An Auckland Vegan in Rotorua

the lake

On previous visits to Rotorua, I hadn’t had the most nourishing vegan food experiences. One standout memory is of attempting to order a bagel with just avocado, “because I’m vegan”. My bagel arrived soon afterwards, topped with plain avocado… and bacon!

Being one of New Zealand’s tourist capitals, Rotorua is full of food establishments. I’m sure there are a few where you could negotiate something vegan, but the internet doesn’t seem to know about them (Yelp, for example, says, “Sorry, we don’t seem to have any Vegan in Rotorua.”)

So, here you are, internet. I was in town again last month for work, and was fed several delicious vegan things:

 

roast vegetable salad

We arrived early for a hui at a marae just north of Rotorua, and found Okere Falls Store by chance when we were looking for a dairy to buy a bottle of water.

To my surprise and delight, the Store sold me not just a bottle of water, but also a bag of smoked paprika Proper Crisps, some Little Bird raw macaroons and crackers, a bottle of fancy iced tea, a little tub of vanilla Nice Cream, a big bowl of roast vegetable salad (topped with toasted seeds, because they had run out of edamame) and an excellent soy flat white.

The Store is open 7am to 7pm every day, on State Highway 33 at Okere Falls (here’s a map). Sometimes there’s live music in the beer garden out the back.

 

friends of the rotorua public library

I didn’t find it on this trip, but the Store also has an outpost in Rotorua itself: The Library Store at the Rotorua Public Library (1127 Haupapa St). The website promises “the same line of products, food, treats and delicious coffee”.

 

sam's kitchen

Sam’s Kitchen (1211 Fenton Street) boasts The Best Turkish in Town, which I’m sure is a true claim. Its falafel is some of the best I’ve eaten in New Zealand.

My recommendation: the falafel doner kebab, with extra falafel. It probably has a perfectly sufficient falafel content by default, but it’s worth the additional $2.20 to avoid the regret you’d otherwise feel at not ordering extra. Sam’s lentil soup is also vegan-friendly.

 

encrusted breakfast burger

Before we left town, I googled to find coffee recommendations near our hotel, and found a couple of mentions of a new café on Pukuatua Street. Be Rude Not To was my second surprise discovery of the trip: not only does it make an okay cup of Allpress, but it specialises in “allergy friendly” food.

The menu notes whether options are dairy free, gluten free or “allergy free” – food that doesn’t include wheat, gluten, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, fish, sesame or eggs. It’s not hard to sleuth out the vegan options by finding things that sound vegetarian, looking for DF/AF markings, and asking questions of staff who are very aware of the ingredients in each dish.

My vegetarian, DF, AF breakfast was the “encrusted breakfast burger of roast root vegetables, mushroom, capsicum & beans, encrusted with toasted seeds and topped with baby spinach, roast portabello mushroom, charred sweet corn and chimichurri sauce.” It was really good: a nice balance of earthy (root vegetables and portabellos) and fresh (baby spinach and greens).

While their coffee was a little weak for my snobby Auckland tastebuds, I’d definitely recommend this place for food.

Be Rude Not To is open from 7am-5pm every day, at 1153 Pukuatua Street.

 

please do not feed the black swans

 

Other places you could try:

BurgerFuel has a couple of outlets in Rotorua (at Unit 17, Redwood Centre, 5 Tarawera Road and at Fairy Springs – Cnr Old Quarry & Fairy Springs Roads)

Sabroso (1184 Haupapa Street) is recommended by Happy Cow and a MenuMania reviewer as being great at accomodating vegans.

The Fat Dog (1161 Arawa Street) has fed Hazel some vegan things in recent years (a burger, a flat sandwich).

Beetroot and lentil salad at Albert Park Café

beetroot and lentil salad

There are a few options in the city for excellent coffee: one of those is Albert Park Café & Espresso, opposite the park on Kitchener Street.

Its menu doesn’t have obvious vegan options, but here’s something they’ve made for me a couple of times that is tasty and satisfying as a light lunch: a lentil and beetroot salad with walnuts (and avocado in place of the default halloumi).

Beetroot dessert at Milse

beetroot dessert

I’ve written before about Britomart’s dessert restaurant, Milse. Its all-sweets-all-the-time selection includes a range of vegan-friendly dark chocolate bars as well as adaptations of their beautiful à la carte dishes.

I visited again recently, and the menu had changed for the season – new autumnal flavours included fresh fig, pumpkin and walnut. I was offered a version of the beetroot dish.

I don’t have the sweetest of teeth, so what arrived was perfect for me: earthy, salty and complex with just a few suggestions of sugar. The base of the dessert was all vegetable: poached beetroot, with a crisp beetroot wafer and candied dried beetroot chips. Placed on top were a scoop of dark chocolate sorbet, a few salted walnuts, little coconut mochi balls, a generous sprinkle of coconut dust and a dusting of freeze-dried beetroot powder.

