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Pot Luck — Friday 10 May

The Metro Dining Newsletter

Pot Luck — Friday 10 May

May 10, 2024 Metro Eats

During my work week, lunch is usually a rather uninspiring affair: a pie on the go, a toasted English muffin, St Pierre’s, a single banana, cold leftovers. (Fun fact: we don’t have a microwave in the office.) Yesterday, however, I was thoughtful about lunch for once, deciding on It’s Java, for their build-your-own lunch offering based on the concept of Indonesian warteg (traditionally, small, family-owned outlets that serve affordable dishes). I chose beef rendang, rice, urab sayur (a kind of Balinese salad), plus a juice box of teh botol (jasmine tea). It was filling, nutritious, delicious, uplifting and interesting — plus I learnt something about the dining culture in another part of the world. Value all around. 

Which brings me to the government’s recent announcement about the Ka Ora, Ka Ako free school lunch programme. On the one hand, it’s obviously good news that school lunches are being continued, even extended to a small number of preschools (however begrudgingly). Clearly, there wasn’t a huge public appetite for taking lunches away from children. On the other hand, the way the announcement was made and the new approach for the programme seem to reflect the grim way the government thinks about kai.

After announcing the changes on Wednesday, associate education minister and long-time opponent of free school lunches David Seymour posted on Facebook, “We’ll be feeding kids in schools the fruit and sandwiches their parents would give them, not woke food like quinoa and sushi.” Rightfully, the completely stupid designation of quinoa and sushi (non-Western foods) as ‘woke’, and opposed to presumably ‘normal’ foods like sandwiches and fruit, caused commotion. All I’ll say is that when people say this kind of stuff, it tells you much more about them than about the food (and the people who eat it) they unnecessarily villainise. (For more on this discourse, I suggest reading this article.)

Unfortunately, the one-liner summed up the general tone of the wider announcement: disdain at the idea of disadvantaged children having access to quality kai. The practical implications of the changes to the scheme make that clear. Currently, schools can cook their lunches themselves on site or choose from a panel of external suppliers, approved by the Ministry of Education, to prepare and deliver them. Under the new scheme, primary-school students will continue to receive the same lunches prepared on site or delivered daily, but an alternative model will begin for students in Year 7 and above. The new programme will mean food is bulk-purchased by the government and delivered to schools, which Seymour says will “significantly reduce the cost of the programme”. Critics of the changes have said that the new centralised approach will likely result in less nutritious and culturally appropriate food for students, and less flexibility for schools. It will also likely mean some job losses for people currently employed or contracted to cook school lunches. While the current provision of school lunches is not perfect across the board, I’ve seen many instances of the impact they have on communities. They provide people with meaningful, reliable, local work, which, conversely, means that lunches are made with care by people who are part of the community and understand the needs of students.

For the most part, the current government’s approach to school lunches has been framed by the idea of wastage. (There’s a good analysis on this here). But I can’t help but think instead of the changes’ wasted opportunity cost — that is, using these school lunches as a tool for food literacy (sounds woke, I know). Some schools had already begun using lunch preparation as a teaching tool — presumably, these programmes might now be at risk. And while usually ‘food literacy’ refers to learning about nutrition, I think it can just as easily look like growing food, helping to prepare food, visiting places where food is made, forming healthy relationships with food, learning about where dishes or ingredients come from, contributing as a team to washing the dishes, learning about how food interacts with the body or using cookbooks (literacy and maths in one). After all, why shouldn’t lunch be filling, nutritious, delicious, uplifting, interesting and an opportunity to learn something?

— Charlotte


Comings and goings


A new spot called Lazys is on the cusp of opening at 974 New North Rd in Mt Albert. They’ve posted a few previews of the space on Instagram, and it looks like there’ll be ice cream (including banana splits!), toasties (potentially with a bit of Polynesian flair) and filter coffee, plus cassettes and a retro-ish fit-out.

Newmarket newcomer Guka Dorayaki opened at the end of last month. Per its name, the shop specialises in dorayaki, the Japanese sweet pastry consisting of two pancake-like sponges encasing a sweet filling. While this filling is typically azuki red bean paste, at Guka Dorayaki they have six options to choose from: mocha, matcha red bean, grape, coconut, oreo cheese and, of course, azuki.

If you’re scouting for more brand-new sweet stuff in Newmarket, you could also check out LuLu’s Ark. Located at 6/270 Broadway, it’s serving an eclectic range of desserts from ice cream to taiyaki to egg tarts to various milky teas.

