Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A less than cherry Christmas

Because I couldn't eat this Christmas (a cruel twist of fate for someone who loves food as much as me), I had to take in the simple pleasures of Christmas day - in between lying very still on various beds in great heat.

I did manage some jelly tonight though so it wasn't all bad. And it made me think of all the people a lot worse off than me on Christmas day and other days. I hope people in hospitals and hospices and nursing homes and just alone found something to enjoy today.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

All of the things. ALL OF THEM.

And now, Christmas is two sleeps away. And I am in bed sick. Good times.

Because it would take far too long to properly recap on the last month, here is a collection of photos with some context.

Lots has been going on at work - first of all, Ed designed this amazing Christmas poster.

Pip moved out. It was sad. But she made us an incredible goodbye dinner featuring pulled pork, spicy coleslaw, and lemon meringue pie.

My letter to the editor was published in the North & South, which confirms my future as an angry letter writing old lady.

I went to Auckland and ate like a Queen, saw the musical Little Shop of Horrors which was a really fun time, and saw 'Who Shot Rock & Roll' at the Auckland Art Gallery.

I went to Toast Martinborough for the third year in a row, this time with Ed, Nick and Little Claire. This is a chicken and quince pie by Ruth Pretty at Ata Rangi. Sadly there was no creme brulee this year which was honestly one of the reasons I wanted to go to Toast. I think I'll have a break from it next year, it was a good day but I need a rest from it.

We stayed at my family's house in Masterton after Toast and went for a walk to Rathkeale to walk off all the food we'd eaten.

We put on a Christmas sing-along show and I went to Auckland. Again.

To help market the show the cast and a couple of others (actually just Kate the Stage Manager and I), went and sang at the Christmas markets in Frank Kitts Park. It was really cute and some old people loved it.

We had a party under the dome in the Grand Hall upstairs at 1 Kent Tce to say Bon Voyage to BATS while we temporarily relocate to the corner of Cuba and Dixon Streets for 2013. My last week at work was spent in a makeshift office upstairs with a 12 metre drill below.

I got to go to carols at Longwood again this year, it was lovely as per usual.

Then I had a roast dinner two nights in a row, at the second one we had amazing bread pudding with chocolate, pears, and sugar syrup.

On Friday night there was some South Island road trip planning and a visit to the Telecom Christmas Tree. Then yesterday a visit to Alex for her birthday where there were some beautiful flowers and a beautiful baby. He is so cute.

Now, I'm really looking forward to feeling better (please let it be soon). I was meant to be in the Wairarapa already but I felt too sick to drive over. So I'm hanging out in bed watching first the clouds and then the fog roll in and magically disappear the harbour. It hasn't really felt like Christmas much yet, I haven't decorated a tree, didn't get time to make Christmas cards, I haven't done all my Christmas shopping, and I've only listened to A Very Cherry Christmas a couple of times. But my first 10 weeks of work have been crazy and we made a Christmas show, so that probably has something to do with it.

On the 28th I'm going down South for a little drive around (although, not so little really, one day involves five hours of driving...) as I've never been south of Christchurch. I'm excited. Let's hope Boy Alex (my Mum insists I stop calling him that, 'It makes him sound like Boy George' - but I've got too many Alexs around, I need to differentiate them somehow) and I don't get too sick of each other. I plan to take lot's of photos, so stay tuned.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Knitting. Finally.

Well, that was an unintended month long hiatus. I've mostly been working I think, and swimming, and going to Auckland, and singing along with our Christmas show that closed last night after 13 performances. And, most importantly, knitting. The knitting deserves its own post so I'll save a general update/photographic essay of the last month for next time.

The arrival of the baby for whom the Pebble vest was intended gave me a helpful push to get it finished (push, oh the comedy). So...

Voila! It was so easy to knit and I got to sew buttons onto knitting for the first time and once it was washed and blocked it looked all even and beautiful. I still love the colour and Theodore looks so cute wearing it (I haven't seen it on him in real life yet but Alex sent me a heaps cute photo). 

