Wednesday 31 December 2008

Homemade Peach Sorbet

Simon gave me a Sunbeam Snowy Ice Cream maker for Christmas - a great suprise!

I spent much of Monday preparing the various bits and pieces required for both a Peach Sorbet and a Strawberry Ice Cream, after noting the glut of cream and strawberries in mum's fridge. However I didn't quite get around to doing the strawberry puree for the ice cream - I'd already done sugar syrup, peach puree and vanilla custard by that stage, so had really had enough. Consequently, Peach Sorbet was the first up!

Here's Snowy in action, churning the peach, sugar syrup, lemon juice up into sorbet....

And here's the absolutely delicious end result - the best peach sorbet I've ever tasted! Very impressed!

Sunday 28 December 2008

The Biggest Ice Cream You Ever Did See

It was a glorious day today, absolutely perfect for heading further up the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula and wandering over to New Chum's Beach.

Personally I didn't quite make it all the way to New Chum's, but Simon did, and picked up a few pics along the way, while I took some contemplative pics from the rocks at Whangapoua.
foot, grass, rocks, flax
On the way back we turned in towards Opiti and O-something-else-I-can't-remember, but first came to Kuaotunu where we hoped to find a much needed ice cream. And my goodness did we find more than we had hoped for! I spotted a couple of people walking towards us with ice-creams and followed the path they had come from, and spotted people sitting outside with what I thought was 2 icecreams each, but no, they were ploughing through the 'Kuaotunu Killer' - a veritable behemoth of a 4-scoop ice cream! And the price? $5. Yep, a modest five bucks. ASTOUNDING I tell you! This is my $2.50 2 scoop ice-cream, and the store from whence it came.

Friday 26 December 2008

Pegasus Bay Merlot Cabernet 2004 Review

I am currently sitting in beautiful Whitianga enjoying a Pegasus Bay Merlot Cabernet 2004. Pegasus Bay is home to some lovely wines and this wine is no exception.

I think we got this wine as a present from one of Jane's friends who appreciates a good wine.

This wine is a beautiful dark ruby red colour. To the nose, I don't think it's anything wonderful; if anything the alcohol overtones may be a little too strong. To start with, I thought it was a little dry and a bit tannic but then it opened up with a bit of airing (and maybe the consumption of a glass helped too) and I would now class it in the medium-dry territory with light tannins. It is packed with fruit-filled flavour, with plum and berry flavours shining through. It has a long tail and is a whole-of-mouth experience that has sufficient complexity to beg you to have another drop. This is accompanied by a nice thin-medium thickness in terms of mouth feel.

This is drinking well now and I expect would cellar well for a few more years at least. This is great to drink on its own, but its light tannins would also lend itself well to accompanying a light-medium fatty meal such as a Scotch Fillet or Rib Eye Steak.

Yet another wine we would drink again.

Monday 22 December 2008

Antipasta Dinner (DELICIOUS!)

As Simon mentioned in his last post, I did indeed put together a decidedly decadent antipasta platter for dinner on Friday. We'd both had slightly sub-optimal days at work and I concluded we needed a little indulgence to put us in the right frame of mind to enjoy our weekend.

So I wandered down to Sabato (who fortunately are open for an additional half hour at present) and foraged through their delicatessen, gathering tasty looking morsels aplenty. (Ok, so this was a hell of lot easier than the foraging of yesteryear, no brambles to be seen, but it FELT like I was foraging.)

Wandered home, pruned our prolific bougainvillea bushes (not that you'd notice) to add a splash of colour to the table, chilled the 2002 Chandon ZD (as per Simon's tasting notes) and assembled the below platter of divine deliciousness. Splendid!

Delicious Dinner

Friday 19 December 2008

Chandon ZD Vintage Brut 2002 Review

It was a lovely sunny and warm day today, and Jane decided to put together a marvellous Antipasto platter with lots of delights from Sabato. To accompany this we (or more accurately Jane) decided that some bubbles would be great so we chose to have a Chandon ZD Vintage Brut 2002.

Jane received this sparkling wine as a Christmas gift from her work a year or two back and we had decided to wait until we had a suitable meal to accompany it. Between totally forgetting about it and just not feeling like bubbles it has taken us a while to get around to opening it.

