Florist Millie Austin from La Femme Fleur on High Fidelity and hip hop

While living in Paris, Millie Austin was inspired by the unique and affordable offerings from the local florists adding extra glimmers of beauty to the City of Light. Returning to New Zealand she opened La Femme Fleur from a flower truck in Cox’s Bay six years ago, adding a dash of French flair with the name La Femme Fleur. Now she is busy arranging flowers and her family life, as the mother of five-month-old twin boys. Austin takes a rare moment to share her inspirations and dreams of a few quiet minutes to herself.

My personal style can be defined by: I wish it was Parisian chic, but right now it’s twin mum comfort. My husband’s Barkers organic cotton trackpants are comfy AF. 

The last thing I bought and loved was: A real coffee post lockdown

An unforgettable place I visited was: Tibet. Known as the “roof of the world” it is the most beautiful place I’ve been and the people are just as wonderful. 

Tibet

An object I would never part with is: A vase my mum picked up in Morocco when she was backpacking in the seventies. She carried it all over Europe and it has been handed down to me. 

On my wish list is: A weekend without the boys.

The last thing I added to my wardrobe was: A gorgeous Twenty Seven Names dress, gifted to me by my husband. Support local businesses!

The best book I’ve read in the last year is: Normal People by Sally Rooney.

Normal People

My favourite app is: Instagram. It’s an amazing way to see what florists all over the world are doing. 

An indulgence I would never forgo is: A nightly glass of red wine. 

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city it would be: Le Marais, Paris. APC, Muji and the best falafel in the world all in the same place.

I can’t miss an episode of: The new High Fidelity remake with Zoë Kravitz. 

Next place I’d like to go to: Bologna – it has the best food in Italy. 

Bologna, Italy

In my fridge you’ll always find: Batchwell kombucha. 

My favourite room in my house is: The boys’ nursery. It’s the only room in the house we’ve properly renovated and it’s super cute and full of sun. 

I recently discovered: The Sopranos. Stuck at home with the newborn boys then five weeks of lockdown finally gave me the chance to invest in Tony and Carmela.

The people I rely on for my wellbeing are: My friends. After the twins arrived they created a cooking roster for us and I’m still getting meals delivered five months later. It makes such a difference to our lives.

My favourite website is: Vulture. It’s my favourite place to get TV and film recommendations. 

A gadget I can’t do without is: My rose strippers, a vital protector of florists’ fingers.

The one artist whose work I would collect is (if price is not an issue): Monet. My favourite museum in Paris was the little known Musée de l’Orangerie that’s home to Monet’s water lilies. I’d go there in winter and be the only one with the paintings. 

Water Lilies, Claude Monet

The last meal out I had that truly impressed me was: Last week my husband and I had our first night out together in five months at Lilian. The food was fantastic. Super simple yet really innovative and full of flavour.  

The podcasts I listen to are: I have fond memories of listening to Dissect, which analyses the classic hip hop albums, while driving around the Scottish highlands. 
Still Processing by New York Times culture writers Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. 
Snowball by Ollie Wards was a crazy local story. 
Ear Hustle is presented by a prisoner at a US prison and is a fascinating insight into the life inside correction system. 

The beauty product I can’t live without is: Clinque Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream 

The last music I downloaded was: The soundtrack from the remake of High Fidelity.

If I wasn’t doing what I am, I would be: Living in Akaroa and running a crepe cart. 

I have a collection of: Sneakers. 

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A striking modernist masterpiece gets a new century update

The brief facing unflappable interior designer Suzanne Gorman from Studio Gorman in updating a bushland retreat with restful water views was suitably challenging. The strikingly modernist 1959 home needed a not so gentle push into the new millennium, with the owner keen to double the size to accommodate his teenage sons, visiting family and the recent requirements of a movie room, wine cellar and upgraded pool.

Gorman persevered, alongside Josh Allen of 8 Squared Architects, to create a fully functional cosy abode that could expand to the needs of many, while retaining the innate charm imbued by the original architect Glynn Nicholls (the son of Walter burley Griffin contemporary) Eric Nicholls.

The rather fabulous fifties features of the New South Wales home were retained and highlighted, such as the exposed structural steel beams spanning the living spaces, the bagged brick interior walls in crisp white, the original timber framed windows and doors and the lovingly restored fine wire balustrades.