The buttons aren't quite what I'd have chosen if there was more choice, but I was in a hurry to get it finished so that he wouldn't outgrow it before he even got it, and Knit World in town didn't have a very big selection. They're fine though, purpley, kind of shiny and almost Paua shell patterned.

But, what's made me feel like an actual knitter is the booties. I knew when I finished them a few months ago that the bind off was quite tight, and sure enough, when Cam tried to put them on Teddy's feet it didn't seem like it was going to work. So I took them home and decided to try to unpick the bind off and bind them off more loosely. Then, I had the idea to knit a couple of rows in rib, because rib is much stretchier. And it worked! 

You can't really see the rib rows very clearly in this artful foliage photo, but they were tested this afternoon and are a success. It's like I know what I'm doing or something.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pretty. Yum.

Yup, more photos. These were from last last Sunday when I did get to sit in the sun and do a few rows of the Pebble vest in between admiring the view from our deck.

Then I went to a rehearsal for our Christmas show which is coming along nicely, and then to Mumford & Sons at the Town Hall. It was good but by the time they came on we'd been standing for over two hours and my yam feet couldn't cope. The festoons looked beautiful though. I do love a good string of lights.

During the week I went to Safety Not Guaranteed - it felt like I hadn't been to the movies for ages, but turns out my 'ages' is actually like a week and half. I ended up quite liking it, the ending was very unexpected. I also went to a talk about la dia de los muertos at Te Papa. It made me really want to go to Mexico. And I went swimming twice this week at the Freyberg Pool - well, a mixture of swimming and aqua jogging really. I'm embracing my deep uncoolness.

On Saturday I went to a 3 year old birthday party which had a dinosaur cake and whitebait fritters. And then had THE most amazing lunch with Beth at Nam Restaurant. There's a new summer 'Wrap and Roll' lunch menu - you get fresh salad ingredients (lettuce, herbs, thinly sliced veges), different types of meats and fish, and rice paper which you quickly dip in warm water to soften and then use different combinations of ingredients to make yum rice paper rolls which you dip in various sauces.

The lovely woman who runs the restaurant talked us through all the ingredients and showed us how to make the rolls (Beth was way better at it than me).

It was so filling and THEN we got freshly made warm banana sago pudding, which I had never had before but was ridiculously good. I got jasmine tea while Beth got Drip Drip Coffee, which is a little filter contraption that sits on top of a glass quarter-filled with condensed milk. The coffee is dangerously sweet mixed with the milk and even I quite liked the taste.

So, pretty amazing.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More life in pictures

I really haven't done anything much over this last week except work and watch episodes of Shortland Street in bed late at night with one of my flatmates. There was an incredible moon on Tuesday night, huge and glowing yellow.

On Wednesday night I came home to find a jack-0-lantern on the front step which was cute. This photo is terrible but for some reason the Hipstamatic app was the only one that could cope with the darkness.

And there's been some walking to work and cups of tea and brunches and the usual.

Actually, on Sunday night I went to the final film of the Italian Film Festival. I had wanted to go to a couple of the films during the Festival but didn't manage to fit them in, so had to just go to whatever was on last Sunday evening. It was La Bellezza Del Somaro (A Family on the Verge), a modern adaptation of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Which, thanks to classic movie Sunday, I have actually seen.

The film wasn't as full of Italian babes as I had hoped, and wasn't quite the Italian romantic comedy I'd hoped for either. It was pretty crazy, but I enjoyed it. I thought making the daughter's boyfriend an old man in his 70s was a great modernising of the shock in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

I'm going to do some more knitting today, because that baby is going to appear any day now, before going to watch a rehearsal of The Island Bay Loners' Doomsday Christmas Sing-Along. It's a bit weird because Alex, Ed and I have written it but only Ed is in it and it's being directed by our friend Uther. It's going to be amazing though - it's a mixture of comedy and Christmas songs, so how could it not be the best thing ever?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A few of me photos

Every year this fiery orange tree at my Nana's blooms for only a few weeks. It's pretty impressive.

I went to a play as part of the Greytown Arts Festival which was performed entirely with marionettes. At the end, the main female marionette demanded to be released from her strings - she sank down and then the puppeteers picked her up and made her walk on air out into the audience and down to the back of the room where she disappeared. That was my favourite bit.

