Miriama McDowell is in-demand. The busy actor stars in buzzy new horror film Coming Home in the Dark, which is released in local theatres this week after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in the year, as well as the new season of series Head High, and Māori TV show Ahikāroa.
Miriama has lived in the same flat in Auckland’s Kingsland neighbourhood off and on for about 12 years; today, she lives there with her two daughters and flatmate Scotty Cotter, also an actor. “The stairwell smells like fancy conditioner because it’s above a hairdressers, and the bedrooms smell like baking bread early in the morning because they’re above a bakery,” she explains.
Ahead of her busy week of creative projects being shared with Aotearoa, Miriama shares with us a few of her favourite spots, both locally and around Tāmaki Makaurau.
Favourite place for a drink?
I really love going to Rosanna’s in Kingsland for a Black Doris Plum daiquiri. I like the idea of a cocktail bar - you start there for a few drinks, and then move on to somewhere else. But actually when I go there I often end up staying all night because the cocktail menu is so good.
Best place for breakfast?
I love L’oeuf for the tofu banh mi; so delicious. It’s covered in chopped peanuts and fresh veggies. My daughter is anaphylaxis to peanuts so when I’m away from her on tour, the first thing I do is buy a big jar of peanut butter. I’ve had to stop eating peanut covered vanilla ice creams when I’m with her at the movies which has been a very serious sacrifice. I mean, she could die so it’s a no brainer. But still I miss them.
Where do you get your morning coffee?
I have been an Atomic local for so long, it honestly feels like my kitchen. I’m on the oat milk flat whites at the moment. I admire people who drink black coffee but I have never been that cool.
The restaurant you’ve been going to for years?
Prego is where I go to celebrate with my kids. I love the way they treat children - it’s great quality food and fine dining, but somehow they manage to make that work with kids. My eldest daughter pinched an Italian waiter’s bottom there as he walked past when she was 12-months-old. I mean…
Favourite restaurant to visit with friends?
I deeply mourn the passing of Mercury Plaza food court. It was so bloody grungy that I always felt like throwing my clothes in the washing machine when I got home, but the kai was so good.
Brunch on a Sunday: where would we find you?
Blue Rose café! The Island Plate! The omelette with taro leaves and coconut cream! Also I love going into a café filled with brown people. It makes my heart feel good and then my puku feels better.
Favourite place for date night?
I love Coco’s Cantina. In lockdown I had to teach myself to make my own polenta chips cause I missed them so much. My tāne lives in Te Atatu Peninsula so we try to eat local there too - Mr Illingsworth does great cauliflower bites and the cocktails are epic.
Your regular supermarket?
It’s really bad but I spend way too much money at my dairy. My daughter often wants to bake on the weekend so I send her over there to buy everything she needs. It’s not very economical but I’m also supporting my local community right? And I owe them because they let me leave my stuff there for people to pick up.
Where do you go for some relaxation or a beauty treatment?
My 3-year-old and I go to the Newmarket pools and swim in the hot pools. It is the best design ever because I can be an arm’s length away from her in the hot pool, while she swims in the lukewarm pool.
Where do you go for a workout?
I climb Maungawhau, and sometimes I do an intense stair climb workout there too - if I want a 20-minute high intensity cardio, that’s where I head to. When I was in labour with Hero, my 3-year-old, I had to bring on the labour, so I climbed the stairs eight times. By number six, I knew she was ready to come, but I did two more rounds just to make sure.
If someone was visiting your neighbourhood/city for the first time, what’s the one place you would recommend they visit?
I’d tell them to climb the māunga in Tāmaki Makaurau. There are so many to discover and it’s such a great way to connect with the whenua and the history. Plus you get exercise and a view!
Best kept shopping secret?
Welcome Back Slow Fashion on Instagram. The best clothes, the best kaupapa.
Other shopping tips you wouldn’t mind sharing?
I love the Sunday Central Flea market in Balmoral. There are so many great stalls. I bought my retro beach umbrella from there and I love it so much. One of my other favourite sellers is Friday Family Clothing who upcycle military jackets and embroider onto vintage American sweats.