Liquid Molten Saturday, Nov 27 2010 

In the bustling little suburb of Mt Eden, Auckland (New Zealand) is a restaurant/bar that has captured both my fancy, and my wallet. This great little place is called Liquid Molten.

On one side, you will find Molten – a higher end dining experience where the food is matched only by the superb service and wine selection. On the other, is Liquid – my home away from home. A classy little bar that opens up at the back to a private courtyard that boasts not only ambiance and style, but funky music and blankets for those cooler nights.

Open until late, this hidden refuge is where my friends and I go for coffee, wine, dessert and a good old gossip. The staff are fantastic, the coffee strong and the food divine – need I say more? I spend at least two or three nights there every week, either leisurely sipping coffee with girlfriends or stopping in for a quick drink before heading elsewhere.

So, my recommendation if you are looking for a quiet, classy coffee spot in central Auckland? Go to Liquid, it will be worth your while.

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Quick Nando’s Update Tuesday, Mar 23 2010 

This is just for New Zealand Nando’s fanatics!

As of this week, all of the Nando’s restaurants will be selling their peri peri salt (the very same stuff they sprinkle on their hot chips!) in glass shakers for home consumption. The price (so sayeth a nice employee) will be approximately NZD$5.00. Not bad for such a delicious addition to my spice rack!

I have been waiting for this for a long time – even emailed Nando’s direct to ask when little old NZ would be able to purchase this addictive powder. America has it (you can buy it at Tesco’s) but as per usual, New Zealand often comes last with these things.

But, lets celebrate the fact we can now buy their world famous peri peri salt and add it to EVERYTHING we eat from now on! 😀 I just hope that, like other countries, we get the peri peri salt in different levels of spiciness! I want extra hot! *Fingers crossed*

Nando's Peri Peri Salt

Peanut Butter Nutter Sunday, Feb 28 2010 

This post will be a short one with a very direct message – the importance of getting the right peanut butter! 😉 I have always bought crunchy ETA peanut butter and loved it… until now.

Recently, I wasn’t paying attention and I bought the wrong brand of my chosen spread. Instead of ETA crunchy, I bought Kraft smooth. Well, I have never looked back!

The Kraft peanut butter is absolutely addictive and delicious. When I tried my old brand again, it tasted bland, unsatisfying. YES, the Kraft version is just that much better! If you are a peanut butter nutter like me, go buy! Go try!

Kraft Peanut Butter

Easy Pasta Recipe Monday, Jan 4 2010 

So here’s my recipe for a tasty pasta that’s good for feeding lots of people:

Ingredients:

  * Chicken Breast (one breast per person)

  * Bacon (two strips per person, or more if you like)

  * One lemon

  * Pasta (I prefer pasta spirals) 

  * One can of tomato and garlic pasta sauce

  * One jar of garlic and spinach creamy carbonara sauce

  * Chopped up, fresh mushrooms

  * Lemon pepper seasoning

  * Sweet Chili sauce

  * Olive oil

  * Salt

Put a saucepan of water on an element to boil, adding a teaspoon of salt to it, waiting for the pasta to be added. Cut up the chicken breast into small pieces and throw into a frying pan with a splash of virgin olive oil. As it’s starting to cook, quarter a whole lemon and squeeze the juice over the chicken. Sprinkle with a good amount of lemon pepper seasoning (a tablespoon) and let the flavours soak in. When the chicken is about half way cooked, throw the pasta into the saucepan of boiling water. Now add the bacon to the fry pan of chicken, also cut up into small bits. Drizzle about two tablespoons of sweet chili sauce over the chicken and bacon, mix it all in and let it cook. When the chicken/bacon is cooked, and the pasta is about ready, throw in the mushrooms to the fry pan for a quick searing. In a separate saucepan empty both the tomato pasta sauce AND the carbonara. This will only take a few minutes to heat up.

Strain the pasta and empty into a large bowl, then pour the heated pasta sauce on top. Mix the sauce through the pasta, and then add the chicken/bacon. Toss the mixture together and serve!

Filling, delicious and so darn EASY.

Pasta

New Years at Omaha Sunday, Jan 3 2010 

So normally I blog about objects, activities, movies etc but I really wanted to write a small piece about my New Years in Omaha with my very good friends. 

The past year has been quite tough for me – for a lot of reasons. But this holiday absolutely wiped the slate clean and made me really look forward to 2010. I was surrounded by my best friends, friends from the past, and people that (by the end of the holiday) became new friends. We sunbathed on the white sand, letting the crystal blue water lap at our toes as the sun turned us a gorgeous red (whoops, pass the sunblock!) and I looked on as those wonderful people zoomed around on a jetski, dragging behind a water-biscuit carrying screaming victims (think flailing limbs and massive fails into the water!).

