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New Zealand’s top food blogs of 2015

This article originally appeared on www.hotelclub.com/blog. which is now part of hotels.com

Get to know New Zealand’s Top Food Bloggers of 2015

Planning a trip to New Zealand and interested in the local culinary delights? We speak to top food bloggers around the country to get their advice on everything from the best hotel restaurants to the latest food trends, to make sure you enjoy the gastronomic scene in the Land of the Long White Cloud through the eyes of a local expert.

Eat Here Now

Follow Simon on Twitter
@WeLikeToEat 

Simon is a former food editor and senior writer for Metro. After an eating tour that stretched from Ho Chi Minh City to Sansepolcro, Tuscany, he settled in London where he worked for Esquire and lived in a council flat two minutes’ walk from the Borough Market.

He now freelances from Auckland for the likes of KiaOra (the Air New Zealand magazine), Monocle, Cuisine, Home New Zealand and Metro, where you’ll find columns on eating and drinking, as well as the occasional feature on topics as varied as bread and the politics of waste.

His first book, Food Heroes, was published by Penguin in October 2012.

1. What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in New Zealand in 2015? 
Auckland, still. Everyone always used to stay here for a night and then head down country for the South Island – which is totally understandable because the city, while pretty, didn’t have much to offer a visitor. It’s always been a lovely place to live but Auckland has come alive in recent years – it’s really worked out what it wants to be and I think that’s worth checking out for a few days at least. The mountains will still be there but it would be shame to miss the dumplings on Dominion Road.

2. What’s your favourite Auckland restaurant at the moment and why?
It’s a tie between Cazador and The Engine Room. They’re both family owned, casual little neighbourhood bistros and I think they somehow define the city – a bit quirky and warm, with a focus on ingredients and seasonality… And really, really good cooking.

3. In your opinion, what is the best hotel or hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment and why?
The Sherwood – a new hotel and restaurant in Queenstown. It opened last month in a 1980s mock tudor motel. It’s a little bit punk and little bit Twin Peaks; they grow their own produce and cook their meat over charcoal. These are all things that I love very much.

4. What is the most exciting trend in the Auckland food scene at the moment?
Seeing the food from ethnic restaurants turning up in more formalised restaurant settings – the likes of Cassia and more recently Woodpecker Hill are really exciting developments.

5. What’s the hottest cuisine of 2015?
Here? Korean or Malaysian. We have big communities of both in Auckland and the food is fabulous – you’re starting to see those flavours appear on restaurant menus (and, in the case of the very excellent food truck Tiger Burger, on your chips and in your burger), which is great.

6. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?
I’d just say that if you’re visiting, do try and take in some of the ethnic cheap eats – when you do that you really start to understand how fast and radical the change has been in Auckland – we’re now one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. The restaurants are a window into those cultures, and how they’re making their home here – for an easy start, we have a tag on EHN called Impress People With Your Backstreet Knowledge. They’re all great.

genie-bunny-eats-designBunny Eats Design

Follow Genie on Facebook

Genie is an Auckland-based graphic designer and passionate about food. Her blog Bunny Eats Design features recipes, culinary adventures, design and rabbits. She is always thinking about her next meal and has never come across a food she wouldn’t try. She founded the monthly link up “Our Growing Edge” to inspire fellow bloggers to try something new with food each month. She loves the mantra, “Eat well, travel often” and hates to write about herself in the third person.

1. What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in New Zealand in 2015?
Wellington. The food there is amazing and it’s central location appeals to both locals and tourists. Flights are affordable and you can walk around the city (which is ideal to walk off your feasting).

2. In your opinion, what is the best hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment and why?
De Brett’s Kitchen at Hotel De Brett. Hidden away right in the heart of the city. The menu is short but perfectly formed and the cozy decor and lovely ambience makes for very comfortable dining.

3. What is the most exciting trend in the Auckland food scene at the moment?
Malaysian food. Exotic yet comforting and very well priced. Next up is the paleo, gluten-free and raw with new cafes and restaurants solely catering for special diets. Whole foods is a huge trend.

