Sunday, September 26, 2010

The 2010 - 2011 Season to the Ice is Officially Open...

Every year, the Christchurch Mayor hosts a civic cocktail party to welcome the international Antarctic Programs (mainly the US and smaller Italian programmes) to Christchurch - being a major gateway to the Ice. 
It is a 'quality gig' with some of the best speakers, talking about something dear to their hearts, which means a great deal to their respective countries, and the world, across many themes.
The NZers also heading down to Scott Base are there too - and I am not sure why, but it seems that those who work with Antarctica seem to be jolly nice people. Maybe it is something to do with the values of the place - where most national programs seek to simply understand and ensure peace on the continent. Here are some photos - not of the people - but of what we ate (of course!) to celebrate summer coming to Antarctica, and temporary populations growing...
 White Tie Catering - outstanding with  hearty soup stations, set with enamel cups of perfect seafood chowder following the canapes.  As well as....
And this nice 'favour' to go home with. So sweet - and so American, which is so appropriate given that the US Deep Freeze Programme is the largest Antarctic programme in the world, and we have had the pleasure of hosting them on their way to the Ice now for 53 years.

Dinner in - Saturday Night

Last night I made Cha Ca fish with tumeric to toast a very sunny and productive day in the garden. Cha ca means Catfish in Vietnamese - I used gurnard and it worked perfectly.  We first had this meal in Hanoi at the 100 year old restaurant that is Ch Ca La Vong. Its famous for only cooking this one dish, and for having really surly service.  The whole street is now full of Cha Cha fish specialty restaurants, but there must only be one!  Here's my take on this colourful dish.
its the ultimate meal in my mind. Clean flavours, great colour, crunch 'for Africa', herbs galore, fun and easy to cook, all leading up to very interactive eating.
I followed a very true recipe (by Didier Corlou who is exec chef at Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi), including fresh tumeric root, galingal to help marinate the fish (with the ubiqitous fish sauce, some vinegar and sugar).
The 2 variations that came in were: 1) we ate it in lettuce cups, (like san choi bao or Hanoi bun cha), rather than in noodle bowls, and I forgot the dill, so 2) used coriander instead. I reckon my attempt was so good that is ressembles the google images of the real deal at Cha Ca La Vong, bar an internal brazier which has definitely got to be next piece of cooking equipment on the list.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hello Blossom..

Its always excruciating to try to capture cherry blossom in its perfect billowy form (is the tree ever at a perfect optimum)?  The blossoms are either just arriving, or just caught by the wind, or half the tree's flowers have left us...but this morning they were looking pretty fine at Hagley Park.  Maybe it was the mild warm day and stillness that set them off.  Such a treat.

C1 espresso's new release t-shirt

C1 gifted this new release t-shirt to Paul Ellis - a small token to thank the man who is creating the free 'Band Together Canterbury' Concert in Hagley Park with Jason Kerrison (OpShop).

The week gone was 'Metallica Week' in Christchurch with Metallica making a special return visit to NZ to play 2 sell out concerts after a massive facebook campaign. One service station worker reported that  "hell had vomited up a whole lot of bogins",  ('quote un quote' - reported in The Press)!  

The question is: Does C1's new release t-shirt reflect
a) Christchurch as the home of metal, or does the 'shock' symbol in fact represent,
b) something else going on in Christchurch - (still going and going and going and going and going and going). 1011 aftershocks as of Friday afternoon in total.  

Either way - I like the t-shirt and I liked turning Paul into a 'bogin' or a 'quake-r',  for a moment. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sunrise this morning

6.15am dog walk this morning (sounds like I do it everyday)! I came across this guy trying to capture the light. Armagh Bridge, Hagley Park.

Sockburn Service Centre - Part 2: 'The Bureaucrats'

These are the decision makers of Sockburn (looks like the 'borough' used to be called Paparua County).  There are many 'Councils' mounted on the meeting room walls - starting at the turn of the century...through the ages.  Sockburn.  These are your bureucrats!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sockburn Service Centre - my new office in 'Crush-church'

For the next month I will be stationed at Sockburn Service Centre due to the 'Quake'.  Before now, I (and it seems many) did not really know what, who or why Sockburn was?!  But after a week - Sockburn is becoming endearing.  Here is a 'Sockburn Service Centre scoop'.  This is where I am spending my days...

What a welcome...
Happy to wait thanks...

I'm pleased someone is looking over our meetings...

