Whether your passion is eating out, cooking in, trying new food experiences or tracking down your old favourites, New Zealand's food scene has so much to offer. Here are 50 brilliant food ideas around Auckland that we highly recommend you try, simply because we know they will all make you happy.
50. Progressive dinners are back and they're fun. Limited only by the number of courses you choose - each one staged at a different house - it's a doozy of a dinner party idea. No-one gets bored with the surrounds, the mountain of dishes aren't left for one sorry soul at the end of the night, and imagine turning up at each of the different locations to find that all your favourite people from the last party place are there too.
49. Make your own chocolate éclairs from scratch. The frantic beating of the choux pastry, the way they puff up in the oven, the piping in of the creme patisserie and finally the careful drizzling of the icing. Perfect with a cup of tea.
48. The kedgeree at Federal & Wolfe is worth the parking hassles of Auckland's CBD. Chef Holly Shaw's creations are all delectable but this is a winner. Soft flakes of smoked fish, slender grains of basmati rice, boiled egg and lemon all spiced up with a hint of curry.
Glorious. Cnr Federal & Wolfe St, City. Ph (09) 359 9113.
47. Chef and owner of The French Cafe, Simon Wright's signature crispy roast duckling is to die for. Save up and treat yourself to a dinner at this iconic Auckland restaurant. 210 Symonds St, Newton. Ph (09) 377 1911.
46. The food section of your local library is a goldmine for great cookery books. Spend a lazy Saturday morning perusing them and get some inspiration for free before hitting the shops.
45. Raid the neighbours' tree for summer figs, wrap each in a strip of salty pancetta, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and grill them on the barbecue - unbelievable. And don't forget to invite the neighbours over to share them.
44. For a wicked indulgence I can't go past L'Authentique chicken liver parfait. Smear it on warm toast or french bread and once you start you won't be able to stop. Available at Nosh, Farro Fresh and good supermarkets.
43. Picnics in all seasons - my childhood is peppered with happy memories of picnics where we unwrapped and laid out great feasts on blankets in parks and on beaches, or in band rotundas and changing sheds if the weather wasn't playing ball. One Tree Hill in spring to see the lambs and daffodils, Auckland Domain in winter for the gardens and tree climbing and Muriwai in summer for the wild swooping flight of the gannets.
42. Fish and chips eaten on Pt Chev beach as the sun slowly sinks and the lights of West Auckland come up. Bliss.
41. Ordering your coffee beans or espresso grind online is the way to go. Guaranteed to be freshly roasted and fills your mailbox with a wonderful aroma. Our favourite - eighthirty.co.nz.
40. Tender pillows of deliciousness is the only way to describe the zucchini, mint and ricotta ravioli at the Refreshment Room in Titirangi. Those boys really know their hand-made pasta, plus the location is ace. 233 Scenic Drive, Titirangi.
39. Icecream parlours gave way to gelato outlets and now Kohu Road has taken it to a whole new level with their cafe onsite at their icecream factory. Worth a visit. Kohu Rd Cafe, 44 Portage Rd, New Lynn. Ph (09) 827 9990.
38. Make picking your own tomatoes a family tradition. If you don't grow your own then, at this time of the year, you can jump in the car and head to Mr & Mrs Young's in Mangere. Pick big juicy beefsteak tomatoes, weigh and pay. Eat them fresh, freeze them, sauce them, pulp them, bottle them - legendary. Pukaki Rd, Mangere.
37. The bustling Saturday morning market in Pukekohe is great for picking up bags of fresh flounder and kina, still-warm baked rewena bread, the caravan selling mussels fritters and pork buns and amazing local fruit and vegetable produce. Franklin Market, Massey Ave carpark, Pukekohe.
36. Invest in some bulk, quality olive oil from Sabato. Buy in three-litre or five-litre but make sure it's in one of those authentic-looking square tins, because somehow it tastes better from a can. Sabato 57 Normanby Rd, Mt Eden. Ph (09) 630 8751.
