Tag Archives: Dessert

Vaima Vibe

Vaimaanga, Rarotonga

CelesteReviews Vaima Rarotonga

A moonlit beach, my feet in the sand, a glass of Matutu (the local Rarotongan beer) in hand, and my hubby by my side. Now THIS feels like I’m on holiday.

In fact, it was a very similar romantic setting in Phuket, on the night we got engaged. All that was missing is the Thai Elvis crooner – but that’s another story.

Leaving Nana in charge, we’d managed to sneak out for a civilised adult dinner, after the twins had gone to sleep for the night. Vaima Polynesian Bar and Restaurant was the perfect spot to enjoy such an evening.

We managed to secure a table on the beach, under a coconut tree, just 10m from the gentle lapping waves. It was too dark to see the ocean, but there is something so very soothing about the sound of waves.

CelesteReviews Vaima Rarotonga

Cheese & Garlic Pita Bread

We relaxed into the rare date night with a starter of cheese and garlic pita bread, accompanied by a gorgeous guacamole dip.

The menu is relatively small, but covers lamb, pork, fish, chicken, and steak.

Although the usual vegetarian options of pizza and pasta were offered, I took a gamble on the vegetarian curry ($29). The presentation of the dish contained little dividers to separate the rice, curry, roti and condiments. It was a slightly hot version of the ‘medium’ curry I’d ordered, but delicious all the same.

CelesteReviews Vaima Rarotonga

Vegetarian Curry

The Hubby’s pork belly ($28) was “awesome”. A huge portion of meat, accompanied by very few veges (which is just the way he likes it).

CelesteReviews Vaima Rarotonga

Pork Belly

The ‘funny’ for the evening was Felix the cat. Stretched out along the counter, the staff had to give him a poke before I’d believe he wasn’t a stuffed animal.

We enjoyed our evening so much that we popped in for a night cap and dessert the next night we could sneak away childless. Petite fours should be on every menu, as it’s much better to try a little bit of everything for dessert menu, rather than having to choose just one. Key Lime Pie, Pavlova, Chocolate cake, Cheesecake, with a ball of ice cream and a small slab of chocolate. Calories don’t count when you are on holiday, do they?

CelesteReviews Vaima Petit Four Rarotonga

Petit Four Plate

Top Tip: Apparently their takeaway Pizzas are also fantastic.

In a Nutshell: A romantic setting, with fabulous food and a nice vibe. Make sure to save room for dessert.

And We’re Racing…

Fisher House
117 Kerwyn Avenue, Highbrook

South Auckland seems to be a little lean on fine dining establishments, so with an important occasion to celebrate, we set off to Highbrook’s Fisher House.

We’d once previously attempted to dine here, albeit unannounced, but were turned away as the kitchen had closed due to no reservations. So, this time, I made a reservation and was informed their latest sitting was 7pm. Who’s ever heard of a restaurant that closes their kitchen at 8pm on a Saturday night?  Luckily the babysitter was adventurous and accommodating. But, my concerns was raised, and I’d already decided that I probably wasn’t going to enjoy my dining experience.

Boy, was I wrong! Maybe it’s our lack of dining experiences of late, or maybe Fisher House is just THAT good.

Built by Sir Woolf Fisher in 1962, Fisher House was set on a 177 acre horse racing stud farm, and known as the Ra Ora homestead. Rich in equine heritage, it has been refurbished with the grandeur of 60’s and 70’s entertaining with a grand curving staircase, and epic wallpaper. Such elegance seems slightly out of place among the growing industrial sprawl of the corporate head offices of Highbrook, though the location could explain the early closing time of this establishment.

The service was outstanding, with the waitress answering (or gladly finding the answer) to all my annoying wine and vegetarian questions. The food – one word – divine.

We started on a very flavoursome bruschetta topped with mouthwatering vine tomatoes and basil, drizzled in balsamic and topped with micro greens.

Fisher House Brushetta CelesteReviews


As the ever annoying vegetarian, I was a little disappointed that both my entree and main options were based on goats cheese (tart or torte). So we opted to skip the entree and move straight to the main event. This ended up being a very wise decision, because there was no way I would have been able to consume both.

