The White Lady and Tarakihi

Since food costs are so high in Auckland, I am always looking out for a good deal. There is a hotel/pub a block from us that offers burgers and chips (fries) for $10 on Thursday nights, but we’re always at Ultimate Frisbee so we haven’t been able to try it. This Monday I noticed a $5 nachos and $3.50 sangria special I thought might be worth checking out. The hotel/pub is supposed to be pretty historic and their burgers have a good reputation so I figured the other food must be alright. The nachos were known for being “as they should be”. Well, whatever that means, it wasn’t what I was hoping for.  A heaping helping of beans and beef on top of a small plate of slightly stale corn chips didn’t win us over. The sangria barely passed scruff. After dropping a bit of change for what was barely a passable appetizer, we went in search of a real dinner. Andrew was in the mood to explore, it was my lucky day.

We wandered around a couple of major streets and weren’t excited about anything we saw. Most restaurants and bars were closed on Monday night, so the pickings were slim. That whole work-life balance means store hours and even restaurants hours are minimal. We passed one building that had a chalkboard exterior with a bunch of lines “Before I die I want to…” It was interesting to read what people put. Everything from visit every country, to marry Rory and have a baby and find a cure for cancer. Makes you think…

After at least a half an hour of wandering we decided to make our way to High Street, a popular street with high end food and retail seeking a decent Monday night / happy hour special we could split. We weren’t starving since we already consumed some nachos, but we needed something more. Before we got there we saw our first food truck in Auckland. Food trucks were the “it” thing in Washington D.C. There were many food trucks in DC, probably a hundred or so! I’d check at lunch time for food tucks where I used to work. There were Latin, Korean, Latin-Korean fusion, Polish, Ice Cream, Pies, Pancakes and BBQ trucks, whatever you could dream of, they had it! The fad hasn’t hit the streets of Auckland yet. This food truck, The White Lady, has been around since 1948 and serves burgers and coffee. Very diner vibe. And, the BEST burger I’ve had in Auckland to date! We split a burger and some chips and the chips were good too. We forgot to add salt before we walked to a bench nearby, but they tasted like super fresh potatoes and we didn’t need to go back for salt. At about $8 a burger, it was on the lower end of the spectrum price-wise too. Such a lucky find!

Tonight, I decided to make fish to go with the white wine we picked up at the Taste of Auckland. Having limited knowledge of fish, especially locally, I asked the guy behind the fish counter at the grocery for a recommendation. He seemed to know less than I did. I ended up picking up two NZ Tarakihi fillets since that is what the woman in front of me ordered. (I really know very little.) According to “Tarakihi is a morwong or perciform fish found mostly in the Southern hemisphere but also off the coasts of Japan and Hawaii. The tarakihi is also called jackassfish, ocean bream and silver bream.” Per Livestrong’s suggestion, I rubbed salt, pepper and cumin on the fillets and then put them in a pan with butter and oil over medium heat for three minutes on each side. Paired with sauteed mushrooms and pepper and parmesan polenta, I was super impressed with this meal! I usually like what I cook, but this was an exceptional winner. I would definitely get the Tarakihi fillets again! And they only cost $6.50 for two! Word to the wise, loose mushrooms are less than half the cost of the pre-packaged ones! And the polenta was only a couple of bucks for a bag that will last quite some time. Winners all around!

I’ve never been more excited to learn more about the different fishes of New Zealand! And maybe grab another burger at The White Lady. And it’s only Tuesday! I better figure out some other culinary adventures or this week is going to get quite bland come Wednesday.