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wellington eats: cicio cacio, newtown

11 December 2017

As the old saying goes, if I had a penny for every time I've been recommended Cicio Cacio I'd be a rich girl. This Newtown establishment, tucked away behind MOON bar (accessed by a laneway off of Owen St), has certainly made a name for itself with its traditional Italian cooking and warm inviting interiors. Stumbling into an upmarket European eaterie isn't something you'd usually expect from Wellington's bohemian suburb packed with punks, shoeless students, and characters carrying cats, but it works.

We arrive on a Sunday evening at 5:30pm to friendly waitresses welcoming us in. There are no physical menus at Cicio Cacio, mainly because they change their menu daily and so it makes more sense for them to rely on their specials board and their staff relaying the speciality treats. Because the dishes in each category can be counted on one hand, it gives the feeling of a streamlined selection - a curation of the best of the best. We opt for the bruschetta with goats cheese, tomatoes, and aubergine, along with the antipasti platter of meats, cheeses and breads. For mains we split the seafood risotto (a little too reminiscent of paella), and the pappardelle with ricotta and sausage. The starters definitely were more awe-inspiring than the secondary course, but perhaps that's because we were already filled up on carbs and conversation.

The cuisine was perfect for a Sunday night, rounding off the week with the most indulgent of ingredients assembled deliciously.  I can really see why people are so enamoured with this place.

Cicio Cacio, 167 Riddiford St, Wellington


a sunday kind of love #18

10 December 2017

a round-up of my week & cultural eats: twentysix, cats, and an indie-rock rendition of dolly

a few weeks ago i went with a friend to watch short films as part of a film festival. there was one in particular that i found absolutely joyous, which was an ode to feline friendships in animated wonder. if you get a chance give catherine by britt raes a watch, it's hilarious and vibrant while intriguing and beautifully drawn.

because we all need introspection sometimes: lessons in stillness from one of the quietest places on earth
because i just finished the butterfly effect: jon ronson on bespoke porn
because you can't beat the ultimate fringed songstress: lessons in life, style and selfhood from joni mitchell

last week i turned twentysix, which felt like a landmark for reasons i couldn't tell you because i don't really know. maybe it's because twentyfive felt like a pretty momentous year, of highs and lows, adventures and standing still, so i'm interested to see what wisdom this new age will bring. i was blessed with a lovely birthday weekend, of gigs, beach days, and bbqs with sweet friends in the sunshine! i'm also feeling super excited for a christmas break of travelling new zealand. any recommendations would be greatly welcomed.

greta gerwig on marc maron's wtf
louis theroux's firey falsetto on adam buxton's podcast


Tramping the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

28 November 2017

The bus and car journeys going North were long after a full day of work and Friday evening drinks (with a two drink restriction), but we drove on through the night talking with energy that slowly waned and music that coincidentally softened. It was 1am when we reached Pipers Lodge, tucked away behind trees. 1am when we unpacked our stuff, clambered through the wooden panelling of ski chalet chic, and into our bunk beds. 

It’s funny now how any stay in sleeping surroundings like this harp me back to our three months in Asia, sleeping on mattresses ranging from marshmallow to rock-hard. Rooms of tens of people snoring or whispering. The clanks of lockers opened at silly o’clock and niceties shared by sinks. Thankfully, we had this room to ourselves. 

It reminded me of what I’d imagine a summer camp to be like, too, with checkered bedding and the view of terraced outside blocks, people smoking cigarettes on their porches. 

A summer camp for tramping grown-ups, I’d say.

Tramping (‘hiking’ if you’re not familiar with Kiwi lingo) was why we were here. The Tongariro Crossing was our destination, to make like Frodo and co and nervously edge our way up Mount Doom, otherwise known as Mt. Ngauruhoe - an active stratovolcano in the middle of the Tongariro National Park. 

It had been on our New Zealand bucket list since the beginning, but as Christmas had loomed and wallets had tightened due to big festive travelling plans, we’d almost let it slip, until we realised that it’d be ridiculous to skip this once in a lifetime opportunity to walk one of the best routes in the world.

Saturday morning we woke up early, bleary-eyed and in need of fuel which we found in porridge consumed within the kitchen cabin alongside other thrill-seeking Europeans. The shuttle bus picked us up at 8:30am and drove us 30 minutes to the beginning of the trail. As our feet followed the marked out path, we remarked at how Yorkshire-esque the scenery seemed, how it felt as if we’d tumbled back onto the Moors. This thought quickly evaporated as we entered hour three and got our first peek of the Mountain. 

