Friday, July 25, 2008

Auckland Day 3: Salad sampling in Parnell

With the Soul fiasco behind us, we plowed ahead into Day 3 in Auckland. The breakfast buffet started us off well again, and after much deliberation on what to do (bridge climb cancelled due to availability and awful wintry weather), we decided to head to Parnell, another cute shopping-district-esque area of town.

Getting there was a challenge, as we kept on trying to board the wrong buses (“Does this bus go to Parnell?” “Yes, but it takes the long way around.” “How long?” “Oh, about an hour and 45 minutes.” “[Disembarks]”), but finally we pulled up to the main street of Parnell in our snazzy green bus. A bit of window-shopping and I was hungry, so we headed straight for Non Solo Pizza, an Italian place I had heard about and just spotted.

When we arrived, the restaurant was—get this—empty. Literally empty, this time, as in we were the only customers until about 2/3 of the way through our meal. But the restaurant was nice-looking, rustic, and cozy; there was a fireplace in the dining area and a real wood-fired brick oven in the open kitchen; and we were happy to be inside and sitting down.
We started with an order of house-made focaccia. Now THIS was bread worth paying for: warm, tasty, highly seasoned with tomatoes and salt and olives and olive oil. I restrained myself to one piece and a tiny bit more, but I could easily eat an entire loaf of this stuff. And then never eat again.

Mmmmmm bread

For her entree, my mom ordered the Caesar salad, which usually comes with bacon but she replaced that with chicken. She said it was a really good salad, a bit over-dressed, but a huge portion. There was tons of chicken in it, and the chicken was warm (I saw the chef warm it in the brick oven—awesome). She couldn’t finish this particular Caesar Salad challenge.

This dish looked better in person

I ordered the rocket salad (rocket = arugula) with poached pear and shaved parmesan. It was a reasonable portion of fresh rocket lettuce leaves, coated with oil and a bit of vinegar and little specks of freshly ground pepper. The slices of poached pear were sweet and lovely, and there was a generous amount of shaved parmesan around the salad. I easily polished this salad off—it was really, really good.

Extra points for the poached pear

All in all, NSP was the best meal we’ve had so far (not counting the breakfast buffet, which is in a class by itself). We were duly fortified and ready for more window shopping and a walk back to Auckland proper, where our spa treatments at the Auckland Spa awaited. Mmmmm.

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