Guided by the home’s history, Gorman set about uniting the original spaces with the modern extensions, two wings designed by the architects. All the while Gorman set about attempting to bring the outside beauty indoors and reflecting the tastes of the owner.

“The location is serenity personified, the client patient and communicative, so in the end it was up to us to make it happen as we were given so much to work with,” Gorman says.

Cappellini Wooden Chair by Marc Newson from Matisse
Poltrona Frau Ming’s Heart armchairs by Shi-Chieh Lu from Studio Italia

The clean lines of the cabinetry, stone bathroom basins and bedheads tap into the building’s geometric appeal, while classic furniture, playful tiling and classic furniture selections continue the respectful nods to modernism while achieving contemporary comfort. 

“In the living room, we hid the TV behind beautiful original art, so that all the beauty is front and centre,” Gorman says. “We worked closely with our clever builder to redesign a mechanism that moves the art down to reveal the TV. Normally the art would go up but in a Modernist villa, with ceilings a bit lower, we had to be inventive. An arm then swings the TV out and across for ideal viewing from the sofa. Problem solving is half the fun of design!”

Poltrona Frau Ming’s Heart armchairs by Shi-Chieh Lu from Studio Italia
Herman Miller Capelli Stool by Carol Catalano from Matisse
Louis Poulsen pendant from Cult
Cappellini S-Chair by Tom Dixon from Matisse
Clockwise: MIDJ Joe Dining Chair from Sarsfield Brooke, BD Barcelona 2001 side tables from Matisse, Roda Harp Lounge Chair from ECC, Giorgetti Drive Sofa from ECC, Flexform Mad Pouf stool from Studio Italia

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The perfect playlists for long weekend road trips and at-home celebrations

Whether you’re after a booty bouncing neats or sounds smoother than a Kardashian’s keratin-treated hair, here are the playlists to stream until the next work email demands attention. From celebrity mixes, fashion favourites to straight out nineties throwbacks, put in your ear buds and surrender.

Honey Bones Summer 19
Just to qualify things, we know it’s no longer summer and it’s certainly no longer 2019 but Honey Bones Summer 19 is a reminder of much, much more carefree days. The vibe is best summed up by Angus & Julia Stone meets Boz Scaggs with a hefty dose of Rhye. It’s on constant repeat in the Denizen office so tap into our musical spirit. 

I Love My 90s Hip Hop
It’s all there in the title so what else do you need to know? Put on your snap side tracksuit pants and oversized sweater and bust some moves to Missy Elliot, De La Soul, Dr Dre,Common and some Fugees, 

Kym Ellery’s Isolation Edit
Paris-based Aussie designer Kym Ellery is known for her exaggerated silhouettes and luxe fabrics but in isolation she’s been focussing on some simple, stripped back sounds. Dragon’s April Sun in Cuba, David Bowie’s Sorry and Tame Imapla’s The Less I Know The Better have been playing in the background as she practices her yoga and studies oil painting.

Michel Gaubert
As well as being one of the coolest people on Instagram, Michel Gaubert is the sound designer for Chanel, Loewe and Louis Vuitton’s epic runway shows. Prepare to pony walk down the corridor to the Pet Shop Boys, Michael Nyman, Robyn and Diana Ross. 

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, The Row
Having transitioned from Full House to New York’s favourite twin set via their ultra peared down luxe label The Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Spotify playlist is just what you would expect. The Row: April 2020 swings from Elvis Presley and Francoise Hardy to Ricky Nelson and Ariel Pink.

Katy Perry – At Home Together
With Katy Perry you expect to get bright and breezy pop through a neon filter, which is exactly the vibe of her Spotify playlist At Home Together designed for quarantining Americans but equally uplifting for we antipodeans. Shuffle in your seat along to Harry Styles Lights Up, In Your Room from The Beach Boys and some old school Jamiroquai with Virtual Insanity. “Some of them are new and some of them are classic and some of them say exactly how I’m feeling in this time and some of them are hopeful little nuggets of empowerment,” Perry says. 

