Monthly Archives: February 2018

Top Spots to take your Valentine

Posted by on February 08, 2018

The Big Foody’s Top Romantic places to take your Valentine



Elle Armon- Jones top pick for the most romantic restaurant in Auckland is Casita Miro on Waiheke Island. With spectacular views of the vineyards, village and ocean, it specialises in Spanish and Mediterranean fare with the freshest and finest produce and as much locally sourced as possible. Bookings are essential.

And while you’re there, why not make a weekend of it (or even just a night away) on Waiheke Island, with visits to beautiful vineyards and breathtaking beaches.


Casita Miro's Vineyards

Your favourite local beach - take a picnic rug and a delicious selection of your Valentine's favourite treats and enjoy an evening out watching the sun go down.

Our staff’s top pick is Muriwai Beach where the sunsets are absolutely stunning. Pick a spot in the black sanded dunes and feast on a picnic of The Big Foody Food Tours favourite's including cheeses like - Mt Eliza Blue Monkey, Mahoe Very Old Edam and Tenara Goats Cheese. Add some antipasto and selection of cold meats and make sure you grab yourself a loaf of fresh sourdough on your way down to Muriwai from the Gourmet Gannet in Huapai. Don’t forget your Valentines favourite bottle of wine and finish the evening off with some decadent chocolates. Need help creating a perfect picnic basket with some delicious New Zealand products? Make sure you join us on one of our Big Foody Food Tours and we can let you in on all the secrets.

Muriwai's sand dunes


Looking to do something completely different? And have an adventurous palate? Auckland Zoo is hosting LoveBugs in conjunction with their blockbuster Te Papa and Weta Workshop exhibition Bug Lab on Valentines Day. LoveBugs will be a fun and memorable evening with entertainment by Te Papa’s irresistible ‘bugman’ Dr Phil Sirvid, live acoustic music and a 5 course degustation menu featuring the world's greatest and most sustainable superfood - bugs and bug derived ingredients. You will be tempted by Bug crumb parmesan wafers, Cricket bread croute, Locust lavosh, Ant meringue puffs and more. It will be a night not to be missed, especially with Dr Phil Sirvids stories of the love lives of some of the world's most extraordinary bugs. Bookings Essential.


If you want something really adventurous and bugs aren’t really your thing, consider the limited ‘Dinner in the Sky’ experience. Suspended 50 meters above ground, with fantastic views of the Auckland Harbour and city, you have the opportunity to enjoy  Brunch, Lunch, Wine Tastings, Cocktail hour or Dinner. Bookings are essential and are sure to be booked out for Valentines Day, so get in quick.


Ok, so bugs aren’t quite your things, nor heights? How about dinner in the pitch black, where all your senses will be infused? How about the Dinner in the Dark, at the Rydges Hotel in the Auckland CBD. Sound interesting? Dinner in the Dark is a unique sensory, social dining experience. 2- 5 course menu option are available with Trust the Chef, Seafood and Vegan options available. Bookings are essential.


Take your loved one to Brick Bay in Matakana, a most romantic setting and most beautiful sculpture park trail. The trail will take you a casual one hour walk through beautiful scenery, past a pond, some typical New Zealand bush and even a Kauri patch. Either walk the trail before or after your lunch, but be sure to enjoy a glass of one of their Rose’s.

Part of the Sculpture park trail at Brick Bay


For something a bit more ‘mushy’, check out the Auckland Stardome Observatory Valentines Evening, complete with a drink on arrival, canapes and a gorgeous gift box filled with goodies for Valentines couples including a bottle of Villa Maria Rose and even an ‘Adopt a Star’ pack.



If it were summer time over here, I would say go to Steve Jones’ other spot, Cheese Bar, in the Mt Tabor neighborhood. While there, you and your special someone would share a cheese board and a bottle of wine, and then take a walk up the wooded hill to the top of Mt. Tabor where you could catch the sunset and beautiful views of the city looking west.

However, it is winter, so we instead suggest Chizu which is sandwiched in between Shalom Y’all and Multnomah Whiskey Library downtown. At Chizu order a bottle of cold, unfiltered sake and sit down for an omakase-style cheese experience. You’ll talk to the person at the counter about your preferences and interests and they will create a (name-your-price) cheese board, leading you through a tasting of Chizu’s artisan, small batch cheese selection.