We played card games like Skip-Bo, Bastard and Last Card. We played board games like Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit. We played Buzz on the Playstation, and watched Girls Of The Playboy Mansion on TV. We ate bacon, eggs and pancakes for breakfast – then had BBQ’s, pizza’s, pasta’s and roasts for dinner. Copious amounts of alcohol was drunk, peels of laughter were constantly emanating from our overcrowded deck (covered in sandy towels, blow up chairs and sports gear) and the time for bed was often 4 A.M. 

The days were long and filled with sun, sports, swimming and the reading of good books. The nights were longer and filled with all the silly games we could think of, all the while singing along to music, discussing relationships, life and everything in between. 

In my life, I have never been part of such an eclectic group. People from different walks of life, with different beliefs and goals, but it just clicked. And I came away feeling so very grateful to know these wonderful, fun, interesting people. Thank you guys.

Happy New Year everyone. 

Omaha Beach

Painting of Omaha Beach

Nando’s! Friday, Dec 18 2009 

If you are anything like me, you’re getting sick of cheap fast-food burgers and greasy chips. So when I need a quick, scrumptious meal because I’m too lazy to get off my ass and make myself something, I go to Nando’s!

Nando’s restaurants are situated all around the world – 26 countries so far including good ol’ New Zealand – and the chain originated out of South Africa. The menu is made up of Mozambiquan/Portugese-style dishes, and the main focus is their specially marinated chicken. The marinades (In New Zealand anyway) are either BBQ, lemon and herb, medium peri peri, hot peri peri or extra hot peri peri (my personal fave!). The sides are anything from chips (with a peri peri salt which is deliciously addictive!) to spicy rice or marinated corn on the cob. 

The food is absolutely wonderful, great for people who love spicy food or want Halal dishes. (Halal is meat specifically killed and prepared for Muslims due to their religious beliefs) It’s not particularly cheap, but it’s not fatty, its delicious and the servings are HUGE! They also sell the sauces and marinades so that you can make your own cooking taste wonderful at home. 

Mmmm, my mouth is watering as I write this… Okay, must – keep – writing… Get food later…

The food doesn’t look like much, but the taste – oh the taste! If you go, and I’m sure you will at some point, I advise you order the Peri Peri Chips. They aren’t spicy, just scrum-diddly-umptious! 

Nando's Logo

 

Nando's Peri Peri Chips

All Thai’d Up Monday, Nov 30 2009 

When it comes to food for me, the spicier the better. So it will come as no surprise to anyone that my food obsession is Thai! I go out for Thai at least once a week, and quite often try new restaurants. So many people say to me, “Oh, Thai is nice but I don’t know where the good restaurants are”. So I thought, why not blog about some of my faves! 🙂 (In Auckland of course!) 

1) Pattaya Thai Restaurant in Mairangi Bay – This restaurant is the food equivalent of the love of my life! It’s not super fancy but it has an A Rating for food hygiene, its clean and decorated nicely, with super friendly staff and an extensive menu. And the food – Oh, the food! Everything is fresh, they make it exactly the way you want it and it’s done in record time despite being made from scratch. Special tip: The satay chicken skewers are done in a sweet peanut sauce which is the chefs special recipe and it is DELICIOUS! The curries are also to die for – and when you ask for things to be “HOT, THAI HOT!” they grin at you and do it! It’s a wonderful little restaurant, you never regret going and it’s so inexpensive. Love it.

2) Ruan Thai Restaurant in Mission Bay – This restaurant is next to Reef Bar in Mission Bay, and has a beautiful view across the water. The staff are lovely, the hygiene rating is A and the restaurant is beautifully decorated in Thai art and decorations. This particular restaurant is a bit more pricey than most of the other Thai restaurants around, but it has great ambiance and yummy food. It can get quite busy and you mostly have to book, especially during the weekends, but it is worth the effort. The food is fresh and scrumptious, the meals quick to arrive. Special tip: The Gai Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa (I’m serious!) is a chicken dish much like a curry but thicker, a bit different. It is absolutely beautiful, spicy as all hell, and a dish I dream about often!

