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Festival Italiano + Glenfield Night Market

I had my weekend all set and planned – finish all the house chores, do grocery shopping for the week, and cap the day off at the Glenfield Night Market so I can sleep in and have Monday to myself. Not until I saw somebody tweet about Festival Italiano just a few minutes before I dozed off.

Festival Italiano is an annual celebration of all things Italian. This year they turned Osborne and Kent Streets in Newmarket pedestrian only from 11am to 4pm to celebrate “Italian culture, music, food, design and everything that il Bel Paese can offer in Aotearoa.”

Balloons with the colours of Italy’s flag lined the streets leading to the venue like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs. It wasn’t easy to miss coming from the Newmarket train station. There was a good mix of stalls with 38 exhibitors, most were selling food, drinks, and artisan products.

I knew I wanted to get my hands on freshly cracked Parmigiano Reggiano but had to satisfy the qualms of my hungry self first so we headed to Gusto.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketGusto’s service was quick and very organised. Sean Connolly was there as well.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketPolpettine (Meatballs), Soft Polenta, and Parmigiano, $8. Easily my dish of the day.

Stumpy’s stall was right beside Gusto’s. They had a big sign and a fairly manageable queue. We’ve never been to Stumpy’s before so we thought we’d give it a try and were pleasantly surprised with how our pizza turned out.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market$12 Margherita

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketStumpy’s story is printed on the box.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketSabato

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market$6 per 100g

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Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Lalele Organic was there as well. I wanted to get a popolato but the queue was crazy! I decided to let it go because I can buy from the Queen Street store anytime anyway.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

We were already full after sharing a calzone and decided to have drinks at Bambina because my fiancé wanted to try their lovely chai latte (I never really stopped talking about it since this post). But I spotted these guys and saw that they were selling gnocchi.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

27.09.2015 Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketPasta & Cuore’s $8 gnocchi

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market

It wouldn’t be correct to say that the Glenfield Night Market is my favourite market because I haven’t been to any other. But from what I heard, it looks like the one in Glenfield’s pretty good. There’s a predominant asian population in this suburb, this is also where most Filipinos live, so it is expected that most food stalls are Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. I was happy to see two stalls selling typical home cooked Filipino food, there’s also Fat J’s, a food truck specialising in sliders owned by Filipino guys.

Savoury food will dominate your options but you won’t find yourself wanting in dessert. The popular Torro Churro is a mainstay, I saw a Southern Maid stall, soft serve ice cream, crepes, and several sweet juices. There’s ample seating because a few people buy food to takeaway. Although, I still recommend going early, the stalls open at 5:30pm, so you won’t feel rushed and hangry.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketI don’t even know the name of this stall but I wen’t straight here because I know they sell grilled squid. $5 for two sticks.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night Market$12 meal: $2 Sprite, $5 for 15pcs pork dumplings, $5 for 3 beef balls and 3 siu mai.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketI never leave without having these.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketI’d give the beef balls a miss next time.

Italian Festival + Glenfield Night MarketFilipino Food from Tita Virgie’s (Aunty Virgie’s). I thought about getting Bicol Express for takeway but we promised no more takeaways from this weekend.

The Glenfield Night Market happens every Sunday from 5:30pm ’til 11:00pm at the lowest level of the Westfield Mall carpark.

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Photodump: Street Eats 2015

Restaurant Month culminated with Street Eats on the 29th of August. This is where restaurants in the CBD present their take on street food. Meals are less than $10 but portions are small which would make this event a bit disappointing for travelers, especially to those who are coming from Asia where street food is dirt cheap. My fiancé and I spent about $60 excluding the $5 entry fee per person. I’d gladly pay for it again, though. The vibe was great, I didn’t encounter anyone cutting lines, and they were playing good music as well! I’m already looking forward to next year’s Street Eats.

Here’s a comprehensive list of the participating restaurants and their menus. I tried the following and went home happy and full:

    ▪︎ Pork three ways from The Cut on Federal
    ▪︎ Prawn Tandoori from iVillage at Victoria
    ▪︎ Spanish Paella with free range chicken and chorizo from El Faro
    ▪︎ Chicken Satay Skewer, BBQ Pork Ball, and Veggie Spring Roll from Thai Street
    ▪︎ Beefroot Burger from Food Truck Garage
    ▪︎ Black Betty and Sloppy Po Bao from Judge Bao
    ▪︎ Dairy Free ice cream from Zero Moo

My favourites would be the Prawn Tandoori from iVillage, Thai Street’s selection (three of the few offerings of real street food in my humble opinion), and the baos from Judge Bao (can’t decide which one I liked more!). However, the best value for money has to be El Faro’s $5 paella.

