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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sickeningly hip

I'm quite in love with the Hipstamatic and Instagram apps on my new phone. I know, it's embarrassing. I'm becoming more of a stereotype every day. It's just that they automatically make everything seem more interesting/are more forgiving than normal photos. 

I started my new job this week, hence the first day flowers. I've got a new closest cafe (given I'm now down the other end of town) where I can't help but read the horoscope stuck on the coffee machine each day. I got last day flowers from my old job, which were very nice.

In between seeing the third year solos at Toi and the first STAB show at BATS and the opera tonight (which I quite liked, although it is weird hearing it sung in English, they seem to randomly repeat sentences and words, sometimes multiple times, which you don't notice so much when it's in a foreign language), I went bridesmaid dress shopping with my friend Hayley who I'm being a bridesmaid for next year (I always said I'd sing a particular song at her wedding so I'd better get practising), had Baby Knitters Club and babysat (which is where the second photo is from).

Thanks to BKC and babysitting, I have finally made some more progress on the Pebble vest. I'm really liking knitting it, it's very straightforward so far. I don't want to jinx it but I feel like it just might be ready before the baby is.

This weekend I'm going to Mary Poppins the musical in Auckland. I am very excited.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A little vest waits

Anita has finished the baby jersey she has been knitting. It's knit in 4ply so it wasn't exactly a quick knit. I am hopeless. If I spent less time having dinner at Arthur's Kitchen on Saturday night (they have 'Dunedin cheese rolls' as a starter choice - so good), brunch at the Chocolate Fish Cafe at Shelly Bay on Sunday morning (one of the group I was with described it as a 'creche with a coffee machine' which was pretty apt, there were SO many small children, but they were having a great time in the big outside area fighting over the trikes and balance bikes, one little boy pulled down his pants and started weeing right in the middle of all the other kids, until his Dad saw him and ran in and swooped him up, then his Mum came over with a jug of water to wash the concrete. None of the other kids seemed to notice or care, they just altered the course of their biking slightly), or swanning out to Makara for the afternoon on Sunday then I'd have more knitting to show for myself.

I'd never been to Makara before though, so I was glad to go out there. We climbed up a bit of a hill and the view was pretty great. Mana and Kapiti Islands to the north (second picture), and the South Island to the south (go figure).

Monday, October 1, 2012

Up the Garden Path (but not really)

The path to my house is covered with pink flowers, which is very picturesque but also very slippery when it has been raining.

We had Baby Knitters Club last Wednesday. I'm making slow progress on the Pebble Vest. I feel like the finished product is going to be tiny given it's all knit as one piece, so I'd better hurry up.

Last week I went to Bill Bailey, The Keepers and Flowers From My Mother's Garden. I'm going to try to go to all the BATS shows from now on given my new job, so I might have to stop listing them or it will get boring. I also went to La Boca Loca in Mirarmar and it was yum. I'd wanted to go for a while because people had said it was good and I was not disappointed. I especially appreciated the Frida shrine in the toilet. Although, I wonder how she'd feel about her shrine being in the toilet.

I feel like I haven't been to the movies in ages, but that's not actually true. The other week I went to The Sapphires. It was bit too cheesy for my liking. The dialogue felt pretty stale. But the music was fun.