Tag Archives: vegetarian

Delectable Feast in Newport Beach

Fashion Island, Newport Beach,
Orange County, California

Suffice to say, being the parents of 3 year old twins, we don’t often time for a ‘date night’ meal. Especially one that is 11,000kms away. However, sometimes you have to go the distance, to make these things happen!CelesteReviews Cucina Enoteca

Blame it on the jet lag, or the rose tinted glasses of a few days of ‘twinlessness’, but I still believe Cucina Enoteca was one of the best dining experiences that Hubby and I have ever had.

Celeste CelesteReviews

From our wonderfully attentive waiter (Andy), who intelligently answered all our questions (of both the food and wine), all while deciphering our thick NZ accents, to the quirky decor, funky ambience and interesting toilet wishes (more about that later), this was a 5 Star, A+, top quality meal.

And, I haven’t even touched on the food or wine yet.

The wine selection was huge and as an added bonus, you could purchase a bottle from their retail store and consume it (for a small corkage fee) with your meal.

As a vegetarian, I was impressed with the unique options available on the menu. We began our evening with the artichoke and truffle hummus, which was served in a mason jar, and so delicious, we had to order more bread.

CelesteReviews Aritchoke Truffle Hummus

Artichoke & Truffle Hummus

CelesteReview Mushroom Bolognaise

Mushroom Bolognaise

The mushroom bolognaise was an outstanding dish – and I’m sure a meat eater wouldn’t have even realised it was vegetarian.

Hubby opted for one of the signature dishes (short rib pappardelli) and wasn’t disappointed. Both meals were perfectly portioned and went well with our local Zinfandel.

CelesteReviews Short Rib Pappardelli

Short Rib Pappardelli

We were having such a great evening that we even indulged in dessert, which we are usually too full to enjoy.

CelesteReviews Torta Della Nonn

Torta della Nonna

We shared the torta della nonna – pinenut and blackberry prosecco sorbet with lemon sago – absolutely scrumptious.

No trip to this restaurant is complete without visiting the ladies toilet. As another quirky touch, a wish board awaits. You can write your hearts desire on a small piece of paper and tuck it into a frame with all the other wishes.

The staff delight in reading these wishes from time to time, so being the curious girl that I am, I had to find out what the most interesting wish they had seen was. Apparently, “I wish that my cheating husband contracts Ebola” is at the top of the list…

We can not wait to move to California, so we can enjoy this dining experience again. Oh, didn’t I tell you that we will be setting up house in the OC in the not too distant future? Well, that adventure might just be the next blog that I embark on…

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.

Sensational Summer Salad

Hands up those who have eaten the grain Quinoa (pronounced Kin Wah). It’s apparently one of the most easily digested foods on the planet. Being vegetarian, I’d attempted using this grain in meals before, but been completely underwhelmed.

Next question. Who has tried Pomegranates? Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t either. Cutting one open for the first time was an experience, and getting the seeds out of the fruit is hard work, but rewarding.

CelesteReviews Pomegranates

Pomegranate Seeds

This summer, I started a new relationship with both of these foods, mixed together into a sensational summer salad.

Now, the best thing about Summer is being invited to loads of BBQ’s and sampling all the goodies that everyone brings. I’m not sure if it’s the whole ‘having twins’ thing, but we didn’t get invited to many BBQ’s this year. However, supporting the theory of quality vs quantity, I discovered this fantastic salad at the first BBQ event of the summer season. A friend of a friend dished up this gorgeous salad, and I couldn’t get enough. Over the months I’ve made tweaks here and there, and am more than happy to share with you my version of the Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad.

CelesteReviews Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 handful of shredded baby spinach leaves
  • 1 handful of craisins
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate (cut in half and bash with rolling pin to remove, or use a teaspoon to delicately scoop out – Oh and don’t wear a white shirt while removing the seeds either way).
  • 1 handful of chopped walnuts

Wash the quinoa in a fine sieve. Drain and simmer in a saucepan with the vegetable stock. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until quinoa is soft and liquid is evaporated. Put aside to cool.

