Caipirinhas, French pantries and petit fours in Auckland

My post Where are all the Portuguese tutors and students? was inspired by a trip to Auckland, where I found very few, if any Portuguese language courses were available, in contrast to French, Spanish and Italian. (It goes without saying there was nothing on Romanian …. poor Romanian is very much the most unloved of My Five Romances.) [Notice how the expression “it goes without saying” is always followed with the saying!] But the world is very cosmopolitan nowadays and you will hear different languages practically everywhere you go, at least in urban areas. Auckland is no exception. On my first day of exploring there I saw a man with a Vitória de Setúbal bandanna on his head (his football team is currently coming 11th in Portugal’s Primeira Liga but is in danger of relegation) acting as a tour guide for two others. His Portuguese accent was, as you would expect, very European.

Ipanema restaurant on the Ponsonby road is the place to go if you want to eat Brazilian food and hear Brazilian music in Auckland

Ipanema restaurant on the Ponsonby road is the place to go if you want to eat Brazilian food and hear Brazilian music in Auckland. Photo: Bernard O’Shea

Later that week my work colleagues and I were delighted to find a Brazilian restaurant, Ipanema, where the food was great and the caipirinhas are just as good. There you can expect to hear a lot of Brazilian music and you can practise your Portuguese on the staff, and you know how Brazilians love to chat! Its address is 2 Ponsonby Road (near the intersection with the “K” road) and its website is here. Ponsonby Road is renowned for its classy boutiques and restaurants, and Ipanema seemed very popular. On one night we were there GABA – the Gay Auckland Business Association – had booked one of its rooms for a function, so it gets a tick of approval from both the gay and business sectors.

Know your club colours ... drink to your team at Ipanema. Photo: Bernard O'Shea

Know your club colours … drink to your team at Ipanema. Photo: Bernard O’Shea

The restaurant area has some really nice Brazilian-style artwork on the walls, while high up in the bar there were some shirts of Brazilian club football teams: among the ones I recognised were Fluminese from Rio de Janeiro (the green, purple and white), Gremio (blue, black and white) definitely and possibly Internacional (red) from Porto Alegre, and Palmeiras (green and white) from São Paulo. The black and white one second left in the picture and the white one second right I don’t recognise. Possibly the former is Botafogo.

If you are in the mood for some French ambience, then the restaurant Le garde-manger at 466 Queen Street (one of the main roads in the central business district) is the place to go. Unfortunately I did not get the chance to eat there myself but I did have a chat with the manager, and my colleagues who had dinner there one night say the food was delicious. (It is Friday night, 10pm, I haven’t had dinner yet and this post is making me feel so hungry!) The restaurant’s website is very cute, check it out here.

Le garde-manger restaurant is a little French island in a sea of Asian restaurants on upper Queen Street in Auckland. Photo: Bernard O'Shea

Le garde-manger restaurant is a little French island in a sea of Asian restaurants on upper Queen Street in Auckland. Photo: Bernard O’Shea

Incidentally, garde manger is an expression that is used in the culinary industry in English. Its literal French meaning is “the keeper of the food” or “one who keeps food”, but as the chef, Florent, explains in both English and French here, it also has come to mean the pantry or place where food is stored. In the catering industry today it means “a cook who specialises in the preparation of cold foods (such as meats, fish, and salads)”. Apparently it is a very important and demanding post, find out why here. I like the restaurant’s little pantry in the signage. I imagine opening the cupboard doors to find delicious pies inside.🙂

If you see it walking down the street, don't walk on by! Paneton bakery in Auckland. Photo: Bernard O'Shea

If you see it while walking down the street, don’t walk on by! Paneton bakery in Auckland is well worth a stop. Photo: Bernard O’Shea

I decided on my last day in Auckland that if I passed a nice patisserie I would buy some nice cakes for all the people I had been working with the week I was there. It so happened that it was also a French-flavoured establishment, Paneton bakery at 21 Halsey Street. There I bought a box of petit fours. Just in case you were wondering, like me, what exactly is a “petit four“,  it means “small oven” in French, and is a confectionery or savoury appetiser. It has nothing to do with the number four, and because they are small even four petit fours would not be enough for me. I had to buy them by the boxful. See below. How many do you think were left in the box by the time I got back to the office?🙂

Petit fours (or should that be nines) from Paneton. Photo: Bernard O'Shea

Petit fours (or should that be nines?) from Paneton. Photo: Bernard O’Shea

2 thoughts on “Caipirinhas, French pantries and petit fours in Auckland

  1. I remember another time when a ‘Durban’ Caipirinah was manfully consumed – at the Prawn Shack on the North Coast! Good memories xx

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