4. Where can you find the best cafe in Auckland?
My favourite cafe at the moment is Welcome Eatery in Grafton. Only open during the week day, they have the most exquisite cabinet items which change daily. You never quite know what you’ll get. Great range of coffee and smoothies too. The staff are a delight.

5. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?
Special mention to Al’s Deli who make almost everything in-house daily and by hand. Bagels, brioche, sourdough rye, sausages, smoked bacon/salmon/brisket and fresh cheese. You’ll come for the bagels but then fall in love with the entire menu.

lauraine jacobsLauraine Jacobs

Follow Lauraine on Twitter @LauraineJacobs

Lauraine Jacobs, immediate Past President of the NZ Guild of Food Writers, is the food columnist for the NZ LISTENER magazine, monthly restaurant review columnist for the Ponsonby News, is an internationally respected food and wine writer and author/editor of eight cookbooks and one travel book, Matakana. Her new book, EVERLASTING FEAST, a memoir with 100 recipes, was published by Random House NZ in April 2013. A tireless champion of New Zealand’s fine culinary scene, especially small artisan producers, regional specialty foods and farmers markets throughout the country, she was the major contributor to the Gold Ladle winning Cuisine Wine Country. Lauraine teaches cooking classes, broadcasts on food and cooking on Radio New Zealand, and appears at The Food Show and other exciting events around the country.

1. What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in New Zealand in 2015? 
Most international travellers arrive and depart from Auckland. The island of Waiheke, only 40 minutes by ferry from the city downtown is the hottest place to while away a day or two eating and drinking. Fabulous wineries with fantastic food and ocean views (Cable Bay, Mudbrick, Casita Miro, Te Motu, Poderi CRisci, Te Whau) along with the stunning unspoilt sandy Onetangi Beach make this a food and wine-lover’s paradise.

2. What’s your favourite restaurant in New Zealand at the moment and why?
Fishbone in Queenstown is still my all-time favourite. Fresh sustainable fish delivered daily from South Island boats, live crayfish and oysters from the tank, a wine list that has New Zealand’s favourites and a casual approachable atmosphere where everyone is comfortable makes me want to eat here every night I am in this part of the country.

3. In your opinion, what is the best hotel or hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment and why?
The Museum Hotel in Wellington is like staying in a boutique property despite being about ten floors of modern hotel. There’s eclectic art everywhere, lots of space in the rooms and bathrooms, and the very elegant Hippopotamus restaurant to dine in. It’s right across from the Museum of NZ and close to all the hot bars and eateries.

4. What is the most exciting trend in NZ food scene at the moment?
I am loving Mexican and Japanese food (not at the same place!) We have been latecomers to Mexican cuisine as we have only a handful of Mexicans here, but the scene is hotting up. Sushi is the lunch of choice in all our cities but in Auckland there are three exceptional Japanese inspired classy restaurants. Cocoro for sparkling fresh traditional fare, Masu for a modern interpretation in fancy surroundings, and Kazuya for high-end Japanese/European dining in an intimate space that could only be Japanese.

5. What’s the hottest cuisine of 2015 in NZ?
Undoubtedly the genuine ‘kiwi’ fare you will find at Depot and the plethora of options at Sky City Casino in Auckland. Chef Al Brown oversees a casual tasty menu that is exactly what you’d get if you visited a good home cook, only he does it with finesse, fun and fanfare.

6. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?
Do not miss our sauvignon blancs. They may be synonymous with herbal grassy flavours but the very best of these wines are now enjoying a little fermentation in barrels that makes them softer, tastier and definitely more complex. Cloudy Bay’s Te Koko, Mahi, Dog Point, Seresin, Clos Marguerite, and Folium are some of the labels to look out for.

TrudiFRESHTrudi Nelson Fresh.co.nz

Follow Trudi on Twitter @trudinelson

Fresh is THE online guide to the freshest and best food news, new supermarket products and associated recipes to match.
Fresh is all about being innovative, fast, fun and tasty. Proudly New Zealand but with a foodie global feel! Articles via Trudi The Foodie!