Tips:
1. Go early to avoid the queues.
2. Bring cash. Not all stalls have EFTPOS.
3. Go with a group! You can share meals and have somebody save your seat while you go around looking for what to eat next!

halohaloatbp_streateats_23.jpgHorchata and Hibiscus Flower from Besos Latinos

halohaloatbp_streateats_diptych3Left: Besos Latinos staff queueing up Horchata cups; Right: Knafeh in the foreground, Ima Cuisine’s Yael Shochat in the background

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halohaloatbp_streateats_25.jpgPeople queueing up with The Cut’s lamb pot pie in hand, very efficient!

halohaloatbp_streateats_diptych1I absolutely loved the handwritten menu boards.

halohaloatbp_streateats_3.jpgThe Cut on Federal’s Pork Three Ways: crispy confit belly, pulled pork, crackle, paired with an apple and green mango slaw

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halohaloatbp_streateats_6.jpgToto’s was offering $6 pizza per slice.

halohaloatbp_streateats_diptych2Left: Prawn Tandoori from iVillage; Right: Spanish Paella from El Faro

halohaloatbp_streateats_11.jpgThai Street

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halohaloatbp_streateats_10.jpgThai Street’s veggie spring roll, BBQ pork boll, and chicken satay.

halohaloatbp_streateats_28.jpgAtomic Coffee

halohaloatbp_streateats_29.jpgFood Truck Garage

halohaloatbp_streateats_31.jpgFood Truck Garage’s mini Beefroot Burger

halohaloatbp_streateats_30.jpgFritz’s Wieners

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halohaloatbp_streateats_33.jpgJudge Bao offered a 2 for $15 deal

halohaloatbp_streateats_34.jpgSloppy Po – GMO-free bean curd, mapo fungi, Sichuan pepper, douban mayo​

halohaloatbp_streateats_35.jpgBlack Betty – ChinKiang black vinegar braised free range pork butt, sesame, spring onion

halohaloatbp_streateats_37.jpgThere were games set-up at the Cloud

halohaloatbp_streateats_40.jpgIf you saw a bunch of kids playing Jenga, it was most probably our group.

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My Top 5 (Auckland) Central City Cheap Eats

It’s that time of the year again. We are at the tail end of Restaurant Month. Probably a couple of pounds heavier, definitely a couple of bucks poorer. To console our broken bank accounts hearts, Metro releases their yearly Top 100 Cheap Eats just before the end of August like a proverbial light at the end of tunnel for us folks who just can’t stop ourselves from eating out.

I just got myself a copy of the September issue of Metro but I haven’t gone through the new Top 100 Cheap Eats list yet. I do know that they have retained the sole requirement for a restaurant/pop-up/food truck to be considered cheap eats: “where you can buy dinner for not much more than $20, not counting whatever you want to spend on drinks.

These are my Top 5 Central City cheap eats, in descending order:

5. BONZ CAJUN KITCHEN
Elliot Stables, 39 Elliott Street
An early and easy favourite among the restaurants in Elliot Stables. Their Southern Fried Chicken can still well be a topic of debate, for the record: I LOVE IT. But their Jambalaya, albeit a less popular choice, is consistently beautiful, hearty, and comforting

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Southern Fried Chicken, $12

4. THE WHITE LADY
18 Commerce Street
I am going to call it, The White Lady still delivers the best burgers in town. Or is there just something about buying from a family-owned food truck business that was founded in the 1940s which makes you feel like you’re not getting ripped off? I don’t know. But I’m sure that their Steak Burger is one of the best burgers I’ve eaten and their humble cheeseburger comes close to Fergburger’s (AKA Best Burgers I’ve eaten in my life, so far).

3. NGOPI
79 Anzac Avenue
Does a not-for-profit restaurant sound too good to be true? Not at all. Eating for a cause? Nope. Ngopi distributes its profit to Habitat For Humanity and The A21 Campaign, so most of what you pay for is donated to charity. Honestly though, even if this was a profit-centered business I’d still be a regular diner. Their smoky Char Koay Teow is standout and the Teh Tarik wonderfully dark but milky.

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Char Koay Teow, $11

2. BANNSANG
1c/47 High Street (down the corridor from Gloria Jeans)
If the ubiquitous queue of diners outside BannSang isn’t enough to convince people unfamiliar with Korean food to try it, I don’t know what will, because it is primarily what convinced me. If you fancy spicy food, go with the Ojingo Bulgogi – a combination of spicy squid and beef. Not keen on the heat, the traditional Bulgogi is a good place to start.

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LA Galbi Gui, $15

1. GENZUI RAMEN BAR
Level 4, 21-25 Elliott Street
Tucked inside the atrium of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Genzui may well be the CBD’s best kept secret. My fiancé and I stopped going to Mentatz and Renkon when we discovered this tiny eatery. Ramen lover? Try their Miso Butter Corn Ramen. The Chicken Katsu Don is a personal favourite. And ever since our first meal, we have never gone without ordering their pan fried gyoza.

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Miso Butter Corn Ramen, $11