Monday, July 29, 2013

Vegetarian in Tonga, and a few highlight of the islands

One morning Peter and the kids rented bikes to go to another beach, and I decided to relax down the local beach from the Hideaway Resort in 'Eua with a coconut. To reach the beach is just a 5 minutes walk though the bush, and very few people go there (mostly locals at low tide to collect seafood). This morning it was empty, all for me, and my coconut! What a treat! 

It isn't easy to be a vegetarian in Tonga, so I am grateful for coconuts! After drinking the juice you can cut the coconut and scoop the flesh (or jelly, if the coconut is very young and fresh) with a spoon.
The coconut is really the tree of life!

We didn't have any problems in Nuku'alofa, the capital, since we stayed at the Little Italy hotel, plenty of Italian food, including pizza, pasta and very nice gnocchi. Breakfast was the usual hotel fare, with the addition of coconut buns.

One evening we visited the Oholei Beach Resort (in Tongatapu) for a traditional feast, followed by dances in the Hina caves (it was too dark to take good photos with my iPhone, sorry!). 

It was very interesting, but sadly for vegetarians the only food on the buffet were the side vegetables (and the potato salad had eggs, ok for me, but I though of mentioning it if you don't eat eggs!). Then salad, taro, sweet potatoes and an interesting seaweed (the green bubbly thing in the centre), which was tasty and very salty.

We did much better with the traditional umu (tradition underground oven) dinner at the Hideaway, this too is quite meaty and fishy, but knowing that we were vegetarian they cooked the taro leaves staffed with vegetables in coconut milk separately, and I really appreciated this. Taro leaves in coconut are good! 

It was also good to see the umu being lowered, and the coconut being scraped to make the milk.

At the Hideaway they let me use their kitchen: it is a very low key and relaxed place, and the menu had a vegetarian dish, but only one, and then salad or eggs and rice, so I brought over some food from NZ and cooked it there every second night.

And now for some highlights in 'Eua: one of my favourite was the gigantic Banyan Tree in the forest, it looked like something out of a story book!
And then the beaches, coral, birds, whales, butterflies and most importantly, lovely people.

In Nuku'alofa I liked the Talamahu market best, and behind the market there is a little Indian stall selling vegetarian curry and yummy vegetarian samosas, a life saver for lunch! We also went to the Friends Cafe (where all the tourist go) and this offers a typical Kiwi fare. The market samosa were better and much cheaper!

Markets could be good to stock up in fruit and veggies, but unfortunately you need to buy a whole basket at once. Road side stalls are better for buying small bunches of bananas and papayas. Mangos are available around December.

Tonga has plenty of churches, just pick one for Sunday service to listen so some amazing singing!

A cool site in Tongatapu are the Blow Holes and the flying foxes (no photos of the flying foxes, I tried but they were far high in the trees, but basically they look like huge hairy bats, although Max insists that they have a cute foxy face!). A tour around the island can also lead to lovely beaches for a swim...

... but I regret that I cannot show you a photo of my top tourist spot and swimming experience in Tongatapu: the Anahulu Cave. Better to have a torch to enter, then they put some lights on (not very bright, but it is quite cool dark!) and you walk down an underground fresh water swimming pool. Highly recommended!

'Alu A Tonga!

Photos  by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Collared Kingfisher, photographed by Arantxa

Collared Kingfisher Todirhamphus chloris, this photo was taken by Arantxa, (a French photographer lent her his camera just to photograph this beautiful bird. It lives on a tree near our hut in Eua, Tonga.

Photos by Arantxa  Zecchini Dowling©

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Beach and exploring 'Eua, Tonga

On the West side of the island of 'Eua

A trip to the other side of the island

Li'anga huo 'a Maui

Sione, our guide

4WD needed!
Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Coral in 'Eua

The weather is still bad here in 'Eua, but the coral is promising... Can't wait to put my snorkel mask on and have a good look under water.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Eua, Tonga

We are staying here

Well, we arrived, the sea was rough and the ferry for the island of Eua was cancelled, but we were told that another 'boat' was going (it was supposed to be more sea-worthy). So we took that one (a pretty basic ferry type of boat) and rolled and rolled and I was so sick that I spent most of the time bent over the edge, risking to be swept over by a wave, but when you are sea sick somehow you stop caring about safety. Max was sick too, but Peter and Arantxa held on, so proud of them! 
The only positive thing about Max and I spending all that time throwing up was that we saw whales playing in the storm. I hope that you will understand that I wasn't fit to take photos :-).
Maybe we'll see some more whales, but I am definitely flying out of here, not cruising.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Kingdom of Tonga

The Royal Palace, Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu

Standing at the gates of the Royal Palace, Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu
 We are in Tonga, I have internet today, not sure about tomorrow, we'll be on a boat probably. Anyway, I needed a holiday, so I'll leave you with some images of the Royal Palace (yes, Tonga is a Kingdom) and the local beer (I guess that they make it in New Zealand though... does someone knows?).

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Market in Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Carver and author Shadrach Iloa, IlLook forward to reading his book.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


They grow in my local orchard in Oratia, under the apple trees, $1 for a bunch.
I wanted to share them with you, they are so pretty!

Have a lovely day!

Photo by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Coconut and ginger tofu


Two blocks of soft tofu
1 shallot
2 fresh red chillies 
1 can coconut cream
500 ml vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
fresh coriander
fresh Vietnamese mint (or basil)

Drain the tofu and cut into slices. Finely chop the shallot, and roughly break up the chili, discarding the seeds unless you like your food very spicy. Place everything in a pot with the coconut cream and vegetables sock and simmer for 20 minutes. Grate the ginger and add to the tofu, finish off with some fresh coriander and Vietnamese mint leaves. If you don't have Vietnamese mint use fresh basil.
Serve with Thai rice or noodles.

It is also Orchid season in Auckland (or at least in my garden!). I love them because they last for ages, and when they start to fall off the stem I still keep them in small pots or in a bowl of water.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Ginger is the ingredient of the month for July’s Little Thumbs Up event, hosted by Chef and Sommelier in Singapore.


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