Jacquemus Showroom
French fashion’s It boy designer Simon Porte Jacquemus is known for his style-setting ready-to-wear shows, cue oversized straw hats and micro purses, but during the lockdown he’s offering a feast for the ears rather than the eyes. Jacquemus has released the playlists for his shuttered showroom so you can feel his influence around you. The Summer 2020 Film playlist has Henry Mancini and The Benny Hill theme song.

Georgia Alice 
Dig deeper into understanding the workings of designer Georgia Currie’s mind with the extensive playlist for her label Georgia Alice. Georgias List includes indie classics from The Velvet Underground, Nico and Lou Reed along with unexpected jolts of Dolly Parton and Harry Styles.

Missy Rayder
Supermodel Missy Rayder, 41, has nothing to prove when it comes to cool credentials, having walked for Balenciaga and Prada but her taste in music is up there with her choice of designers. Missy Rayder’s Love-In features old school Johnny Cash, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. “I chose songs that are meaningful for the time and artists who clearly have endured the darkness-found and were able to transform bleak days through the creative process manifesting in the song,” Rayder says.

Ryan Heffington – Sweatfest For Everyone
With his Instagram feed Hollywood choreographer (La La Land) Ryan Heffington did his best to get everyone off the sofa during lockdown but his playfists are equally energising. The seriously upbeat mix is perfect for dressing drinks before a big night out or even for working out at home. Smooth remixes of Robyn on Ever Again, the Thunderpuss mix of Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right But It’s Ok and Calvin Harris tweaking Florence + The Machine’s Spectrum are like cardio for your ears. 

Image credit: Header image: Vogue Portugal

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NSP’s indulgent mushroom and truffle risotto recipe brings Italy home

Fans of risotto understand that the best winter exercise comes from standing at the stove stirring this Italian staple. The rich aromas and flavours are all the reward you need for building your biceps in the kitchen and this Mushroom and Truffle Risotto recipe from Italian food haven Non Solo Pizza delivers on all sensory fronts.

This simple recipe is elevated to restaurant quality by the addition of truffle but feel free to tap into your inner Nonna by adding some of your favourite greens, such as chopped kale or baby spinach. 

Mushroom and Truffle Risotto
Serves 4

Ingredients
250g of assorted fresh mushrooms, roughly cut in similar-sized pieces
20g dry Mushrooms, soaked in water
1 tbsp Truffle paste
100g Butter, unsalted
1 Shallot, chopped
1 Garlic clove, chopped
250g Arborio risotto rice
100ml White wine
750ml of Vegetable Stock, plus more if needed
Olive oil
50g Parmesan cheese

Method
1. To begin the risotto, use 50g of the butter to fry the mushrooms in a saucepan until light brown in colour.
2. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft for a further 30 seconds.
3. Stir in the rice and cook until transparent.
4. Pour in the wine and stir in well.
5. Add stock a little at a time, stirring constantly until all is absorbed and creamy and the rice is cooked.
6. Add more stock if the rice is still slightly undercooked.
7. Stir in soaked mushrooms and truffle paste.
8. Season with sea salt and freshly milled pepper and a little olive oil and the remaining 50g butter.
9. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and truffle oil and serve

Image credit: Recipe from Savor Goods

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward

A dozen Bluffies for $29.95 and more reasons you should support the local food scene

There’s no need to feel like you’re missing out if you’re not going away for the long weekend. For those sticking around Auckland, there is a host of delicious dining options to suit any disposition or desires. In fact, it’s the ideal opportunity to explore all of the brilliant eateries our city has to offer, including some you might not have made it to yet. So if you’re wondering where to go, we’ve got you covered.

Luxe lunch with a view: Ostro
If you find yourself out and about in Britomart, take a seat at Ostro for impeccable food, service and surroundings. We’re delighted to report that Bluff oysters are back on the menu, and plan on taking full advantage of the fact that Ostro is offering them for $29.95 per dozen at lunchtime this weekend, washed down with a glass of bubbly, of course. We suggest you do the same.
Seafarer’s Building, 52 Tyler Street, Britomart

