Stuff I've been reading, thinking & eating

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Milla:JOnes GrocerI thought I knew Auckland pretty well but it turns out there are all sorts of foodie treasures hidden away. Lynn Huhtala’s Finding Flavour food walking tours are the ideal way to make new discoveries.

Lynn leads tours in various areas of the city but I opt for her “World In A Day” Newmarket adventure. This kicks off in deli/cafe Jones the Grocer where we meet Finnish baker Miia Mikkilla and taste some of her specialties including korvapuustit, the classic Finnish cinnamon bun, as well as owner Ana Mon’s favourite lemon croissant.

Next we head up the backstreets to Russian food shop Skazka where the shelves groan with relishes, pickles, Russian rye bread, sausage and more. Stores like these can be bewildering so Lynn’s advice is appreciated and, after a couple of interesting tastings, I make a start on filling the shopping bag she’s provided.

Across the road is artisan European bakery Elske where we taste a classic Danish rye bread. Then we’re off to a Japanese supermarket and liquor store where the tasting delights include sparkling sake and chilled plum wine. There are bargains to be had here and the bag is already looking pretty full.

Next stop is Middle Eastern store Pomegranate which specialises in date vinegars, rosewater, saffron and spices. Then it’s time for a sit-down at Maison Vauron where Jean-Christophe Poizat pours restorative glasses of iced Rinquinquin – an aperitif infused with peach made in Provence. Since this café/store is also famous for having the country’s largest selection of French cheeses there is a hunk of mild creamy blue Roche to accompany it.

With a quick whizz through a couple of fabulous cake stores, a stop at an organics shop for a healthy wheatgrass shot, and a whirlwind tour of Newmarket’s Asian trip it’s time for the grand finale, yum cha at the Pearl Garden restaurant under the watchful eye of the nonagenarian matriarch of the Kan family who have been serving up Chinese food to Aucklanders for 37 years.

I leave with a shopping bag full of new ingredients and flavours to experiment with, plus some great tips from Lynn and the food purveyors I’ve met.

Finding Flavour Newmarket tours run Tuesday to Saturday by request for a minimum of two people at $75 each plus an extra $20 a head for optional yum cha. Lynne also runs regular tours in Mt Eden Village and occasional tours and events elsewhere.