This is a beautifully balanced sparkling wine which is crisp, fresh and dry with a light sweetness predominantly comprised of a Honeysuckle and Green Apple flavour. There is a light Apple and Honeysuckle aroma to the nose and this is complemented with a lovely light golden hue. In terms of mouth feel, it is nice and light with fine bubbles that accompany it well. It is very easy to drink, and in terms of age is drinking perfectly and there is no sign of any deterioration. The Crown Seal would also aid this in terms of longer cellaring.

We would both definitely drink this again.

Monday 24 November 2008

Seifried Pinot Noir 2004 Review

I am sitting at home on a rainy day and decided that a Pinot Noir was required to accompany the duck we are having this evening for dinner. I orginally was looking for a Central Otago Pinot, but decided to go with a Nelson Pinot Noir instead.

The 2004 Seifried Pinot Noir is a very smooth wine, drinking well now. It is a very pale red colour, with sweet cherry to the nose. Light tannins, but not overpowering. Nice and warming for a dull rainy day and the flavour is not as sweet as the smell. A little empty at the front of the palette, very thin, with not a very long mouth feel. A hint of green capisicum to taste.

I think it is a nice drop I could easily drink, but the short thin pallete is not screaming out to me that I should have this again in a hurry. Jane doesn't think much of it at all and said that if it was a pricier Pinot Noir she would be disappointed (she was tasting it blind and formed this opinion). She feels that it's filmy coating will leave a flavour in her mouth she doesn't like from some Pinot Noir's .

Sunday 2 November 2008

Glorious Spring Day, Brick Bay

It was the most splendid day today, glorious blue skys and soft looking fluffy white clouds! We took the opportunity to visit Brick Bay vineyard and Sculpture Trail. What a fabulous place! For starters, it is always a pleasure driving up North, getting away from Auckland and into the midst of lush green fields and kiwi bush. Brick Bay

Brick Bay itself is a beautiful, peaceful destination and beats nature trails in that you're not just walking for the sake of it and with a single goal of getting to the end.

Rather, you have little spots of interest all along the way and the need to keep you wits about you to spot (or in one instance, hear) the various installments. We enjoyed their Vineyard Platter for a very late lunch at about 3pm. How unlike us!

Monday 16 June 2008

This weekend

A few people have commented on our lack of blog posts of late. Blame flickr. Blame having a digital SLR and LOTS to learn about photography. Blame Auckland traffic and the lack of time to have more than 1 hobby. (Although that excludes drinking wine - theres always time for drinking wine AND another 1 hobby - after all, you can drink wine while engaging in the 1 hobby - choose the hobby carefully of course. Deep sea diving and wine drinking don't quite work. Neither would Moto-X and wine drinking.)

Anyways, we had a lovely weekend just been. It was Mum's birthday, so we headed down to Huntly on Saturday arvo, cats in tow (actually we weren't that mean, that got to sit on the back seat). And thanks to a colleague who has kindly leant me his tripod, I practised some time-exposure shots of Huntly. (click on the pic to jump to my Flickr page for more weekend shots).

Huntly at Dusk

Mum hates her photo being taken, but I think this is a good birthday photo. Sorry mum!


And because she wanted 'Black Merino Wool Socks' for her birthday (how boring!) we gave her flowers instead. And a bottle of wine. Everyone has to have a hobby. :-)

check out flickr for more of my pics

Sunday 18 May 2008

Lunch at Cheltenham Beach

The weather has been so delicious all weekend I can't quite believe it hasn't just been a dream! After a very late rising yesterday we eventually made up our minds to go to Pyrenees in Devonport (thanks to Charlotte for the reference!). We spent a while just drinking in the incredible atmosphere of this beautiful French deli and then wandered away with some Venison & Cranberry Terrine, Comte cheese, Port L'Eveque cheese (sorry about the lack of special characters), a delicious, still warm baguette, and to the absolute amazement of my friends who have lived in France, some genuine French saucisson! (sp?) And just as we remember it from France. We drove a few hundred meters further along the road and then walked down to Cheltenham beach and had a decidedly delectable picnic by the beach before paddling (I could not believe how good the water felt!) and wandering along the beach for a bit. Took a few photos. Understatement. I think I have photography addiction problem in fact. I take far far far too many photos. Ah well, never mind. Here's a couple taken from the picnic seat. More always on show at my flickr page.

