New Zealand

Restaurant Review: Francesca’s Italian Kitchen

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Last night S and I dined at Francesca’s Italian Kitchen as per a good friend of ours’ recommendation. She said it was excellent so we had to try it for ourselves. And overall, it was pretty spectacular!

Several things stood out: the slow-cooked beef (housemade) gnocchi (probably best in town), the tolerable noise level (I am so used to dining at Italian restaurants where I can’t even hear myself), the artsy pasta guide on the inner bathroom doors (who doesn’t like a good read whilst on the toilet), and the physical location of the place (I love anything close to New Regent!).

And of course it wouldn’t be a review if I’m not a slight bitch about it so… We ordered polenta fries as a starter, they were forgotten, and brought to us midway through our mains (yeah, yeah, first world problems). Speaking of polenta fries, they were good but not as amazing as The Bicycle Thief’s. In my opinion, those are much better. As for the pappardelle ragu, I think Cafe Valentino does theirs better, and the pumpkin brûlée, well, it was pretty unique in flavour but also highly diabetic. In other words, too much sugar (you know, even for a brûlée).

Despite the grumble, I’d rate our experience an 8/10!

There Is A Stream Of Love Supporting My Dreams

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Spring means Subway picnic dinners.
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Treated myself to some well-deserved me time the other week! And although lovely, I did feel bad about using so much water…Do you know if a bath uses more water than a shower? It must, mustn’t it? Alas, as a once-in-a-while treat, I did feel amazing, and I slept like a baby. Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset
Petal carpet love!Processed with VSCO with kk2 presetI moved out of my parents’ again! How do you like my new room? I used to be an avid Frankie Magazine reader. However, after the original creators left, I’ve become a dedicated fan of The Lunch Lady which ironically, is their (Frankie’s ex-creators’) new publication. Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset
PMS is a bitch and so was I this day. I made S walk 40 min to the grocery store for a sweet craving (I wanted naturally dried apricots) but when the supermarket didn’t have them (what supermarket doesn’t have apricots?!) I spent 15 indecisive minutes only to buy checkout chocolate. Oops! Sorry S!
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And, one of my most memorable days yet…yes, that special! S surprised me at work with a picnic lunch of my favourites! Sushi, chocolate (the same one I had had that my moody night at the supermarket hehe), berry smoothie, and last but definitely not least, Dr. Feelgood frozen pops. This time we tried jelly-top Passionfruit and White Chocolate and I gotta say, it’s my favourite flavour yet! Processed with VSCO with kk2 presetProcessed with VSCO with kk2 preset
Yeah baby! Find them at Fendalton New World in Christchurch and probably everywhere in Auckland. Thanks Dr. Feelgood, I adore you!Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset
I love my boyfriend because he agrees to pancakes for dinner.
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“Practice gratitude relentlessly. As you practice gratitude you will attract more thoughts and feelings of gratitude. In a shot time your entire being will be saturated with it, and you will experience a happiness that is beyond what you can imagine. This is what is ahead for you when you choose gratitude as your way of life. And if you can really live in this highest state of gratitude, you will never have to ask for anything. Everything you want will be given to you before you even ask, because gratitude is the magnetic substance that opens every single door in the Universe.”
~From the Secret Scrolls by Rhonda Byrne

Love, Like Everything Else In Life, Should Be A Discovery…

“Love, like everything else in life, should be a discovery, an adventure, and like most adventures, you don’t know you’re having one until you’re right in the middle of it.”
~E.A. BucchianeriProcessed with VSCO with kk2 preset
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My picture perfect man <3
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Fish’n’chips, Kiwi as!
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Balancing out the grease and chocolate…
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S gifted me this beautiful ring for my 25th birthday, it spells love in braille and was handmade in Ohara, the rural Japanese village I lived in for one and a half years *love heart eyes*Processed with VSCO with kk2 presetMy latest Spring project with my little munchkins. Are you blossoming?

Who Knows If The Moon’s

who knows if the moon’s
a balloon, coming out of a keen city
in the sky—filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it, if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we’d go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited, where

always
            it’s
                   Spring) and everyone’s
in love and flowers pick themselves

~e.e. cummings
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Love is…cooking together. Love also is, I presume, Italian! Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset
All above photography by my love, Soroosh.
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Hi there my dear followers. How have you been? How are you Lavanya? Are you still in Brisbane? And you Jose and Bea? How are the kids?! Has their English improved significantly? And auntie Pouneh, how is the new fluffly member of your family?! Yuka, I still can’t believe you have a girl! And Lifa and Akiko, your family is my inspiration! Fukuda sensei, Ashida sensei, do you still visit my blog? Hiromi and Olivier, how I wish to return to your idyllic home! You too, and your hard-work and dedication, inspire me! And Blogger friends, Randy, John, Josh, Teck, how are you?! Is the world treating you kindly? I think of you all, I think of you all fondly…

 

Only Kindness Makes Sense. Everything Else Is Excruciating.