Shopping in the city: Sunny Town
Sauntering around Auckland’s CBD can be hungry work, so put down the shopping bags for a minute and order a satisfying (and speedy) meal from Sunny Town. The popular Lorne Street spot offers authentic Chinese cuisine using high quality ingredients and traditional techniques, with dumplings and buns handmade to order by a raft of expert chefs. We recommend the Dandan noodles, a perfect warming dish for winter days, along with the moist and flavourful pork or vegetable buns and plump prawn shao-mai dumplings. 
10-14 Lorne Street, CBD

Neighbourhood gem: Romulus and Remus
Roman-influenced cafe, trattoria and bar Romulus & Remus is a must-visit in Grey Lynn for its thoughtful menu of satisfying dishes and homely fit-out. Try the moreish Melanzane chips – crumbed and deep-fried eggplant sticks served with a creamy feta and fennel whip – and the flavourful She-Wolf pizza.
551 Richmond Road, West Lynn.

Takapuna beach walk: The Grange 
Weather permitting, a wander along Takapuna beach could be in order – after all, sea air does us all good. While you’re in the area, why not stop in for a bite at Smales Farm eatery The Grange? Nestle in under the soaring ceilings and choose from one of many delicious dishes on the all-day menu – from sharing plates like buttermilk fried chicken and Waitaha wagyu sliders to larger options, including 12 hour lamb shoulder and house made papardelle.
Cnr The Boulevard and Smales Farm Ave, Takapuna 

Hike up Mt Eden: Whau
Take in the iconic vista from Maungawhau’s summit, then reward yourself with a delicious brunch at Whau, a popular daytime spot serving contemporary Māori cuisine. Utilising traditional Māori cooking techniques and native New Zealand ingredients, this sweet cafe offers original and ever-changing takes on brunch favourites like beetroot on kumara sourdough, mussel and pumpkin fritters with poached eggs and fry bread with poached fruit, banana cream and maple. 
250 Puhi Huia Road, Mt Eden

A trip to the mall: L’Americano
Westfield Newmarket has a host of tempting dining options, and Italian eatery L’Americano is at the top of our list. Created in collaboration with renowned Australian interior showroom Coco Republic, the brainchild of Antonio Crisci (Poderi Crisci, Non-Solo Pizza) oozes authentic Italian flair. Whether it’s for the brioche bun, poached egg and pancetta breakfast sandwich, a satisfying bowl of pasta or a sweet Sicilian cannoli and espresso, L’Americano is all the excuse we need to visit the mall.
Shop S123 Level 1, 309 Broadway, Newmarket

Peruse in Ponsonby: Beau
Should you go for an afternoon wander along Ponsonby Road, may we suggest aiming to end up at one of the tables of recently-opened wine bar Beau. Owners Diva Giles and Logan Birch have created a cosy and relaxed establishment, the perfect backdrop for a great glass of low-intervention wine or a cocktail and a bite to eat.
265 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby

Magic in Mangere: Percy
Even if you can’t jump on a flight, there’s a great reason to make the drive out near Auckland Airport. Game-changing cafe Percy is an elevated eatery with an offering of contemporary brunch fare. Chef Logan Wang draws on a variety of influences to create mouth-watering dishes like mushroom French toast, pork belly breakfast bao and a host of house-baked sweet treats.
2 Te Kapua Drive, The Landing Business Park, Mangere

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward
Seinfeld

Settle in for an omnibus of quality TV that deserves another round

There are some series that we all know about. Game of Thrones (let’s not even talk about the final episode); The Wire (I tried but it felt like it was trying harder); Mad Men (the series that launched millions of pocket handkerchiefs and whiskey addictions); and the Coronavirus breakout hit Tiger King. There are also some hidden treasures that have slipped beneath the Zeitgeist radar. Here’s our mix of the familiar (hello Ross and Rachel) and some hidden gems.

Seinfeld– 9 seasons
The long-running show about nothing is 30 years old and looks it, but still manages to deliver abdominal crushing laughs with its original take on the sitcom format. The quintessentially New York series (filmed in LA) starred comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander as a stand-in for co-creator Larry David with the character of George Costanza, Julia Louis Dreyfus as television’s first truly independent, can’t dance for sh*t woman, Elaine George and quirky neighbour Kramer played with energetic intensity by Michael Richards. From 1994 to 1998 it was a monumental hit, and declared by the US TV Guide as the greatest television show of all time. Episodes such as The Soup Nazi and The Puffy Shirt continue to deliver uncomfortable laughing fits.  

