One problem with living in a city like San Francisco is that it’s hard for other small cities to compete. For its size, San Francisco has an amazing number of great restaurants spanning every cuisine you can name. It’s a city of gorgeous views made more so by the constantly-changing weather.

For this reason, I love to go to big cities – New York, L.A., London, Paris, Bangkok, Shanghai (and hopefully someday Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and many more).

Auckland so far feels a bit small and quiet. Of course, we arrived on a Sunday morning, and we’re leaving tomorrow (Tuesday), so I know we’re seeing it at its least lively. It certainly is a picturesque city. For example, there are beautiful glass-walled condos next to this Westin hotel with parking out front for the residents’… wait for it… sailboats. The Westin itself is one of the loveliest I’ve stayed in.

There’s a pretty good density of food options here, and since New Zealand is a country of many wine regions, the wine lists everywhere are vast and varied. We’re trying to live on a moderate budget, and it’s been somewhat difficult to get consistent restaurant recommendations. One person’s “can’t miss” is someone else’s “meh.” Last night we ate at Soul, which was just OK. We ordered our wines by the glass, and that seemed to peg us as philistines or penny pinchers in the eyes of our waitress.

I had a pan-fried hapuku with an olive tapanade, on a bed of braised onions and fennel. The fish was cooked nicely, but the olives were overpowering, and the onions and fennel were really oily.

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