Kitchen Tips

5 special meals our team can't stop thinking about

In this segment of 'What We Ate', the Food to Love team shares the most special meal they ate recently - from a traditional Tanzanian pilau on the Serengeti to a clam pasta whipped up on a gas cooker whilst camping in Tasman.

By Harriet Keown
In our series 'What We Ate', the Food to Love team shares their favourite food memories, go-to recipes and cooking hacks for you to try at home. If you've got a similar story, recipe or tip to share, send us a message on Instagram - we would love to hear from you!
1. What did you have?
A dish I've enjoyed recently is this thali from Rasoi on Karangahape Rd in Auckland. A thali is a meal made up of lots of little dishes which are usually neatly served on a metal plate. There are different versions of it depending what region of India it's from. The Rasoi thali is Southern-Indian style and comes with your choice of curry with dhal, roti and rice. In this picture I've chosen the vegetable curry but the potato curry is definitely my favourite.
2. Why was it so special?
Rasoi is a vegetarian restaurant that has been on K' Rd for as long as I can remember. The restaurant itself is simple, unfussy, and a bit nostalgic for me because I used to come here as a kid. It's like a relic of K' Rd from back in the day.
3. If we were going to eat this meal, what is the best way to have it?
I had a bit of a hiatus from Rasoi but after moving back into the area I've started coming here again. I love having this for lunch on a Saturday. It's fun to wander down K' Rd, check out the shops and then pop into Rasoi for a thali.
If you want to recreate this meal at home, try this recipe.
1. What did you have?
I was lucky enough to spend New Year's Eve in Paris last year, and treasure the memory from New Year's Day when we set out in the evening in the hope of comforting our battered bodies. We stumbled upon Pizza Popolare, an Italian restaurant with an eccentric personality and notoriously good food which just so happened to be on our wish list, so decided to give it a shot.
2. Why was it so special?
My friend Heather and I shared the Bufala Love Margherita and the Fettucine al Ragu Genovese and immediately fell into a deep despair that we would never have such good Italian again. It was everything you want your pizza and pasta to be – simple, flavoursome and utterly authentic. The only photo we got was this hazy film Heather took of my boyfriend and his childhood friend/our Parisian tour guide revelling in their own menu choices, but I think it sums our experience up quite nicely.
3. If we were going to eat this meal, what is the best way to have it?
This place would suit any occasion, from a romantic meal for two to a fun family dinner (and definitely as a cure to an all-day hangover). My tip – Pizza Popolare is hugely popular in Paris (hence the name), so it's best to get there just before it opens so you can pinch one of the first tables. Some things in life really are worth queuing for!
If you want to recreate this meal at home, try this recipe.
1. What did you have?
This New Year's Eve whilst camping in Wainui Bay, Tasman, my boyfriend and I gathered some clams during an afternoon swim at low tide. We were limited with our ingredients, grabbing what we could at the local shop. We ended up cooking them with some garlic, onion, parsley, chilli, tomatoes and lemon, and served with pasta. All we were missing was some white wine!
2. Why was it so special?
I never photograph my food but for some reason I did this evening. I think that's because it really was my dream meal situation: a simple seafood dish cooked and eaten outdoors with good company. It was also special because it was spontaneous – so much better than the fish and chip meal we had planned to eat that evening.
3. If we were going to eat this meal, what is the best way to have it?
Exactly how we did – with clams you've gathered yourself and eaten amongst beautiful New Zealand nature!
If you want to recreate this meal at home, try this recipe.
1. What did you have?
When I was in the Serengeti last December, I had a special Tanzanian dish of pilau rice, stir fried green beans with sautéed onions and beans in a thick sauce for lunch. We had got up before sunrise to track the lions so it was a long but beautiful day. We found a spot behind one of the big rock collections with some shade. Our safari guide got out to check there were no animals and then we hopped out, served up some lunch our safari camp chef had prepared and cracked open a cold beer.
2. Why was it so special?
It was the most incredible place to have lunch, in the middle of one of the most amazing places on Earth - the home of so many incredible animals. In their home we stole a few moments to eat lunch and soak up the vast lands. It was lush and green and full of life.
3. If we were going to eat this meal, what is the best way to have it?
This dish would be perfect as a weeknight meal. Simple but full of flavour.
If you want to recreate this meal at home, try this recipe.
1. What did you have?
I recently had an incredible grilled halloumi salad, truffle fries and garlic/pesto/balsamic pizza, from Meadow Café in Meadowbank, Auckland.
2. Why was it so special?
The grilled halloumi slices in the salad were the thickest I've ever been served (how is that not special), the pizza was mouth-watering and ONLY $13 and the truffle fries were doused in parmesan cheese which was a pleasant surprise.
3. If we were going to eat this meal, what is the best way to have it?
This is 100% a meal for enjoying hungover on a Sunday morning – especially the fries. The halloumi salad makes you feel as if you're doing your body some justice, and the pizza because... well, pizza.
If you want to recreate this meal at home, try this recipe.