Thursday, April 29

Still eating.....

As per usual when my favorite suitcase carrier and I go on holiday, we have a "for the love of God take the damn photo" photo, this is our Wellington version. For some reason suitcase man took a liking to this piece of sculpture, and made us return on our final morning before flying back to Auckland to take a "shot". The rest of us take pictures, a man with a fairly large Canon takes shots........anyway, you can just see Sweet Mothers Kitchen in the background, I enjoyed a plate of curly fries there afterwards, to help me get over having to look like a dork in yet another "shot". The things we do........We actually ate there on the previous evening, I enjoyed my fried chicken very much, it was spicy, juicy, and came with some yummy rice, and coleslaw, one of my favs. Canon man raved over his Tuna melt, so much so I almost felt inclined to try and recreate it at home, except tinned tuna makes me gag. I mean really gag, if it gets opened in my kitchen(NEVER by me) the tin has to be rinsed and taken outside to the recycling immediately, in case I get a whiff from the bin. I wish I liked it, so healthy, so convenient, just so darn smelly!

I cant rave highly enough about our meal at Hippopotamus, it may be a weird name for a restaurant, but the food was good good good. My Bayonne ham, beetroot and goat cheese salad was sublime, the cream fraiche and truffle oil dressing was a great combo with the beets and cheese. To follow I had tender, juicy lamb rack, which was surrounded in parma ham, with a roasted clove of garlic in the middle. Read and weep people. I finished with Roquefort cheese (my dining companion was moved to comment it was a good thing we had been married so long, having to share a room with garlic/blue cheese girl wasn't immediately appealing apparently....) and a glass of Domaine Dumangin Ratafia de la Champagne, which is a sweet almost liqueur style blend of Champagne & I think a fortified wine...this is the consequence of the cocktail and wine with dinner combo, by the end of the evening the finer details are lost. Suffice to say it was delicious. Mr D enjoyed his Ostrich steak, I thought it was a teeny bit chewy, but I believe it is a pretty lean meat, and my lamb was so tender, it was probably an unfair comparison. A trio of Cream Brulee finished things off beautifully on the other side of the table, I sampled the coffee version, delightful, not too sweet, and really creamy.

I am off to make Meatloaf now, not as tres chic perhaps, but it tastes the meantime please enjoy another tourist shot, courtesy of Canon man.

Tuesday, April 27

A happy glass in Wellington........

I shall resist the urge to drone on about the weather.........suffice to say it was fine, besides which my hair often looks like I have walked through a wind tunnel so who would notice anyway? I really love visiting Wellington, it just seems so urban and cool to an Auckland girl, yet compact and manageable for someone who can get lost in a shopping mall.....we stayed at the Museum Hotel opposite Te Papa, it is a good location and I really wanted to try the Hippopotamus restaurant on the third floor.          
After an illuminating day at Te Papa, enjoying the penultimate day of the Pompeii exhibition, I was ready for a treat meal, and happily I not disappointed. We started with cocktails in the bar next to the restaurant. Now I am not normally a cocktail girl, aside from the odd G and T, I don't really partake of spirits. Consequently the effects when I do, quietly falling asleep in my chair at a very nice restaurant in Parnell after two Martinis (why did no one tell me they are pure alcohol?), well, lets just say chic isn't the word. However the Moscow Mule, made with homemade Ginger Beer and a touch of plum syrup, now that was worth risking forty winks over my steak for.....I love ginger beer, and last summer for the first time attempted to make my own. I used the recipe from Homemade 2, produced by NZ Gardener magazine, with explosive results. I was sitting quietly tootling on the PC, when a loud bang made me start (made me swear actually).
I thought the cat had finally made it onto the bench (well done Pru!), instead I discovered my dining room walls dripping, with shards of glass spread like Christmas Dec's all over my axeminster. The worse thing was this was only a single litre bottle, of the four that were sitting in the same box, lethal ginger bombs, ready to go at any moment...........what the hell to do with the either three?? Sensibly, I left the room, rang my husband, had a cry, walked back into the room and walked out again. Several years watching CSI Miami (Horatio was in bomb disposal before moving onto forensics, for non viewers) taught me to put my sunglasses on immediately, then armed with the only safety suit I could find (a green gubba bucket over my head, washing up gloves and several bath towels, every bit as effective yet foxy as it sounds.......) I attempted to move the offending bottles onto the exploded so violently it sprayed the garage, four metres away. Like I said , lethal. I am however the eternal optimist, and so delisios was this beverage I am going to have another attempt this plastic. The clever, chatty barperson (he looked about twelve, but knew his stuff) told me his recipe contained the addition of star anise and lime, which I will certainly be adding myself. He was fairly loose on actual ingredient amounts, except to say he used both fresh and dry ginger. I suspect it was a cavalier attitude towards accurate measuring which got me into trouble last time, so I am working diligently with a recipe from Elizabeth Luard's "A Taste of the Country". I shall post this for you once I am sure it isn't actually potentially also a weapon of mass staining of wallpaper..........after all, I am an experienced professional, let me take the risk.
I shall post next time about the actual meal, which was delightful, and hopefully some pictures. Although I am banned from showing Mr D in the fabbo hotel spa bath, into which I emptied an entire bottle of bath gel. It was a suds extravaganza, just a little face peaking out of a sea of meringue...........I blame hotel holiday silliness, it's a common affliction.