Chizu's personalised cheeseboard experience

Coquine (Mt Tabor neighborhood in SE) is perfect for a quiet, cozy, romantic evening. Chef Katy Millard just won James Beard’s 2017 Best Chef Northwest for her work at her excellent little neighborhood restaurant. I would recommend going to Coquine any time of day (they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner), but it’s an especially nice place to spend a date night or special occasion with your significant other, working your way through the four or seven course Chef’s tasting menus.


Noble Rot (E. Burnside – inner eastside) is great for getting a taste of all Portland has to offer. For out-of-towners, Noble Rot has it all: good food, good wine, a great view, and even rooftop vegetable gardens. The food is intensely seasonal and much of it nipped right out of the rooftop gardens directly above you. The only way to enhance the beauty of your loved one is with the twinkling lights of your evening view looking out over the fair City of Roses



History of the Chinese in New Zealand

Posted by on February 08, 2018

A brief History of the Chinese in New Zealand

As we celebrate the Chinese New Year, we look at the history of the Chinese in New Zealand.

As of the 2013 census, 171,000 Chinese identified themselve’s in New Zealand of which 118,230 (69%) lived in a Auckland.


The first recorded ethnic Chinese in New Zealand were immigrants from the Guangdong province of China, who arrived during the 1850’s gold-rush era. Due to this historical influx, there is still a distinct Chinese community in the South Island city of Dunedin. However these days, the majority of Chinese live in the North Island and especially Auckland and are mostly of recent migrant heritage (only 26.6 percent of the New Zealand Chinese population were born here).


The first immigration to New Zealand took place over two invitations from New Zealand's Otago gold-mining region to potential gold-miners of the Guangdong province in 1865. Racial discrimination was suffered intensely by these gold-mining communities, where the Europeans felt threatened by the economic competition they represented and their transient way of life.


However, in the 1880s, as anti- Chinese sentiment grew,  New Zealand introduced a New Zealand Head Tax also known as the “Poll Tax” aimed specifically at Chinese migrants. Despite these political barriers, the Chinese still managed to grow their populations in New Zealand and their populations were boosted when wives and children of gold-miners were allowed into the country as refugees from the Guangdong province just prior to World War 2. This original group of Chinese migrants and their descendants are referred to as “old generation’ Chinese. The migration continued until the new Communist Chinese regime stopped emigration. In 1881, the Chinese Immigration Act 1881 was passed by the government, imposing a £10 tax per Chinese person entering New Zealand, and permitted only one Chinese immigrant for every 10 tons of cargo. This was increased to £100 per head in 1896, and tightened the other restriction to only one Chinese immigrant for every 200 tons of cargo.


Between 1987 - 96, through a fundamental change in the immigration policy, New Zealand saw a huge influx in immigration from the Chinese business sector, investors and professional migrants. By 2002, the ‘old generation’ Chinese had received a public apology from the New Zealand government for the poll tax that had been levied on their ancestors a century ago.


Nowadays, New Zealand is a favourable country for the Chinese to migrate to, with a favourable economical climate and not the hostility from European New Zealanders had towards the Chinese in the late 1800’s.

The Chinese have immersed themselves into the New Zealand environment and brought with them their cultures and traditions. 

We are super fortunate to be able to experience authentic Chinese cuisine right here in Auckland as the Chinese have opened restaurants throughout the city and share theri delicious fare with us.

There are several suburbs in Auckland where large populations of Chinese have settled and this is where you will the most authentic restaurants, with the most delicious and 'real' flavours. Often hidden, these restaurants must be on your list to visit next.

Dominion Road is full of eateries, offering delicacies and restaurants from many nations, however Chinese / Asian restaurants are a very common sight, in particular restaurants offering our favourite morsels - Xiao Long Bao - also known as dumplings. Highly recommended is Jolin Shanghai at 248 Dominion Road for their authentic dumplings. Eden Noodles Cafe offering Sichuan cuisine with a punch! and Wang Wang Pancake at 704 Dominion Rd is where you find original flaky Chinese pancakes with delicious fillings. For or the best authentic noodles you must try Tasty Noodles at 1/919 Dominion Road.