1. What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in New Zealand in 2015?
The Northland region is still so earthy and undiscovered. I think the beautiful West Coast of the upper North Island will have its well deserved time in the sun. Think Hokianga Harbour, Opononi, Kai Iwi Lakes and Tane Mahuta, NZ’s largest kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest.

2. What’s your favourite restaurant in New Zealand at the moment?
Woodpecker Hill in Parnell in Auckland. It’s just opened, it’s delicious and it’s still a secret!

3. In your opinion, what is the best hotel or hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment?

Rendezvous Grand Hotel in Auckland central. Right next to the arts and theatre hub that is Aotea Square and the service is excellent. The Japanese restaurant Katsura is flaming great teppanyaki and the rooms are spacious. Free parking, late checkout and a happy hour that runs from 2pm-6pm for a cheeky $5 wine!

4. What is the most exciting trend in NZ food scene at the moment?
Outdoor feasting. I love the spit roast in the back garden of Molten, while animal eating over a cosy open fire and a superb Spanish wine list.

5. What’s the hottest café in New Zealand at the moment?
Gather Wholefoods Cafe in the new part of Silverdale north of Auckland. Silverdale is still sleepy village style but the new area by Northern Arena is so cosmopolitan. Gather is all about lean, green, clean sugar free eating. Earthy, body is a temple goodness.

6. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?
I love the kids area at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. 30 years as one of New Zealand’s best attractions and now a way cool, hands on, interactive Shipwreck Shores play area – and right by the cafe!

I also love the Martinborough area for a weekend away to enjoy NZ wine and food.

And finally, in the South Island, The Winery in Queenstown is amazing.  So much to learn and taste about NZ wine varieties. They have flash machines which let you taste $500 bottles of wine without having to buy the bottle.

Heather

Foodie Gems of Wellie

Follow Heather on Twitter @foodiegemsofwel

Heather loves food, Wellington and people (did she mention food?).  As a Wellington city dweller and food tour host, Heather is out and about in the city eating and noseying around a lot.  Her expectation is that an experience delivers what it pitches, whether that be casual and self-service or fine dining.

1. What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in New Zealand in 2015?
Queenstown for now still as they have the visitor infrastructure right, stunning scenery and a wide range of activities both gentle and adventurous (walking, eating, lake trips by paddle steamer, wineries, bungy jumping, jet boating, luging, skiing, etc). But keep an eye on Christchurch over the next few years as it re-emerges from the dust.

2. What’s your favourite restaurant in Wellington at the moment and why?
Depends on the purpose. Fine dining – Hippopotamus at the Museum Art Hotel. Outdoor funky fun – Ekim Burgers. Sharing plates – Charley Noble or Havana Bar and Restaurant. Fish’n’chips – The Mt Vic Chippery. Sunday Roast – Matterhorn. Plants and grains – Loretta. Fresh and fun – Dragonfly. Seafood – Ortega Fish Shack. Desserts – The Library Cocktail Bar. I rest my case!

3. In your opinion, what is the best hotel or hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment and why?
I have to be parochial and say the Museum Art Hotel and Hippopotamus Restaurant in Wellington. The hotel purely because of its amazing art collection spread throughout (in the loosest sense including exotic motorcycles and a skull made from hundreds and thousands) and a delicious French fine dining restaurant overlooking the harbour. A definite dress-up and savour experience.

4. What is the most exciting trend in the Wellington food scene at the moment?
More food trucks and caravans doing the rounds of events and regular weekly spots throughout the city. And (finally!) a plant and grain-focused restaurant called Loretta’s. One can only hope that we are over the hump of the burger and grilled/smoked/bbq’d/braised/pulled meat trend.

5. Where can you find the best coffee in Wellington?
Everywhere. With over 20 roasters in the region at last count we are spoilt for choice. From large roasters like Mojo, Havana and Supreme to small organisations who primarily roast for themselves like Astoria, Red Rabbit and Gentlemen’s Beans.

6. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?
Yes! Take a food tour when you arrive in a new area (accepting my bias per my bio!) as they’re a great way to get insider information about the area, the people, the culture, the food, the art and the real heart of a place.