35. Spend your weekly alcohol budget on those gorgeous new non-alcoholic beverages that usually seem so prohibitively expensive - sparkling elderflower, pomegranate juice, hand-made boutique ginger beer. You'll save on the headache and the pennies.
34. Smith & Caughey is an institution and if you ever feel out of sorts, Head for Level 2 of the grand old department store to the Bite Cafe. There the world seems to slow down and any troubles disappear, aided by a comforting macaroni cheese, melting moment and pot of tea. Don't expect snappy service or even particularly outstanding fare, just go with the flow. Level 2, Smith & Caughey, Queen St, City.
33. Hard to find but worth it when you do. Pukeko Bakery makes its own outstanding handmade artisan bread. Parnell. 1 Ayr St, Parnell. Ph (09) 475 5068.
32. Even if art isn't your thing, visit the newly opened Auckland Art Gallery for its wonderful cafe on level 1 and espresso bar on level 2. On the way you'll be treated to a visual feast of artworks including the giant blooms of artist Choi Jeong Hwa's. His signature inflatable flowers burst into bloom inside the Gallery's atrium. Amazing.
31. Arrange a honey tasting party with friends. To make it easy, order the cute "honey collection" packs from J. Friend & Co. Each pack contains 3 x 40g jars of assorted single varietal honey. Your friends supply the cheese. Get some from nzartisanhoney.co.nz.
30. With a home-smoker and a bit of experimenting you can enjoy home-smoked salmon, chicken, mussels or wickedly flavoured vegetables. For around $60 you'll get a great stainless steel smoker at any of your local hardware stores.
29. Visit the Clevedon Village Farmers Market if only for the Clevedon Valley Buffalo Mozzarella - soft, fresh balls of deliciousness. Every Sunday 8.30am to 12pm, Clevedon Showgrounds, Monument Rd, Clevedon.
28. If you hanker after rabbit or hare try Vinnies. Spiced wild hare confit makes an appearance on Geoff Scott's seasonal menu. 166 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay. Ph (09) 376 5597.
27. The fried squid tentacles at Ken Yakitori on K Rd - a dark and tangled pile of tenderness. Perfect for taking care of the hunger while your skewers are being cooked over the coals. 89 Karangahape Rd, City.
26. Roquefort cheesecake at Sidart has to be one of the most sublime ways to finished a meal - a small sphere of Roquefort-infused icecream, served with a chilled dessert wine. May it remain on the menu forever.
25. Visit E-pacs in East Tamaki to stock up on vegetarian and Asian ingredients. Make sure you pick up some frozen Lazat Roti - they are sensational; re-heated they're soft, flaky, perfect every time. E-pacs, 12 Nandina Ave, East Tamaki.
24. Dine at the Depot Eatery. The menu invites you to "eat up" and that's exactly what you'll want to do when you smell the wonderful aromas of meat cooking in the huge, glowing, wood-fired oven. We recommend the crisp pork hock and lamb ribs - simple and divine. They don't take bookings, so go early. Depot 86 Federal St, City.
23. It just is ... nectar of the gods. Amrita Grape Juice is grown with the sun, stars and moon on biodynamic Millton Vineyards & Winery in Gisborne but the best news is that it can be shipped to Auckland for only $10 per case and trust us, it's worth it. A glass of this sweet and fragrant juice, packed full of antioxidants, each morning and you'll think you've discovered the elixir of life.
21. The perfect light breakfast? Richmond Rd Cafe for crumpets with whipped blackberry butter, beech wood honey and a piccolo. Small and all perfectly formed. 318 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn.
20. Thursday Night Live at Auckland Fish Market is great value - $15 gets you live entertainment, a seafood main course and glass of wine. 5-9pm every Thursday, 22 Jellicoe St. Downtown. Ph (09) 303 0262.
