Tag Archives: weekend

Slow discoveries

The slow arrow of beauty. The most noble kind of beauty is that which does not carry us away suddenly, whose attacks are not violent or intoxicating (this kind easily awakens disgust), but rather the kind of beauty which infiltrates slowly …
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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Today was the best kind of day, the kind one usually gets to enjoy on a relaxing vacation.

There was so much time. To do, to meander, to discover.

There was time to take in the fragrant beauty of a ripe rockmelon … to admire a stranger’s handsome dog … to enjoy the breeze outside a lovely café with my husband, a sweet slice (orange and pistachio), his laptop, my pen and paper.

There is a place I want to tell you about. Earlier this morning, I was on my way home, driving towards a roundabout, when I paused. Left to go towards home; or right to a place I hadn’t noticed before, but seemed to beckon to me today. I turned right and parked outside Nola’s Orchard, noting the sign that announced that it had been in business since 1935.

My eyes took a while to adjust to the darkness, but not before I saw the first thing that made my eyes light up – “handmade ciabatta rolls”, for a very decent price. I looked around for the baskets, saw a lady get one from a neat stack behind me, and followed suit. Inside there was a delightful selection of produce, all fresh, all priced more than fairly. Most of all, there was a welcome lack of marketing, big lights, big ‘price drops’, or perfect-looking fruit with no character or taste.

Here food looked real … something I begin to appreciate more and more in the times we live in. I could smell the fruit and see the uneven bumps on them. I could savour the sight of fresh, beautiful vegetables. I left with a good bounty in a box (bonus: customers can help themselves to boxes in the store for their buys free of charge) – cherry tomatoes, rockmelon, pineapple, garlic, carrots, sprouts, bread and more … I loved doing my shopping there today, and look forward to going back.

The day got better from there …

There was time to talk, to walk, to laugh, to clean, to eat, to write, to plan, to do …

And hours still remain.

:-)

Nola’s Orchard – 474 West Coast Road, Oratia, Auckland

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Beauty-full weekend

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

One cannot tire of the beauty in New Zealand. Especially down in the South Island, which I miss very much.

I spent last weekend down in Invercargill (one of the southernmost cities in the world, for non-NZ readers) for my friend Brooke’s wedding.

It worked out to travel to Invercargill via Queenstown (see photos above). Which, incidentally, was wrapped in a glaze of delicious sunshine when I got there. A beautiful day to go tandem hang-gliding! This is my very cool pilot and me:

I swallowed buckets of nervousness on the way up to the point at which we leaped into the air, and my shoes, similarly, dived to their death in nervousness and landed somewhere down below. Once I was barefoot on this large human kite and staring at the marvelous spread of beauty before me, though, there wasn’t anything to fear. Also met a paraglider who sang an ode of love to flying afterwards, and now I begin to understand why these mad people love being up in the air out of an airplane :-)

Shoes. It is hard to pretend to be a lady without them. I was pleased to find inexpensive replacements in a women’s shop shortly before they closed for the day:

Down on the ground – the obvious place to hang out in town is Lake Wakatipu… not only because the water there is mesmerising, but also because there is Patagonia Chocolates, where you can get a MARVELLOUS hot chocolate with fresh grated ginger (or lavender, or chilli) in it. I didn’t even look properly at the luscious cabinet in case I collapsed in a chocolatey stupor and missed my hang glide.

Another plus point: Patagonia has these great tables outside with tame birds, beautiful views and lovely buskers nearby…

Went to Vudu the first weekday morning after daylight savings, and I can tell you… no one here had Monday blues. A comfortable place to be, well-lit and thoughtfully decked out – though it’s all done in such a casual way that it’s attractive without being at all pretentious. The overall feeling I got was that of being in a friendly place (think woody, birds, lights, espresso, good food, energy, freedom) which bids you a very, very good day without needing to say it with words.

The food looked so yummy, too. I had no tummy space for it that day, sadly, but I will have to come back one day.

If you’ve ever read any touristy material about Queenstown you’ll probably have seen something about The Remarkable Sweet Shop. And you wouldn’t be disappointed by a visit to them, even if you don’t actually like sweets (I don’t as much). This place draws out the child in all of us. I kid you not, I saw a grown woman literally skipping around inside – and it wasn’t even me this time.