Sopranos6 seasons
Before Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies brought Hollywood production values to ever-expanding small screen, it was The Sopranos that elevated the standard of television drama from 1999 to 2007. Writer and producer David Chase, along with the brilliant James Ganodlifini as Tony Soprano, used the mafia setting to tell bigger, symbolic stories. Immerse yourself in the cinematic sweep of hits, family feuds and grittiness. The final episode of Season four, Whitecaps, featuring Soprano and his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) taking marital bickering to new levels remains just as powerful today.

Friends — 10 Seasons
The nienties sitcom staple is enjoying a Renaissance with Millenials who don’t understand the agony of maintaining a ‘Rachel’ haircut. Hanging out with Joey, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Rachel at Central Perk offers strange comfort in even stranger times.
Some of the jokes haven’t aged well (Monica in fat suits and Kathleen Turner as Chandler’s transexual parent) but plenty of charm remains. And for God’s sake, they were on a break!

Peaky Blinders — 5 seasons
Birmingham in 1919 looks like a hipster paradise with all of the waistcoats, floppy hats and flannel pants but the brutal violence adds a certain edge. Cillian Murphy is strangely seductive as gang leader Thomas Shelby, who has to deal with rivals and the corrupt police. Strong female characters and a soundtrack with Nick Cave, Arctic Monkeys and PJ Harvey keeps you glued to the television.

Gossip Girl — 6 seasons
Before Blake Lively was making questionable film choices as Mrs Ryan Reynolds and Penn Badgley was stalking up a storm in You, they were serving debaucherous teen glamour in Gossip Girl. The catfights, the alice bands, the parties and love triangles requiring a white board made it highly enjoyable nonsense. It was like Beverly Hills 90210 with social media. In the end it doesn’t matter who Gossip Girl was, (the ending was a bit weird) because the fun came from partying with Chuck, Blair and Serena on the Upper East Side.

Nashville — 6 seasons
Imagine Taylor Swift taking on Dolly Parton or Carrie Underwood vs. Reba McIntyre in this soupe-up, sing-a-long soap opera set in the home of country music. At the show’s heart is Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes who is slowly being rattled of her throne as the queen of country music by rising star Juliette Barnes (Hayden Pantierre). The love stories alone are sadder than a country song.

Dynasty — 3 seasons
Nothing can top the original television series with Joan Collins and Linda Evans but this reboot has its own camp charm with former Melrose Place heartthrob Grant show as tycoon Blake Carrington. Elizabeth Gillie as Fallon takes centre stage with the usual feuds, threats of disinheritance and bonking of the chauffeur. Season 3 just landed so prepare to cluctch your pearls.

Black Monday — 2 seasons
With season two now airing, it’s the perfect time to catch up with Black Monday, which makes fun of 80s fashion while wittily skewering the greed is good approach of New York’s Wall Street. A stellar cast including Don Cheadle, Regina King and Andrew Rannells adds gravitas to the comedy. Popped polo shirts, denim jackets and more hairspray than a Miss Universe pageant offer us much laughs as the script. Season one is the lead up to the stock market crash of October 19, 1987

Mindhunter — 2 seasons 
This David Fincher drama set in the world of the FBI stars Jonathan Groff as Agent Holden Ford, tackling criminal behaviour in the seventies and eighties. The first season was adapted from John Douglas’s best seller, with the second season looking at the Atlanta child murders from 1971 to 1981. The mood is dark, sometimes depressing and highly-addictive. Season 3 has been put on hold indefinitely so make the most of these masterpieces.

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Bar Celéste’s Nick Landsman on pedicures and The UFC

Since taking over the former Revel site on K’Road last year, Bar Celéste has fast-tracked its way to culinary institution status thanks to the hard work of chef Nick Landsman and his partner Emma Ogilvie. Following on from the success of their pop-up La Pêche parties and Landsman’s time in Paris kitchens, Bar Celéste is now a must stop for French food that’s been put through a multi-cultural mixer. Here Landsman puts down his knives to talk about his influences and after work distractions.

My personal style can be defined by: Comfort, classic style and quality. 

The last thing I bought and loved was: A Def Store bucket hat. 

