My City: Abbey Looker

Our popular MY CITY feature is back for June and this month we're discovering the smaller, quieter cities that grace New Zealand. We were lucky enough to speak to Abbey from the mouth-watering blog, Feasting & Frank to learn about the quirks and perks of her special hometown, New Plymouth.

My name is Abbey and I am a homemaker, decorator, amateur gardener and bargain hunter. I have recently returned to New Plymouth where I was born and raised, opting for a quieter life where the natural surroundings are phenomenally beautiful and the living is easy. Here are a few of my favourite places that make this tiny city so special.

abbey

  1. The Beach

    Boasting some of the most spectacular swimming and surfing spots in the country, New Plymouth is virtually surrounded by beaches. I could string together a thousand adjectives describing its incredible beauty and still not do it justice.

    beach

  2. Ozone Beanstore

    The Ozone team are coffee pioneers in these parts and you can go and visit them for everything coffee related. The roastery out back is busy producing some of the best coffee, including a range of expertly picked single origin blends. While out the front at the Beanstore you find a knowledgeable team, tasteful semi industrial space, simple food and consistently great coffee.

    cafe

  3. Chads

    New Plymouth has a plethora of amazing second-hand and antique stores, where you can find almost any treasure imaginable but it requires constant persistence, chance and enthusiasm for trawling through junk with an eye for potential jewels. For the one stop shop that has everything go to Chads.

    chads

  4. Farmers Market

    Every Sunday local producers of mostly organic goods get together and set up shop at the Farmers Market right in the centre of town. You can get all of your local organic produce, meat and bakery goods all in one place. Everyone knows all the stall holders by name and it fosters a good community vibe.

  5. Pukekura Park

    Until 1876 Pukekura Park was a swamp but it has now become one of New Zealand most acclaimed botanical wonderlands. It plays host to a variety of events including WOMAD and The Festival of Lights which spans over most of the summer. It is a majestic place, laced with walking tracks, lakes, event venues, waterfalls, a tea house, a zoo, playgrounds, gardens and my favourite of all, The Fernery. This spot displays orchards, ferns and beautiful indoor flowers such as begonias and fuchsias all year round.

    park

  6. Mount Taranaki

    The mountain looms over day to day life and is the centre and reference point to our small region. Mount Taranaki is truly magical and a symbol of both beauty and danger. He can be admired from afar or explored on one of the many walking tracks that include hut accommodation and even a tiny ski field.

    mountain

  7. Govett-Brewster Contemporary Art Museum

    Committed to facilitating opportunities for both artists and the community, this world renown gallery works relentlessly to keep art alive in New Plymouth through its many events, exhibitions and workshops.

    museum

  8. My Home

    Last but not least, my favourite place is my house. I feel so blessed to call this place mine. One of the best aspects of New Plymouth is the affordability of living and the ability to get ahead. The house market is very open to first homebuyers, where getting your foot on the property ladder doesn't come with a financially crippling price tag.

home

We can't wait to plan a getaway to New Plymouth! x

Celebrations: Lu Diamond

When it comes to special moments, Lu Diamond Flowers is our pick of the bunch for beautiful bouquets. With Liam Celebrations fresh in our minds, we caught up with Lu to hear the enjoyment she gets from helping create and celebrate life's memorable occasions with flowers.

I get a little bit giddy with excitement when I’m approached to do someone’s wedding. It's a crazy and humbling job and I love every single aspect of it. Working on a wedding is special because each is a unique collaboration with the client having different ideas around themes and locations.

My process of styling a wedding is very relaxed. I have no set costs or a wedding portfolio. Each wedding has its own original mood board drawn up with colour swatches and inspiration images, which we then turn into reality.

White Flowers

Ivory Arch

Flowers

Flower Pots

Flowers & Ocean

Floral Setting

Florals Closeup

The Raw Kitchen: White Chocolate, Rhubarb, Pistachio & Raspberry Cheesecake

Who doesn't love a cake that not only looks delicious but is even better for you? The latest raw food craze has specialty stores popping up all over town and our latest find The Raw Kitchen, makes the most beautiful cakes that are also full of goodness being dairy, gluten, wheat and sugar free. We love the taste so much we had a chat to The Raw Kitchen's founder Olivia, about the story behind her cakes and asked her to share one of her recipes with us....

The Raw Kitchen

How did The Raw Kitchen come about?

In my final year of university of Wellington I became hugely involved with raw foods. I became fascinated in the raw food movement and started studying the diet through books, websites and personal experimentation. My life evolved from the experience, physically, mentally and spiritually. I finished my business degree that year and decided to study nutrition. Soon after I started The Raw Kitchen and it bloomed very organically. Now our cakes are sold online and delivered throughout Auckland. We also stock our cakes in various cafes and restaurants. The cakes are made solely out of raw fruits, needs, seeds, coconuts, superfoods and some herbs & spices.

What is the ethos behind The Raw Kitchen?

Our motto is 'Eating for happiness, wholeness and health.' We create food that is going to nourish our bodies, as well as taste amazing. It stems from our bigger goal of helping to educate people on eating right for their bodies, and showing them that healthy, fresh food can heal the body.

What is your favourite treat you make?

That's a hard question! We are always innovating and creating new flavours. I do love our classic lemon flavour, or our torte cake, which is a white chocolate, raspberry and dark chocolate layer cake.

We've noticed The Raw Kitchen is served at Mondays. What do you love about what they're doing there?

Mondays has a really great vibe. I love being there because it is so naturally welcoming and relaxing. I also love that everything there is made from scratch from whole, natural ingredients.

What's next for The Raw Kitchen?

We have some exciting things happening that I can't quite share yet - so stay tuned!

WHITE CHOCOLATE, RHUBARB, PISTACHIO & RASPBERRY RAW CHEESECAKE

You will need:

Base:

• 1 cup almonds

• 1 cup desiccated coconut

• 2 tbsp coconut oil (soft or liquid)

• 1 cup soaked dates

• 1 tsp salt

• 1 tsp vanilla

• 1/2 cup of freeze-dried or frozen raspberries

Filling:

• 4 cups cashews (soaked for 4 hours)

• 1/2 cup coconut oil (soft or liquid)

• 1 cup coconut milk

• 1/2 cup water

• 1/2 cup cacao butter

• 1 tbsp vanilla or 1 vanilla pod

• 1 tbsp salt

• 1 tbsp lemon juice

Garnish:

• Dehydrated rhubarb (8 stalks)

• 1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachio nuts

Directions:

Base:

  1. Blend in your food processor almonds, coconut, salt and vanilla until fine powder forms (usually after about 3 minutes).
  2. Add your coconut oil and blend further until coconut oil gives a gloss to the mixture.
  3. Now add your soaked dates and blend further until it is well mixed through the bowl.
  4. Press this into a 22cm springform cake pan.
  5. Use your freeze dried berries here and sprinkle them on top of your base. Place into the fridge to set while you are making the filling.

Filling:

  1. Blend in your blender all ingredients for the filling until smooth and creamy. You may like to add extra flavours if you desire, such as vanilla, salt or lemon. Pour this on top of your base and smooth down top with a spoon.
  2. Now the fun part - garnish your cake with dehydrated rhubarb, pistachios and any left over raspberries.
  3. Place in the freezer overnight to set. After 8 hours, clip off sides of the springform pan, and leave for 45 minutes before serving. You can keep your cake in the fridge for up to a week, or the freezer for up to 3 months.

We can't wait to make this delicious cake!