3) Thai Me Up in Ponsonby – This is such a fantastic little restaurant! The staff are so warm and friendly, the food is SUPER cheap (As in, mains for $12), the food hygiene rating is A, and the meals are WONDERFUL! Seriously. Fresh, tasty, with a massive selection of anything you could possibly be craving. You always have to book here because it’s always full, a good sign, and the food is quick to arrive and come with a friendly smile from your waiter/waitress. Special tip: The Tom Yum soup is really yummy here. A spicy-sour tangy type soup with either seafood or chicken, it’s not for everyone but I adore it. It’s an unusual flavour but definitely one to try! 

4) Thai Village Restaurant in Remuera – An extremely nice looking restaurant, spacious with great decor and flow. The food hygiene is an A rating, they have options for Gluten free diners and their service is great. Often you don’t have to book (It’s a large place to fill!) and though the food is a bit pricier than other restaurants, it certainly is worth it. Great ambiance, great flavours (also caters to those fussy european taste buds that don’t want anything too Thai) and has a large selection to choose from. Special tip: The Chicken and Cashew nuts is really well done here, fresh and tasty.

5) Thai Archer Restaurant in Royal Oak – This has been a family pick for years, and they more often than not impress. The restaurant is lovely, a converted house decorated and designed into a dining place. The staff are usually great, the menu is extensive and the prices are reasonable. It’s best to book as they are quite popular, and they even make great deserts. (Ollies is down the road though and I often end up migrating there after dinner!) Special tip: The entrees are wonderful here. Try the Curry Puffs and Spring Rolls – just delicious!

There are many more Thai restaurants I could list here, but these are my top picks. Hope it helps anyone looking for a nice dinner out…

Mmmm… Might go have Thai now……

Thai Food

The Mythical Magic Bullet Sunday, Nov 29 2009 

We’ve all seen the late night adverts for the Magic Bullet Blender. It looks cool – blend everything and anything in under ten seconds, no fuss and easy clean up. But when you purchase these things, they never really live up to your expectations, do they?

Well, the Magic Bullet does! I bought a few on behalf of people I work with (Got them cheap – see my blog on online shopping!) and got one for one of my best friends for her birthday. I have heard nothing but rave reviews (And a few jokes that the name of it sounds like a sex toy!) and seeing it in action yesterday, I was impressed!

Said friend who got a Bullet from me as a gift had her birthday party yesterday… And using all of the attachments of the Magic Bullet everyone created a mish-mash of different cocktails and smoothies in no time flat. People would walk in, chatting, chuck in a banana, ice, berries and alcohol and seconds later were walking back out with a drink in their hand. 

The Bullet didn’t get stuck, chopped everything fantastically… I want one myself now! It’s great for making drinks, as I have said, but also dips, hummus, pasta sauces, omelette ingredients and more. It’s compact, easy to use AND easy to clean (That is important!) Ahhh the brilliance of products that are cheesily marketed on television! 

 

The Magic Bullet Blender

 

Shop Till Your Broadband Drops Wednesday, Nov 11 2009 

One of the most expensive pass-times that I happen to indulge in on a regular basis (Okay okay, daily) is online shopping. Sometimes I browse for something specific (A book, DVD or perfume) or just stumble across an impulse buy. 

During both my glee and fiscal regret that has accompanied this habit, my friends and family have piped up saying they didn’t know how to find Online Shopping Sites. I was flabbergasted. In this day and age, I thought everybody knew! So I thought, why not blog about my most frequented sites?

Drumroollll….

1) Trademe – http://www.trademe.co.nz – Okay, so even if you were living under a rock for most of your life, you would have heard of Trademe. But it’s a goodie, so it goes straight on my list. Trademe is where members can both sell and buy items, used and new, in online auctions. Some retailers have a Trademe “Shop Profile” where they sell their stock online, but mostly it’s individuals selling of unwanted gifts, clothing, cars and more. If you can think it, it’s probably for sale on this site.

2) FishPond – http://www.fishpond.co.nz – New Zealand’s biggest online bookstore, Fishpond sells books (New, but there are some second hand options) for very competitive prices. Amazing selection, including CD’s and DVD’s now, sourced directly from the distributors and sent to your door. Plus, if you spend NZD$50.00 or more you get free shipping… and to sweeten the deal, every now and then Fishpond sends you NZD$10.00 coupons via email. 

3) 1-Day – http://www.1-day.co.nz – 1-Day is a site that has three items for sale every single day. At noon, the three items get updated with three new options and so on. The items can be anything, from clothing to gadgets, but I find that there tends to be items for men approximately 60% of the time, which sucks for the ladies. Addictive, one of the easiest sites to impulse buy on. 

4) 3deals – http://www.3deals.co.nz – This is another site that works exactly the same way as 1-Day – Three items updated every day at noon. There is a point of difference though – The items seem to be for women about 60% of the time. (Guess life really does equal out at the end of the day, huh?) This site is the best for make-up deals and cookware.