My teeth considered falling out as I stared at the spread before me, but I managed to walk out with my teeth intact and a few fudgey gifts. Wonderful staff here, who were full of smiles and friendly service.

I’ve heard a lot about Fergburger, but since I didn’t get time to pop in, I did the next best thing and went to Fergbaker for a mini garlic and parmesan focaccia bread. Next time I’ll try the burgers.

The wedding was beautiful in every way. The skies behaved exceedingly well (no trivial matter in Southland), the bride and groom were most radiantly happy, and the guests were fun to hang out with. The food was also very delicious!

Favourite of the night: the scrumptious dessert akin to tarte tatin!

A lot of beauty in one weekend

Flying home

Patagonia Chocolates – Lakefront of 50 Beach street, Queenstown – Phone: 03 442 9066

The Remarkable Sweet Shop – 39 Beach Street, Queenstown – Phone: 03 409 8656

Vudu Cafe – 23 Beach Street, Queenstown – Phone: 03 442 5357

Pine Harbour Fresh Market

The Eskimo has fifty-names for snow because it is important to them; there ought to be as many for love.
~ Margaret Atwood

When you love travel and can’t do it all the time, you find ways to ‘cheat-travel’. Language books, foreign films, exotic foods – there are lots of ways these days to make the world your oyster, wherever you are.

I do it whenever I can. Did some mini cheat-travelling via Pine Harbour Fresh Market today… such a treat :-)

Below is my rough guide to/notes from the (délicieux!) market:

  • Leave ugly city behind for fresh air, delicious stands and smiling faces…

  • Join the flurry of people eagerly pouncing on the croissants, brioches, pastries, breads and other delights. Note: if you want some, be quick.

  • Really. Don’t be shy. Minutes after I photographed these fragrant loaves, they were gone… to happy hands (and I suspect, by now, happy bellies). I was not one of them… boo.

  • While we’re on the subject of bread, I’ll tell you what goes superbly well with bread (especially the crusty kind) – this chicken and duck liver parfait. Handmade by two French men and a dream on crusty bread. $5 per tub.

  • As your eyes and nose take in the sights and smells, your ears and feet will be dancing to music by Edith Piaf et al – interspersed, wonderfully, with tunes from this man! (though he may not be there on non-Bastille-Day Saturdays)

  • If you like something very sweet (I do once in a while), pick up a box of lovely baklava – otherwise known in my books as a flaky, nutty, honeyed song for smiles.

  • If baklava isn’t quite your thing, perhaps some dips will satisfy? Tried three and liked them all – finally settled on a light and creamy tub of cow’s feta + garlic + mint… already thinking of ways to use it up. Yum!

  • Got around to the task of buying breakfast after gawking at various stalls. With tempting menus for both galettes and crêpes, we had some difficulty choosing a flavour but finally settled on lemon and sugar. Lovely to listen to the crêpe chefs speaking in French whilst waiting for our crêpes!

  • If I were to become vegetarian, it would be on the condition that my vege supply came solely from farmers’ markets. Most farmers’ market vegetables I’ve ever laid eyes on are so vibrant and beautiful – and it is such a delight to chat with the farmers and/or sellers whilst shopping for them. We picked up some salad leaves with edible flowers and the very nice man gave us a Jerusalem artichoke to try too (since I said I’d never tried one). Really tempted by the carrots, but we already had one very full bag of goodies by then!

  • After an oh-so-tough morning of shopping and waiting in line for breakfast, you may want to eat while looking at this (we did)…

  • Perhaps pick up some flowers on your way home?

P.S. If you observe Bastille DayBon le quatorze juillet, I hope you had a good one!