Wednesday, April 21

A Middle East pizza........kinda

This is Mr D's fav supper. It is based on two recipes from Julie Le Clerc's wonderful 'Taking Tea in the Medina", a great book, with wonderful evocative pictures. Homemade pita dough , not that I think he would care one jot if it was homemade or not, rolled out onto a hot oven tray (sadly I have no pizza stone) and covered with a yummy mix of onions fried with minced lamb, a little allspice & sumac, a touch of chilli and some pine nuts. To this version I also added some preserved lemon, I thought I had run out but found one more jar lurking in the pantry from last years batch. I also added a sprinkle of raisins to the Dried Fruit Fiend's pizza........Blast in the oven until crispy, then put big dollops of yohurt over the top, with a handful of mint, a squeeze of lemon & some black pepper. Serve to waiting man on couch glued to The Pacific, basking in the glory of your sheer fabulousness. Make him do the dishes.

Saturday, April 17

Who gives a fig.......?

Lucky me, my sister delivered feijoas and fresh figs from her garden, what a treat. I have an abundence of guava's to trade, I love them, but there is truely only so many a girl can eat.......lunch was a glorious fresh fig and proscuitto salad. I simply sliced the juicy little fruits in half, and threw them on top of my baby spinach, added spring onions, salty proscuitto, and a sprinkle of blue cheese..........the cheese was not strictly nessesary, but I love it, and it was lunch for one.......over the top a tangy vinegrette made with chardonnay vinegar, dijon mustard and olive oil, lucky me indeed...

Thursday, April 15

Cooking classes at home.......

First night , whoop whoop! I must admit I was a teeny bit nervous, mainly around the issue of timing. Two hours seems like a long time, and I guess if you are doing a tax return, or sitting in traffic, it is. However if you are trying to teach four new recipes (plus tips and tricks) to nine lovely souls who have ventured out on Wednesday night, and paid you for the priviledge............well, two hours seemed to fly by. I think I was a tad over ambitious in the amount I tried to cram in (beginners mistake) and of course was rushing at the end. So much so the eggplant for the lamb salad never made it out of the griddle pan...........oh well. I will know for next time.

We made an oven baked risotto (which Jo is making tonight, go girl!), a chicken curry with fresh ground spices, homemade aioli, and a lamb salad, with a delish tahini dressing. I think next time I will make one more complex dish, and several simplier ones, so I can really explain things clearly, and answer questions, rather than throwing things in and out of the oven while gabbling incessently......

 Exhausted today, I cant beleive how tired I was afterwards, but took ages to get to sleep, thinking of all the things I meant to do/not do..........! Here are a few pics of the night, the kitchen got progressivly more untidy, until I was running out of places to put things down, thanks goodness Mr D is so great at washing up. I am taking him to "Winter in Wartime" at the Rialto on Saturday to say thanks, the least a girl can do surely........