Monday, September 20, 2010

Fantastic Whangarei

A weekend in Whangarei with the girls was my first excursion into Northland - the uppermost region of New Zealand.  At 2-3 hours from Auckland, it's a nice spot to relax for the weekend, and relax we did.  There were country walks, shopping, cafes, arty films, bubbly in the jacuzzi... all in all a great girly weekend.  
Best of many laughs which filled the weekend was had at my expense.  It turns out that even moving somewhere like New Zealand can lead to linguistic bloomers (I should be used to it after getting mixed up between tetti (roofs) and tette (tits) in Italy!).  In Maori language, wh is usually pronounced f.  So fantastic Whangarei is alliterative.  One of the most interesting monuments of Whangarei is a stone waka (canoe) and wave.  Instead I called it a whaka.  Try saying it out loud.  The laughter was heard as far as Auckland.
Here are the snaps.

View from the deck
Stone waka figurehead
Scary-looking shag: "Behind you!!"
A (not so) well-earned rest
Big smiles!
Big wave!
More smiles!
Whangarei is a little bit twee
Sub-tropical canopy
Mangrove... where's the ladygrove?
Wearable art
Spring light on camelia
Pretty lilies
That well-known garden predator - the tree fish

Friday, September 10, 2010

Being a good cook is...

Fish are cunning, be prepared.  Kiwiana.
Being a cook is not about using the trendiest, costliest ingredients and mixing east and west in ever more surprising cocktails.  It's not about perfection, or panache, or even a certain je ne sais quoi.  That might be what being a chef is about, but how would I know - I am a cook.
Being a cook is about taking what your budget, your friends or mother nature sees fit to grant you and making it into a yummy dish just in time for the ravenous hoardes to work up an appetite.  And then taking the same ingredients and making them into something different but equally yummy on day two and day three.  It's about taking advantage of a glut today and preparing for tomorrow.  It's about whipping something delicious up for three guests and then keeping a smile on your face and a clue in your head when six guests arrive. 
Beetroot in my veggie garden

It's knowing when simple and tasty is better than ambitious and risky.  It's getting the most out of other people's recipes without being chained to them.  It's about enthusiasm and pragmatism.  It's knowing why sharing food is a joy and a vital part of being a family, or being a community.