The torte consisted of a large ramekin layered with Mediterranean veggies and goats cheese. A delicious combination of flavours and oh, so filling. The dish was accompanied by baby greens, an interesting salsa verde, and a slice of garlic bread.

Fisher House Vegetarian Torte CelesteReviews

The Vegetarian Torte

The husband, with gleeful mutterings of words such as ‘awesome’, obviously enjoyed his pork dish. The generous cutlet, glazed in cranberry, was served with apple braised red cabbage and a particularly tasty mustard potato mash.

Fisher House Pork CelesteReviews

The Pork

Now, I’m not one to rave about side dishes. I often only order these to ensure I have ample vegetables on my plate, however you must save room for the beans. Perfectly crunchy, cooked with lemon and topped with almonds. I’m salivating just thinking about how good they were.

Fishe House Beans CelesteReviews

Beans with lemon and almonds

I usually take a quick peek at the dessert menu, just to see what’s on offer, but 95% of the time I never order anything. Blueberry tart, chocolate tart, pavlova – ho, hum. And then, “Hello” – peanut butter layered mousse with a biscuit crumble and a shot glass of chocolate sauce on the side. “Yes, please. Don’t mind if I do”! It was rich (glad I talked the hubby into sharing), but a fantastic balance of sweet versus creaminess. Think creamy Reese’s Pieces and uncooked cookies and cream biscuit dough, covered in chocolate. Yum!

Fisher House Peanut Butter Mousse CelesteReviews

Peanut Butter Mousse

Neudorf Pinot Rose Celeste Reviews

Well and truly satisfied, I was done! I almost couldn’t take the final sip of my Neudorf Pinot Rose.

I’m even going back next weekend to try out their High Tea!

Top Tip: Make a reservation, so the kitchen will be open. Also, don’t plan for it to be a late night.

In a Nutshell: What are you still reading this for? Saddle up and make your reservation.

PS: If anyone has any other favourite South Auckland dining ideas for me to try, please let me know.

A Lone Star

Lone Star
24 Roberts Street, Taupo

Being the latest addition to the Lone Star Family, the recently opened Taupo restaurant is certainly busy. It’s a brand new, two storied, fancy pants complex, situated on the lake front between KFC and the new ‘Coffee Club’ cafe.

We’d heard a few horror stories from locals regarding service and waiting times – ‘teething problems’ for a new establishment. On our  recent Saturday night outing, staff cautioned a ‘2 hour’ wait for seating. Our party of eight were more than comfortable with only a half hour catch up in the bar before our table was ready. Maybe this was a case of under promise and over deliver? We were seated in the upstairs dining area, which looks to be set up for larger groups. We looked out to two huge tables (6 – 10 pax) on the deck, as well as an amazing view of Lake Taupo and the central plateau mountains. I noted that one of these tables remained vacant for most of the night.

Our only complaint is that our drinks orders were very slow. There is a full bar upstairs, but apparently the order has to go through the downstairs bar, which means you go thirsty waiting for the bar staff there to finish serving the patrons who are in the bar, waiting for their tables. Confused? So were we!

Lone Star has a cowboy theme, and many of the menu items are named in the same fashion. Our group thoroughly enjoyed our generous sized meals. The husband, obviously after a pick me up after all our Christmas spending, ordered a Feelgood Fillet ($36) – 225g of beef, served with potatoes, mushrooms and spinach. His summation – “the best steak meal I’ve had in a long time”.

Lone Star Feelgood Fillet CelesteReviews

Feelgood Fillet

My vegetarian burrito ($27) was very filling, served with chunky potatoes and the most amazing coleslaw (red cabbage, pumpkin seeds, celery, corn, carrots, tomato, and loads more).

Lone Star Burrito CelesteReviews

Vegetarian Burrito

The two ladies who ordered the Redneck Ribs (nine ribs for $26.50) both agreed that the first two or three in the stack were delicious, but the rest lacked enough sauce and were a bit bland. One very pregnant member of the group, chose the fish dish (Rock the Boat – $28.50) and was impressed.