CelesteReviews Salad Dressing


For the dressing, whisk together:

  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (or I’ve also used white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (found at any good specialty food store, or I purchased via TradeMe.co.nz)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

To serve:
Place quinoa in a bowl and fluff with a fork. Add spinach, craisins, pomegranate seeds and walnuts and mix. Pour over dressing and toss through. It even tastes great as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Totally scrumptious and full of all the so-called ‘superfoods’ – walnuts, spinach, quinoa.

It is such a fun, tasty, colourful salad that I even served it alongside the traditional Christmas roast fare at this in-law’s Christmas Day festivities. I managed to get almost all of the meat loving males of the family to add a serving to their plate, and some even went back for seconds.


We’ll Be Back, Jack

Pepperjacks Restaurant Bar/Cafe

190 Jack Lachlan Drive, Pine Harbour Marina, Beachlands

“Oh no! The menu looks dubious” thinks the vegetarian. After a hot 20 min drive with a hungry husband and in-laws  plus the twins in tow, I nervously ask “what can you do that’s vegetarian?” Complete with a lovely smile, the waitress provides the answer which all vegetarians love to hear, “we can make almost anything on the menu into a vegetarian meal for you”. Music to my ears! Pass me a menu please.

Being a beautiful summers day, we parked ourselves on a shaded wooden table outside, while we perused the menu. Pepperjacks is in a great location, with stunning views out to the Hauraki Gulf. As we soaked in the calmness of the day, you couldn’t help thinking that “this is the life” – Sipping a Monteiths ale (or in MIL’s case a local Pinot Gris) and watching the boats depart and arrive. It almost reminded me of a Queensland Resort.

View from Pepperjacks CelesteReviews

The View

There were plenty of choices on the menu, ranging from seafood to traditional pub fare (burgers, sandwiches, etc) along with cabinet food for lighter options, and brunch was served until 3pm.

The husband ordered an open crumbed chicken sandwich with fries ($16.50) which was ample to satisfy his hunger.

Pepperjacks Chicken Sandwich CelesteReviews

Open Chicken Sandwich

The FIL was impressed with his squid, and the MIL’s pan fried fish and chips option was a very generous size.

Pepperjacks Squid CelesteReviews


Pepperjacks Fish and Chips CelesteReviews

Fish & Chips

I requested a vegetarian version of the pasta of the day, and was even given an option of a cream or tomato base (very exciting to actually be given a choice). The pasta was delicious, filled with mushrooms, pepper and courgettes.

Pepperjacks Pasta CelesteReviews

Vegetarian Pasta of the Day

The staff were lively and friendly. Apparently the restaurant is under new management, so I’m not sure if this enthusiasm has always been a part of the Pepperjacks’ dining experience. They also helpfully set up a change table in another room for us to use after we had fed the twins.

Offering to look after the babies while we ate our meals, was maybe a small step too far in service for my comfort levels, but a generous thought all the same. However, I’m probably a tad overprotective with our babies. For some reason, having twins constantly invites random strangers to poke their noses into our pram and touch our children, without our permission (don’t even get me started), so I hope the staff didn’t take offence when I rejected their kind offer. One day I’ll dedicate an entire ranting blog to the bizarre behaviour we’ve experienced while being out and about with twins…

We will definitely be back to visit again.

To Tip: We missed the Saturday Fresh Markets by 45 mins! They finish at midday, so get there early for a spot of shopping before lunch.

In a Nutshell: Stellar service, lovely food and a perfect way to spend a summer’s afternoon. Definitely worth the drive.

Rotorua’s Aroma

Aroma Cafe
1126 Fenton Street, Rotorua

As the title of a cafe situated in the suplhuric-smelling city of Rotorua, I’m not sure that the name ‘Aroma’, conjures up the most appealing thoughts. However, name aside, we were pleased with our recent visit to this cafe.

