Speaking of coffee, New Zealand is very much a cafe culture. There are cafes everywhere…even when you truly believe there is nothing around for miles. A sign with a blue coffee cup and thats all you need to know there is GOOD coffee ahead. And even a flat white is more like a latte, frothed milk, never just coffee with cold milk added. NEVER. And an iced coffee is not like what you get a Dunkin Donuts…its got a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it and a dollop of fresh cream. Theres just no alternative. Of course, these cost $6, but again….no alternative.
The food is really high quality. The descriptions of everything on a menu is a full paragraph. I actually had a waiter at a restaurant where I ordered a salad tell me that it would come with an egg on top “bathed at 64 degrees for exactly an hour.” There is just not anywhere that does not care about their food to that degree. Trust me, we’ve looked since it was actually getting a bit annoying. Andy wanted a burger, with ketchup on a bun. What he got was not that, because I don’t think they know how to do that. By contrast he said the steak sandwich, with bacon and cheddar on garlic bread was the best sandwich he ever are for $22. Proof:
So, yes, we’ve had some pretty good food here and there. My favorite was probably a grilled lamb salad. I know that will not make me popular with some, but lets face it….theres ALOT of sheep here, so it seemed only natural. The mussels are pretty good also, but they are the green shell, and seem a bit chewier and saltier than the PEI ones we get at home. We also had a really good spaghetti and seafood at an Italian restaurant in Blenheim, owned by an Italian, but I think it also it was exactly what we were in the mood for on the coldest evening we had. We’ve also had some good fish n’ chips, a staple here. No malted vinegar though, like in the UK. We inadvertently over-ordered once though. Two orders of fish and chips came with 5 pieces of fish and several pounds of fries:
I especially like the way pubs and restaurants manage their serving. Instead of being seated, waiting to get a menu, wait to have the waitress show up, order and bring drinks, etc., you proceed right to the bar. Theres a stack of menus there. You then give your order to the barkeep, you pay him, he gives you a number and you go sit down. Then someone brings you your food. If you want another drink, you go back up and get it. I just think it cuts down on a lot of needless waiting, and seems efficient. They apparently pay their servers an actual living wage, so tipping is not as necessary as the US, 10% is considered generous.