Lone Star Ribs CelesteReviews

Redneck Ribs

The other males at our table finished off lamb shanks and various steak dishes, grunting in agreement about how enjoyable their meals were.

Because calories don’t count when you are on holiday, we shared a selection of desserts. The husband and I did our best to finish the decadent Jack Daniels Chocolate Fudge Pudding – a self saucing pud, covered with Jack Daniels. Yum, yum, yum! I didn’t indulge in the Banoffie Pie, but it looked incredible. I did, however, enjoy more than one mouthful of the Longhorn Cheesecake (Kahlua and Moro Bar flavoured), which was out of this world. Lone Star is worth a visit just for the desserts alone.

Jack Daniels Chocolate Fudge Pudding CelesteReviews

Jack Daniels Chocolate Fudge Pudding

Lone Star Banoffie Pie CelesteReviews

Banoffie Pie

Lone Star Cheesecake CelesteReviews

Longhorn Cheesecake

We had a fabulous night, ate way too much tasty food, and basically had to be rolled to the car at the end of the evening.

In a Nutshell: Great location. The food is consistently delicious, and the portions generously sized. However, if you are after great service, or are feeling thirsty, you may want to give them a few more months to practise.

Top Tip: Get your name on the list early, and if you want a great view, ask for an upstairs table.

Christmas Cheer

Celeste Reviews Christmas Mallowpuffs

“Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine…”

It’s that time of the year – Christmas carols, the smell of pine trees, twinkling fairy lights, shopping, gift giving, beach holidays, and most importantly, getting together with friends and family for summer festivities.

Being a creative person, but not having too much time for kitchen creations at the moment, here’s a festive looking dessert plate that is relatively quick and easy to put together.

You will need:

  • A packet of Mallowpuffs (there are 10 in a packet)
  • White chocolate buttons (melted)
  • Jaffas
  • Spearmint Leaf lollies (or if like me and you can never find them, green jet planes chopped into ‘leave-like’ shapes)

Place a teaspoon of melted chocolate on top of a Mallowpuff. While the chocolate is still setting add a Jaffa and arrange the ‘leaves’. Keep chilled until you serve them. Kids (including the grown up ones) love these. Plus, they are very patriotic (very ‘Kiwi’).

Indulgent Ice Cream

Cold Rock Ice Creamery

Cold Rock by CelesteReviews

Have you ever been faced with a dessert bar, filled your bowl with several different (but equally delicious) dessert options, and squished them together a wee bit before they made it into your mouth? The combination of fluffy pavalova, crumby chocolate cake and nana’s fruit salad actually makes for its own terrific flavour and texture, especially if you get a bit of ice cream stirred through.

With this concept in mind, I bring you Cold Rock – the ultimate ice cream experience. Their tag line is “Choose it, Mix it, Smash it, Love it’, and boy do I love it! Take a couple of your favourite ice cream flavours, choose your favourite confectionery, lay them out on a frozen stone board and smash them together. Scoop back into a cone or tub and enjoy.

The confectionery choices range from marshmellows to jelly beans, mint slice biscuits to Violet Crumble (Australian equivalent of a Crunchie Bar), Gummie Bears to caramel fudge – you name it, they’ll mash it up with your ice cream.

Cold Rock by CelesteReviews

Confectionery Selection

As I was on holiday (and everyone knows that calories don’t count while on vacation) and I was already being incredibly indulgent, Cold Rock was the natural place for a decadent treat on a sunny Brisbane afternoon.

My combination of the day: one scoop of cookies’n’cream ice cream, smashed with peanut M&M’s and one scoop of chocolate ice cream, straight up. I can’t wait for my next Brisbane visit, so I can try another combination.Cold Rock by CelesteReviews

I can also highly recommend Smash Ice Cream on Oxford Street (from a previous trip to Brisbane).

I really can’t understand why has this concept has not been franchised in New Zealand yet. Or if it has, please tell me where to find the nearest store.