Behind Every Cafe I Visited in Wellington Is A Story

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Until about three years ago, I didn't drink coffee because I hated the smell of coffee breath. But when I moved to London, coffee became almost a necessity. Apart from those early morning travels to work, being surrounded by clever minds before eight o'clock in the morning compelled me to do something to keep up with their hyperactive brain cells, and so that  I can keep moving forward until the end of the day. My old tactic of asking someone to pinch my hand until it turned red no longer worked because nobody wanted to hurt me that much. Coffee apparently works better. So, I slowly introduced my system to this energy boosting beverage. 

Despite not getting on well with coffee at the beginning ( I had dizzy spells and bouts of diarrhea), it is now a big part of my daily life. My 30- minute morning walk to work is now incomplete without almond croissant and a cup of skinny latte from Pre-A-Manger.

But really, I became more accustomed to the coffee culture in Wellington. I am not a coffee expert in any way, but I learned how to appreciate coffee more when I lived in New Zealand, enough to say that Starbucks is now a last option. I  am lucky to have experienced proper coffee culture in one of the best coffee destinations in the world. 

And for that, here is a list of the cafes that  I visited in Wellington and why they are special to me:

1. Pandoro - 2 Allen Street, Te Aro
- This is the cafe that I visited the most when I was in Wellington. I probably have been here about fifty times. This cafe is memorable to me because this is where Ei and I had our Mondates. I also love the gentle bitterness in their trim latte. And oh, their "crusty on the outside and soft in the inside"  bran muffin is my favourite.

2. The Roxy Cafe- 5 Park Road, Miramar
- I went on dates with myself a lot at The Roxy. It's relatively close to J's work place, so I used to hang out there quite often - because I am a stalker. Haha, not really. In the summer, I would  run to Miramar in the mornings then afterwards, I would rest at The Roxy with a cup of trim latte. It's a good place to chill out because they play very good 80's music and the cafe is  typically quiet. 

3. Tomboy - 21 Majoribanks St, Mount Victoria
- Techincally our local cafe, Tomboy is one place I couldn't really  miss. I passed by this uber girly cafe almost everyday but at first, I was reluctant  to join their "little community"  at their communal table because it looked a bit too close for comfort. However, the cafe was (for once) empty one time I passed by, so I went inside out of curiosity. I was greeted by beautifully made cakes and pastries, then by a very friendly lady at the counter who happened to be the owner, who also bakes the cakes fresh everyday. Since then, I never hesitated to go back whenever I felt like I needed a "girlie" time. I love this cafe because people here made me feel special. They were very generous with compliments and they were very attentive. They chatted to me like I was already a part of their community when  I was just a "newbie". Soon enough, it wasn't about the trim latte and the brioche anymore, but the lovely community.

4. Cafe L'affare - 27 College St, Te Aro
- J recently bought a coffee machine and the first thing that came to our minds when we first used it was our favourite coffee brand in Wellington- L'affare (Primo). How I wish they had it in London. I am glad that my friend Ei brought me to Caffe L'affare because I got to experience gourmet coffee. Really, really fresh coffee. 

5.  Scopa- 141 Cuba Street
- I didn't go to Scopa for anything else other than their hot chocolate (as recommended by Ei). It was the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted. Imagine thick, very rich chocolate topped with equally rich cream then sprinkled with some more chocolate- sounds almost like a dessert but it's actually a heavenly hot chocolate. No wonder Ei loves it! When I first had the hot chocolate, I let it sit in my mouth for a few seconds just because it was so smooth.  I can't even describe it properly, but I thought that the chocolate taste actually came in the middle. I didn't taste it straight away. Then the sweetness came last. The good thing was that the sweetness was just right so I didn't feel so  guilty afterwards. 

6. La Cloche - 134 Hutt Road, Kaiwharawhara
- We actually came here for brunch which we very much enjoyed. It was very busy when we went and I wasn't suprised. The food was good and the service was friendly. But what actually attracted me was their take away coffee cup.