5) Dealaday – http://www.dealaday.co.nz – This site is similar to the previous two in the sense that it updates every day with it’s daily deal, but the difference being it only ever has one item on special and the fact it updates at 10 AM rather than noon. It tends to feature mainly gadgets and tech stuff, as well as an awful lot for kids/babies. Great deals though. 

6) Off The Back – http://www.offtheback.co.nz – This is a site much like 1-Day and 3deals that updates every day with three main items that are on special. It sometimes has the most amazing products, but at other times falls short. The items chosen tend to be either quite expensive (Despite discount) or a bit cheap and tacky. But there are also a few good gems that turn up on this site. The products that tend to show up the most are gadgets, camera equipment and computer extras. 

7) I Want That – http://www.iwantthat.co.nz – This is an online store that has a lot of unique products. Everything from funny coasters to gun shaped vases; this store has it. Lot’s of specials, but it’s quality goods so not exactly cheap. Great for gift buying. 

8 ) OO – http://www.oo.com.au – This is an Australian online shopping website that delivers to New Zealand, and it has some really funky items. Everything from fitness gear, kitchen appliances, electronics and wine. Not cheap, but there are some really good specials and some things that are extremely hard to find anywhere else. Worth a look, definitely. 

9) Sella – http://www.sella.co.nz – A cheap mans Trademe. It’s not as good, but it runs the same way and has done the trick in the past when I haven’t been able to find an item on Trademe. Sella is ok… Not great. Just ok. 

10) Zillion – http://www.zillion.co.nz – See above for my Sella description. Exactly the same deal. Can’t beat Trademe, I’m afraid. 

11) The Warehouse – http://www.thewarehouse.co.nz – We all know the Big Red Shed, but did you know you can purchase things on their website now? Not everything is available to buy this way yet, but more and more gets added each week. Things like DVD’s, CD’s and jewellery are items you can purchase online, at the same discounted prices you get in store.

12) Ed Hardy – http://www.edhardy.co.nz – Anyone who knows me knows that I love Ed Hardy designs. The online store has the full in-store range available, including specials.

13) Amazon – http://www.amazon.com – Okay, so this is a U.S. store but it really is terrific. It sells almost everything but its the most famous for it’s massive assortment of books. Great range – amazing even – but despite super cheap prices you get massively stung on the international shipping. (So yeah, great for Americans!)

14) Paper Plus – http://www.paperplusbooks.co.nz – If you don’t feel like going into a Paper Plus store, then go to their site to find a great read. It’s not the cheapest, but it has the most information about the books, along with recommendations and picks for book clubs. Just great when you feel like a good book but have no idea where to start.

15) Glassons – http://www.glassons.co.nz – It’s not a groundbreaking site, but it has the usual good Glassons staples. Quality, fairly cheap clothing without having to mingle with obnoxious teens in overly lit malls. 

16) 599 – http://www.599fashion.com – Another American site, but one I really like. It sells a massive load of tops, along with a smaller selection of dresses, skirts and belts. And here is the great news. Everything is USD$5.99. Okay so not so cheap when you convert it, but not half bad either. The clothes are super cute and funky, good quality too. The shipping’s a bit “Ouch” but it’s made up for by the cheap products. 

17) Zazzle – http://www.zazzle.co.nz – A site that sells good quality t-shirts with any design you could possibly conceive on it – plus you can design your own. Kind of pricey, but as I said, the quality is what counts here. Great selection.

18) Mr Vintage – http://www.mrvintage.co.nz – A world famous site in New Zealand! This site sells t-shirts and hoodies with every kind of Kiwiana theme you can imagine. NZ brands, quotes, pop culture – you name it. Great deals daily, plus great gifts for overseas loved ones. Just a funky site for anyone who is proud to be a Kiwi.

19) Mighty Ape – http://www.mightyape.co.nz – Another good online store to buy books, DVD’s, CD’s and computer stuff. Really good savings, and it has a great range and sometimes products you just can’t get elsewhere. Every day the site gets better – more information, more products. LOVE IT!

20) Crazy Sales – http://www.crazysales.co.nz – This is one of those sites that sells everything. Well, almost anyway. Kids toys, fitness gear, musical instruments, beauty products and even rugs. I could go on, but you get the drift. It’s a mish-mash of glorious oddities, has a great selection of gift ideas as well as useful day-to-day items. Great deals, although it’s not the $2 shop! (Hmm, that’d be a great online store!)