Coopers Creek Hawkes Bay Rose 2007

It was a beautiful sunny day today, so we decided to invite some friends over for afternoon tea on the deck. To accompany our afternoon tea we opened up a Coopers Creek Hawkes Bay Rose 2007. According to the bottle this is 50:50 Merlot/Malbec.

I wasn't overly fussed with it, but did help out in finishing off the bottle (in fact I probably drank over half).

So in terms of this wine:

  • Colour: Lovely light guava pink
  • Nose: Very light strawberry
  • Palatte: Light strawberry with a reasonable balance and a bit of acidity
  • Overall: I thought it was just ok and nothing special that I wouldn't rush out to buy again. Then again I'm not a big Rose fan. Jane on the other hand (along with our guests) really liked it and would definitely buy again.

Monday 12 May 2008

Long time no Post

Well, the joys of Flickr have thoroughly distracted me from posting anything here of late! Thank goodness Simon has been drinking lots of wonderful wine and blogging that otherwise you'd all (hmm, all being a relative term) be wondering where we'd got to!

Suffice to say I have been having a huge amount of fun taking my camera places, snapping loads and loads and loads (and I MEAN loads and loads and loads) of photos, deleting about a third of them, not deleting at least another third that I really probably should and then loading about a tenth up to Flickr. :) All in the name of learning!

We had a lovely weekend down in Huntly and Hamilton, catching up with my folks and with friends in Hamilton. I snapped this beautiful web-encrusted lime blossom at a friend's place in Pukete.

See my flickr page for more

Thursday 1 May 2008

Tokar Estate Tempranillo 2004

For some bizarre reason I chose yet another Australian red wine to accompany dinner tonight. Yet again I decided I wanted to drink something a bit different so chose the Tempranillo from Tokar Estate in the Yarra Valley.

Jane & I picked this wine up when we over in the Yarra Valley over New Years a couple of years back and it (along with all the other wines we purchased) managed to survive the flight home. We decided to actually put a dozen wine through as normal luggage and risk it and it survived. Yay!

So in terms of this wine:
  • Aroma: Lovely Tobacco / Cedar smell
  • Taste: Quite fruity, big mouthful, very smooth, short-medium length, medium complexity, well balanced
  • Overall: Good but nothing super special. It is however very drinkable on its on or with Venison (as we had tonight) but is not so good with something a bit sweeter (like the kumara (sweet potato) and orange mash I decided to make that was just a bit too orangey. Oops). It is drinking well now, and to me it feels like now is in fact about the right age to drink it.

Sunday 27 April 2008

Trentham Estate 2004 Petit Verdot

I am currently enjoying a lovely wine, with lots of body, very fruit filled, a long finish, and overall a well balanced wine. The wine is a Trentham Estate 2004 Petit Verdot from New South Wales, Australia. It is sweeter than many reds and has no hint of tannins. It's not overly complex but is a nice wine to either partner with food or drink on its own, and from recollection was pretty good value for money.

Petit Verdot is not a grape variety I am very used to, but I thoroughly recommend it.

This is great to drink now and I expect will be fine for many years to come (Yay!, I have one more in the cellar).

Truffle & Brulee

I think its about time I posted pics of our beautiful laperm puddy cats.

Introducing - Brulee and Truffle. Brulee - sleeping as usual. The current favourite spot is on his sheepskin rug, but give it a week or so and he'll find a new favourite. Truffle, just looking beautiful, which is what he's very very good at.
Sometimes we find it hard to believe they are brothers. They are so very different in personality, temperament, physique (Truffle is very trim), intelligence (Truffle is very smart), agility (Truffle is very acrobatic (poor Brulee), disruptiveness (Brulee (!) is very considerate). But indeed, they are brothers, and they play-fight like brothers (I think Truffle is responsible for the scratch you can see on Brulee's nose here). And we completely dote on them. They are seriously spoilt cats. But they give us a lot of love, a lot of company and a huge amount of pleasure.

