Reporting from the antipodes

Reporting from the antipodes

In April, I was fortunate to travel with my family to visit friends and family back in New Zealand and visit my partner Amanda’s brothers, as well as some old buddies of mine, in Sydney. It was the first time our daughter Clara would visit where I spent my formative years, so I was super-excited to show her the sights and introduce her to a bit of good old-fashioned kiwi hospitality.

Being on holiday, by definition, we ate out of home – a lot. Here are a few things we love about antipodean hospitality.

Greet ‘em like they’re an old friend
Catching up and socialising with friends you haven’t seen in years is, by definition, a great time. What do we do when greeted by the smiling face of an old buddy or a cousin you’ve not seen in years? That’s right: smile a big, broad, toothy grin back!

The human eye can spot a genuine smile at a hundred paces – and you can’t help but smile back. Smiling is known to give us the same feeling of happiness that exercising induces, without even breaking a sweat.

Next time a guest comes through the door of your business, greet them as a friend. Shoot them a big smile and you’re likely to get one back, which will make you feel great too. Repeat.

Go the extra mile
We stayed in a fantastic little place in Whangarei, New Zealand, called Deloraine Stone Cottage. Honestly, it was the most well-presented, modern, clean and spacious self-catering accommodation we’ve ever stayed in. Set in gorgeous native bush with our own private courtyard, gas BBQ and three big double bedrooms, what impressed us the most were the little touches.

Deloraine Stone Cottage
We were welcomed personally (with a big smile of course) by the host. On the kitchen counter was a selection of pastries, cereal, a loaf of fresh bread, and there was a bottle of (fresh) milk and yoghurts in the fridge.

The bathroom was fully stocked with shampoo and conditioner (all local eco brands) and there were hairdryers and straighteners for those with longer locks. An abundance of big fluffy towels was complemented by comfy bathrobes and the kitchen cabinets were stocked with all the essentials (no rushing out to get olive oil or dishwasher tablets).

All included. No extra charges. No minibar slip to fill in. There were even half a dozen head torches and spare batteries in a drawer so you could explore the local Abbey Caves just up the road. They had thought of everything! Are we going to stay there again? You bet!

Your menu needs a bit of wow!
In contrast to the simple and fresh home cooking in New Zealand cafés, those we visited in Sydney had definitely upped the ante. Exotic ingredients, imaginative flavour combinations and decadent presentation were the themes. I’m still full just thinking about them.

At Brewtown Café in Newtown, I had a sublimely rich corned beef hash served with parmesan crisp and poached egg. What’s more it was served wrapped in a steamed cabbage leaf!

Pimp mi goreng
Still in Newtown, I just had to try the pimp mi goreng. I’d never had chicken thighs coated in crushed mi goreng ramen noodles and served in a burger bun with bacon, avocado, kimchi and aiol, and I don’t think I ever will again. But I still think fondly of the Cuckoo Callay café and of those crazy textures and flavours!

Fresh is best!
Ever caught a snapper off the wharf, filleted it and put it straight on the barbeque? I recommend you try it at least once! Delicious, simple and social. It’s the antipodean way.