21) EziBuy – http://www.ezibuy.co.nz – This is a great online store that has a massive selection of clothing – from the basics to a few surprisingly beautiful pieces. Shoes, lingerie, dresses, tops, jackets, swimwear… It’s not fashion chic, but hey, work it with one designer piece (Maybe a Guess bag? Mmmm…) and no one will ever know. Or care.

22) Supre – http://www.supre.com.au – Supre stores are littered around New Zealand, so you might not really see the point in shopping online and paying shipping from Australia. But I’m not inclined to see it that way. Supre has some super cute and funky clothes (If you steer away from the slut-wear and 80’s reject fluro items) and it’s nice to be able to browse through them all without a million angry teenage girls pushing past you as they viciously chew gum and sing along (badly) to the Britney Spears song playing waaaaayyyyy too loud on the speaker system. So yes, I prefer Supre from the relative safety of my laptop. Plus, although the shipping to New Zealand is about NZD$17.50, the clothing isn’t expensive so it’s totally worth it. 

23) Foodtown/Woolworths – http://www.foodtown.co.nz or http://www.woolworths.co.nz – Okay, so not the most exciting kind of shopping. But nothing beats getting to pick all the items that you want and having it brought right to your door. There is a set delivery fee which isn’t too bad, and you can get same day delivery. Brilliant. And totally lazy… But ahhh, I sure don’t miss those supermarket crowds!

24) Foodrunner – http://www.foodrunner.co.nz – Okay, while I’m on the lazy food bent, here is a site where you key in your location and it tells you which restaurants are available to you in your area. From there you can pick your food (Thai, Pizza, Italian etc) and pay online with a delivery fee of about NZD$12.50 (Steep, but remember, the idea here is pure laziness) and they bring it to your door. Brilliant when you’re working late, it’s raining and you don’t want to go out or if you’re sick. 

25) Apple – http://www.apple.com/nz – Apple products are a thing of beauty. I will blog about my love for the Mac later on, but the NZ Apple site is great for purchasing anything to sate your Apple needs. This site just makes me happy. 😀

26) Ezydeal – http://www.ezydeal.co.nz – Much like 1Day and 3Deals, it has three amazing specials every day. It seems to have a really good mix of make-up, gifts, gadgets and toys for kids. Really impressed with the prices too! My only issue with it is that it only runs Monday to Friday, so weekends are out for shopping!

27) SnatchADeal – http://www.snatchadeal.co.nz – Once again, this site offers three deals every day (11AM to 11AM the following day) and has a phenomenal choice of items. What’s more, if they have anything left over from previous days there is a section where you can still purchase those items! Wonderful idea, great site with exceptional prices.
Alrighty then! That’s my overzealous list of my fave online shopping sites! Hopefully I haven’t lead anyone down the road to financial ruin!

Like them Roswell kids… Tuesday, Nov 10 2009 

You remember in Roswell, how the Alien’s always put hot sauce on everything? I’m kind of like that. Whether it be scrambles eggs, pizza or seafood, I have an assortment of hot and spicy sauces I use to give my food a real bite! Here is a list of some of my top picks for spicing up your food at mealtimes: 

1) Of course, the all-famous Tobasco Sauce. (As seen in the before mentioned Roswell TV show) The original recipe is delicious but the new extra hot is a mouth watering choice for spicing up your meal! Works a treat with pizza, bacon and eggs and fish. Being quite a thin sauce, it’s also great for soups and casseroles. 

2) Kaitaia Fire chilli sauce – The original award winning organic hot sauce, made from a blend of cayenne and habanero chilli peppers organically grown in the far north of New Zealand and barrel aged for three years. Absolutely delicious with red meat dishes like mince and steak. 

3) Nandos Peri Peri range… Now these come in everything from mild to spicy, but of course I’m talking about the extra hot sauce! Especially good on chicken (As Nandos does in their restaurants) but can make Mexican dishes and so on so much better as well.

4) Blair’s Mega Death Hot Sauce… YUM! Really good drizzled over foods that don’t have a lot of flavour like wedges, chicken salads and in sandwiches.

5) Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce – This is available for under three dollars at places like Pak N Save, but wow! One of the best hot sauces on the market. It’s an un-thickened sauce, much like Tobasco, with a really unique spicy taste to it. Great for pizzas, soups, pastas and seafood.

So there you go! A totally useless entry about my top five hot sauces. But seeing as I carry at least one bottle around with me at all times, it’s certainly a prominent part of my life! 

Crystal Hot Sauce

Louisiana Crystal Hot Sauce