7. Chocolate Frog - 61-69 Miramar Avenue, Miramar
- The rain brought us to this quirky little place inside a garden centre in Miramar. More than their coffee, I love the "thoughts" written everywhere.

8. Flight Coffee Hangar- 119 Dixon St, Te Aro
- Relatively speaking, I had the best coffee ever at this cafe. Their coffee is different from those I've had before. It totally confused my palate.  The multiple taste in my coffee challenged me to try and unleash whatever coffee expertise I had in me, which is very minimal I would say. But yes, fruity, sweet and bitter at the same time. Deliriously good coffee.

9. Prefab - 14 Jessie St, Te Aro
- J found this this place when one day, we were looking for a place to have brunch. Pre-fab is apparently always busy. They are very well known for their brunch meals. We were not very impressed with the service but the food and the coffee were good enough. Nothing much to say really. 

Oftentimes, I can't even differentiate the taste of one skinny latte from the other. To me, they all taste the same. Or perhaps I am only saying this because I don't usually pay so much attention to the coffee. Maybe I need to visit more cafes to purposely try their coffee rather than just to meet up with people or pass time. 

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Afternoon Tea Highlight in Wellington: Hippopotamus Restaurant

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Based on my Welly friends' recent posts on social media, it seems like summer has finally arrived in Wellington. To tell you the truth, I miss spending time with the "power puff" girls and "Daryun". Looking at their photos always takes me back to my wonderful memories in Wellington particularly with Ei, whom I spent most of my time eating and walking while I was there. Hence, I am writing one of the last bonding moments I had with the girl who changed my perspective on life a great deal.

Having stayed in the Museum Hotel for a couple of weeks when we first arrived in Wellington, I had the opportunity to eat breakfast at the Hippopotamus restaurant a few times and really had a good experience (even during those times when other people looked at me from head to toe because I was sweaty in my running clothes). During that time though, High Tea (or Afternoon Tea)  was far from my mind because I still didn't have any friends then. Until of course I met Ei. Alas, I have finally found someone I could have an Afternoon Tea with. And where else would be the best place to experience my first Afternoon Tea in Wellington than Hippopotamus? Unfortunately, they were under refurbishment when I decided to take Ei to a special date,  so we went to Martha's Pantry instead. But I wasn't going to leave Wellington without experiencing  Afternoon Tea at Hippopotamus, so as soon as I found out they've finally reopened, I made a booking straight away. 

Some things have changed in the restaurant, but the ambience remained friendly and welcoming. The staff let us choose our table so I asked if we could have one  by the window. As soon as we settled, she came back to go through the Afternoon Tea menu with us. As neither of us drink alcohol, we opted for the Musuem High Tea (NZ$39pp).

We ordered the Rose with French Vanilla Tea which was absolutely delicious. And before we could even take a proper sip, we had to take a couple of mandatory  photos to ensure that we captured the moment we were about to enjoy.

And when the three-tiered selection of sweets and savouries finally came, our attention was drawn to the staff who kindly explained each and one  of the delightful creations in front of us. Unfortunately, as I have such a short attention span (and unreliable memory), I could not remember a single word she said. I just wanted to eat. This is the reason why I can never be a food blogger. I will have to write down the names of all the food items in order for me to remember them and I'd rather not do that.

Anyway, what I noticed about Ei and I when we have Afternoon Tea is that we start from the bottom of the platter and work our way up. Somehow we have maintained a systematic way of eating our food. Everything that we ate was deliciously rich and sumptuous.

After indulging ourselves with some delicate and decadent food, we thought that that was all about it. Until we were served with an extra treat of delicious  French macarons that even Cookie would have enjoyed. 

The view of the Wellington harbour from the restaurant is but a bonus. You go to Hippopotamus for the food, the service and the arty interior. 
Hippopotamus Restaurant
90 Cable Street
Wellington, New Zealand 6011

Not that our Afternoon Tea treats didn't satisfy us, but because Ei and I have  big appetite, we always have room for more food. And so after Hippopotamus, we met up with another friend for Chinese food.

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An Open Letter To An Angel On His 5th Angelversary

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Dear Keith,

Five years have gone by really quick, huh?! January 28 will  never be the same again. I know it has been that long but whenever this day comes, everything just suddenly comes back afresh. Yesterday, I texted Mama to find out what their plans were for your 5th angelversary. She said she wasn't sure. And then she told me that she cried because she remembered the last time you called out to her and squeezed her hand so tight. The painful memories of that day came rushing back. I was heartbroken all over again. It's been five years but the pain remains the same. I went home really hurt and when I saw your photo in the house, I felt  worse  and couldn't stop crying.

Then I went through our old photos and came across one during  your christening. I am looking at the photo right  now and hmmm, I look a bit gaunt and you were grimacing. As far as I can remember, it was a long ritual and I'm sure you already had enough of everyone's attention when they took our photo. I am really glad that I was there when you were baptised because I really regret not spending much time with you when you were growing up. I am still thankful though, because  I was there the day you were born, and physically looked after you until you were almost one.

Somehow, you always have  given  me the courage to express how I feel, so  I thought I would tell you that I really haven't stopped asking "why". It's probably because things have not really changed since you left. In fact, I think things actually got worse. You know when wise men say that a loss should bring people together? I don't think it's true because your passing almost tore  our family apart. I mean it remains intact, but one of our family member's behaviour is oftentimes very challenging and to be honest, heartbreakingly shameful. I was hoping that he would have the courage to change his awful ways because we lost a precious son, but I believe he doesn't have any conscience anymore. Instead of making it up to your Adings because you really didn't get along with him very well when you were here, he chooses to be this horrible human being that brings sorrow to our family. So perhaps this is the reason why God decided to take you. Because God knew that nothing could ever make him change and God wanted you to be spared from all the stress that our family is going through right now. It's been five years and I'm  still struggling to make things right. The constant misunderstanding  and ingratitude also always gets me down. I would have given up on our family a long time ago if not only for your Adings.  But don't worry about your Adings because I know they will be fine. They are very strong children  and I have no doubt that they can defend themselves from anything and anyone. Besides, they have you - their guardian angel. I know you are very proud of them. Always remember that they look up to you.  

Speaking of your Adings, Meow and I talked to them last night. It's amazing how time flies. If you could see them now, they have changed a lot physically. Ading Cxye is no longer the little Madamme  who loved dressing up. She is now a fine young lady who loves selfies. Haha. I'm only joking.  Ading Linus, on the other hand,  has turned into this handsome young man. He is now taller than Mama and wears Papa's clothes. They both remain polite and very  good children. They are mabait and talented just like you. 

Last night I slept with Meow for the first time in a while because I needed comfort. When I woke up this morning, I put him back to where he has always been since we left for New Zealand- beside your photo. Then, I lit up a candle and said a little prayer.  I cried again because I miss you so much. I don't think I'll ever stop crying in times like this. It still hurts that much.

Back home, Mama prepared some noodles for the family to share then she went to visit your place on earth with your Adings and Inang. Apparently when they arrived, it seemed like someone has already lit up a candle for you. Perhaps some of your friends visited you earlier. 

One of your friends, HJ also posted something thoughtful  on facebook. Your friends have become so special to me because I know that they'll always be there. They remind me of you. Through them, I could somehow get an idea of how you would have been. I am very grateful for that. 

Hayyy, another year has gone. As much as it still hurts, I know that this pain I am feeling is a part of who and what you are. I believe that when you lose someone very, very special, the pain never fades. Thank you Keith for reminding me to always be kind even when I have all the reasons not to.

I miss you so much and I will always love you.


Love,
Mommy
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P.S. Right now, I am listening to "Lighters". I am also wearing your favourite colour, blue. :)

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