An unforgettable place I visited was: Udaipur for a friend’s wedding followed by a few months travelling in India. It was one of the most hospitable countries I’ve been to. 

Udaipur, India

Next place I’d like to go to: Tonga. I have booked a few holidays but had them cancelled due to work. Catch me chilling on the beach when we do. 

An object I would never part with is: My knives. I take them with me whenever I can – to friends’ houses for a cook up and even on a trip. 

I can’t miss an episode of: RuPaul’s Drag Race. 

RuPaul

On my wish list is: A new watch. Mine just fizzled out and I’ve worn one every day since I was a kid. I’m still wearing a broken one as I just can’t take it off until I find a replacement. 

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city it would be: Marais in Paris. 

The last thing I added to my wardrobe was: Air Force Ones [Nike] to replace to my old ones. 

The building that inspires me is: I have been geeking out over Saint Leo. 

My favourite app is: The UFC app [The home of combat sports]. 

An indulgence I would never forgo is: A negroni after work.

My style icon is: Michael Jordan after watching The Last Dance

Michael Jordan

The best book I’ve read in the last year is: The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton. 

In my fridge you’ll always find: Cheese and charcuterie. And stock. 

My favourite room in my house is: The kitchen. 

I recently discovered: Pedicures. 

The people I rely on for my well being are: My partner Emma and the great team I get to work with. 

My favourite website is: Star Superette, a new website we are launching soon. 

A gadget I can’t do without is: My oyster shucker. 

The one artist whose work I would collect is (if price is not an issue): It’s a toss up between Basquiat and Van Gogh. 

Philistines, 1982, Basquiat

The last meal out I had that truly impressed me was: Cazador

The podcasts I listen to are: Joe Rogan Experience

The grooming product I can’t live without is: Hair clippers. 

The best gift I ever received was: Dinner at Septime in Paris. 

Septime

The last music I downloaded was: Dr Dre, The Chronic

If I wasn’t doing what I am, I would be: Travelling on a shoestring budget. 

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward

A bold new Chinese eatery, Mr Hao opens on Dominion Road

With international holidays on hold many of us are counting on food to take our tastebuds on a first class culinary journey to exotic locales. This is the success of Dominion Road newcomer Mr Hao, which offers authentic bursts of Shanghai-flavour, no boarding pass required.

The sleek, polished black setting with bold punches of red and large tables ready to accommodate hungry hordes, offers a tantalising taste of China but let’s skip straight to the main event, the food, in particular a gigantic plate of the signature Numbing Chicken ($26). With its aggressive amount of chillies and numbing Sichuan peppers, the platter offers a gently fried chicken fast track to an authentic Asian experience.

In the few weeks that Mr Hao was open before the Covid-19 lockdown, the dish’s popularity had spread by whispers, Chinese and otherwise. Now with the restaurant’s eagerly anticipated reopening, people are already shouting about its high impact flavours. I managed to refrain from shouting by treating the chillies with decorative respect and cautiously indulging in the unique heat of the generously distributed numbing chicken.

A bit of noise is more than welcome in the relaxed setting, New Zealand-born restaurateur Paul Wong was inspired by Shanghai’s late night bar scene, to create a space for relaxed get togethers and plenty of affordable sharing options. It’s a formula that has worked well with his restaurants in China but the twist here is grounding the dishes in New Zealand’s exquisite produce.

Generous beef skewers ($3) are loaded with prime rib eye, while the jumbo oysters ($8) were seriously sizeable offerings selected that morning,

Mr Hao’s determinedly laid-back vibe belies a subtle sophistication with the flavour profile of spicy cold noodles that soothe and stimulate in sweet succession, while it’s the freshness of the mussels and authenticity of the Taiwanese sausage that enrich the overall experience.

Those wishing to really take their mouths across the border can try skewers of chicken feet and chicken heart but when it came to trying these I reclaimed my laowhy status and grazed on the succulent scallops and moist banana prawns from the grill. If you’re indecisive, order the seafood plate ($19) loaded with grilled mussels, scallops, shrimp and oysters and graze with an immediate grin.

With my decidedly Anglo-Celtic palate, the refreshing tea cocktail ($8) on tap offered welcome relief and could quite easily become Mt Eden’s answer to the Aperol Spritz.

