Address: 244 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland 1011
The roar of the wind is ferocious. Strands of teenage girls’ long hair stand on end; a yellow waterproof coat pops out amidst the grey-greenness of the urban landscape. The burnt red and orange trees gyrate from side to side as the traffic lights and lampposts wobble ominously.
I’m on the hunt for a cup of tea and some warmth, which seem in disgracefully short supply on such a wet, miserable day. ‘They need Pret a Manger in New Zealand,’ I huff to myself as roadworks with no sign of workers force me on an unnecessary detour. My coat looks like it’s come straight out of the washing machine and my hair as though I ran the brush through it backwards by the time I get my cup of English Breakfast. It’s scalding to my lips.
Back out in the bluster I clutch the cup with both hands trying to bring colour back into my bloodless fingers. Within seconds the tea has lost all of its blistering heat and barely warms me.
Thank goodness then for the welcoming embrace of Farina – an Italian restaurant set in one of Ponsonby’s 19th century villas – which has a heater pumping out warmth over the door.
The setting is Ponsonby cool, with vintage style lightbulbs, green mosaic tiling and ‘CUCINA ITALIA’ above the bar in fluorescent green.
It’s the perfect weather outside to catch up with a friend over lunch. We devour the fresh, soft white bread with zingy, flavourful olive oil, alongside vinegary mushrooms and eggplant, all served in little jam jars. The flavours zip around my mouth like a pinball machine.
With Anita off to work this evening and unable to have any alcohol, it’s down to me to order the tiramisu ($11.50). It arrives beautifully presented in a little jar, the golden lid resting against the rim. As my spoon touches the cocoa it plunges beautifully through light, generous cream and moist sponge. And the taste? Delicious. The cocoa dusting is a little too thick; it clings to my spoon and the roof of my mouth. But I’m being picky. It’s gorgeous. The best yet on the tiramisu trail. The quest can only get harder now; can anything top Farina’s tiramisu?