Sunday, May 31, 2015

Grateful for Sundays 08

This Sunday I am grateful for...

Grateful for... Teamwork
Last weekend, twelve dragon boating teams braved the wind and the rain to participate in the "Polar Bear" races. Dragon Boating is not usually a winter sport, but it was great to see so many dedicated people freezing their feet off for the love of the sport.

This photo was taken on a particularly good part of the day. It probably bucketed down right after this photo was taken.

Grateful for... Dusk
With the start of winter finally arriving, I'm grateful for the last glimpses of sunlight on the way home. I took this photo while my bus was driving over the Auckland Harbour Bridge. It will be a long time until we can enjoy the sunshine outside of work hours again, but at least we can enjoy pretty sunsets earlier in the day!

What are you grateful for?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Besos Latinos

A couple of weeks ago, a couple of foodies and I were lucky enough to be invited by Zomato to sample the food at Besos Latinos. I had visited a couple of times previously for the usual tacos and quesadillas but, tonight, Luis the owner had something else in store for us.

Originally from Latin America, Luis opened Besos Latinos with his wife who is usually on the counter. After a successful 5 years of running the restaurant, the pair are looking to add some traditional Latin American dishes on the menu and asked some of us along to try them out. 

We were welcomed with a cup of Horchata which is a traditional Spanish drink that is made of ground rice and oats. Luis tells us that Horchata can be found everywhere on the streets of Latin America and that is very effective in countering the hot foods we will be served tonight. It is very refreshing and flavoured with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon. We all agree that Luis should start a business selling Horchata on the side.

Home made corn chips with Guacamole and Salsa
Next, we were served home made corn chips with guacamole and salsa. The guac wasn't unlike others I had tried before but the salsa was different -it was warm! Luis explained that, back home, they roast all the ingredients before mixing to bring out the sweetness and to add a smoky charred flavour. 

I forgot to ask what fish was used in the Ceviche but I did note that it was incredibly fresh. The sweet corn balanced out the savoury fish and the tangy lime. The crispy corn chip on top was a nice touch.

Deep Fried Empanadas and Flautas
My eyes widened as the plate of Mexican street food hit the table. The colours alone were enough to excite me. Luis explained that snacks like these were abundant in mexico, with old ladies on the street bringing out their cooking trolleys when the party goers were on their way home from the clubs.

The deep fried empanadas were filled with corn and courgette which made for quite a smooth filling. The guacamole and cheese topping was creamy and smooth, but I thought some heat would have gone well to counter this.

My absolute favourite dish of the night had to be the Flautas. Also called a Taquito, these snacks consisted of a cheesy chicken filling wrapped up in a tortilla before being crisp-fried. It reminded me of a spring roll, but with a bigger ratio of crispy shell to filling which I loved.

Alambre with Corn Tortillas
I am reminded of a Chinese sizzling plate when our next dish arrives. I am told that Alambre is a popular Mexican dish of grilled beef, onions and bell peppers, often served with tortillas. The beef had a nice smoky, charred taste with a good kick of heat. The homemade corn tortillas were soft and were a good vessel for the beef.

Corn Tortilla with Spicy Chicken
Similar to the Alambre, the grilled chicken was served on a sizzling plate with onions and bell peppers. I found that the sauce was a bit too sweet for my liking and I would have appreciated the some heat which was so good in the previous dish.

Coffee Flan
The dainty flan was almost too pretty to eat. Served with crunchy caramel and a single blueberry, the coffee flan was very rich and smooth although a little thicker than I am used to. 

Rose con Leche
Arroz con Leche is another Latin American classic which is similar to a rice pudding. I really enjoyed the creamy texture of the pudding and found it very refreshing compared to the flan. The tangy jelly at the bottom was a lovely surprise. 

I am super excited for these new additions to the Besos Latinos menu and I can't wait to return for some of those Flautas! The dishes you've just read about, plus others, should be available from the start of June 2015. 

Besos Latinos is located in Elliot Stables, 39 Elliot Street, Auckland CBD.

Lucy dined as a guest of Zomato.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Grateful for Sundays 07

This Sunday I am grateful for...

Jason, Jess and James
James, Jason and I have been living in our current home for almost a year and we get along very well due to our similar personalities and temperaments. Jason's little sister, Jess, has recently moved in with us and fits perfectly into our unspoken routine. I often hear coworkers and friends complain about their flatmates and I have to say, I have been blessed on this front. I just sit quietly, listen and smile.

War Memorial Bridge
This bridge marks the end to a cycle route project I have been working on for almost two years. As well as being a bridge to shorten the distance between two parks, it also doubles as a spectacular piece of art. A very clever structural engineer from my office designed this, along with a lot of input from the local Iwi (Maori tribe). The red hoops and spirals are shaped to depict a traditional eel trap with metal eels being lured inside. It is certainly a lot nicer to look at than a normal raised bridge!

Whenever I am in the Mt Albert area, I cannot help but swing by La Voie Francaise for a little treat. This french bakery specializes in all things dainty and chic. The only place I have ever tasted better macarons is in Paris itself!

What are you grateful for this Sunday?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Grateful for Sundays 06

This Sunday, the things I am grateful for were unplanned.. 

The first came in the form of crunchy autumn leaves that had fallen onto the path I take to the bus stop. They looked so inviting that I couldn't resist stomping through them. I didn't look up to see if anyone was watching.

The second came in the form of pop up ping pong tables at Aotea Square. Obviously somebody planned this but, to me, it was magic. It was great to see that such a simple thing could encourage people to use public space.

If you are interested, Pop Ping Pong will be up in Aotea square from 10am to 6pm until 24th May. 

What are you grateful for this Sunday?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Grateful for Sundays 05

This Sunday I am grateful for...

Even though it happens at the end of every summer, I don't think I will ever get used to shorter, darker days. Seeing the moon in the mornings is pretty cool though. 

My work week started off with an early morning fire alarm. Once everyone figured out that it was not a drill, we gradually drifted off to the many coffee places in the surrounding area. Although I didn't get to have a head start on my work, I did get to catch up on everyone's weekends over a great chai latte!

The week ended with scones with cream and jam. Need I say more?

What are you grateful for this Sunday?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Grateful for Sundays 04

This Sunday I am grateful for having some time out...

A group of us had decided, months ago, that a weekend away at Great Barrier Island was an order. I jumped at the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

For the most part, we were the only group on the beach. 

I loved the feeling of having the whole island to ourselves.

There was no one around to kick over our sandcastles.

I felt like I could see forever.

What are you grateful for this Sunday?