A tasty delivery
It sounded promising. Rather than driving across town on a hot afternoon why don't we stay at home, order takeaways and have them delivered?
We will order from many places and achieve the individual tastes we prefer. Our diverse preferences for "spicy/no chilli for me, meat/tofu thanks, and the only dessert worth eating is the icecream from Invercargill" do not always a balanced meal make, so why not have our choices come to us?
To the internet first. After at least an hour we realise many websites are so out of date there are no buildings in the street, let alone the takeaway places we remember. Posted reviews are often years old. Phones are disconnected and those that do ring are not answered.
Eventually though, the pizza specialist finds her preferred place, Papa's Delivery Pizza, is open and yes, of course, delivers. She has many preferences but the words "supreme" and "seafood" are mentioned often. Duly noted.
Most Indian restaurants contacted have updated websites, correct phone numbers and menus, and home deliveries seem to be "no problem". The order seems to include a bit of everything but "no problem". Duly noted.
Then trouble with a T. "I want fresh, crisp, salty, spicy tastes," says she who owns dinner sets and heavy cutlery but has recently shown a preference for chopsticks and cardboard noodle boxes.
"I'm thinking Vietnamese rolls, Thai salads, crispy squiddy bits, whole fried fish, velvety chicken pieces, garnishes of salted nuts, chillies and mouth-tingling herbs," she says.
"Tell you what," says this new Asia hand, "Why don't we have it at mine, and I'll get the food in."
Brave woman. Having checked the phone number of Papa's Pizza, it seems they start at 5pm and she has been ringing during the day (for three days). Finally - with one and half hours to spare, breakthrough, and the order is given.
"One regular supreme pizza,and one regular half and half (capricciosa and seafood). Delivered to a Papanui address, at 6.30, no earlier."
A very polite voice at Little India takes the order, agrees to send two quantities of onion bhaji, and garlic naan along with a main for one person, paneer and "plain rice" at 6.30pm, no earlier.
No-one at any of the Thai, Vietnamese, Korean or Chinese restaurants, cafes and takeaways she rings or visits (in desperation) is delivering. "Too busy," or "not today" is the response. Many calls, and much net-browsing later, a Bishopdale Thai restaurant says yes to both takeaways and to delivering. The first menu viewed is a mystery. What is hormok talay? And pa khing? Is abalone on the menu tonight? Will you deliver my order at 6.30pm today, no later?
"What menu you looking at? Oh, you got wrong one. Please ring back at 5pm."
The pizzas arrive first. Early. The Indian takeaways next. Early. Finally the stack of boxes from the Thai restaurant. Just a bit late.
Unfortunately we wait until all the food is present and we can put everything out at once and share.
Papa's Delivery Pizza (corner Cranford/Westminster streets) are thin of base and generous of toppings but the delay between early arrival and delayed eating result in cooling pizzas with a far from crispy finish. The flavours of bacon, olives, peppers and more, and the marinara (seafood) mix with capers are good and simple. Next time we'll cut them small and serve as nibbles with our drinks. $29 included delivery.
Little India Merivale (Merivale Mall) deliver onion bhaji, bhuna gosht (lamb, ginger, garlic) palek paneer, rice, garlic naan at 6.20pm. Enough food for a trailer of sailors let alone three suburbanites.
The bhaji should never have left the restaurant: they are thick, doughy and overcooked and regretfully takeaways cannot be sent back. The lamb dish though is a tender layer of flavours and even our odd pairing with the paneer works. A small portion of rice is eaten. Ph 355 8330. $54.97 including delivery
And then the revelatory order from Abalone, Bishopdale Mall. Yum pla meuk is a full- on flavoursome squid salad. Rad nha is a dish of noodles, vegetables and "Thai gravy" and som tom goong is a carrot salad. A far from ordinary carrot offering, with lime juice flicking through the carrot shreds, prawns - a lot of prawns - cashews, and some hard to identify green herbs scattered on top - and, oddly, a buried heap of chopped tomato. A small portion of rice is eaten. Ph 3602 168. $47.99, delivery included.
Would we do it again? Not immediately but all that knowledge will used again sometime.