The Northcote Shopping Centre on Auckland's North Shore and its surrounds is definitely the area for Chinese fare and speciality shops. The Jiale Bun Shop at 27 - 35 Pearn Place must be searched out on your next journey to the North Shore for the most mouthwatering, fluffy steamed buns with delicious fillings. Not far away in Takapuna, some of Auckland's best dumplings are on offer at Artwork Eatery and Bar.

In East Auckland in the surrounding suburbs of Botany Downs you will also find some hidden Chinese treasures. Very popular, Lucky Seafood Restaurant in The Hub in the Botany Town Centre you will be expected to have to que to get a table on weekends. Yi Pin Xing at 113 Meadowland Drive in Somerville is the place to go for dumplings. Not far away in Mt Wellington is Imperial Plaza, this authentic Chinese restaurant offers the traditional Yum Cha and well as a la carte and pretty good dumplings too.

Every year New Zealanders now help celebrate with the Chinese the Chinese New Year. Whether it be in the many Chinese restaurants found around Auckland, the stalls at the night markets, events put on by the Chinese community or of course the Lantern Festival held in both the Domain in Auckland, and Hagley Park in Christchurch.

Make sure that you check out the free Chinese New Year celebrations and entertainment at SKYCITY Auckland. Friday nights during the Chinese New Year period they will also be hosting Night Market Food stalls, which will be something not to be missed!


Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dog

Posted by on February 07, 2018

Happy CHINESE NEW YEAR from the Big Foody Food Tours!


This year we celebrate the Year of the Dog.

Do you know what Chinese Zodiac sign you are? Not sure? Click here.

Want a brief prediction of what the Year of the Dog may have in store for you? Keep reading to find out.


This Chinese New Year, we celebrate the Year of the Dog – The actual date of the Chinese New Year varies each year, as it officially begins on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. This year the 2018 Chinese New Year will fall on February 16th and will end on February 4th, 2019.


If you are a Dog (by the Chinese Zodiac) you will be known to be Independent, Sincere, Loyal, Responsible, Decisive and you will have harmonious relationships with people.


You are a Dog if you were born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018.


2018’s predictions for the Dog are: It will be a year full of challenges. Career changes and greater effort must be put into things for longer periods of time. Make sure that you keep on top of your health.


Lucky Colours: Green, Red, Purple

Lucky Numbers: 3,4,9

Your weaknesses: sensitive, conservative, stubborn and emotional.


Not a Dog, but want to know what the Year of the Dog has in store for you, keep reading...


The Chinese calendar is based on the movements of the moon and is linked to the Chinese zodiac – 12 animals all ascribed to a new year.


Chinese New Year has enjoyed a history of about 3,500 years. Its exact beginning are not known. Some people believe that the Chinese New Year originated in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC), when people held sacrificial ceremonies in honour of gods and ancestors at the beginning or the end of each year. Like all traditional festivals in China, Chinese New Year is steeped with stories and myths.


One of the most popular myths is about the mythical beast Nian, who ate livestock, crops, and even people on the eve of a new year. To prevent Nian from attacking people and causing destruction, people put food at their doors for Nian. In the story, it is said that a wise old man figured out that Nian was scared of loud noises and the colour red. People put red lanterns and red scrolls on their windows and doors to stop Nian from coming inside. Crackling bamboo (later replaced by firecrackers) was lit to scare Nian away.


The Chinese New Year is also be known as the Spring Festival and lasts for seven days. It is celebrated by a quarter of the global population and is celebrated by people in China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, North Korea, Brunei and Singapore. In China many Chinese who work away from home in the provinces, return to their hometowns at this time of the year. This movement of people has been reported to be the largest migration on earth with roughly 4% of the global population taking part.

Just like in the West, New Year celebrations are about getting together with family, looking back at the past year and planning for the new next. To celebrate, many people will hang lanterns on their doors and families will gather together to celebrate by eating and drinking. Traditional Chinese New Year dishes with symbolic meanings will be prepared and eaten over the Chinese New Year period. Some of these dishes include dumplings, specially prepared fish, and spring rolls. It is believed that eating these dishes will bring them good luck for the coming year.

Children will receive ‘hongbao’ - red envelopes containing money as gifts. Often firecrackers are let off as sacrifices to the ancestors.

On the fifteenth day after Chinese New Year, festivities are continued with the Lantern festival. It is the traditional end of the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) celebrations. To celebrate, people send glowing lanterns into the sky or let them float over the ocean, on rivers, or across lakes.

