November.

But thought I’d leave you with a few foodiegems from the last couple of weeks….

Shed 5’s duck pithivier pie and chocolate raspberry truffle (header image)

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Pickle & Pie’s Blintzes, OMG to die for (please universe, I don’t mean that literally)

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Moss Caff’s real kumara fries

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Brunch and Burger’s waffles at Paraparaumu Beach (yep by the 50-50 folks, both definitely worthy)

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Who knew Barrack was a burger boy??

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Bellamy’s by Logan Brown’s melt-in-the-mouth seared tuna

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Artisan’s very beautiful and tasty high tea

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And finally, gorgeous birthday cupcakes from a dear friend…

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Au revoir til November.

The greatest of the latest

I’ve been a little distracted by selling a property with a short move-out date, but I’m back now with a summary of the recent openings I think are worthy for different reasons…

Lola Stays

Lola has a very appealing new decor (the old Vista on Oriental Parade), and is a sunny, very pleasant place to wile away time over a leisurely brunch or scone (excellent cheese scones!).

If you lived around Oriental it’d also be a very easy place to pop in for a wine and nibble on the way to or fro.

Full write up here.

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7 days 7am til late.

Lulu Bar

This is a bar and eatery inspired by Hawaii, with Pacific twists throughout – from the tropical plants under grow lights, to a very smart poke dish, and rum flights.

Also check out the large mural in the bar out back, very cool (and yes the former Ancestral warm concrete seats still exist).

Full write up here.

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7 days from noon for the bar, 7 days from 4.30pm for Oceanic eats (full restaurant side).

NOTE – Boom burger right next door is also theirs (shared kitchen), so if you fancy your burger sitting down with a beer, order and enjoy it inside Lulu.

Bellamys by Logan Brown

This is iconic dining – you’re getting the Logan Brown expertise from service to plate, in one of the most iconic NZ buildings, while rubbing shoulders with the power players (two of my three visits I spied MP’s at other tables).

At very reasonable prices too I might add.

Full write up here.

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Tuesday to Friday, lunch noon to 2pm and dinner 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Via Parliament’s main security / tour desk entry. NOTE – Bookings required 24 hours prior so they can provide numbers and names to the security desk.

1154 Pastaria

The latest venture from the Bresolin lads directly opposite Scopa, focusing on simple, traditional pasta dishes done well.

Upstairs the team make all the pasta by hand, downstairs they pass it through cooking, saucing and plating in a streamlined flow, so that it almost could be labelled pasta fast food.

Beware you need to order at the counter, and seating is a matter of luck in arriving when there’s a space at a table somewhere.

Full write up here.

1154 Tortelloni

7 days 11am til late.

Sugar Flour

Pastry and art combined. This is something everyone should make an effort to get to at Kilbirnie.

Young Maxine (seriously, I think she started patisserie straight out of nappies) slaves all week to make gorgeous works of art that sell from 10am to 3pm Friday (or until sold out prior), and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 4pm (or until sold out prior).

Full write up here.

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Hours above. Get in early.












Have you taken part in the Hutt’s ‘Sweet As’ hot chocolate challenge yet?

If not, you really, really should.

13 cafes, bars and bakeries are taking part in the annual Lower Hutt ‘Sweet As’ hot chocolate challenge, which runs until 30 July, with their drink themed around a main flavour.

It’s not just the city who can run festivals and events!

Cafe Iwi choc cake

Last year’s winning Cafe Iwi chocolate cake

And I got to try two of them over the weekend.

Firstly was Toffie Bakery’s ‘Double shot of mint and chocolate’ – peppermint-infused hot chocolate served with an Old Gold Peppermint mini cupcake with peppermint buttercream icing, and peppermint chocolate as the crowning glory.

Good to see a bakery taking part, and the only one doing peppermint; a take on the after dinner mint Manager Kelsey tells me. The drink had a mild peppermint flavour against a sweetly intense chocolatey-pepperminty mini cupcake on top. And nicely presented.

Sweet As Toffie peppermint

And then came Gotham’s ‘Gotham Kiss’ – raspberry white hot chocolate with whipped cream, pink sprinkles and a raspberry and white chocolate cookie. So this one centred around raspberry.

I am a bit of a white chocolate fan, so was pleased to see more than just the dark variety in the competition, and found this one to be light, fluffy and easy to drink. Again the drink was reasonably gentle in flavour, offset by a more intense cookie.

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And to whet your whistle further, here’s a few others you still have time to enjoy and vote for (images below courtesy of Sweet As Hot Chocolate and Sweet As Hot Chocolate’s Facebook page, where you also vote).

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If you doubled up some days you’d still be able to grab the Sweet As passport and get a stamp from each entrant to enter the prize draw at the end of the challenge (details on the cards). Check out the full list of participants here.

So get drinking folks, there’s still 7 days left….

New vegan eating in the city

There’s a growing number of vegan options in the city that’ll meet your needs – morning, noon and night.