There were more gluten free menu choices than vegetarian options, yet the staff were very accommodating with suggesting modifying menu items to make them vegetarian. In fact, the staff were very friendly and helpful overall. The husband indulged in a huge open chicken sandwich, with brie, cranberry and salad. My BLAT (hold the bacon, but add an egg) was very filling. The avocado was delicious, although the relish was a little overpowering. Both items were dressed in aioli and served with a generous portion of fries.

Open Chicken Sandwich Aroma Cafe CelesteReviews

Open Chicken Sandwich

BLAT Aroma Cafe CelesteReviews

BLAT (hold the bacon, add egg)

The coffee ($5 medium size) was lovely, and actually hot. Lately, we’ve been finding actual ‘hot’ coffee a rare occurrence.

Although too damp and windy for the munchkins on the day of our visit, there is a great undercover outdoor area at the rear of the cafe.

In a Nutshell: A lovely lunch stop in ‘aromatic Rotorua’.

Beastie Burgers

Shop 6d, Little Stanley Street
South Bank, BrisbaneBeastie Burgers Menu by CelesteReviews

The average Vegetarian Burger is tasteless and unimaginative, so a burger joint is not usually high on my list when looking for a lunch stop.

So, when wandering Little Stanley Street on Brisbane’s South Bank recently, flitting from café to restaurant, reading menus and trying to decide what to have for lunch, I surprised myself when the ‘Beast Free Burger’ caught my eye at Beastie Burgers.

Now, it might have been all the exercise we’d had that morning, walking from Fortitude Valley, through the shopping malls, Art Gallery and along South Bank, or the fact that on holiday calories don’t count, but a burger and fries sounded delightful … and it was.

The Beast Free Burger (AUD$10.50) was layered with a thick, tasty, homemade chickpea pattie, roasted eggplant, red capsicum and sweet potato. The huge bun was smothered in Persian feta and topped off with greenery. Very satisfying!

Beast Free Burger by CelesteReviews

Beast Free Burger

The husband decided to test his tastebuds with an ‘American in Noosa’ burger (AUD$12.50), which included a tower of bacon, avocado, cheddar and lettuce, with a flame grilled beef pattie.

American in Noosa by CelesteReviews

American in Noosa Burger

No burger meal is complete without fries, and Beastie Burgers’ version is chunky chips, lightly coated in aged balsamic. Yum, yum, yum!

We picked a high table in the sun and refueled for our long walk back to the city via the Goodwill Bridge and botanical gardens.

In a nutshell: Innovative burgers to tame any beast.

Roasted Addiqtion

487 New North Road, Kingsland

Once again our Entertainment Book has proved trumps with the discovery of yet another delightful eating establishment.Caffeine Worshippers Unite

We were delivering a friend back to the city one Saturday morning, and decided to stop somewhere on the way, for a bite to eat.

Following advice from the Entertainment Book, our detour through Kingsland lead us to Roasted Addiqtion.

The menu boasts a great brunch selection for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free diets, as well as many traditional dishes. The husband and I were intrigued with the menu and we bypassed our usual Eggs Benedict order to try the potato hash cakes ($17.90). The vegetarian option of this dish came with two poached eggs on top of silverbeet and a cake of grated potato and parmigianino with avocado, salad and relish on the side. The potato cake was quite crunchy, providing a lovely contrast with the texture of the eggs and silverbeet. The eggs were slightly overcooked, but I still enjoyed my brunch.

The husband had the bacon potato hash cakes, while our third musketeer braved the Vegan Tofu Florentine ($17) – and she’s not even vegetarian, let alone vegan. The Florentine consisted of fried tofu on gluten free spelt toast, with avocado, spinach, capers and capsicum coulis sauce.

Potato Hash Cakes

Potato Hash Cakes with Avocado

I’m also keen to check out their dinner options and live music at some stage in the future.

In a nutshell: The food was great, and the coffee … supreme.

PS – The new Entertainment Books for Auckland are on sale from the 31st March.