Arrowtown – A Little Treasure of a Town

Or maybe I should have titled it a town full of treasure, as it’s an old gold mining village! We didn’t find any gold but we found plenty of other treasures in this historic and picturesque place.

It is so beautiful and so close to Queenstown and yet surprisingly when we went it wasn’t overrun with tourists. I feel bad blogging about it – I don’t want this hidden gem to become bustling like Queenstown but I’m sure my little blog won’t do much damage, so fear not readers, I will continue.

Being only an easy and scenic 20 minutes from Queenstown, it’s the perfect place for lunch, dinner, a full day trip and a respite after all the activities the area provides.

We’d been on the Shotover Jet (that’s a post for another time but until then all I can say is go do it!) and to Coronet’s Peak (again a post on that will come soon – in the meantime pictures on my Instagram, same name as here – passportandpaperplanes) and after our walk up to the peak we were famished. A friend had recommended I visit and I am so glad I took their advice.

Driving down the Main Street will leave you ohhing and ahhing and sighing over its cuteness. Modernity has not touched it yet and if someone walked down the street in period costume I wouldn’t be surprised – it feels like you’ve time travelled to the Gold Rush. There are old telephone booths, old lampposts, buildings with lettering such as ‘The Gold Nugget’ still looking good and the option to go down to the river and try your luck at panning for gold.

There’s heaps of cute little boutiques and plenty of pretty restaurants with yummy menus. I happily could have gotten fudge from ‘The Remarkable Sweet Shop,’ (also in Queenstown – if you are not lured by their huge variety of flavours, my personal favourite being the best selling creme brûlée or peppermint, you will be by their free tastings!), or icecream from Patagonia (again also in Queenstown and also heavenly) but I did the good girl thing and got a proper meal.

We went to the Postmasters, because it was adorable and its menu was divine. It’s an old house converted into a restaurant and has a cute picket fence and garden. All four of us got the fish of the day (maybe because we wanted to hear the waiter say fish n chips in a Kiwi accent) and wow was it good. They were generous portions too!! We were going to pass on dessert until our waiter told us they had gluten free choc-hazelnut brownie. I’m sorry but that brownie and its vanilla bean icecream and chocolate sauce was calling my name and it didn’t disappoint.

If you can’t tell I loved Arrowtown. I loved the history, the serenity, the break from tourists and the gorgeous buildings. We didn’t explore much at all but I’m hoping to stop in again tomorrow on the way to Wanaka.

I’m struggling to format on my phone and have dodgy wifi so please forgive me for not posting pictures. They will come soon I promise!

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Delicious Gluten Free Lunch in Twizel

I wanted to go to Twizel simply for the name.

Twizel is in the Mackenzie district in the Cantebury region of New Zealand’s South Island. There’s not much here, but there are a few nice cafes and a petrol station and it’s the closest town to Mt Cook.

After having walked to Hooker Valley and admired the beauty of Mt Cook, we, well when I say we I really mean my brother, were absolutely famished.

Eating should be an entertaining part of traveling, but as a coeliac, I often find it a burden. I had low expectations for this tiny town.

We went to a lovely cafe called Shawty’s. There were no gluten free options on the menu they had on display outside, so I’d resigned myself to some water & crackers. You can imagine my delight when I opened up the menu and they had gluten free pizza bases!!!

Each of us got a pizza & when the waiter bought them out he put one down in front of us until I asked, “Is this one definitely gluten free?” He hesitated and luckily said he’d go and check. Sure enough one was and all of us could tell he wasn’t lying as my base was evidently smaller, thinner and dryer. It’s always reassuring when gluten free food comes out looking like gluten free food!

It was amazing! The base was flavoursome & crunchy. The cheese was oozing, there were real tomatoes, not just paste, and the pesto was bright green and full of flavour. Without a doubt, one of the best gluten free pizzas I’ve ever had! They are difficult to find! It even came out on a wooden tray, one of my favourite things!

Shawty’s – thanks for providing a cheap and delicious gluten free option. You made my day!

If you’re in Mt Cook, Twizel is a great lunch alternative then the expensive hotel and cafe there. If you’re coeliac, get the pizza!!!

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Recreating Prato in Melbourne

I love Melbourne. I really do. I love it because it is my home, it’s full of my friends and family and I’m an expert in this city. Yet I still long for my second home, Italy, and often I’m hit with pangs of nostalgia.

To conquer this, recently I’ve visited two amazing places that have made me feel like I’m back in my home away from home.

Gelato Messina
http://www.gelatomessina.com

One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Italy is gelati. In summer I lived off it and in winter … I also lived off it. I love the variety of flavours you get in Italy, the quality natural products they use and the joy the makers have in their product (at one of my favourite places in Prato – Gelateria Del Corso – the owner proudly displayed all his awards and told me all about gelati university … yes … they exist).

I’ve heard about Gelato Messina which opened in Melbourne last year and have been wanting to visit for a while. So, finally, one sunny winter day two weeks ago my friend and I went to see if it lived up to reviews. Did it ever! They had a huge variety of signature flavours and 5 flavours of the day. The gelati was vibrant and colourful, an easy give away they have used quality ingredients. They could even tell me without checking what flavours were gluten free and offered me a GF cone. In Italy EVERY gelateria had GF cones or coni per tutti (cones for everyone) as one man called them.

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I got choc chip and caramelised white chocolate. Oh wow! The gelato was silky smooth and often I’d get a chunk of chocolate that melted in my mouth. We lounged on the chairs outside and people watched as we devoured our treats. The only complaint I have is the price. At $6 per scope this is no where near as cost effective as the €2.50 from my second local Prato Gelateria ‘Carli’ right near Prato Porta Al Seraglio Station,that was almost as big as my head.

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Carli Gelateria Prato – €2.50 for this!!

Dog’s Bar, St Kilda
http://www.dogsbar.com.au

For 4 weeks in Prato I shared an apartment with two girls who became like my sisters. They are conviently from Melbourne and a few weeks ago we decided we needed a ‘roomie night.’ We started at Anna’s but in true Prato style decided to head out for dinner. We threw on our coats and jackets and scarfs, just like in Prato as it was winter when we were there, and headed out in the dark to find cheap Italian (again this was weekly ritual in Prato). We walked around Ackland Street in St Kilda and the difference between here and Italy was obvious immediately. There was no cheap yet heavenly food. All the restaurants were either cheap (with average food) or had fancy food (but well out of our budget price range). Eventually after a lot of walking, window menu checking and google searching we found the perfect place: Dog’s Bar. The next step was finding out if they had gluten free and dairy free food. We promised the waiter we weren’t annoying health conscious girls but had serious allergies (which is true). All was good!

We got the ‘Starving Artist’ deal (or in our case you could substitute artist for student). For $15 you could get either spag bol or risotto and a glass of the house wine. Is that not the best deal ever? Before our meals came out we were also given a generous plate of bread, butter and oil. I enjoyed the butter and oil and lactose intolerant Anna enjoyed the bread. Lactose intolerant and gluten intolerant Jenna enjoyed the oil. We were equally impressed when our meals came out. They were HUGE and oh so very yummy. We ate and ate and ate whilst we enjoyed amazing local live music and gossiped. It was just perfect and took me back to Italy. If you need a little taste of Italy I highly recommend you go here. The only disappointing part of the evening was as it was 11pm and in the middle of winter there was no where to get ice-cream!