Saturday 26 April 2008

For Olivia, Alexia & Danielle

Simon has 3 beautiful little nieces and I was thinking of them when I took these photos of Simon at a friend's house a few weeks ago. Its true, boys never do quite grow up. :-)

So girls, Uncle Simon is now quite familiar with Postman Pat, the policeman whose name I can never remember and of course the black and white cat!

Monday 21 April 2008


We went to one of my high-school friend's 10th Wedding Anniversary celebration on Saturday. My goodness, 10 years.

Had a huge amount of fun, great to catch up with people, although a little scarey with quite so many children running, crawling and generally being everywhere!

So this is really quick for now (it's 1o to midnight and I really ought to be asleep - I was a grumpy toad at work today and promised to made efforts to not be so hideous tomorrow - so sleep is imperative!).

Just a taste of pics to come... (actually this is just a bit of fun!)

Sunday 6 April 2008

Summer Sun

Technically it's not actually summer any more, but no one bothered to tell the weather today. It was absolutely gorgeous.

After a very late rising today (made respectable only by the fact that our clocks went back an hour at 2am this morning), we decided a picnic was in order and headed to Rocket Kitchen to purchase a suitable spread. Yeah, I know, lazy way to do a picnic, but really, it was a very late rising!

We headed down to Point Chevalier, picked a suitable spot and indulged in orzo salad with Moroccon Chicken (Simon) and Chicken Mignon (me). Yes, yes, I know, hardly a picnic, but it was outdoors already!

At the perfect moment, who should happen along, but Mr Whippy. After being a little intimidated by the hordes of delighted, screaming children swarming towards the van, Simon took a deep breathe and ventured in to the queue (knowing said children all had to convince their parents to give them money first anyway).

Delight. Devour. Disgruntled. Digesting.

Simon seems to have issues with ice-cream. :) But he got there in the end.

Chocolate Fondue

Friends invited us around last weekend for a celebratory dessert and sticky wine and to bestow wonderful birthday treats upon me. With impeccable timing, a package had arrived at their home from France and Simon and I were fortunate enough to share the spoils!

The Fondue was as rich, thick and delicious as it appeared (and deceptively more alcoholic than it appeared!) and the fruit and marshmallows luscious and completely irresistible. Divine and highly recommended! (Oh - needless to say the fruit was locally purchased, not shipped from France!)

Monday 24 March 2008

Easter Friday (& early birthday present mystery)

What a deliciously beautiful easter weekend it has been! We've had a wonderful, relaxing, yet satisfyingly full weekend. On Friday we ventured out into the glorious sunshine, tried to go to jafa for breakfast, sadly it was closed, then ambled on to Occam for a lovely breakfast in the sun.

I took my early birthday present with me (I think the prevalence of non-cell-phone photos in this entry is sufficient clue to the nature of what it is!) and got decidedly snap happy.

After breakfast we took a leisurely drive (the queues were too long and slow for it to be anything other than leisurely) down to Mission Bay. The incredibly busy Mission Bay at that. And of course, we indulged in the obligatory (in Simon's case - rapidly melting) ice-cream - although we didn't quite have the endurance required to queue at Movenpick.

More on the weekend when I get a bit more time. Right now we're fighting to get twiki working at home. Oh dear. Fighting and losing for now!

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I adore Vietnamese spring rolls. The refreshing taste of fresh coriander and the tang of mint and just the overall feeling of clean, fresh flavour. Divine.


Those Delicious Herbs (and noodles in the background)

The Finished Product

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Random Update

(Cliche warning...) a picture is worth a thousand words and this random update is brought to you (mostly) by the following picture (once again, apologies, taken on my tragic phone camera and then enhanced (badly due to my lack of patience) with IrfanView)

Exhibit A - divinely delicious fruits back in season! Wehoo! Passionfruit and Feijoas. I'm truly in heaven!

Exhibit B - plastic cup half filled with water - I made myself the most wonderful salad of coriander, basil, cos, rocket, carrot, spring onion, brocolli sprouts, cherry tomatoes, shredded chicken and dressed with fish sauce, lime juice, chilli and wine vinegar for lunch at work today. Unfortunately when I steamed the chicken in the microwave, it superheated (as it is wont to do of course) but I most unskillfully removed the cling-wrap in such a way that I have acquired a very painful, very distracting steam burn on my index and middle fingers on my right hand. The cup of water - for dunking my fingers in when the pain gets beyond bearable. :( I've taken a couple of nurofen+ which I have to say, does seem to be helping.

