How to have the best 29th birthday ever

Gusto

Address: 263 Ponsonby Rd, Three Lamps, Auckland 1011
Online: gustoitaliano.co.nz

3-stars

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Image credit: Mint Design

When it came to celebrating my birthday this year, I got a bit stuck. For one, I didn’t actually have a birthday. After leaving Los Angeles the evening before the big day I settled into my 13 hour flight back to NZ. By the time I got to the baggage carousel at Auckland airport my birthday had been and gone. Turns out, now that Doctor Who is a woman, all us females can time travel too.

Second, while I’d been soaking up the vitamin D on Venice Beach, Mr C was exploring temples in Tokyo. Ergo, no husband to celebrate with.

Fortunately, since making this paradise island my home two years ago I have found two wonderful women to call friends. As a girl who hasn’t had two friends to rub together since 1999, I’m still not quite sure why these babes want to hang around with me. But until they realise I’m a Radio 4-loving, lightweight, bookworm geek (Shh! Let’s hope they don’t see this post!) I am LOVING having such cool BFFs.

To celebrate the novelty of having girlfriends to the max I triangulated my perfect birthday evening in Ponsonby, starting with manicures at The Art of Nails.

Midway through getting our nails done, a hen(s) party arrived. What could have spoiled our experience was turned on its head by the staff, who poured us all bubbles and brought us nuts, grapes and strawberries.

Already feeling a little tipsy at 4pm, it was time for pre-dinner drinks. Clearly I couldn’t resist the allure of a new wine bar called Annabel’s! Intimate and cosy with friendly clientele and bar staff, Annabel’s is a gorgeous little hidden secret. We gave our best eyelash flutters, but got nothing for our efforts, even after mentioning that it was Annabel’s birthday at Annabel’s. Ah well. Drinking wine from a glass with my own name on made up for it.

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When it comes to dining, my friends know that I take any opportunity to taste a tiramisu for the blog. Our third stop was Gusto, the warmhearted favourite for Ponsonby locals.

Inside, the restaurant was all abuzz. There are Italian posters on the wall, exposed brick walls and wood furniture the lighting is a warm orange and the conversation was flowing as smoothly as the wine.

The food will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Italian dining. From antipasti through to pasta and mains, this is the place to come if you’ve got a real Mediterranean craving.

Rest assured, there’s a tiramisu on the menu. And while the presentation is classic traditional Italian in a thick glass cocktail glass, it’s not an old-fashioned recipe. Gusto’s is the more unusual whipped egg white recipe, rather than a creamy mascarpone style. It’s yummy, but the egg white has lost some air and fallen a little flat, making the combo too runny. The tiramisu is totally undeserved and unnecessary after antipasti and pasta. Who am I kidding, though, it’s never necessary, is it?

From the luxury of being pampered to the yumminess of Italian food and wine with my name on it, spending the perfect 29th birthday evening with Anita and Becca gets five stars (while the tiramisu only gets three).

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