It's great to be back home. Out of town can be unreliable and I don't just mean the weather.
Order a latte and it used to be that you never could be sure what you would get. Happily I can report that my recent travels have shown that the coffee culture is alive and thriving in many parts of the country. Which is not to say that there weren't some interesting moments.
Like the owner of the tearooms in Sanson who went round and personally thanked each of his guests for coming to his place. (We were there because our usual place was closed). It was a gracious act which went someway to compensate for all his sandwiches being made with white bread - excitement city - oh yeah.
In New Plymouth (don't even ask why we were there), there are some quality places to eat. Gusto, a cafe and restaurant on the waterfront is exceptional, and Arborio, in the Puke Ariki complex in downtown New Plymouth is a deserved winner of the cafe of the year award in that town.
Their 'big breakfast" was one of the best I have ever had, and not so big that one felt engorged after eating. Best means tastiest and best presented, and best value. I gather that the fare at the Nice Hotel is good too, although I cannot personally testify to that.
A miserable trip down the west coast through Awakino in the howling rain was greatly lifted by a very tasty whitebait patty lunch in Mokau. One patty, the size of a small dinner plate was chocked with whitebait, delicately cooked on the griddle to retain the favour and served with chips and some salad. Yummy for my tummy.
Bosco in Te Kuiti is another cafe with a good reputation, but $13.80 for bacon and eggs seemed a bit much to me. The quality was good, but the price is steep.
A surprise is the Dam cafe at Whakamaru. Whaka - where you say? Well a surprisingly large number of people were there when we visited. So much so that we had to wait (briefly) for a table.
It is the end point of the road up the left hand side of Lake Taupo heading north. That route enables one to avoid the tedious slog around the Lake on the eats side, and after Whakamaru, the road continues north to rejoin State highway one at Tokoroa. Whakamaru is an old electricity town. There's a dam there and a power station.
This place was humming; we had the New Zealand delight of a wet day road trip- toasted sandwiches - ham, cheese, pineapple, and ham, egg and corn. Scrummy!
The standard of spelling and grammar is still lamentable in places. The worst was in Whangamata, where I was invited to have a drink to "accompany you'r (sic) meal." At another place they were selling 'engergy" drinks, like Powerade and Red Bull. Where did these people get their education?