In New Zealand, the Chinese New Year is not just celebrated by the Chinese living in New Zealand, but many 'Kiwi's' join in the celebrations also. Watch out for the many events, restaurants and hotels holding celebrations based on the Chinese New Year. One not to miss is SKYCITY Auckland Allure of the Orient featuring Friday Night Food Markets, and amazing all-day garden pop up and live authentic traditional and contemporary Chinese entertainment icluding Dragon dancers, Calligraphy demos and famous dancing panada.


What does YOUR Year of the Dog hold for you?

Check what Chinese Zodiac you are, then check out your Chinese Zodiac fortune for the 2018’s Year of the Dog:

🐭 Rat – The year will be kind to you. It will be a fairly good year for you.

🐮 Ox – It appears to be a good year for the Ox, but do take some precautions.

🐯 Tiger – You can expect the year to be a very good year for you! You will prosper this year when involved in projects.

🐰 Rabbit – It is not exactly a good year, nor is it a bad year. Be careful in all business ventures.

🐲 Dragon – This is generally not a good year for you. If you must travel, do be careful.

🐍 Snake – It is a great year for the Snake.

🐴 Horse – It is a great year for the Horse to enjoy themselves.

🐐 Goat – A great year for the Goat!

🐵 Monkey – It is a good year for you to work hard, as it will not go unrecognised.

🐔 Rooster – If you need to make decisions, make them now. Generally, quite a good year.

🐶 Dog – It is your year, so do be careful in whatever you wish to do.

🐷 Pig – It is a year of fulfillment for you. You can expect it to be a good year for you.


Great Seafood in Each of Portland's 5 Quadrants

Posted by Laura Morgan on February 03, 2018

Generally, when I get asked about where to get seafood on tour, people are looking for one thing: oysters. Specifically, raw oysters on the half shell washed down with something fermented. As I browsed through my phone’s picture gallery for inspiration for this post, I realized that when I’m craving something from the sea, oysters are also my go-to. Even though we’re only a couple hours from the coast, PDX isn’t traditionally a seafood town, but there really is so much great seafood here these days. This being Portland, you probably already know chefs all over the city are innovating when it comes to style and sourcing.

Disclaimer: to make this blog post manageable, I’ve narrowed down the long list to just a few places that are specifically seafood-centric, not-to-be-missed and excellent all around, one from each of our five quadrants.. Yes, we have five quadrants. Nowhere in this list is the whole snapper from Departure, or the chilled seafood offerings at Woodsman Tavern, or so many others, but go to those places too, you won’t be disappointed. Needless to say, this is not an exhaustive list; it’s just a good start.


Year of the Fish, Carts on Foster, corner of SE Foster & 52nd , Open Tues – Sat 12-8pm

The food carts on SE Foster and 52nd make up one of the only pods in SE Portland that have escaped development in the past couple years. In fact, this cart used to be on SE 50th before that lot was converted into an apartment building right off the hip, foodie-centric corridor that is SE Division. Back to the food, though. The cod fish and chips, tuna melt, clam strips.. you just can’t go wrong. All good. And the gluten free options really are gluten free as the owner has a dedicated fryer just for them. There’s also a beer garden right here and what better to wash it all down?

IG: @yearofthefish


Olympia Oyster Bar, 4214 N Mississippi Ave, Closed Mondays – Hours vary

Named for the Olympia oyster, the only oyster native to the Pacific Northwest, this little bar is reinventing the American oyster experience. They are equally committed to serving excellent cocktails and organic wines and, because of its location and the communal tables within, it is an excellent place for visitors to people watch after a day of boutique shopping on Mississippi. Also, February 2 – 9 OOB’s chef Maylin Chavez, and a group of her passionate seafood conservationist friends are putting on a series of dinners and events in PDX called Shuck Portland to raise money and awareness for disappearing wild oyster reefs. If you’re in town, you should try to make it to one of the events! (link under Events below)

IG: @olympiaoysterbar


Fishwife, 5328 N Lombard St, Closed Open Tues – Sat – Hours vary

This place is low-key, family friendly and to be honest, won’t catch your eye from the street outside. Once you’re inside though, it has that old school diner/clam shack on the beach sort of feel. Their menu items (think clam chowder, assorted fish and chips, shrimp cocktails and Louies, etc.) are good and the service is great. This place can get busy with local neighborhood families so call ahead to make a reservation and avoid the wait.