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Breakfast goals: freshly baked croissants and walnut sourdough from BELLBIRD Baked Goods.  Disclaimer: although the watermelon was delicious, it was TEN bucks! Holy moly, eating food-bloggy ain’t pocket-friendly! Who else is counting down to Summer?
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Godley Head desu. Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
We were freezing, our smiles are fake.
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Last week I opened the pantry in the morning to grab muesli and happened to spot this cutie pootie thing! A boiled egg holder (yes, such a thing exists) that I spontaneously bought (precisely for it’s cutie pootie aspect) during my Japan days. Take.Me.Back.Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
Pimping out my work locker *love heart eyes*Processed with VSCO with c3 presetVegan and gluten-free dessert from The Lotus Heart *more love heart eyes*

We Will Love

How is it July already?!
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The best way to spend a Saturday morning in Christchurch? Utopia Ice with your lover.
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Followed by a romantic stroll through Mona Vale , of course. Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
Is it just me or is this the weirdest thing ever? A duck in a tree?! Now you don’t see that everyday (or do you?)
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Another angle…Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
Even in winter there are roses!Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
His and hers, Nandos.
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Soroosh’s super cool photography.
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My favourite dinner is breakfast. And my favourite person doesn’t mind (yay).
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Packed his bento like a good Japanese wifey <3

Love Is A Believing Creature

All photos by Soroosh:
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(Lake Tekapo)
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(Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown)
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Okay, this one’s by me hehe (notice the Dr. Pepper? #Merica)
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(Millenium Hotel, Queenstown)Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
(Hyde Park, Sydney)
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(Castle Hill Koala Sanctuary, Sydney)
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(City Centre, Queenstown)
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(Skyline, Queenstown)
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Celebrating our one year anniversary at Strawberry Fare, Christchurch, followed by a hilarious night at Scared Scriptless.

I Am Growing Flowers…

in the darkest parts of my heart, for if light ever enters, it would know where to start. ~Noor Unnahar
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On Sunday evening, S and I went to The Tannery to watch one my favourite musicians, whom I first stumbled upon busking in Queenstown some 5 years ago (he busking not me) at live music venue, Blue Smoke. Of course, Graeme James was absolutely phenomenal – people like him make me wish I was at least slightly musical. On the contrary, S and I were not in top form.

You see, since his arrival, things have been pretty difficult. Getting used to one another’s presence after six months of separation takes work. Funnily enough, and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this, Lifa (my Israeli brother with the beautiful Japanese wife) contacted me with a very resonating message a couple days ago:  “Are you guys still madly in love?” he asked, followed by: “When Aki came to meet me in Israel she suddenly wasn’t sure anymore…I would blame it on me coming late to pick her up from the airport but you know…doubts started and all. Eventually we passed that but what I’m saying is that surprises can happen.”

In my case, there have been no doubts, none whatsoever at all. Just disappointments. Allow me to explain: for 6 entire months I had looked forward to his arrival. So much so, that I had booked and cancelled 3 different cafe’s for our first place to go to after the airport (I couldn’t decide which would impress him the most). Next, I’d planned our weekends, and week nights, and basically, every minute of which I was not at work. We’d missed out on so much, now that he was finally here, I wanted us to do it all! But as the old yiddish proverb goes: “man plans and god laughs.” At first S was extremely jet-lagged, then poor guy fell sick due to climate change, then I became sick (both physically and emotionally) due to overly attached girlfriend shenanigans (haha). And, it’s also winter, which means everything is just that much harder to begin with. So, with my grand schemes down the drain, and my expectations unmet, I found myself rather disappointed.

And this is where we chose love. Realising that if we wanted to be more than picture-perfect happy, we needed to put in the effort. So, as kindly as we could, we communicated our feelings, and as selflessly as we could, we acknowledged one another’s. It was an arduous process. It is an arduous process. I can’t say I’ll ever master it. But what I can say is that it was the rain (and shine) which made our relationship blossom. For the sincere way S offered me solace, made me fall in love with his beautiful soul all over again. In the words of Abdu’l-Bahá: “where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time.”
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What Do You Treasure?

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I was SO nervous!
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Finally in Christchurch *love heart eyes*
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First stop, Black & White Coffee Cartel where a little printed sign advised us there’d be no avocado (two words which should never be together) this season. Alas, our bagels were delicious and S particularly liked the NZ bacon nomnom.
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Next, one for the bucket-list. Though rather simple, I had always dreamt of visiting the Riccarton Farmers’ Market with bae. It is truly one of my most favourite places in Christchurch.
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If tea is a hug in a cup, porridge is a cuddle in a bowl, I say. Alll better. Full tummies and grateful hearts. I got the rsf, V, and df option and S ordered the spiced apple, toffee sauce, and walnut crumble porridge.
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When S sent the above photo to his family group chat, his brother asked if that was an egg atop my porridge…Hehe nope! Just honey and yoghurt.
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Things have been pretty surreal, neither of us can actually believe S is finally here. Last night we dined at Tutto Bene. The food was good and the company even greater. We had a lovely French waitress and S mentioned the wonderful paradox of having a French waitress, working at an Italian restaurant in New Zealand serving a table of Persian, Kiwi, and American diners. How beautiful is that? Unity in diversity.
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