It was lovely, and I’m excited to see what Milse produces next time I find myself downtown and in need of a fancy dessert. Again: I’m glad this place exists.

Vegan treats at Terrarium in Kingsland

polka chocolate

If you’re in Kingsland and wondering where to buy a vegan dessert, one answer is Terrarium.

The “studio + showroom + store for local creatives” opened last November at 467 New North Road, and it stocks Nice Blocks & Nice Cream, Polka Chocolate, and Kokako cold brew coffee, for a chilled affogato.

Terrarium is open Thursday and Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm, Monday and Tuesday by appointment, and “Wednesday is a mystery.”

Bacon and blue cheese: new slices from Il Buco

pizza and coffee

I think it’s probably accurate to say that Il Buco makes the best vegan pizza in Auckland. I wrote a while ago that they had started using vegan cheese and fake meat on some of their offerings, and it seems lately they have been experimenting with new vegan slices.

Here are three I’ve enjoyed recently:

 

tempeh bacon pizza

Two different slices that used salty tempeh bacon and vegan mozzarella – one had a spinach, tomato and onion base, and the other included mushrooms and roasted capsicum.

 

vittoria pizza

& Vittoria: with tomato, caramelised onion, roast pumpkin, spinach and vegan blue cheese. This was really interesting – between the onion and pumpkin it was a bit sweet, and this combined pleasantly with the stinkiness of the blue cheese.

 

The three classic vegan slices – patate, funghi and ortolana – are still regularly available, and are still some of my favourites, but it’s been fun and delicious to see what else Il Buco‘s kitchen might invent.

Summer breakfast trifle with coconut yoghurt

breakfast trifle

I was feeling a bit fancy this morning, so I constructed this trifle for breakfast, with layers of homemade granola, coconut yoghurt and fresh berries.

The granola was freshly cooled from the oven; Erin used this Early Bird granola recipe, but made it a bit less sweet: without brown sugar, and with only half a cup of maple syrup.

I found the coconut yoghurt yesterday at the Ceres Fresh Market in Ponsonby Central. It’s CO YO brand, and is amazing: thick, creamy and delicious, with a strong coconut flavour, lightly sweetened with stevia.

I’m not a big fan of most vegan yoghurts I’ve tried – I find some commercial soy yoghurts a bit artificial-tasting, and others a bit too health-foodey and fermented. CO YO is neither – it tastes like a real food rather than a “fake” version of a dairy product, and it’s creamy and luscious enough to eat by the spoonful.

The dairy-eater in the house says that the flavour and thick texture of CO YO is almost more like sour cream, and she could imagine it being used in salad dressings, dips, or with latkes and apple sauce.

 

coyo

CO YO is a probiotic yoghurt made with coconut milk and plant-fed cultures. I had the plain Natural flavour; you can also find tubs of Mango, Passionfruit or Mixed Berry yoghurt.

It’s made in Australia (by a couple of semi-retired New Zealanders!) and has recently made its way across the Tasman; the CO YO website has an incomplete list of local stockists. The website currently lists:

I’ve also seen CO YO at:

CO YO’s Facebook page also mentions:

The website also refers to CO YO ice cream – it’s not available in New Zealand yet, but Facebook suggests it will be here in February. I’m looking forward to trying the intriguing range of flavours, which include cherry & chocolate nibs, vanilla & nutmeg, and sticky date & tamarind.

Brown rice mochi waffles at Conch Records

soy flat white

A reader asked if there was a café in Auckland where she could order vegan french toast or waffles for her birthday. I was drawing a blank – the only vegan waffles I’ve found in Auckland come from our own waffle iron, with the instruction of Isa Chandra Moskowitz – so I asked this blog’s followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Amanda suggested Conch Records in Ponsonby Road – they have an organic mochi waffle on their current breakfast menu. It sounded too good not to try, so I visited this morning.

 

brown rice mochi waffles

These waffles are a bit different to the Vegan Brunch classics we make at home: they’re made with mochi flour – pounded organic brown rice – rather than wheat, so that as well as being vegan, they’re gluten free. They’re less dense and doughy, slightly more crisp compared with flour waffles.

My waffles were served with bittersweet chocolate aduki bean paste, drizzled with orange syrup and black currant conserve, and sprinkled with rough-chopped almonds and brown sugar. This combination of flavours and textures was lovely, pleasantly unusual, and not overwhelmingly sweet.

 

a flower, the newspaper, erin fae

Conch Kitchen & Bar is at 115A Ponsonby Road, in the same shopfront as the Conch record shop. It’s open from Wednesday to Sunday, and breakfast waffles are available from 9am to 12.

There’s also a tasty-sounding vegan dish on their lunch & dinner menu (available 12pm-11pmish): red quinoa tabbouleh with hummus and skordalia.

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