Headwaters, The Heathman Hotel, 1001 SW Broadway, Open Every day – Hours vary

Inside the beautiful Heathman hotel is swanky Headwaters, a celebratory seafood restaurant from Vitaly Paley, Portland restaurant veteran and James Beard Award winner. This is a great date night option or a great place to have dinner and drinks before you head next door to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, one of Portland’s last historic performing arts venues. Keep in mind though, if there’s a show going on next door, this place is going to get packed. Make sure to check out Vitaly Paley’s Russian Tea Service in the building as well. It’s a fun thing to do with a small group and the food and tea are exquisite.

IG: @headwaterspdx

Roe, The Morgan Building, 515 SW Broadway, Open Wed – Sat, 5:30 – 10pm

Are you looking for a dining experience that is multi-coursed, thoughtfully sourced, painstakingly prepared and outrageously good? Perhaps also a little hidden, exclusive, anticipated? Then plan well ahead and make reservations at Roe. Roe is run by Trent Pierce, multi nominated James Beard chef and fifth generation PNW restaurateur. At Roe, the seafood-focused, French and Japanese influenced menu rotates weekly and is served in several courses with optional wine pairings. This is a special occasion restaurant or just a must-try-before-you-die whether you’re visiting Portland or live here.   

IG: @roepdx


Bamboo Sushi, 836 NW 23rd Ave (several locations), Open 5-10 every day

Bamboo is a great place to find high-quality, artfully prepared sushi, especially their NW location because of the great district it’s in – plenty of shopping, bars, restaurants and entertainment. The best thing about eating here, though, is their commitment to sustainability and in fact, they were deemed the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the world back in 2010. Their philosophy of responsibility spans from transparently sourcing from sustainable fisheries, including their refusal to serve that sushi house staple, Bluefin tuna, all the way to building design and waste.

IG: @bamboosushi


The crab’s finally in and oysters are in season - seafood is in the spotlight this week in PDX! Check out the following events going on this week in the city:

Shuck, Feb 2 – 9, 2018

Atlas Obscura Oyster Tasting and Maritime History, Feb 7, 2018

PDX Seafood and Wine Festival, Feb 2 & 3, 2018

A Winter Day on the Oregon Coast with Nan Devlin, Director of Tillamook Coast Tourism

Posted by Laura Morgan on February 01, 2018

From the tiny town of Seaside, the end point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, to the cranberry bogs of the southern coast, with plenty of lighthouses and sand dunes in between, there truly is something for every visitor to the Oregon coast. To help our readers make it a perfect day on the coast, we spoke with Nan Devlin, Director of Visit Tillamook, to get a few tips on preparing for your trip. Nan is lucky enough to have accumulated a lifetime of experiences here, but her current specialty is Tillamook County, the 70 or so miles from Manzanita in the north to Neskowin in the south. In Tillamook County you can find several coastal towns, each with their own unique personality, as well as access to gorgeous public parks. Here is also where you’ll find iconic Haystack Rock, the Tillamook Creamery, and thousands of gray whales passing through on their way to warmer climes each winter.

Here’s what we asked Nan:

1. What book could you recommend that would fill visitors with the spirit of the northern Oregon Coast for their trip?

This is a tough one because not much has been written about this area, other than Astoria by Peter Stark. However, there is a terrific non-fiction book called The Next Tsunami by Bonnie Henderson that reads like a mystery novel. It's about how scientists discovered the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the Pacific Ocean and much of the scientific discoveries were made from Seaside to Netarts Bay. Also, we published 25 Hikes on the Tillamook Coast, and it's written like a love letter to the trails here.

2. What is a unique souvenir and why is it special?


3. In your opinion, what is the perfect winter day?

A walk in the forest or a nature reserve in the morning, a walk on the beach in the afternoon and a great bowl of chowder in the evening.

4. What would be your anniversary restaurant on the northern Oregon Coast?

Meridian at the new Headlands Hotel in Pacific City - or drinks and a light meal at MacGregor's Manzanita.


Now go enjoy your time on Oregon's beautiful coastline!


**Edited for additional detail.