With an economy price list, premium economy setting and first class dishes, Mr Hao is worth regular visits. If only they handed out frequent diner points?

Mr Hao

365 Dominion Road
Mount Roskill-Eden Terrace
Auckland
Tues–Sat, 5.30pm–9pm

09 214 8501

www.mrhao.co.nz

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward

Parnell darling Cibo is embracing the future with a family friendly Sunday funday

With its untrammelled reputation for exemplary service and satisfying stylish surroundings, Parnell restaurant Cibo has long been a favourite for business types closing deals, dates out to impress and wedding parties celebrating their big day but now the team is dialling things down a notch by offering a super chilled Sunday option for frazzled families. 

Just when the thought of cooking for the family is enough to prematurely bring on the Monday blues, Cibo is opening its legendary doors from 4.30pm – 7pm with a relaxed family friendly menu where nothing is over $39 and children can feel special devouring a dedicated three-course option.

With comfort food favourites such as Buccatini Bolognese, Veal Schnitzel and Fried Chicken, this is a menu as cosy as your favourite jumper (and there’s no need to don your Sunday best with the owners encouraging a slip into your slippers approach).

While you enjoy a glass of wine (alcoholic beverages are 10 per cent off, thank you) you can score bonus brownie points from the kids by ordering Fanta or lime milkshakes.

This is the perfect way to finish a relaxing weekend without facing your own kitchen and enjoying Cibo’s family friendly service in a luxe setting.

Photographed by Manja Wachsmuth

Just to make sure your Monday starts with a smile we insist that you order the iconic Cibo pavlova for dessert, with salted caramel, tiramisu and brandy snap options. It’s on the Denizen Dining Bucket List for a reason. 

Suddenly Monday doesn’t seem so bad at all.

Opening hours
Lunch: Wednesday to Friday from 11.30am
Dinner: Wednesday to Saturday from 5.30pm, and Sunday from 4.30pm
Cibo is also offering takeaways from Thursday to Sunday night

Cibo

91 Saint Georges Bay Road
Parnell

www.cibo.co.nz

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward

Forget the travel plans, these are the best Italian eateries in Auckland

Auckland is known for an eclectic mix of cuisines from different cultures but Italian food is undoubtedly one of the originals. Early exposure led to pasta and pizza becoming staple foods in our diets and as such, we deem it crucial for Aucklanders to be knowledgeable of where to find the best, quintessential Italian cuisine in the city. Numerous Italian restaurants have come and gone but there are a few that have secured their place in Auckland’s competitive restaurant scene, and here we round up the best of the best.

Andiamo — Herne Bay
This neighbourhood restaurant is not just a favourite among the locals of Herne Bay, but also among people from all around Auckland. Nourish Group resurrected the Italian institution, leading to the return of Andiamo, bigger and better than ever before. The menu features a wide selection of Italian cuisine from pizzas, pasta dishes and antipasti but the stand-out at this eatery is the meatballs. Whether made with grass-fed beef, or Hawkes Bay lamb, each delicious morsel is guaranteed to be juicy and full of flavour. The option of adding spaghetti as a way of soaking up the sauce is the real game changer as it elevates the appetiser to a full, indulgent main.

Amano Restaurant, Britomart

Amano — Britomart
Amano has fast become one of the most popular eateries in Auckland city. Amano exudes grandeur, with its marble fit-out, sky-high ceilings and floral hangings cultivating an ambience that is second to none. The menu is ever-changing depending on the seasonal availability but the burrata is one item that has been there since the beginning and we can’t see it disappearing any time soon. The burrata dish is modified depending on the produce that is in-season but the perfectly-made ball of creamy mozzarella cheese paired with housemade sourdough never fails to impress.

Pasta & Cuore — Mt Eden
Don’t let the “spaghetti bolognese does not exist,” on the back of the waiters’ shirts put you off. Pasta & Cuore is an all-inclusive, welcoming restaurant with a friendly and warm ambience. The menu offers such a wide variety of handmade pastas and sauces, it’s almost overwhelming. When in doubt, go for the Spaghetti Gorgonzola. Let’s break it down for you: The thick pasta is cooked al dente which leaves it with a soft exterior and slightly firm centre to achieve a chewy bite. The sauce is a reduction of creamy gorgonzola cheese and crunchy walnuts are scattered around the bowl to lend a beautifully nutty flavour.

