Friday, December 30, 2011

Review: Christmas 2011

Twas a great Christmas. Here are some images 'in review' from what still blows my mind as an extraordinary time of year. You gear up to try and finish everything in time for the 25th of December, you're exhausted from 12 months on the go (and we in Canterbury were especially weary this year, not to mention stunned by 2 rogue earthquakes on the 23rd!).  You are then forced to stop completely, be happy, talk to people and eat a lot in heat.  It is what it is!  But this year seemed pretty special to be together with my immediate family.
Above epitomises the weird year we've had and was my first glint of Christmas spirit: The animal Christmas blessing (one of those ChCh institutions that make this place what it is) took place in a geo dome in Hagley Park on the 22nd rather than the ChristchurchCathedral. Check out the donkey with tinsel, the goats...all the characters of the Christmas story were there, and everyone was  invited to bring their own pets along to sing animal songs. Youser.
Some Christmas feasting at my family's place in Akaroa.  Glazed Ham. My bro went disco on the cherry decoration.
My sister in law went super green on the salad (check out those broad beans)
We lunched in front of what has to be one of the best 'front yard' cricket pitches around
Adventures to the beach, walking through people sized grasses...(negotiating blackberries, nettles and styles)...
'Granny' shouting kiddie cones for everyone in the quintessential 'dairy'
And more cricket...

What a super great 'cliched' NZ Christmas Day to close off a far from 'cliched' year.  (Imagine the acute there).  Bring on the click over to 2012.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fresh Food Nirvana

We had our Black Estate Wines Christmas party last night in Waipara.  Food was prepared by a very talented cook in North Canterbury. Check it out:
The freshest vegetables ever with eel dip, an anchovy italian butter, a beautiful mixed herb pesto.
Baby carrots with pomegranate
 Just a green rocket salad with radish and pomegranate//
 Backed quail  (with spices like cinnamon)
And wild venison (crusted in pepper and spices) on top of the longest mandolin spagetti strands of beetroot!

Dessert was tiny baby strawberries, raspberries, an almond milk jelly with a star anise fused chocolate brownie.  So so good.

Friday, November 25, 2011

North Otago - Road Trip - Part 2 (The Rest of It)!

Beware of mega post below.  Its a round up of colours, tastes and moments of that North Otago roadie that energised us big time a couple of weeks ago...

Moeraki pics first up...

Fish drying outside Fleur's

Loving the Oamaru Botanic Gardens. I spent a few childhood holidays here with my Grandmother.


Oamaru - such a weird place, such a good place...
 Loan and Merc for dinner in a spectacular building that felt 'safe as houses' even to seasoned quakers.. 

House smoked fish starter
 Condiments for the carvery - these are placed on the table whilst you are at the carvery choosing your meat treat!  Superb concept. Men were going crazy - as if they hadn't eaten a proper meal in years.  It was done really well.
Superb dessert - baclava, with star anise granita, and pistachio creme anglaise.  
Stopped off at 'Shagpoint', and watched 2 seals playing in the surf (along with this guy - just a local shooting the breeze)...

And then we embarked through the magnificent Danzies Pass to drop back into Canterbury.  This pub at half way point seemed out of a movie - but really real.  Toasted sandwich - perfectly flipped on the hot plate.

And crazy, gold mining country and unaffectedness all around..

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This is where we spent the weekend. Renting a stranger's 'home' that felt like our home.  My eyes were opened to the majesty of Canterbury, how remote and undersold it is, how it surrounds us - and this particular part  (up the Rakaia River) is so close to Christchurch. Good times, hill walks, spas, crazy breeds of cow, Digby caught a possum, we had a cocktail party on a cliff and ate hearty was all good!

Monday, November 14, 2011

North Otago Roadie - Part 1, Riverstone Kitchen

Just returned from a 3 day roadie around North Otago. The parting thought was: is this the most fertile growing region in NZ? The black soils, sculptured hills and heritage of market vege growing seemed so obvious - especially when all tied up together at the very modern Riverstone Kitchen. Their food, and gardens are truly remarkable.  Huge project - executed with integrity and care.  Awesome. Go there.

 Pistachio Porc Terrine, wrapped in what I think was vine leaf.  Best modern take I've had on the terrine.
 They smoke their own salmon - and of course 'lay their own eggs' (well the chooks do)...
 And then the extensive gardens just go on and on - and they only grow for themselves, which means they are feeding many mouths - with whatever is growing well.  Having seen many restaurant gardens in California - this left them in the dust I have to say.  No tokenism here - just production!

 Perhaps - photographer of the year for the photo above?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Poor Parenting

Came home after dinner at the neighbour's last night - to see Digby the dog had carefully pawed out some books to find a spot to hide from fireworks.  They were so orderly displaced, Al thought it was me doing a clear out before we went out - but when we put our hand on the wood of the bookcase, it was warm - a sure sign Diggers had found a safe place.  Must not leave him alone next 5 November!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kickin Lunch

I had an hour spare on Wednesday when in Auckland for meetings.  I dropped into my Godparents' house around 12 unannounced and was offered lunch.  Within minutes check out what emmerged from their cupboards and fridge...
Just the staples for a week day lunch: Pork Pie, cheese selection, pickled onions, chutneys, mustard, HP sauce and tomatoes.  I don't reckon living gets much better than this. Especially when it comes with cloth napkins.  Thanks for the lunch stop guys!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Now you are 3 (or 21)

Digby Blair's birthday. Personalised mail 'par avion' arrived in time...
 King spot on the couch - (that's the end of a yawn). 
 Voila the birthday present: one RUMP steak (we are having steak to join him). 
And then...."its on"!
I love a birthday...