I've been back from Christchurch for a day now, and although a little tired from travelling, I was absolutely going to update but...
I have been a trifle distracted...
Look at her go. Did you know she's nearly fifty?
It arrived in the mail yesterday from home - an entirely unexpected present to say congratulations for finishing university. I've barely been able to tear my eyes away from this book since I first opened it - it's truly gorgeous and very Nigella - in the first few pages alone she is urging me to purchase lychee liqueur. Economic downturn - what economic downturn? It doesn't bother me in the slightest, but there will be those who peevishly gripe at her lavish tendencies...completely ignoring the fact that, if you look beyond the blue cheese and pistachios and the pricey, difficult-to-find unguents, she has many practical, healthy and cost-effective recipes that are also very easy to execute. How else could a mere serf like me afford to cook from her books so regularly? Defensiveness aside, it is a beautiful book and I really thrilling at the thought of what I might make first from it.
I had a lovely time down south, even though Christchurch itself was not as immediately charming as Wellington. And it's alarmingly flat compared to my hillocky adopted home. I don't know why this bothered me...Anyway, I was working - yes, working - at the Southern Amp music festival, putting up anti-smoking signage and monitoring it throughout the event. This was a bit more full-on than it sounds, I wasn't just swanning about watching music all day (again, excuse my defensiveness), and those posters and voluminous adshels don't just erect themselves. Happily, I did get to see some brilliant bands, including Weta, a New Zealand band that I loved back in 2000 but sadly never got to experience much of since they broke up. For some reason they decided this was the place to get back together, and they were absolutely marvelous - all the songs sounded as cracking as they did when I was 13.
I also got to see the Charlatans...
Although whether the lead singer saw us is a whole other story. His hair was fascinating, a thick, homogenous bowl cut that clung over his eyes as though by suction. They played an all-too-brief set...perhaps they were miffed that their description in the brochure for the event described the pinacle of their achievements as a supporting slot for Oasis.
The Dandy Warhols were there, an intensely languid lot who bore the mild insult of being billed below The Living End. The Dandy's slot was excellent as I'd forgotten how many of their songs I knew and liked, and because they played one of my favourite songs ever, the cumbersomely titled "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth." Jordan Luck, a New Zealand musical legend - and yes, the word is bandied about a lot these days - was brilliant live, and is looking alarmingly like Rod Stewart in his later years. You better believe I warbled tunelessly along to "Victoria", "Who Loves Who The Most", "I'll Say Goodbye" and "Why Does Love Do This To Me?" Helping me at the event was a Scottish guy from work who has been in the country for a month, it was an interesting juxtaposition considering I can't remember ever not knowing those Jordan Luck/Exponents songs whereas it was his very first time hearing them. We also managed to catch the end of Fur Patrol's set - lead singer Julia was in fine voice and had gorgeous hair which I coveted on the spot - and finished off by seeing Dimmer, a band who have had enormous critical acclaim but who I've never really heard anything of. They were pretty darn brilliant, playing these enigmatic, hypnotically droning songs, while intriguing frontman Shane Carter gyrated lovingly with his guitar. And got us all joining in on a rousing, spontaneous chant of "John Key...*silence*...yeah..."
The above paragraph will possibly make little sense if you aren't actually in New Zealand. However, as a gal who grew up in the pre-Google age, reading Baby Sitters' Club books and wondering what on earth a Twinkie or a barrette or a Ring-Ding was, vindication I say! I do however apologise for the fact that the title will only make sense if you have some knowledge of [title of show], that much cannot be helped.
We also saw this guy: Lindon Puffin. He described himself as visually reminiscent of Morrissey...um? I can't say his music was entirely gripping, but sweet mercy the man is funny. If you see his name at any event, try and catch him because the laughs come at you thick and fast like soft-serve ice cream. I'm from the North Island so I can only imagine how funny his jokes about Oamaru and Picton are if you've actually been there.
I did, I really did have a whole lot of food stuff planned for this post, seeing as it is an actual food blog and all, but frankly the photos weren't that great - and in this bloodthirsty and friend-against-friend age of blogging, you need decent photos just to keep your head above water - and it was so long ago that I've forgotten what I was going to talk about. Here's a snippet though...
So, last week sometime - or was it two neglectful weeks ago now - I roasted a large slab of piggy, following a lovely recipe in Cuisine magazine using sherry and fennel seeds. I had a prowl through my Wagamama Noodle cookbook for inspiration to use up the leftover cold pork, and following a recommendation, checked out the gyoza recipe. I ended up veering shamelessly off-course of the recipe (not least because I didn't have any wonton wrappers) but ended up making baked spring rolls, flavoured with all kind of good things - fish sauce, ginger, sesame...If you've ever made rice paper rolls before - and if you haven't, they're not as scary as they look - you should totally try popping them in a hot oven for a while. They crisp up wonderfully but, because there's no oil involved, are still incredibly healthy. Since the concepts of "deliciously crispy" and "virtuously healthy" hardly ever meet to shake hands, this is quite an exciting breakthrough for me.
Above: These crisp little parcels, while a little time consuming to roll up, can also be assembled well ahead of time and baked at the last minute. Did I mention that they're good? They're sooooo good.
Unfortunately it looks as though my dreams of seeing Leonard Cohen are not to be. The old so-and-so sold out within moments and as I was flying back from Christchurch on the day they went on sale, I completely missed out.
Next time: I promise to try and do something that actually resembles a food blog post.