The joys of friendship, Auckland, and tickets to Rick Stein’s show

I feel extremely lucky, extremely grateful, and a little bittersweet, too.
~ Wentworth Miller

There’s so much to write about tonight, and I don’t know where to start. The weekend was a tiny bit bittersweet, but oh-so-wonderful. It felt like Time was on my side; there was time to do everything. Time to walk in the rain, exploring the wide, crowded streets of Auckland city – mad intersections and all. Time to eat cake with the sweet Marie, talking about life, words, travel and food. Time to sit and share stories and tasty tapas with Ian. Time to erupt into howling laughter with Mandy, countless times, clutching at my sides in a futile bid to curb the stitches. Time to sit in Tim’s car with my eyes closed as 4 of us rolled down country roads, listening to languid lullabies. Time to make new acquaintances through my friends. Time to eat. Time to sit on a roadside bench and sing stupid songs with Ian. Time to glare at Mandy’s ugly cat (sorry Mandy).

You see? It was wonderful. The bittersweet I mentioned above – touched the tip of my tongue the night we sat at Spago eating dessert. We laughed lots, and the dessert was delightful, as was our friendly waitress. My peach & almond tart with sorbet was as sweet as a kiss:

However, a curious, delicate sadness did arise too, as I looked at my friends’ beautiful faces and reflected on how much we’ve changed over the years. Yes, our friendship has deepened; yes, we have more shared memories between us; but time, while generous and nurturing, takes away other things. We’ve all been through our share of struggles. And no longer will we have the amount of energy and time we had in university to go on midnight missions to the supermarket or on spontaneous drives; we don’t even live in the same city anymore. In a few years, we may all have busier jobs, relationships, and who knows what – kids? – it was clear to me that I should cherish this weekend with them for it may be awhile before we got to do this again.

Oh, I know it is pointless to dwell on change – for it is inevitable – but I am still learning to cope with it and use these moments of sadness to remind myself to cherish my relationships and the time I have with people.

One of the best things we did over the weekend was to make a trip to Ciao Bella yesterday afternoon – as we stepped into the warm, rustic and charming place, my heart did a smiley somersault.

I had some vanilla & almond tea and a warmed orzo salad with spicy chorizo, spinach, carrot & capsicum – too good. I felt like a happy cat who’d just been presented with a huge dish of cream!

The others had Turkish bread, brownie, carrot cake and other hot drinks… a very satisfying late lunch.

The icing on the cake was the restful view before our eyes. Mmmm, relaxation!

I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but we ate so much over the weekend! Without shocking you with the entire list of the places we went to, here are some recommendations:

Tasca – try the green beans slow cooked in olive oil with onion & tomato, served with crusty bread; the luscious bowl of vegetables; and comforting Spanish tortilla (all from the Tapas menu).

Mezze – don’t deprive yourself of their heavenly orange & almond cake (GF, DF) or hearty lentil & tomato soup with country bread.

Rosehip Cafe is wonderful for both their service and their food, and is especially super on a sunny day with their outdoor seating.

Also, if you are up in Auckland now, you might want to check out the “Kai to Pie” exhibition at Auckland Museum – it’s free to enter, and pretty interesting!

Lastly, thank you Roz & the Lunchbox Team. I’m still quite shocked that I won the Rick Stein blogging competition (competition entry here)… my goodness!?!? Very pleased and excited though about going to Rick Stein’s show soon!! (Don’t miss it – 4 & 5 August in Auckland, 7 & 8 August in Wellington).

With this, I should say goodnight. I’m so sleepy I’m actually falling off the couch now… have a great day,


13 responses to “The joys of friendship, Auckland, and tickets to Rick Stein’s show

  1. Well done Mel! Lovely to see the comp won by someone I’ve met!

  2. Mel, well done!! That’s awesome news! I’m going to give your tuatuas a whirl on my next day off. Finger’s crossed, I’ll be going too so maybe we could swap notes afterward. Congratulations again, young lady :)

  3. Hooray! Congrats!! I remember that post well :) Wish I could say I was going but I’m still weighing up the cost, especially with all those Wellington on a Plate events in August too!

  4. Wow! Huge congratulations Mel! That’s awesome!

  5. Anne – Thank you :)

    Nigel – Thanks, and great, do let me know what you think if you do try it! Look forward to post-show note-swapping :-)

    Millie – Mmmm Wgtn on a Plate. I had a quick look around the website but had to click out as I could feel the tentacles of temptation!

    Jian – thank you :-)

  6. Mel you are a CHAMP… MelCHAMP. Congratulations!

  7. Haidee – no don’t inflate my head!

  8. Mel, it was so lovely to meet up with you and to chat about food and writing over cake…all the good things! I’m convinced we need more blogger meet-ups now because I’ve felt really inspired since then. So many ideas flowing.

    That’s fantastic you’ve won the Rick Stein contest. Into the hallowed halls of New Zealand’s best food writers you go. How exciting and wonderful! Keep up the good work:-)

    • :-) Who knows, maybe sometime a NZ-wide meetup can be organised, how cool would that be. I really enjoyed chatting with you too!

      Thanks for encouragement as well ;-)

  9. Remember going around China with my mom, and having people give her chicken butts for our dinner.

  10. Hello, Mel!
    Thank you for dropping by my blog. I would love to go to Wellington some time and meet all fellow food bloggers there :) Stay blogging! Cheers from Waikato district :)

  11. mao mao is beautiful haha :)
    very proud of you!

  12. Asia correspondent – chicken butts, oh man! That is one thing I probably won’t venture to try just yet!

    Arfi – awesome, that would be lovely.

    Mandz – lol ohhhh dear. :)

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