The landscape seemed almost Martian, with craters peppering the ground, and red glowing peaks rising into the sky. The track had been steep to get to this point, the steps carved into the rock that climbed you into the clouds. It was hard not to feel overcome by the rugged beauty around us.

We ascended and ascended and stopped, on top of the world and looking into the mouth of the Middle of the Earth. Painted with deep strokes of red, grey and snow. We ate lunch sat on a rock looking out at real-life Mordor, and I couldn’t help but feel the rawest sense of elation, elevation, electricity. And a deep love for the crisps I'd packed in my bag. 

Over the crest of the highest point, it was time to go down. The ground was unsteady, and we all lost our balance many times, resulting in much hilarity as we sat a little shellshocked covered in dust post-tumble. The view was spectacular though, with greens and blues of sulphuric lakes glistening in the distance and the crossing stretching out as far as the eye could see. 

The hours passed as we walked and walked further. Ups, downs, ups, downs, we left Mars behind and travelled on to velvety moors. Lake Taupo could be seen beyond the bright colours of the heather, as we descended down to the sleeping hut. 

The last two hours of the almost eight were the hardest, with the ground constantly veering downwards meaning our feet began to burn from impact. But we soldiered on, and soon found woodland - a green canopy overhead like a luscious ceiling. 

We saw babbling brooks, waterfalls, ferns and more as we walked the path. We saw the same people we’d caught up with along the way that we encouraged and they us. There was a feeling of camaderie in the air, bolstered by the beautiful weather that turned everything and everyone golden (/sunburnt). 

It was the longest trek I’ve ever done, and definitely a challenge, but undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life. 

On our return to the Lodge, we retired into the hot tub (thank god for forward-planning and privilege!) and the talk turned to upcoming birthdays and then on to bucket lists. We reeled off things we hoped to achieve in the next few years, knowing that a big tick had already been made. 

Advice if you're planning on tramping the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- Take all the food and water you'll need (lots of snacks!)
- Wear durable, comfortable hiking boots
- Take layers - the weather can change in the blink of an eye up there
- Rewatch the LOTR films beforehand and find your mind blown as you see the sights 


8 photos to inspire you to visit cuba street

27 November 2017

Cuba Street's alive with colour - it's Wellington's coolest street bustling with bars, cafes, and vintage shops where you can find sartorial heaven at a knock-off price. I'd even go as far as to call this road Wellington's heart, the pulsating middle of what makes this city for the twenty-somethings, or those looking for that special slice of cultural character. 

Here you'll find Fidel's Cafe for brunch, Midnight Espresso for nachos and coffee, Espressoholic for ...yup, the cutesy Lighthouse Cuba cinema tucked away nearby, Iko Iko for cute gifts, buskers, street art, and a whole host of other Kiwi institutions. You'll even find a water sculpture that periodically likes to dump water on people's heads, that one devoted Wellingtonian dressed up as for Halloween.

Do you have a favourite spot on Cuba Street?   


A Sunday Kind of Love #17

12 November 2017

Sunny weather, planning trips, working hard, slowing down. Fireworks on the beachside watching a seagull struggling in the breeze. Beers in the only spot in Wellington sheltered from the wind. Hearing people's passions. Being more mindful. Feeling excited for Christmas travels, but not festive in the slightest. That's how my November's looking.

The season just ain't the same without the long nights and bright lights. But everything's an experience, and I'm revelling in the moments.

How's your Sunday?


the seigneur-terraces

14 September 2017

When I first moved to Wellington, I spent a few weeks dipping into freelancing while remaining untethered to the working world. Aimless and far from home in a place that felt so familiar with its weather, humour, and fauna, it took some getting used to.

Seigneur-Terraces: (French) Coffee shop dwellers who sit at tables a long time but spend little money.

I love that this word has no English equivalent. During those weeks, I sat for hours in different coffee shops soaking in the city and sipping flat whites that had long gone lukewarm. Nestled into a nook of a cafe, procrastinating by people-watching, feeling ensconced in those around me's lives. Seeing the residents to-ing and fro-ing from the comfort of an armchair. 

Often the best way to independently immerse yourself into a new city is to become a seigneur-terrace. It's especially apt in a country that has coffee flowing through its veins. It's a way to explore, a way to see different sights, a way to fill your time, a way to give yourself some sort of purpose (albeit a wanky Millennial one). And when you're done, you'll find that there's probably a place you always come back to - your local, if you will. Somewhere that makes you feel right at home as you drink tea with a friend, sit reading your book at the weekend, or finally do the work you've been putting off. Somewhere you can absorb the city's buzz, life, and conversation. Somewhere that warmly and tastily anchors you to the here-and-now.


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