Exhibit C - mouse - I'm at work. And should be working. But pain and ibuprofen and codeine are making that rather difficult. Blathering about a photograph is so much easier than engaging my brain at this point.

Exhibit D - tiny little square of black plastic in the back left quadrant of the photo - this detached itself from my wonderful noise cancelling headphones the other day. I have no idea how. I took them off my head and said plastic blitty bit fell on my keyboard. It's broken, not just fallen off. Ah well, it was cosmetic only fortunately.

Exhibit E - DVD-R stack - I have the tedious task of creating backup copies of a library of 8 DVDs. Tedium. I've started delegating this task to my team after getting really bored with it. :)

Exhibit F - not pictured! Dear friends have announced the anticipated arrival of their first born! (ok, not until much later in the year, but still anticipated!) I know they're telling people (because they told me yesterday) but I don't know if they're telling 'everyone' so shan't say who for now. But wehoo - and yes my friend, you have indeed mentioned recently that you are going to be a dad soon. :) Congratulations to you both! Simon and I are getting very good at Aunty and Uncle duties btw.

Blathering off.

Tuesday 29 January 2008


I cleaned out my 2007 calender last week after returning from leave.

I rescued one quote from the bottom of the 24th December which I shall record so I don't lose it. :)
There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys; they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves.
-Soren Kierkegaard.

And this sort of sums up my view of philosophy, worldview, religion, however you choose to see it. Personally, I'm the sort of person who needs to work the sum out for myself. And it's not a simple sum, it is my life's work to explore and better understand it (note I don't say solve!)

Thursday 24 January 2008

Mum's Bean Salad recipe (so I don't lose it!)

Best Bean Salad
WARNING: this is Mum's catering menu and feeds an army. Seriously! We're going to be eating bean salad for weeks!


2Kg Cooked Beans (Approx 1kg dry mix)
2 Onions
1 Cup diced celery
1 Green or red pepper
Plenty of finely Chopped parsley


1½ Cups Vinegar
2 Cups Sugar
½Cup Water
2 tsp Salt


Soak beans overnight & cook 1– 1½ hrs until soft
When cool add everything bar sauce ingredients.
Boil together Vinegar, Sugar, Water & Salt.
When cool pour over beans, mix well & chill 24hrs before serving.
Add Black Pepper

Friday 18 January 2008

Guess what I ordered... (otherwise known as 'What the...?')

If you can guess what I ordered that saw the above being delivered to me (and Simon, yes, there were 2 of these) in the South of France, I'll buy you a kiwi-version of one if you live near me! First correct entry only! (and not for my workmates who I've already had this conversation with!) And by the way, I also have the receipt to prove that what I ordered is indeed what I got, and not something else due to my appalling French skills!

Summer! How did that happen?

Well, yes, we're back home again. We arrived to a deliciously hot, summers day. As we walked out of the airport towards our waiting taxi I couldn't help but notice that it even smelt like home! The smell of sun-dried cut grass is so wonderful and reminds me so much of holidays spent at Whangamata as a kid. Bliss!

The one thing I have really really missed food-wise while we've been away has been coriander. And on catching up with all of the blogs I try to read, I stumbled on Wino Sapien's Mango Salsa. Before we left I'd been making a huge variety of salsas, with a different one every couple of nights, but mangos had not quite been of a palatable price at that stage! However they're now not too bad - so I picked up a couple of mangos, some coriander (yay!) and chillis - they didn't have any that looked hot enough, so I upgraded to one of these (and no I didn't use a whole one! in fact I only used about 10% of it, and yes, it certainly threw quite a punch!).

I also bought an avocado and 2 nights later this was delectably ready, so I concocted a huge bowl of mango and avocado salsa (a slight variation on the one above - I ran out of lemons so used white wine vinegar, oh, and of course I added a chopped avocado) which I planned to serve with a bbq-ed rack of lamb. Sadly however our fridge seems to have been underperforming and just as we were ready to slap the lamb on the barbie, we both took a whiff of it, noted it's slightly green-hue and promptly trashed it and desperately tried to find something else to throw on the hot bbq! No luck there sadly.