Boquita taco shop recently opened on Kent Terrace, with fresh, local, seasonal and vegan food.

Being the baby sister of La Boca Loca, these guys make everything themselves, including the tortillas, and totally know what they’re doing.


I’ve also been chatting with Amber Sturtz of Easy as Kai – a one-woman band bringing us Austin, Texas inspired tacos with the same focus on fresh, local, seasonal, vegetarian and vegan. And I noticed she does a vegan coconut custard pie among her sweet American-style offerings.

You can check out her wares at the Frank Kitts Underground Market on Saturdays, and many of our street festivals (Island Bay, Newtown and Aro Valley Fair). Or have them delivered to your workplace on Tuesdays, Fridays and alternate Wednesdays to Weta (next delivery date shows at the bottom of the website page). Couldn’t be easier.


And being summer, you shouldn’t miss out on cool, refreshing ‘ice creams’ either, as many sorbets and sorbetto’s in the city are vegan (vegetable binders rather than egg-based).

Case in point is Carello del Gelato on Oriental Parade.

They pride themselves on having a range of sorbets always available, all with fulsome flavours (yep, there was definitely a bunch of feijoas in the feijoa sorbet!), and nearly all vegan. Including a specialty dark chocolate that would surely satisfy any craving.

They also do soy-sorbet shakes, sorbet sundaes, and their own Mr Pops ice blocks, which include fruity vegan flavours like bursting blackberry, zesty lemon, and juicy apple. There’s also a couple of non-vegan flavours like flat white or creamy sea salted caramel, the caramel so unlike a traditional ice block that it felt like I was eating gelato on a stick.


As well as their groovy little tasting room alongside Beach Babylon, you’ll see their bike around the waterfront in summer, and the Carello name popping up during events like Wellington on a Plate. And you can still get their 2016 WOAP dessert burger at the Oriental cafe if you missed out during the festival. Nice.

There’s also a bunch of flavours in one litre pottles for take-home, so there’s no way you’ll go short of dessert with Carello del Gelato on the job.



Higher Taste, Midnight Espresso, Southern Cross Bar, Loretta, Olive Cafe, Maranui Cafe and Sweet Release are other established places that also spring to mind with vegan eats.

And I recently had a very pleasant vegan shepherds pie at the Glasshouse Restaurant at Thorndon Rydges – flavourful veg and chickpeas with a satisfying density not unlike the meaty version. Nicely done guys.


And watch out for a new plant-based cafe at Lyall Bay called The Botanist due to open anytime soon…


Tomboy treats

My feet happened to take me past the new Tomboy Cakery on Majoribanks this morning where Plentiful Deli used to be, so it would have been rude not to go in right?

Tomboy exterior

Tomboy is a delightful cake shop with a range of inviting treats. From scones to brioche, cake, doughnuts and freshly made juices, there’s no way you won’t be able to get your day off to a great start here. You can either enjoy in-situ at the large communal table or take away if you’re strong-willed enough. And if you keep an eye on their Facebook page, you’ll see each day’s lunch-time treats as well.

Owner Kate has a hospitality background, and has always enjoyed baking. Given she’s been making beautiful cakes for a while, the natural progression was a shop of her own. Which is beautifully decorated (including the bathrooms, always a good tell) and restful, even with the buzz of folk coming in and out. The staff are well presented, friendly and welcoming, and were already addressing locals by name – a nice touch.

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So to the food. Kate has principles about no waste, fresh and local, and using whatever’s to hand in the kitchen. And simplicity – that the most satisfying cake is probably still a light fresh sponge with jam and cream, and simply decorated, as you can see from her instagram pics (they sell their jam at the shop too if you fancy).

I started with a ‘cake biscuit’, which a little birdie told me might have been the result of a happy accident (all the best inventions); like biscotti but softer in texture, and the perfect bite with my Storm and India hibiscus blossom organic hand-crafted tea. And then I managed to squeeze a rhubarb and vanilla bean brioche into my pocket for later, superb when lightly warmed (I figure if I walk to food I’m at least attempting to keep the scales balanced!).

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My neighbours at the table declared the doughnuts worth the trip from the other side of town (apparently they have a Friday morning treat somewhere different each week, an excellent plan!), but do note that the doughnuts are Fridays only. However you can order by the boxful before noon Thursday to guarantee your fix and share the love.

In my opinion Tomboy sit right up there with other quality sweet treats around town. We’re truly blessed aren’t we?

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Kate and team finish baking around 11am each day, so although open until 2pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, they may sell out prior. So go early.

21 Majoribanks Street.





Moustache are here!

The Auckland Moustache Milk & Cookie bar girls have come to visit Wellington.

Moustache bus

They’ve brought their bus down for a few months ahead of a South Island summer tour, so we can enjoy their delicious shakes and cookies on the way (check out their back story). Although they’re likely to be here until December, it might pay to pop along soon if you fancy working your way through their offerings.

