Tag Archives: Summer

Charming weekend in Hawkes Bay

Rhythm is born in all of us.
~ Ginger Rogers

Last Thursday, J and I flew down to Napier for the annual Art Deco Festival. J’s first time; my third. As individuals we are both happy travellers – as a couple we are learning to allow our separate interests to mingle and create experiences which delight us.

While J can never say yes quick enough to salty sand and water, my tummy is the one I think of satisfying, more so than any Vitamin D deficiencies. He loves films; I love farmers’ markets. He poses, unabashed, for the camera. I am still learning not to apologise before asking if someone can take a photo for us … and not to hurry J when he is taking a photo of me, because I get shy holding a pose in public. He is a relaxed person and puts people around him at ease. I work hard to relax … and when I don’t I too often make the mistake of working harder still >.<

But we’ve always, since our first short trip away together, travelled well together. Through him I go on more walks, swims and adventures – through me he eats and travels more and has an increasing capacity for spicy food.

Over the weekend, we had just about the perfect combination of activities for both of us. We stayed at an Airbnb retreat in Te Awanga, about 25 driving minutes away from Napier – at a cosy pad where we could hear the rolling waves from the beach just behind us. It wasn’t an ideal swimmers’ beach but was lovely to spend the first part of a morning there.

We watched sparkling vintage cars roll by …

ate some scrumptious food

danced to live music with a beautiful crowd …

savoured some visual feasts …

visited the one and only Hawkes Bay Farmers’ Market

took in the sights at Te Mata Peak

and certainly a highlight was meeting with the lovely Fiona whose writing inspires me; and her family, in her dream home! It was a wonderful evening for J and me both.

We also went Deco shopping, watched a special screening of the delightful and humorous 1937 film “Shall We Dance”, and had a bit of down time just chillin’, which we both needed.

:-) Till we meet again, charming Hawkes Bay, stay sunny, strong and wonderful.


Back to the sunny island

One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Life has been pretty busy lately and I’ve scarcely been in the kitchen. Whenever I have, I have either been relying heavily on the oven (looks a sight, but this roast beef was quite delicious, if I do say so myself)…

… or whipping up quick things like this poached salmon omelette and these mushrooms with cream and truffle oil (it took less than half an hour in all to prep and cook for us three). Mopped up the mushroom juices with crusty sourdough… mmm.

And now it is nearly 1.00am and I am in a singlet and shorts, relishing summer and marvelling at the way a plane ride transports you across time and distance to a totally different world in mere hours. How good pilots and planes are! Yes, here I am in Singapore again, low on sleep but not too low mood-wise. For dinner tonight I met Brandon, friend-of-a-friend passing through Singapore, and we feasted on thosai, prata, chicken biryani, peppered chicken (all for SGD$12.50) and ice-cold beer somewhere in Little India, Singapore. We walked down several alleys and streets before we settled on an eating place, so I am afraid I have no idea where exactly this was.

And this is all I’ll write for now, my laptop is gasping through the last bars of its battery life and I’m too lazy to unearth the plug from the depths of my suitcase. Good night (or morning!)

Yesterday, we chased the sun

A supertastic weekend with Ruth and Bevan!! :-)

Matakana the Marvellous

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each…
~ T. S. Eliot

It is such an unbelievably good feeling, closing your eyes and facing the sun, making the sand your dwelling place for a few hours. Teasing your toes with water. Gazing at a moving portrait of twinkling blue and gold… feeling something strong and beautiful trickle slowly into your soul, like rich hot chocolate into a waiting cup.

I feel so lucky whenever I get to spend a few hours lying on a beach, mind free of worries, heart present only in my immediate surroundings and the warming presence of my friends.

I flew up to Auckland this weekend for some much-needed R & R with family and friends! Saturday saw Tim, Ian, Mandy and me driving up to Warkworth/Matakana, guided only by the bumpy charm of gravel roads and powerful lure of golden sun.