Farina — Ponsonby
Sergio Maglione came to New Zealand over 20 years ago, straight from Italy where he was working as a pizza chef. His love for Italian cuisine followed him across the world and drove him to bring the streets of Napoli to Auckland. Farina, on Ponsonby Road, shows the versatility of Napoli cuisine all while nailing the classics. The pizza and pasta dishes are renowned for being the gold standard in Italian comfort food — authentic and divine — but it’s the way Sergio works his magic with octopus that blows us away every time. Whether it’s tossed in a fresh parsley salad with a drizzle of olive oil or paired with seasonal produce, the octopus here is not to be missed.

Handmade ravioli at Cotto

Cotto — K’Road
From what began as a pop-up restaurant, Cotto has taken up permanent residence on K’Road, now bustling every night with diners who know that the dishes are nothing short of divine. Cotto likes to switch up the menu seasonally but there are a few, signature dishes that will always be available. The spinach and goats cheese dumplings, for example, are an absolute must-try when dining at Cotto, these little morsels may look simple but they explode with flavour. The thin sheets of dough are jam-packed with sauteed spinach, melted goats cheese and topped with fragrant sage leaves which also lends a light crispness to the soft, cheesy spheres.

Non Solo PizzaParnell
While it’s rude to talk about a lady’s age, you have to admit that the much-loved NSP is looking remarkably good after opening it’s door to fans of carbohydrates for 23 years. The menu is as versatile as the spaces within the complex, from the bustling upfront bar to the cosy courtyard and main dining area. The first order is always the calamari. The batter is light and tossed in fresh lemon juice to cut the richness of the fried coating. A melange of salt, cracked pepper and parsley are utilised to season the dish and is served with decadent aioli to offer a creamy balance. From there let your stomach guide you towards you favourite pizza style,or just default to the classic NSP margherita.

LilianGrey Lynn
Newcomer Lilian’s menu draws from many European influences but it’s the Italian-inspirations that are almost impossible to overlook with the wood-fired pizzas threatening to steal the entire show. The bases are cooked perfectly in a speciality pizza oven imported all the way from Italy. The toppings come in six different variations, ranging from the simple tomato, oregano and confit garlic to pork sausage with tomato, mozzarella, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms and finished with aromatic truffle oil.

Gusto at the Grand — SKYCITY, Auckland CBD
Resoundingly successful chef, Sean Connolly is most recognised for his iconic steakhouse, The Grill but his Italian bistro — Gusto at the Grand measures up to his stellar reputation. Connolly has designed the menu to replicate the traditional dining style of Italian families with everything made to share. The orgy of mushrooms is a sensational dish and you’ll be blown away at the range of flavours the mushrooms offer. Paired with Clevedon buffalo ricotta gnocchi and a buttery sauce, this dish is a delightfully decadent experience.

Gusto Italiano — Ponsonby
Tucked away at the end of Ponsonby Road is another humble Italian eatery, Gusto Italiano. If you couldn’t already tell by its name, this restaurant prides itself on delivering authentic, Italian cuisine. Gusto Italiano showcases the carnivorous side of Italian food by having a menu that boasts a range of different meats and it’s most renowned for its anatra suprema — oven-roasted duck with fresh vegetables and creamy potato mash. In terms of pasta, it’s the tortellini e porcini e tartufo which steals the show. The housemade beef tortellinis are pan-sautéed in a rich and creamy truffle porcini sauce and finished with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan and Italian herbs.

Prego — Ponsonby Road
Prego has been in action since 1986 and it isn’t about to slow down any time soon. Over the many years, the Ponsonby institution has captured the hearts of locals, forming loyal base of patrons and a tight-knit community, ultimately making it one of the best family restaurants this town has to offer. Ask any waiter or waitress at Prego for recommendations and not a single one will fail to mention the risotto all’anatra. The creamy risotto is elevated with an infusion of aged balsamic and has chunks of tender duck interspersed throughout the bed of arborio rice. The grated grana padano cheese melts over the risotto to enhance the creaminess, making every single bite as indulgent as the last.

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