In Mt Eden Village, flanked by Eden Nails & Spa and Good News Barbershop is a new cafe called Cotton Candy Eatery. The menu has all your standard brunch staples: eggs Benedict, chilli scramble, shakshuka and creamy mushrooms. As for whether there’s cotton candy on the menu, you’ll find it atop their French toast.

Māngere Bridge has also welcomed a new cafe to the neighbourhood. Called The Gaff, it looks well-provisioned for all your brunching and lunching needs. I also spotted a note on their website that a dinner menu is “coming soon” — intriguing.

Queens is a fancy new rooftop restaurant and bar (plus wine shop) in the Commercial Bay precinct. They’re offering uninterrupted views of Waitematā, plus a chunky raw bar selection and $295 seafood towers, for those looking to splash out. There’s a breakfast menu on the way, too.


Where we’re going


French Film Festival Aotearoa and Maison Vauron are collaborating on a series of dinner and film pairings to celebrate the launch of French festival film The Taste of Things. The dinner at Maison Vauron will include an aperitif, a glass of wine and pot-au-feu (a French dish of slowly boiled meat and vegetables, apparently as seen in the film) ahead of a screening of the film down the road at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket. The first event is on Tuesday 4 June, with a 6pm start at Maison Vauron and the screening at 7.45pm. Book here.

If you’ve been missing The Caker’s cakes, respite is on its way — but only for one day. There will be a Caker pop-up at Mor Bakery this Mother’s Day (Sunday 12 May), where you can find three of the most popular Caker recipes, along with a special flavour (I believe in mini-cake size). They’ll be limiting the cakes to four per person, starting at 9am until sold out, at 158 Remuera Rd.

Roses Dining Room is hosting a week-long post-vintage party next week, from Wednesday 15 May. A bunch of Hawke’s Bay winemakers (Aard, Amoise, Halcyon Days, Kenzie and Three Fates) will be pouring the drinks as winemakers in residence, alongside kai cooked by Karl Bayly.

My favourite bookshop, Lamplight Books, is hosting an “Apples” evening of aperitifs and appetisers on Wednesday 5 June, 6–7.30pm. Inspired by two books, This Other Eden and The Apple in the Dark, the menu for the evening is designed by Jennifer Yee Collinson of Culinary Journeys. Tickets are $50 and include a copy of either The Apple in the Dark or This Other Eden. Head to their website for tickets.

Chef Sid Sahrawat and fitness expert Kim Harkness have teamed up for a Breast Cancer Foundation Pink Ribbon fundraiser on Saturday May 18. The event includes a ‘Sculpt’ pilates-inspired low-impact toning class at The French Café, followed by lunch at Anise. Tickets are $145 per person, with $50 from each ticket directly benefiting the Breast Cancer Foundation. In addition to the class and lunch, there will be a silent auction and all guests will leave with a goodie bag featuring products from Good Sh*t, Tony’s Chocolonely, True Gum, Vittoria water, and coffee. For more info, visit


From the archives


Best of Auckland, Metro, January 1997


Metro x Hotel Britomart 


Illustration by James Stewart


For the first time ever, Metro is celebrating our Top 50 Wine awards with an interactive tasting and dégustation dinner — and you’re invited. 

On Wednesday 22 May, we’ll be hosting two events alongside Atelier Nash and participating winemakers at Hotel Britomart to toast the winning wines. 

In the afternoon, between 12 noon and 3pm, drop in any time for a casual, free-flowing tasting event with a discussion hosted by wine writer and head judge Oliver Styles and wine storyteller David Nash. A selection of the Top 50 wines will be served by winemakers along with grazing platters by Hotel Britomart’s culinary team. Buy tickets here.

In a separate event that evening, join Oliver Styles and David Nash from 6pm for a dégustation dinner paired with the six category-winning wines. The evening will begin with canapés on arrival, followed by a five-course dégustation by executive chef Andrew Lautenbach. Buy tickets here.

Participating winemakers include: Calrossie, Mt Difficulty, Te Tera, Helio, Trinity Hill, No.1 Family Estate, Mélange, Eaton, Te Whare Ra, Paritua, Luta, Hopesgrove, Church Road, Atípico, Leveret, Marisco, Amoise, Outside The Box, Lime Rock, Greystone, Pyramid Valley and Mount Riley. 

We hope to see you there!

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