Hooray for long weekend! As I’m usually working in the weekends and at uni in the weekday, it was nice to be able to have a full day spent relaxing before diving headlong into the overwhelming stress of studying and exams. Kudos to those who actually began tackling the workload immediately by the way, your restraint and sheer discipline is commendable but bewildering.
Of course, long weekends usually involve masses of people, traffic jams, and intense parking space battles so with the intent of avoiding such stress (because we’ll be getting plenty of that later when it’s study time), we decided to opt for somewhere local in our South Auckland region. You’ll be surprised at quite a few hidden gems that no one knows about!
Only 10 minutes away from Manukau is Friend of The Farmer cafe which is located within Kings Plant Barn- “everything you need” which has an abundance of plants, vegetables and soil to get your green fingers going. It’s definitely not a cafe you’d randomly stumble upon as the plant barn is also a little isolated from everything else.
As you trawl through the garden and into the cafe, you’ll encounter this little pathway of barrels and wooden tables for the farmers market which is held on Saturdays but the signs above each stall sound very interesting so I’ll be sure to return on a weekend day to check them out.
The garden theme continues strong! The cafe itself is relaxed and family friendly while still retaining a tinge of local, old fashioned touch (by that I mean it’s not purposefully urban chic like the typical new eateries) and clearly orientated for the locals. There’s an intriguing selection of cabinet foods; not your usual stodgy variety from cafes but also not the random-edible-flower-scattered stuff either. Don’t get me wrong, I love the new eateries popping up everywhere but to be honest, they’re all looking and sounding the same now like some giant corporate franchise.
I ordered the Apricot Iced tea ($4.50) which is made fresh daily and surprisingly not from a syrup. As thus, there is no sugar at all and it tasted slightly alcoholic/ fermented. Love how it’s not sugary like most iced teas but I had to add in a few dashes of sweetener to tone down the fermented taste anyway, oops.
I ordered the Calamari- salt & pepper squid rings served with fries and aioli ($16.50). So, so good! I’ve been craving calamari for a while and this satisfied that need impeccably well. Although it’s easy to do, so many restaurants get this dish wrong with the calamari either being too oily, not crispy or crumbed enough, or just lacking flavour. Friend of the farmer ticked all the right boxes and it came out piping hot that I nearly burnt my tongue on the first few pieces. It would be nice if they served it with a salad too, I felt super guilty about my arteries clogging up when that delicious aroma of deep fried goodness wafted over me.
Can you just imagine the hustle and bustle of the markets? The rustling shopping bags, the curious necks straining over peoples’ heads to eye up the good on offer, the shuffling of feet trying to inch their way around without trampling on other peoples’ toes, the mmm’s and aaah’s at the sampling of local and unique produce…
There’s also a mini petting zoo with royally named pigs, chickens, a rabbit, and a few parakeets too. The pigs were the laziest I’ve ever seen, they seemed rather adamant on dozing the whole day away! The place is quite reminiscent of The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney (I never got around to doing a post on that, sorry) but on a much smaller scale and not so perfectly picturesque (translate: natural, not purposefully modern-rustic/ vintage) but still extremely exciting as a new discovery in the area. Hopefully in the future, it will continue to develop into something big!
Friend of the Farmer | 163 Airfield Road, Takanini | facebook page here