In love with culinary Wellington
With potentially more cafes and restaurants per capita than New York City, Wellington is said to be the culinary capital of New Zealand and my feelings for this muffin seemed to be consistent with other edible delights I meet throughout my trip. My guide,Â Stephanie from Zest Food Tours,Â starts us off with a cup of aromatic coffee from Floriditas, a popular cafÃ© on the bohemian Cuba Street. That was where I learned just how much WellingtoniansÂ indulge inÂ their daily grind.
"I must warn you, youÂ might get a little jittery by the end of today" Stephanie says mid-sip into her latte, "here in Wellington, we serve our coffees with a standardÂ double shot, and after this we'll have two more chances for more, so take it easy."
Feasting only on fresh Wellington food
Taking it easy was quite difficult, as a coffee lover, I am really savoring the thick, concentrated cup of coffee with theÂ intentionÂ of getting seconds. Alas, saved by a busy schedule, Stephanie pulls us away from the cafÃ© and ushers us into the city's largest organic and ethical fresh food market for cheese tasting. I lose my self control over minted feta, a variety of blue,Â and aged cheddarÂ accompanied by a delicious blend of fruit paste, washed down with a crisp localÂ Chardonnay. You can almost hear me purr.
I was originally a little apprehensive about joining a food tour, but it is turning out to be drool-worthy.Â First it's coffee; now it's the cheese platter. I make a mental note never to visit when on a diet.
Wellington really is a treasureÂ troveÂ of all things culinary. The coffee scene is absolutely thriving, with 19 roasters operating in such a small space of a city. Fresh produceÂ isÂ sold weekly at the harborÂ side markets, and many of its creative residents are coming up with new flavors every year.Â So just what makes people here so into food?Â "Wellington is cursed by its unpredictable weather, and even if it's mildly warm, the strongÂ ArcticÂ wind can really get to you" Stephanie explains, "so it's possible that we indulge where we can, especially when it comes to food."
Get aÂ caffeineÂ hit
Our next stop takes us to one of the coffee roasteries, with promise of a second cup of coffee. Mojo Coffee roasts their beans in Shed 13 near the waterfront where its Dr Mojo's Medicine, a signature blend of three types of beans with a distinct flavor is on offer. I slurp down this magic potion like a greedy kitten, jittering with the extra dose of caffeine. As shots three and four warm my stomach, I find myself being led into Bohemein Chocolates on Featherston Street, where I am introduced to the Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate which won the 2012 Cuisine Magazine New Zealand Artisan Award. Bohemein is another example of cuisine creativity, where some flavors may not normally be associated to chocolates. I try the wasabi cream, and taste a small hint of the root spice without being overwhelmedÂ and indulge myself in a biteÂ of the creamy praline.
After the tour, I head to Duke Carvell's Swan Lane Emporium,Â whose cocktail 'Independence Pie' is like an alcoholic take on apple pies, thenÂ outÂ to Floriditas for dinner. Over a plate ofÂ clamsÂ with white wine, parsley and chivesÂ linguine my husband and I tease each on our dietary intake of the day as I stuff myself with plump juicy clam meat so fresh thatÂ itÂ tastesÂ likeÂ itÂ had just come from the sea. After dinner, a waiter approaches as we hover over the dessert menu.
"Any after dinner coffee for you?"
Written by Amy McPherson
Based in Sydney, Australia, Amy is a writer stuck in the corporate world. A Business Analyst by profession, she works her life around travelling and has managed to squeeze in postgraduate studies in writing somewhere in between. Amy met her husband in 2006 while working on a community development project in Peru, and the travel-holic pair celebrated their love by getting married in Vanuatu in 2010. Amy keeps a blog on various travel topics at www.footprintsandmemories.com