And the 'gallery' is comfortbable...
Mmm...lunch time is a riot at the Sockburn dairy (I will cover the $2 lamingtons soon)...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Banding Together...

Back at work (out at Sockburn Service Centre whilst our building is repaired - crikey!!!). But is has been a good couple of days, with Paul Ellis and Jason Kerrison (Op Shop) coming down from Auckland with one of those ideas that just steam roll into reality.  Christchurch is going to have a concert in Hagley Park - for free, with NZ's iconic musicians banding together to help us all let off some of this quake tension and celebrate surviving! How nice is that? Two people who don't even live here are giving this to the city. Its going to be big.  Check out the line up in this clip where a certain bureaucrat managed to kind of get in the way...
The PM helped us announce the concert for 23 October (that is his back), at a 'thank you' event for the student army, led by Sam (in the striped shirt), who rallied the student troops via facebook to help the affected communities.  One day they had 1000 shovelling. We also gave them 240 Metallica tickets for next Tuesday's sell out gig as a thanks. It was a great affair, with the PM, Mayor and our rock stars signing shovels which will be auctionned off on Trade Me.  Best speeches I've heard at a function in a long time.  Go the youth!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pixie the Papillion

'Snapped' outside the Bicycle Thief - 7 months old and apparently unusually small, even for a 'Papillion'.  What a 'head turner' she is.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Step by Step 'normality' returns...?

Today is Sunday (day 9 since the first quake), and it is really peaceful in the city. Yesterday was a hive of activity .Cranes on the sky line fixing chimneys, helicopters still buzzing, roads being fixed (so quickly it is astonunding), builders hammering, buldozers 'demo-ing', and people still moving all their things out of houses or returning into their houses from afar, as they slowly work out whether their shelters are habitable or not..  Here is a round-up from my reasonably normal day out and about in 'Quake-town' yesterday. I don't think that name is going to stick for long.  There is an awesome sense of optimism and solidarity around.
Al and I have coveted these Vitra chairs at a cheap Thai place for some time. I biked past and had to assert some self control, as they were all just sitting there - along with refrigerators etc to be shipped out somewhere as the building is condemmed. There are scenes like this every 2nd corner in the CBD (note - not every shop like the media have shown)!
Madras Street: this was  'Simply Catering' that we have used for Council functions (and they did the best sandwiches).  Now the question (and it feels quite urgent) needs to be asked for spaces left to be re-filled: What design and rebuild will now take place?  Check out this fresh new blog asking for all our ideas: Ideas for Christchurch.

Amazing how WORLD - a shop so full of glass and delicate things - is still standing. Whilst shops two down from here are caved in.  I was impressed with the speedy spray painted coding on each window and house around the city.  The fluro orange and 'numbering' was kind of frightening, but also very clear as to whether places were OK or a NO GO.

These multiple containers are placed around the city - not sure why? Maybe to get stock/furtniture out of bulidings quickly? 

This is one street away from us - we were so lucky not to get the 'Liquifaction' at our place (that word sounds so great when said out loud). There is just sand everywhere - literally from the depths of the earth.  St Albans (our suburb) was lightly hit on this front - but the liquification still seeped its way in....

The Perfect Match: Black Estate and The Bicycle Thief

What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon: 65 of us settled in at 4pm to learn more about Black Estate and match the wines with beautifully curated tasting plates from the Bicycle Thief.  (second day open for them following the Quake and all)! 

The Black Estate Pinot Noir 07 was matched with venison capaccio - and Al and Nick poured a 2010 Pinot Barrel Sample too which drank well and we are now looking forward to bottling it (at least a year away)!

We also tried the 2009 Chardonnay, plus a barrel sample of the 2010 Chardonnay. The Black Estate 09 Chardonnay was paired with a plate of salmon, horseradish, anhovy fillet with sorrel - which was tarte, bitter, and sweet plus savoury all at the same time. Such a good match, that I forgot to photograph it for you.
Glasses hadn't been replaced since the earthquake, so we just used one glass for all tastes. Nice conservation.
The Black Estate 2009 Riesling was paired with a salad of squid, fennel, cauliflower, buttercrunch salad and veges. All very good.
And Al and Nicholas were a dynamic duo (Black Estate), presenting the wines (with Lisa from the Bicycle Thief interjecting with food notes)! Nick talked the facts, Al acted as 'glossary' to make sure Wine Maker Brown kept it in everyone's language.  A stellar presentation.
Sylia (Nick's daughter) loved the 'show' (as she called it).
Feast of Canterbury is well and truly back up and running after the week's events.