I don’t know how food bloggers or restaurant reviewers do it. By the time I get to Auckland on the final leg of my trip, I find myself suffering a bad case of food fatigue. Just the thought of feeding myself felt laborious. My appetite was bemoaning “Not another meal!” The cure, I discovered, was pastry in Venice in the early hours of the morning before the tourists get in.
Auckland’s city centre is ugly as sin. There is also an unfortunate trend permeating the food scene that inflicts menu items with a kind of identity crisis. No, I do not want fava bean mash, pineapple salsa and microgreens with my avocado toast…and is that a mung bean sprout in the mix?!
Pretence aside, there is really good food in this City of Sails, but what’s worth eating tends to be on the outskirts of the central city, and anyone who lives in Auckland will tell you that mobility without a car is a challenge. So I resolve to drink a lot of coffee (you cannot go wrong at Mojo) and go to the supermarket, except on two afternoons where I trudge up the hill to the City Works Depot on Sale Street and go to Best Ugly Bagels.
I visit twice but only eat at Best Ugly once because there are just too many people on the weekend. At least on my second visit, I get to watch the bagels being deftly hand-rolled by a bearded guy with full sleeve tattoos. Each movement he makes is so confident and yet gentle, and the bagels and their condiments are what I know New Zealand food can be – fresh, hearty and delicious. Like spring had sprung with each bite.
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day in New Zealand
My food fatigue continues and all I can muster to eat and drink during my time in Zurich is pretzels and coffee. I don’t even eat chocolate (!) save for the token provided to me on the Swiss flight, though that does remind me how delicious it is and that I must buy chocolate on my way out.
Biting into pretzel salt really makes my teeth shudder
My theory that I might be suffering from food fatigue is disproved when I get to Venice. Only the heady concoction of sweltering heat, overly garrulous crowds and the need for sleep stops me from ordering another thing on the menu or behind the counter in this tourist trap.
I get into it bright and early because I want to visit the market and pack as much in before my meeting at 9 o’clock. Heading down the canals in a vaporetto with the locals at the crack of dawn ends up being the best decision I have made on this trip because at that hour I have Venice all to myself, well, with the exception of the occasional shopkeeper, public utility workers, a dedicated photographer with a camera lens the width of my thigh and a committed morning runner sprinting down the narrow lanes like an automated string bean.
The Rialto Bridge is empty! Sandwiches are being assembled behind snack bar counters, vegetables laid on tables and seafood is just coming off the boats. The market vendors sing and the sound of “Buon giorno!” lightens the quiet atmosphere.
Worth waking up early for. The Venice Rialto Market is not big by any measure, but the sight of fresh food and seafood is always welcome and enjoyable.
I found a bakery that opened before 7am frequented by public utility workers. Breakfast was the best croissant I have ever had. The pastry (on the right) is from the same store.
Lunch was at AMO in the T Fondaco building. Yes, it looks like avocado on avocado (it is avocado on avocado), but the dish is really quite fantastic.