They bake their cookies in situ, and display what’s available in jars along the counter. And make their shakes fresh with real ingredients, as evidenced by my gingernut version. Given they bake small batches, odds are you’ll strike a cookie warm from the oven, which is surely the penultimate way to enjoy one of these babies (my fave so far – the white chocolate and macadamia).

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The front of the bus is decked out with seats, so you can wait in comfort if its a brisk Wellington day, including being able to  jump into the drivers seat and fulfil childhood fantasies, hat included. Good thinking.

The other thing of interest is the collaboration with the Garage Project lads to brew another batch of Moustache Ale, the first of which funded the bus outfitting. Apparently it should be ready in a month or so (somewhere around WOAP time), so keep your eye on their Facebook page for how to get your hands on one. It’s a limited run, so you might need to be quick when they appear.

Nice one girls, looking forward to my next visit already!

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Chocolate giveaway

As some of you may know, the Wellington Chocolate Factory was this year’s supreme Cuisine Artisan award winner with their Great War Bar.

WCF giveaway

This is a coconut ‘milk’ bar (52% cacao) produced last year for the 100th anniversary of the Anzac events at Gallipoli and launch of the Great War Exhibition at the Dominion Museum in Wellington. It has delicious Anzac cookie crumbs along the back of house-blended, stone ground, organic, ethically traded cacao beans.

I have been kindly provided one for a give away, so if you email the correct answer to the question below to by noon this Friday 4 March 2016, with ‘Chocolate Giveaway’ in the title , you will go in the draw to win the bar.

The winner will be notified by email, and delivery arranged.

Question – Who did the artwork for the Great War Bar wrapper?

Hint – A quick google will do the trick.









The Chocolate Bar

Local lad Luke Owen Smith fell in love with the Wellington Chocolate Factory’s bean-to-bar products, and decided to delve further into the industry.

Choc bar blurbIn doing so, he’s created a business called The Chocolate Bar, sourcing and selling high quality artisan chocolate from NZ and around the world (Canada, Scotland, Vietnam, Mexico, Australia to name a few).

The website is well laid out with interesting information on all products and providers, and looks like it’d be easy to purchase from once you’ve got your eye in from tastings. Luke is at the Frank Kitts art and craft market every weekend, so there’s no excuse folks.

I tried several, and leaving our own lovely WCF bars aside which we can access easily, I was taken with the Spencer Cocoa Vanuatu 72% (smooth, smokey, bacony and hankering for a whisky – trust me, I’ve had deep fried bacon chocolate brownie, so have a benchmark!); the Taza Mexican old-style hand ground chilli chocolate (a lovely grainy texture and chilli flavour, not just heat); and the Ocho Dunedin Papua New Guinea salted caramel (not sweet and with a pleasant chewy texture).

The limited edition Marou Heart of Darkness 85% went home with me and might just be my favourite. The cacao grows on an island in the Mekong Delta (Vietnam) and although having no coconut, is alleged to taste like coconut. I didn’t necessarily get coconut, but did enjoy the creamily smooth and sweet toasty experience with a pleasing backnote (maybe what others identify as coconut), so can see why it was a gold winner at international chocolate awards.

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Luke plans to do some events next year, so watch out for tea and chocolate matching, and tastings at venues around town. And whip down to the  Frank Kitts art and craft market next weekend (and every weekend after that), to have a tasting and solve your prezzie dilemmas.

Frank Kitts carpark on Jervois Quay.



Louis Sergeant sweet couture…

UPDATE: Now to be found on Lambton Quay rather than Featherston Street.

Whether you have a sweet or savoury tooth, Louis Sergeant will be sure to satisfy.

Louis S cakesFound at 146 Featherston Street (in the old Capri location), Louis Sergeant is effectively a french tea house doing pastries, lunchtime baguettes and salads, georgous sweet things, high teas, cheeseboards with fresh oven-baked bread, and lastly (but not leastly) French bubbles and wines.

Louis Sergeant himself is the former Head Patisserie chef from Hippopotamus at the Museum Hotel, so you will recognise the precision and delicacy of the items here, as well as the quality in the setup (a sleek black and white interior, soothing and slightly sultry french Louis S baguettemusic playing, beautiful cups and teapots, water from large perfume-shaped bottles, an old decorative cash register, a beautiful french portrait above the couches, etc etc).

My first two experiences have been outstanding in food terms, and pleasant in experience and service terms (a little settling in to go).  The first was a lunch-time baguette sandwich of haloumi, fig, rocket and lemon infused olive oil (superb balance of textures and flavours), and on a Saturday morning an almond croissant just warm out of the oven (died and heaven sprung to mind).

Louis S decorI am eyeing up the platter of french cheeses with warm bread fresh from the oven and french bubbles one Friday evening soon (very soon!), and can imagine this will become a regular stop when in this part of town.

LS are currently still working out what hours are best so keep an eye on their Facebook page, but generally Tuesday to Thursday 8am to 5.30pm (late Thursdays possibly coming), Friday 8am to 8pm (for that after work wine and cheese), and Saturday 10am to 5pm.




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