Matakana is the unassuming home of seriously good ice cream. Really really. Blue does these fantastic blends where you can order smooth organic vanilla ice cream or frozen yoghurt and have it blended on site with real toasted almonds and honey (pictured above), or blueberries, banana, strawberries… I tell you, ice cream doesn’t get much better than this…

That’s not all that makes Matakana cool. Check out their public loos…

We were too late for the market, but I’ve been here before and they have some quality produce and friendly faces… will definitely have to visit again!

Before we left, I had fun duck-watching for a few minutes…

Oh, and before I forget… Urban Cafe in Newmarket, Auckland serves perfect poached eggs… what a treat! Ian took me here for a jolly good breakfast and catch-up :-)

Of cherry tomatoes and custard

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Status of cookbook project: 19% complete! I am sitting here typing with a celebratory glass of red wine, feeling pretty pleased about this!

This evening from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#30 Daniele’s Tomato Pasta – Page 301
#31 Creme Caramel – Page 369

The pasta (see below for recipe) is so simple, and perfect for Summer. If I was a Queen of sorts, I would greet my people with a holy kiss of fresh basil and crown them with cherry tomato crowns. As it turns out, it is fortunate that I am not a Queen (for the people’s sake), and only my spaghetti stood to gain from my tomato and basil extravagance.

Tomatoes should be kept unspoilt and uncooked, and fresh basil should be used where possible (as opposed to dried).

    Recipe for a simple summery pasta adapted from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries:
    14 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
    30 capers, rinsed and squeezed dry
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    4 garlic cloves, crushed and loosely chopped
    8 basil leaves, torn
    300g spaghetti
    Put all the ingredients except the spaghetti in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Leave for at least an hour to let the flavours mingle. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water, following the packet directions. Drain and add to the tomato sauce, tossing well to coat the pasta. Serve immediately with a handful of grated parmesan on top.

    Serves 3.

Dessert is still baking in the oven as I type this, but it has been fun to make so far! Kind of creme brulee-ish, minus the complications!

[edit] whoa… sweet. Way too sweet.


Joe’s Garage

You can’t accomplish anything worthwhile if you inhibit yourself. If life teaches you nothing else, know this for sure: When you get the chance, go for it.
~ Oprah Winfrey

Seven years I’ve lived in this country and it is still full of surprises. Such as: a group of men dressed in white, clustered outside the city gallery singing jolly a song about waking up to coffee, waking up to tea… hmmm! We walked past them and it was a nice start to the afternoon…

3pm came around and it was time for a late, lazy 3.5 hour weekend lunch with Nish at Joe’s Garage.

A funky, vaguely American-feeling (to me) place which gives you the choice of sitting at a normal table or at a big common bench in the middle – (a potential spot for when you want to go poem-scribbling or newspaper-reading in a cafe by yourself?). A trim flat white, ‘killer smoothie’ (composed of plums, banana, milk & honey, yoghurt), ‘sweetie with brat’ (bratwurst and egg in a Joe’s roll) set me back by $21.30 – not so cheap, but the food was exactly what I wanted:

a smooth, strong, sweet and complex coffee (key),
a summery smoothie (better than sunscreen),
something akin to picnic food – something better than a hot dog – and complemented with hollandaise and chutney.

Today has been a very good Saturday. Spending time with friends, inspiration, quality conversations, and making memories are four of the very best things about living.

More healing than you can imagine.

Time for some wind-down time and then bed (2.19am on Sunday morning already… eeks!!)

Joe’s Garage – 5 Tory Street, Wellington – Phone: 802 5310

While it’s in your cone

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy the ice cream while it’s on your plate.
~ Thornton Wilder

Summer is the time for wading in water amongst cockle shells and getting lost in tree canopies and car trips with the windows down and skipping across smooth sandy beaches and feeling the lovely sun and chomping on melting donuts and buying plenty of lickalicious ice cream…

I think ice cream is the most dangerous one of all so far… surely 5 ice creams in 2 days is a sin…

*Pictured above: real fruit ice cream with strawberries, blackberries and pineapple blended into vanilla ice cream.