Gabriella Owens
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80 Meals
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Around the World in 80 Meals

About our Group


We would love to travel and see the world, but funds are limited. So instead, we try a different country's cuisine each month. When we get to the 80th, we intend to actually visit the country. We have had lots of fun dining in various restaurants around Los Angeles and Ventura counties. We keep a group scrap book, with photos and menus. Each member also gets their own passport book.

New Zealand
January 25, 2015

Our visit to New Zealand was delicious, but expensive! I believe we set a new record, possibly topping the cost of our France outing!

Aroha ( was a tiny little restaurant, not sure they could have seated our group inside without some construction work. We instead sat outside on a very pleasant sheltered patio with lots of patio heaters keeping us warm. The staff was attentive without making a nuisance of themselves. What was really special was the owner (who is also the chef) and his wife came out several times to talk with us. Lovely accents and very friendly. They advised on which dishes were most authentic, but did the most damage by suggesting we try the Chardonnay they imported from New Zealand. He did give us a great deal on the price. We not only drank two bottles with the appetizers, we bought out their few remaining bottles to take home with us.

We were 13 people altogether, so were seated at two tables next to each other. If I miss describing something tried at the other table, someone please chime in.

For the appetizer course, we had the crisp pork belly with butternut puree, which was good. The Green Lipped Mussels with coconut curry sauce, which I did unwillingly taste, but I cannot agree with the consensus that declared them wonderful.

For our main course, we each ordered our own, which is one of the reasons our bill was so high. It was good that we did, because the servings were not huge. We did pass around bread plates with small bites to share, so most of us got a taste of each dish anyway. The Horopito crusted Venison with sweet potato, cherry compote and pistachio was the favorite, very delicious. We also enjoyed Duck, Lamb, Beef Fillet and Osso Buco. Everything was delicious and elegantly served. We tried a side order of curry fried cauliflower, the bite I had was lightly spiced and nicely toasted. I think others may have had spicier bites, but it was good. Even Greg liked it.

For dessert, we tried New Zealand Trifle with Hokey Pokey ice cream (vanilla with honeycomb). Lots of jokes with this dessert. Rhubarb Raspberry fruit crumble with blackberry ice cream, my favorite. Pavlova, the national dessert of New Zealand, which was a coconut meringue with fresh fruit. To wash it all down, we bought more wine, a sweet Riesling and again he gave us a big break on the price, so we also bought out their remaining bottles to take home.

Many dishes had some unusual combinations of ingredients, curry, coconut, sweet potatoes, pistachios... The flavors were nicely balanced and the dishes reminded me more of French cooking, instead of Thai, Indian or other cuisines that use curry and coconut.

The one thing I was not happy with was their corkage fee. It was $20 per bottle, and since we had all brought with a bottle or two, that added up to a big portion of our tab.

I don't think I would go here with a large group again, but I would go back for a romantic dinner just the two of us.