19. The night markets are also a fun way to go out for dinner. Try the Auckland night market in Pakuranga on a Saturday night, held year-round in the carpark of Westfield in Aylesbury St, or the Takapuna Beach night market at Hurstmere Green on Thursday evenings (until 29 March).
18. No-one does caprese salad like SPQR. They use the freshest buffalo mozzarella from Clevedon and generously drape it in lashings of wonderfully pink, sweet and salty prosciutto.
17. Start the day by going all international with Middle Eastern eggs at Ima (Fort St, City), Eqyptian kosheri at Queenies Lunchroom (Spring St, Freemans Bay) or merguez baked bean cassoulet at Little Algiers (K Rd).
16. Buy a big, stone mortar and pestle and start making your own fragrant spice pastes - your curries will taste incredible.
15. The fresh juices at the cute Nadu Espresso & Juice bar in Newmarket are so, so good. A real pick-me-up. 99 Nuffield St, Newmarket. Ph (09) 524 4065.
14. The Pah Cafe at Pah Homestead combines the best of art and sculpture with great food like green pea and feta fritters, excellent coffee and a fun day out. 72 Hillsborough Rd, Hillsborough. Ph (09) 624 1215.
13. For wickedly good vegetarian and vegan food try the Wise Cicada. Very wise. 23 Crowhurst St, Newmarket. Ph (09) 529 9529.
12. Albert's Kitchen in West St Pukekohe is owned by a Greek South African who makes all his own sourdough starters. While we love his handcrafted breads (fig and walnut, ooh la la) his Greek-style baklava is completely irresistible.
11. Indulge a little and use saffron in your cooking. Those tiny threads are worth more than gold per gram and they infuse a mysterious flavour into tagines, rice dishes and even sorbets.
10. Doughnuts. Right now surely the best in Auckland are those from Little & Friday cafes, all showered in sugar, and those from Salvation Cafe in Avondale, if you can manage to get in before the cops from the station across the road get them all! Little & Fridays 12 Melrose Street, Newmarket and 43 Eversleigh Rd, Takapuna. Salvation Cafe, 1843 Great North Rd, Avondale.
9. When it comes to infusing your cooking and baking with that most wonderful of flavours, vanilla, there's nothing like using the real thing and it doesn't get better than Heilala Vanilla with its syrups, pastes, beans and more. Stock up.
8. Hulu Cat Tea-house is famous for its Asian-style jellied teas. Lemon-lime jelly tea - yum yum. 28 Anzac Ave, City. Ph (09) 377 1868.
7. A slice of Ripe Deli's lamb, spinach and bechamel cottage pie can make any bad day good. We like it cold. 172 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn. Ph (09) 360 6159.
6. Sip cocktails under the stars on the terrace of Everybody's, Fort Lane, City.
5. Grow a vegetable and taste the difference. If you're a complete novice, start with some lettuces in pots on the deck. You'll fall in love with simple green salads all over again.
4. Indulge in some beautiful, stinky French cheeses from Pyrenees Deli. They stock the king of all cheeses, Roquefort as well as a selection of gooey brie and tangy fresh cheeses. For stores visit
3. The chicken club sandwiches at Rabbithole Cafe are addictive. Packed full of a creamy mayo, poached chicken and celery mix you'll never want a muffin with your morning coffee again. 203 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay.
2. For fab casual dining, rock up to Coco's Cantina where hosts Renee and Damaris Coulter truly know how to look after their guests and where the food reflects the honest flavours of all that is good about rustic Italian fare. 376-378 Karangahape Rd. Ph (09) 300 7582.
1. And finally, for the finest of the finest, give yourself the ultimate dining treat and book for dinner at Meredith's. Working your way through the tasting menu, Michael Meredith's food personifies what it means to create glorious dishes using ingredients and inspiration solely from your surroundings. As soon as the beetroot meringue collapses in one sensational mouthful you'll know what we mean. 365 Dominion Rd. Ph (09) 623 3140.
* How many can you cross off the list?By Nici Wickes