From our afternoon in Devonport last weekend.

I saw and liked this painting by New Zealand artist Bessie Christie last time I was at Auckland Art Gallery, and this time I took a photo of it. It's called 'The Art Class', dated around 1948.

I really liked the exhibition of Auckland Pasifika artists at the Gallery, and I got very frustrated by The Walters Prize works. Mainly because the blurbs giving the works some context were on the wall opposite to the entrance to the exhibition so I didn't see it and didn't understand what was going. Also, modern art can just be frustrating, I think anyway.

The end.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Last week I went to the opera, a marionette play in Greytown, and to Auckland to see Mary Poppins. But more on that another time. Maybe. Because more pressing is the dream food experience I had on Sunday evening.

I had been wanting to do a degustation for AGES. The thought of a million courses of small but perfectly formed dishes definitely sounded like my idea of a good time. However, they're often quite expensive and I didn't know who would want to spend all that money eating food with me.

Luckily, it was my flatmate Stuart's birthday and he organised a group to go to Le Canard in Thorndon for an eight course duck degustation, giving plenty of notice so that people could save their pennies. Although, it was extremely good value - only $80, plus $45 to have wine matched with four of the courses. And the extremely attractive and delightfully charming French waiter was thrown in for free.

Naturally, I photographically documented each and every course.

First we were given what seemed like a cross between red wine and sparkling wine. Usually I'm not a fan of either, but this was really good.

Then there was the Amuse-Bouche, 'A Taste of Homemade Charcuterie'. Duck mousse and duck terrine. Some people ate theirs off the spoon but I had mine on bread.

Then 'Truffled [is 'to truffle' actually a verb? I'm not convinced] Scrambled Duck Egg and Air Dried Duck Breast'. This was one of my favourites. Although this chef obviously doesn't subscribe to the 'you should be able to eat everything on the plate' school of thought. The long thin thing leaning on the egg was a delicious, delicious fancy sliver of toasted sandwich with strips of duck in it.

'Duck Gizzard and Fresh Goat Cheese, Honey and Raspberry Vinegar Dressing'. I didn't know what gizzard was, someone thought it was the 'waste meat', someone else thought it was from in the 'neck area'. I just looked it up and found out it's part of the digestive tract. In some situations I think ignorance is bliss because it tasted really good. Although I'd still have eaten it if I'd known what it was, I might just have been a bit more wary. The cheese was a highlight, it had walnuts in it and was very creamy.

This was the 'Duck Buillon with Foie Gras and Mushrooms'. The bowl came out without the buillon (I asked, it means 'broth'), which was poured from a teapot into the bowl once it had been set on the table. I do realise how foie gras is made and it does cause me some conflict. Le Canard has actually been the subject of some protests over it, but I've had it once before (in Paris) and it's so good. Maybe I am a terrible person. Emma had hers without the foie gras and said the broth and creamy stuff was still delicious.

We then had a 'Walnut Wine Granite' which I guess was a palate cleanser. It was amazing how strong the  walnut taste was. By this point I was in a kind of disbelieving joyful stupor that we'd already had so many amazing things, and that there were still three more courses to come. It was a great feeling. The excellently matched wine probably helped.

This was the 'Duck Leg Confit Croquette with Cepes Sauce, Peas Mousseline'. I loved mushy peas when I had them in England and I loved the fancier version - pea mousseline.

This was definitely one of my favourites. 'Roasted Duck Breast with Blueberry Sauce'. It wasn't as delicate as some of the other courses, but it was cooked perfectly.

I love dessert. And I really love creme brulee. So this was another favourite (I've said lots of things were favourites, so really, I think I loved them all a lot). I commented that the profiterole looked like an elephant. The French waiter (on whom I had developed quite a crush as I got more intoxicated) clarified that it was supposed to be a swan. Then when he brought out my hot chocolate, which was accompanied by a little biscuit, he said, 'I have a terrible joke - that is not an elephant' (indicating the biscuit). I was briefly smitten.

And then it was over. Almost four hours after it began. If only every Sunday night meal was like that.