When my friend suggested that we went out for dinner at the Food Truck Garage I eagerly agreed, but there was a small shadow of doubt at the back of my mind. It is, after all, winter here, and I envisioned sitting outside in the dark and cold, trying to enjoy my food while also shivering energetically. However, winter is Auckland is amazingly mild compared to what I'm now used to, and Kiwis are pretty hardy folk, and I figured I could probably just toughen up and make it work.
The great news, of course, is that I didn't need to make it work.
The Food Truck Garage is in a place that I didn't even know existed, even though it's almost right in the middle of town. Seven years ago it didn't exist, and Auckland was all the poorer for it. Now, however, it's a whole little community, home to some very cool looking businesses and, obviously, the Food Truck, which has a nice little yard with some outdoor tables and fairy lights, and then, right there, an actual restaurant, with walls and a roof and all sorts of other standard restaurant comforts. Waitresses, for example. Wine, for another example.
The whole point of the Food Truck - its reason for being - is that the chef, Michael Van de Elzen, tries to make healthier versions of popular dishes. He turns his hand to pretty much any cuisine, throws himself in wholeheartedly, and allows the whole thing to be filmed for television. Then, if it's good enough, the dish will appear on the Food Truck menu shortly afterwards. If it's really good, I believe it becomes a permanent fixture.
My friend and I both ordered the beefroot burger, a constant on the menu - and for good reason. The patty has beetroot mixed in with it, which makes it lighter as well as adding some sensational juiciness, and the bun is spelt, which – well, good? I don't really have many feelings on bread, but I'm pretty big on my whole grains, so a spelt bun will always quietly please me. To go with the burgers we ordered baked chips – thick wedges of baked potato, beetroot, and parsnip – and pita chips with lentil dips. Two chip-based sides are better than one, and besides, they're healthy. We also ordered a carafe of red wine, which presumably was also very healthy.
This was way too much food, by the way. Two people don't need this much food, but I'm not sorry we tried all of it – it was delicious. In fact, it had much in common with the way I like to cook. You'd think that would be more than enough for one night, but you'd think wrong, because you wouldn't be thinking of Giapo.
Aaaaah Giapo. Just the thought of it is enough to make my mind completely stop. Seriously, Giapo is enough to totally make you lose all intelligent thought. It's a gelato place on Queen Street, which is a terrible, terrible description, because in actuality, Giapo is so much more than that. Giapo is home to little gelato-based works of art, would be more accurate. Each flavour comes with its own toppings, which are chosen for you (it's not being rude to say you don't enough to choose your own toppings. It's being sensible.) The toppings are incredible, but they're only the – well, the topping. The sweet little extra on top. The gelato is the real star of the show. It's utterly sensational. It's 9:10pm and I'm thisclose to leaving my warm house to go get some right now.
And to think I was excited about coming home to the land of Jelly Tips. Jelly Tips have their place, but it's a very small one. All the rest of the places should be taken up by Giapo.
Because this is New Zealand, my night ended perfectly when the owner, Gianpaolo Grazioli, saw my friend and came over to say hello. They know each other, so we got to have a short yet pleasing conversation about gelato, Italy, New York, and preschool (long story). He let me snap a quick picture with my phone and left us to the rest of our gelato, which we were enjoying outside, in the dark and the cold.
No big deal. I toughened up surprisingly well. Apparently all it takes is a bit of dessert.