UltimateOmNoms

Ultimate Om Noms

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Food for Fun, Food for Life. The Ultimate OmNoms team explores and tells you the best of eateries around Auckland.To us, it’s not just about the food or the service – it’s the whole experience and memories it leaves you with. We believe every eatery or restaurant has a story and we’re here to explore Auckland with an open mind and mouth!

1. What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in New Zealand in 2015?
Queenstown has always been a popular one for both locals and overseas travellers. You can’t blame them, all the ski-fields and natural attractions, there’s lots to do in general. And you can’t leave without having Fergburger of course!

2. What’s your tip for the number one up and coming Auckland restaurant and why?
We’re looking forward to Jamie Olivers’ new restaurant, hopefully opening at the end of this year. It fits in with the local food philosophy of the Auckland dining scene now – keeping things simple with fresh produce and quality ingredients.

3. In your opinion, what is the best hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment and why?
Here’s a tip I often give to friends – there’s so many up and coming restaurants but don’t forget the hotel restaurants! Hotel restaurants are a great choice when you want quality food without going all the way to the fine dining end. Service is always professional and food is arguably better than some of the restaurants around because they cater for all kinds of big names that come to stay. DeBretts Kitchen at Hotel DeBrett was the most memorable experience. It has a quiet calm elegance and the food is right up there. Eight at Langham probably has the best buffet in Auckland too – a blessing when thinking about guests with different tastes.

4. What is the most exciting trend in the New Zealand food scene at the moment?
We’d love to see more pop-up food events. It’s always exciting when a chef leaves their restaurant kitchen and does what they’re good at, but putting their own flavour and personality into it. Sweet Cuisine from Brian Campbell is something to look out for! Street food stalls are another thing – not from existing high profile restaurants but smaller eateries.

5. Where can you find the best coffee in Auckland?
Takapuna Beach Cafe is one of our local favourites. Dear Jervois in Ponsonby is also consistently good.

6. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?
Open Table in Ellerslie! It reminds me of Little & Friday before it got big because it’s quietly tucked away in a suburb. I’m loving that brunch in Auckland is no longer just salmon and poached eggs. I had an amazing fish cake dish there the other day and can’t wait to go back to try more!

YummyAucklandYummy in Auckland

Follow the blog and @hadlowgirls on Instagram

Yummy Auckland is a cafe blog which follows five sisters – Charlotte, Victoria, Rachel, Claudia and Laura – living in Auckland, New Zealand, who love food, fitness, fashion and family. Follow the blog for the latest updates on where they are eating and drinking, at the best places around town!

1. What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in New Zealand in 2015?

Anywhere along NZ’s glorious coast line, and particularly the northern parts of the North Island. We are lucky enough to have a stunning natural environment and untouched natural landscape in these areas, within easy access to towns and cities. Waiheke Island is also an increasingly popular destination just a ferry-away from Auckland’s CBD that is worth a visit – amazing vineyards, restaurants and hotels are in abundance!

2. Whats your tip for the number one up and coming Auckland cafe and why?

Pilkingtons on Shortland Street has recently opened and with it’s beautifully designed interiors, we think it will remain a steadfast popular spot in the future. In addition, we are really excited about Little Bird opening in Britomart, in the Auckland CBD. A healthy fix for the stressful days in the office!

3. In your opinion, what is the best hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment?

We are always impressed with The Millhouse at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown. Not only is it set in a picture perfect location amongst the Southern Alps, but given it is the original flour mill in the resort’s former farm days, the building itself has a lot of character. The food is creative and when combined with NZ’s top quality produce, is always exceptional.

4. What is the most exciting trend in the Auckland food scene at the moment?

Cafes and restaurants are showing a greater interest in local produce and seasonal menus that reflect was is naturally available and in season. A great example of this is at the restaurant, Orphan’s Kitchen. The incorporation of “super foods” and foods that are full of nutritional value has also been a steady trend for the past few years.

5. Where can you find the best coffee in Auckland?

The little Italian Caffé Torino in the Chancery area of Auckland’s CBD serves the most amazing blend of coffee, which is ethical and sustainable, and supports coffee growers and the rainforest in Latin America. Smooth, rich and full bodied! In addition, they make tasty pastries and other delectable bites onsite – when the cafe is bathed in sunlight in the mid morning, it’s an ideal spot.

6. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?

Hidden gems…there are lots in our home town of Auckland! Sniff around on the weekend at some of the local markets, such as the Parnell La Cigale Markets, the Matakana markets just out of Auckland or the Clevedon markets, and you’re sure to find something new and exciting to tickle your taste buds.

VANESSA THE BUBBALINO KITCHENThe Bubbalino Kitchen

Vanessa is a mid-30’s Mama to three adorable little people, baking and cooking up a dream. She blogs at The Bubbalino Kitchen, sharing her adventures in the kitchen, journey through the maze of motherhood and everything in between. The Bubbalino Kitchen has grown quickly since it’s inception in early 2013, and has become a sought-after resource for family friendly meal ideas and delicious sweet treats.

1. What is your prediction for the hottest travel destination in New Zealand in 2015? 
I think areas like Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Queenstown regions are going to be even more popular this year than ever. These are destinations and entire regions offering wine, scenery and of course amazing food and experiences.

2. What’s your tip for the number one family friendly restaurant in NZ and why?
I think every good family friendly restaurant needs highchairs and changing facilities for babies. I travelled recently to the US and one thing they do right is cater for kids. Everywhere you go to eat you will find a high chair and there are changing facilities in every location even if it’s a hole in the wall. This makes such a difference for parents, especially if you’re travelling alone with children!

3. In your opinion, what is the best hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment and why?
Hmmm that’s a tough one because there are so many wonderful restaurants now in hotels and gone are the days of the greasy buffet or below-par bain-marie offerings. I think Masu at SkyCity in Auckland is pretty hard to beat, although every one of the restaurants offered in the SkyCity complex are phenomenal.

4. What is the most exciting trend in the NZ food scene at the moment?
The emergence of many Mexican eateries. A favourite cuisine of mine, I love that it’s not too hard to find a good Mexican bite these days. I’m also really loving the abundance of great little joints that offer burgers in all their glory instead of the cheap nasty versions to which we’ve become far too accustomed.

 5. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?
I had a decadent long lunch at Poderi Crisci on Waiheke Island over the Summer. A stunning location, amazing food and a really beautiful food experience. It was also a very expensive day, but perfect for a special occasion.

HannahHealthYeahHealth Yeah

Hannah Horton is an avid surfer and passionate wholefoodie who calls Auckland’s West Coast home. Her blog www.healthyeah.co.nz is a collection of plant-based recipes and lifestyle musings inspired by Kiwi life beside the ocean. In early 2014 Hannah co-created Mondays Wholefoods Cafe in Kingsland, Auckland; and now offers her signature superfood smoothies at various Mount Maunganui markets during the summer.

1. What’s your tip for the number one up and coming Auckland eatery?
The Raw Kitchen just opened up in Ponsonby and boasts an amazing raw and vegan menu.

2. In your opinion, what is the best hotel restaurant in New Zealand at the moment and why?
As a local I rarely eat at hotel restaurants, but I recently tried out Hectors restaurant at the Heritage Hotel, because it’s renowned for its amazing vegan menu and passionate chef.

3. What is the most exciting trend in the New Zealand food scene at the moment?
It’s all coming at once! Mexican was all the rage, then dumplings took over. More recently we’ve had a wave of Southern American eateries and of course, raw, vegan, paleo and wholefoods offerings are popping up everywhere.

4. Where can you find the best kept secret restaurant in Auckland? 
How can I go past my own wholefoods Cafe – Mondays Wholefoods, in Kingsland! Mondays is a beautiful urban oasis, covered in Ivy and tucked away from the hustle and bustle down a driveway. We serve #insanelydelicious wholefoods including smoothies, juices, abundant salads, rustic sourdough sandwiches, raw vegan desserts and gluten free baking.

 5. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?
In the last few years the Auckland culinary scene has completely transformed. Every week new eateries pop up, and they are superbly designed, focusing on the diners experience, and catering to all dietary requests.