Plan C - 2 nights worth of mango and avocado salsa became the mainstay of the meal, accompanied by a can of rather bland salmon - but the chilli needed something bland. :) And potatoes which of course had been prepared in readiness for the lamb! A slightly odd meal perhaps, but the salsa was devine. Albeit a rather firey kind of devine. :)

(once again - apologies for Cell Phone photographs).

Monday 7 January 2008

Carcassonne and Cassoulet

Yesterday we jumped on a train and meandered (hmm, not quite an appropriate term given how fast the trains are here) towards the coast, through Sete, Narbonne and another place I can't remmber and then inland to Carcassone. The weather was truely vile, completely misty and catching a glimpse of La Cite from the train as we approached was not to be. In fact, even walking through town, it was some distance before we caught our first ghostly glance of the city on the hill.

Wandering through the village itself was lovely - coming up on the market was something else again. The array of produce, even lettuces alone, in such variety, and all so inticingly lush. Mmm. I marvelled at the quantity and quality and longed for similarly jam-packed markets at home. Perhaps I need to start growing some things myself. We certainly have the space for it.

We tasted and purchased some quite devine sheeps milk cheese - not to be kept in the fridge, but on a shelf, wrapped in a damp cloth! Very very very tasty. :) We polished off most the $28 (yes, 14 euro) last night with a delciously fresh baguette - ooh incidently, when asked if you want the baguette cut or not, this apparently does not mean sliced, just cut in half. :-) So much to learn.

The pears also charmed us with their delciousness and we wandered out of the market towards the old city munching crunchy fresh pears. Fabulous.

With the walk as always punctuated by the urgent exclamation 'shit' in warning of piles of steaming dog-do on the footpath, we continued the hike (and yes I do mean hike) up to La Cite. The river was very pretty, although once again, very much shrouded in mist.

Eventually we got a view of the city, and continued to climb. I can see why the chose the spot they did to build it - very much a commanding spot. The Lonely Planet had made comment that the city loses it's mystery and charm once you enter the gates, but I have to disagree. The cobbled streets and ancient buildings were fantastic, with the roadways meandering with no apparent purpose or direction leaving you to discover new and unexpected sights around each corner. Ok, admittedly the vast majority of shops were either tacky souvenir places (but only on the main road on they way up to the castle) or eateries - which we were later suprised to be turned away from 2 of due to being fully booked! I suspect however that it would be a far less pleasant place to be in summer when crowded with visitors. Even yesterday there were a fair few people up there, however we arrived early enough in the day for it to be reasonably peaceful. Simon explored through the castle while I kept the pidgeons company in a little park, so I'll leave it to him to extrapolate on that if he sees fit.

We probably took a good 45 minutes to find somewhere to have lunch that actually had a free table. Finding somewhere that had cassoulet on the menu proved to not be a problem at all - every restaurant in Carcassone seems to do cassoulet.

So yes, we had cassoulet for lunch. Delicious! Although I'm sure we had a weeks worth of fat in that one meal! I thought I'd heard a rumour that duck fat wasn't too bad for you, but I seriously doubt that. But yes, we are pleased to have finally found and eaten a cassoulet. Creamy and rich, smooth and delicious to the last bite. Yum!

Saturday 5 January 2008

Christmas in Bavaria

We enjoyed a lovely christmas dinner on Chistmas Eve with some family friends we had never met previously just north of Munich out in the country. It was absolutely magnificent and they made us very welcome.

For dinner we had a sit down 3 course meal with the family and their partners that was very formal compared to how it normally is in New Zealand. We had some magnificent french wines and Proscecco for a sparkling. In addition we had some great homemade eggnog, apple juice and punsch. Later in the evening (actually very early the next morning), some glorious sounds floated from the grand piano which had pride of place in the lounge instead of a tv.

It was quite nice to look out the window and see the trees covered in white (it hadn't snowed recently, it was just very cold), wild deer in the fields, and a serenity all round.

The following day we were taken around Landshut, a beautiful medieval village, and it was great to be shown it by locals who could tell you so much about what you were seeing. Also, whenever they came across anybody they knew in the street, the greeting was always very formal with the friendly hug as also seen in other parts of Europe and we were introduced. Yet another great experience!