Pine Harbour Fresh Market – Jack Lachlan Drive, Pine Harbour, Auckland – open Saturday mornings, 8.00am – 12.00pm

In lieu of food, I bring you weekend photos

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Hello, strangers, from the Land of Busy. That’s where I’ve been hangin’ out lately. You know, those times when major decisions need to be made, your laundry pile suddenly looks like a mini Everest, and all your friends seem to get married, give birth, visit from overseas, etc all at the same time?! That is happening to me at the moment. Read: wonderful and exciting/hideous and tiring all at once. But I am not complaining. I’m merely trying to apologise [or make excuses] for not popping in with a recipe or something yummy in the last few days…

Though you probably wouldn’t have found my rambles on salmon bagels/juicy plums on the go/instant noodles/various takeaways that exciting anyway, right? ;-)

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some photos from a recent trip to Napier for Art Deco Weekend! I enjoyed myself immensely with a great bunch of friends and friends-of-friends. There was plenty of sun, a mass picnic, a vintage car parade (and a short ride in a vintage car), hot chocolate/live jazz, lots of dancing (or attempting to dance…), a nice assortment of handsome men in uniform, etc… oh and we visited an excellent farmers’ market in Hastings on Sunday where I found gorgeous walnut brittle, biersticks, great vegetables (see pics below) and delightful decaf coffee. I felt like I was gliding along a stage set/time machine preview all weekend. On Saturday night we drove with the windows down, the stars above looking like a shower of white pepper across an inky soup, and the wind so strong I thought of holding down my eyelashes so they didn’t pull away…

Till next time, eat well and keep smiling!

Welly Weekend

A toothache, or a violent passion, is not necessarily diminished by our knowledge of its causes, its character, its importance or insignificance.
~ T. S. Eliot

Le weekend involved:
A bumpy plane landing (which caused an involuntary smile).
A Hello Welly Coffee at Mojo at the Airport with D, HL and H (H had his Farewell Welly Coffee before catching his flight).
My friends E and C becoming Mr. and Mrs..
A wonderful chat with a writer on Cuba St who let me buy his poetry with coffee.
Splendid hours with friends old and new.
A delicious meal (pumpkin and vermouth risotto and chocolate berry fondant) cooked by gracious friends.
Oriental Bay by night.
Gust and sun in equal measure (both as intense as Wellington espresso).

It was nice.

To wander around in a reverie of familiarity and not have to consciously try to find my destination.
To know, rather than hope, that my coffee would be good.
To have a few chats where in five minutes flat there was established an invisible wire connecting another human’s mind and mine and no social rituals or formalities were required.
To have time to lose myself in Arty Bees.

Finc just keeps getting better every time I visit too. Once upon a time I didn’t like spending my pennies there; on each subsequent visit now I enjoy it a little more. This time, I loved walking in to see sailing puppets and colourful animal-shaped chalkboards gracing the walls and complementing the tasteful decorations, and a cabinet laden with delicious-looking treats. M and I met here to talk about books, words, toffee, life over breakfast… she had a sturdy looking sweet for breakfast while I opted for a mix of two yummy-looking (and, as it turns out, tasting) salads and two cappuccinos. Balance is key, you know?

WISH I had time to pop into Deluxe. Next time.

Thanks, Wellington… it was good to see you again, wind and all.

Finc – 122 Wakefield Street, Wellington – Phone: 04 499 2999

My idea of a productive shopping session

Eating is really one of your indoor sports. You play three times a day, and it’s well worth while to make the game as pleasant as possible.
~ Dorothy Draper

When you eventually find a park and make your way across the carpark in response to your nose’s instructions, you will find:

People who truly love food and people, who are generous and lively even on the rainiest of weekends as they offer the work of their hands to us.

Non-uniform, healthy vegetables and herbs which all but scream “I am fresh and free of bad stuff!” That bunch of basil pictured above took my breath away with its scent… dare I say I’d much rather a boy give me a bouquet of basil than flowers! ;-)

Amazing baked goods – whoopie pies, almond croissants dusted with fairy magic (icing sugar), good sourdough, pull-apart bread which you can’t wait to get into your mouth.

An array of options for the hungry breakfast lover (everything from savoury tarts to French crepes and Spanish paella).

Fresh juice. ‘Nuff said.

Good cheese. See above.

Smiling shoppers. VERY telling… especially when you consider the number of miserable-looking people I have to squeeze with at a certain supermarket that I hate on many weekdays after work.

What can I say? We are tremendously fortunate in New Zealand to have the people, produce and markets that we do. One place I like in Auckland is La Cigale.

La Cigale – 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland – open Saturday and Sunday mornings [delicious bistro open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays]