Recently menus.co.nz put up a piece called Auckland is the capital of cuisine – not Wellington, and then asked a number of Wellington food bloggers to respond.
The Auckland internet seems to be very short of space, as our response was edited quite heavily(*) despite sticking to the word limit (and links changed to promote menus.co.nz pages, which I suppose, fair enough, but boo for losing pictures and punchlines), so for the record, here’s our actual response. And then, as a special treat, we have the full text from TAWA-nominated Hungry & Frozen as well.
If Auckland want to be the “Capital of Cuisine” then that’s fine. ‘Capital’ is a good title for a city where if you want to go to its best restaurants, you’re giving your money to a casino. And ‘cuisine’ is such a lofty word that suggests it’s not accessible to the common diner.
Down here in Wellington, at the Portlander, you can pay $46 for the long bone OP rib steak (possibly the best steak you’ll ever eat in your life), but you can also get their delicious burgers (lamb slow-cooked in duck fat, anyone?) for $10 at lunchtime. You can dine at Martin Bosley’s by the water and pay a small fortune, but you can also grab a bacon buttie from him personally at the markets while you do your vegetable shopping. Chances are you’ve already bumped into him over a coffee somewhere else anyway. Because that’s how Wellington operates. Our food is delicious, creative and exciting – but it’s also accessible.
When Monterey started making their own syrups for cocktails, they decided to share that concept, and so Six Barrel Soda Co was born. Moore Wilsons has long championed the concept of being able to buy top of the range produce to cook for yourself at home. Auckland can give itself whatever titles it likes – we’ll be down here eating while they’re talking.
I guess it goes to show how much I love this city I live in because my follow-up thought was “but Wellington just is, okay? Case closed!” So there’s my argument. Kidding. I’ll try elaborating.
I’m the first to acknowledge Auckland is exciting. But what might be seen as a drawback is really something to celebrate about Wellington city: it’s comparatively tiny. You can throw a dart anywhere (please don’t literally do this) and undoubtedly hit somewhere serving up incredible quality food. On Cuba Street alone exists the kind of variety and quality that you might have to drive miles to locate in sprawling Auckland. (Sigh: I missed out on popular Little and Friday when up in central Auckland recently – it was so far away, and by the time I could’ve got myself there, it would’ve been closed.)
We do boutique – Crumpet serving handmade crumpets, Six Barrel Soda serving handmade sodas. We have countless international cuisines, from Americana to Malaysian. Fancypants dining – why, where to begin! Martin Bosley’s. Hummingbird, Matterhorn, Logan Brown, Arbitrageur, Pravda…Don’t even get me started on our amazing coffee. Oh wait: it’s better than anywhere. Moore Wilson provides fascinating ingredients without – importantly – sacrificing supermarket practicality, and the City Market sees the aforementioned Martin Bosley cheerfully making bacon butties for the crowds. All within such a small space. Having never participated, I couldn’t say how Auckland’s version of the hugely successful Wellington on a Plate compares- I’m sure it’d be fun to find out.
To conclude: Auckland is great, but Wellington is the best. Save that money you would’ve spent on petrol while idling in traffic to get from one side of Auckland to the other, and use it on amazing food in Wellington, after the merest of strolls from A (where you are) to B (many incredible cafes, minutes away.) And if there’s anything I learned from watching the Olympics, it’s that winning per capita is totally valid.
For the record, the only editing we’ve done on guest posts (as far as we can remember anyway) besides fixing apostrophes is to remove the phrase “guilty pleasure” because food should never have a moral character attached to it. Unless you’re eating the still-beating heart of a human being in front of their face. Or you ask for a really good piece of steak cooked “medium”. Then you should feel guilty as fuck.