A Trip To Auckland

The weather forecast called for a rainy day in Northland, but besides a short spell of rain, we encountered nothing but sunshine for the duration of our drive from our home in the Hokianga, down to Auckland.

We drove to Auckland to deliver some art to The Original Art Show, and for a much desired city-fix.

The narrow road curves between beautiful open farmlands, and passes through a succession of small towns.
With an appreciative eye, you could take in many beautiful sights… The only trick is to shake off the drivers who are not interested in the scenery, and just wish to get to their destinations at the fastest speed.

We had dinner at “Number Eight,” the restaurant at the Langham hotel, which is famous for its fresh seafood buffet.
Everything is displayed raw, and they cook it to order the way you like it.

The food was super fresh and tasty.
The place is expensive, but it was packed to capacity……perhaps because it was Mother’s Day…. We did see a lot of families dining at big tables…

The next day:

Today after breakfast, we drove to deliver the art to the Manukau Telstraclear Event Center.
It was the last day to deliver the art, and I have to admit that the stock room in the back was not full to capacity, as I have seen it in past years….

It made me wonder if artists were reluctant to participate in art shows during a weak economy….
Or maybe they have gotten discouraged because their work did not sell in past years…

In my own opinion, it is good to show your art, even if it doesn’t sell.
Part of why I paint and choose to be an artist, is to share my views and artistic vision of the world with others….and by participating in art shows, I get to show people what I labor on for many hours while in the studio.

Later in the day:

We spent hours sitting in a coffee shop with maps, books and online, planning our upcoming trip to Japan.
Planning a long trip is such hard work… But at least we decided on the most efficient way to divide our time in each region that we plan to visit.

We also spoke to a travel agent about buying Japan rail passes and about booking some domestic flights inside Japan.

It was a grey and rainy day in Auckland, but we ended it on a high note with a fabulous dinner at “Industry Zen,” a restaurant near Custom Street.

The place was dark, but beautifully decorated with exposed air ducts, a lot of dark wood and Japanese motifs.
It had a very cool and pleasant feeling about it….

In a very Japanese way, the lady’s toilet had a hair dryer, a lot of face lotions, even cotton tips to clean your ears, mouthwash to gargle with, and a lot of other things to make you feel comfortable- which is very sweet of them.

At about eight o’clock, the lights were dimmed and one waitress started drumming on a big Japanese drum.
Another waiter, dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, announced and introduced to the diners all the kitchen crew, the chef and the cooks who will be preparing our food tonight.

From behind the glasssed-in kitchen, the chef vowed in a loud voice, to do his very best to prepare delicious food for us….

Then everyone bowed and like on an airline flight, they wished us a pleasant evening: “Please sit back, relax and enjoy your food!”

The food was sublime…
Every dish was served on a unique ceramic plate, in a special basket or a wooden pagoda, or on a cast iron boat.

The preparation of the food was also very unique, and so tasty…
The dipping sauces for the “Robata” (special grill) food, came with a lovely drawing, explaining the ingredients in each of the twelve sauces on the plate.

Every morsel we tasted was delicious.
Before our food came, they served us something to nosh on, which was fried lotus root, nori strips encrusted with sesame and boiled green fresh soybeans.
The Lotus root and nori, were addictive…. And we ordered more of them…

One of the dishes we ordered was a grilled Salmon served with salt.
The waitress came with a basket with three big stone salts.
One was black sulfur salt, the other a big yellow stone, which was a medium saltiness salt, and the third was a pink large stone, which was the saltiest.

We chose the medium salt rock, which the waitress grated on our food.
It was not only tasty, but SO cool….
In some restaurants they emphasize the bouquet of the wine… In this restaurant they let you smell the bouquet of the salt….

It is restaurants like this, who find clients in economically challenging times…
They really go the extra mile to serve their diners, not just fresh and creative food skillfully prepared, but also served in an artistic way and in a warm atmosphere with many willing and helpful waiters.

We loved Industry Zen, and we plan to make it one of our regular dining places when we visit Auckland.

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