Apparently I take the summer off from blogging. That wasn’t intentional. Nonetheless, here we are in 2013 and I have a renewed focus on WBTC and watching our city get rebuilt for real. I suspect we Cantabrians have a pretty exciting year ahead and I for one am looking forward to seeing new things pop up one by one all over the show. It’s actually quite rad not knowing when or where your next new (or old) favourite place will appear. In other news, exciting things are on the horizon here at WBTC, changes are afoot. I’ll hold fire on sharing for now, as we have seen, I have thus far demonstrated a lack of follow through (self slap on the wrist), so this year I shall under promise and over deliver. In that spirit, at the very least I vow to attend and partake in each new food/beverage venue that will have me (surely they will at the beginning of the evening at least) unless I snap judge it as looking rubbish, and report back. All in the interests of informed decision making. I know, happy to take one for the team. The rest shall follow. It’ll be good, ok. Happy 2013 Christchurch, go team.
Its still appropriate to say Happy New Year. Albeit borderline.
My manbag/satchel contains my diary, my brush belt, my wallet and phone, mints, lip conditioner, brow gel, bronzer, sunnies and a few bracelets and necklaces…pretty boring really.
My style vibe is beachy, colourful (when im not at work) a little bit boho and a little bit prep.
My pop up restaurant would be very comfortable, and slightly industrial, very outdoorsy with alot of sun loungers, hammocks and chair swings…who doesnt love chair swings!!
Signature dish (casual): Egg FooYung.
Signature dish (show off): String bean,roasted capsicum, walnut and fig salad.
It’s karaoke time, what’s your jam: Belting out a bit of Florence and the Machine whilst dancing like a wild gypsy!
Ultimate day: Eggs Bene Breakfast and flat white, then cosmetic and clothes shopping then enjoying the sun and having lunch on the beach, then massage and facials and getting my hair did and then having a few drinks and a dance with mates.
Fav way to chill out: Lying on a beach in hot sun!
Fav ChCh spot: Top of the port Hills at night time!
Fav places to shop: Re-start mall & The Colombo.
Pet hate? Fake People.
What/who is commonly the butt of your jokes? My boyfriend.
Five things you can’t live without (in a frivolous melodramatic way): Makeup, Music, Laughter,Fake Tan & Rum.
Signature drink: Rum and Ginger Ale.
Exactly how often are you shuffling? Not enough.
Part of an effective general life coping strategy (particularly in Christchurch) is getting the hell out of Dodge every now and again. The best holidays are often those where you impose on a friend and they are obliged to show you all the local sights and take you to do things that most tourists don’t know about. The best meals are at the tiny family run restaurant on a side street, with recipes passed down through generations, that you wouldn’t notice if you walked right past it.
Well now you don’t need friends because you have Black Tomato. They are an award winning, high end, tailored, experiential travel company that specialise in putting together exceptional boundary pushing trips around the globe. What this means in non-marketing terms:
- Black Tomato plan amazing holidays for you. Flights, hotels, sightseeing, guides, drivers and insider experiences that are usually reserved for people who know people. Completely customised. No tour buses, no enforced bonding (though they could probably round you up a posse if thats what you are after).
- They are awesome and people know it.
- I don’t want to say its not cheap, because for the sweet trip we have just booked, I’m happy that I’m getting huge bang for my buck, but its not for the entry level holiday maker (funding wise). If you opted for the “On a Shoestring” version of the perennial favourite Lonely Planet for your location, best stick with that for now. BT only recommend and line up places they have experienced and been wowed by so, put it this way, you won’t be slumming it.
- No trip is the same. There are suggested itineraries and trips on their website (which is hard core travel porn – I suggest amassing a hefty sum in your savings accounts before viewing because you may not be able to control your wanderlust once you have) but when they plan your trip for you, it will be totally personalised based on what you want to get out of it.
- Its not just flights and hotels, the most exciting parts of the itineraries are the special touches and cutting edge experiences they line up for you to make sure you not only tick all the necessary boxes for the particular location but have a unique experience and get fully immersed in everything the region has to offer. Plus you get smug holiday stories that didn’t originate from a page in a guidebook.
- If you are looking to take your travel next level, they can arrange almost anything. One of their most epic experiences, diving between tectonic plates in Iceland, probably won’t be of great appeal to Cantabrians (its testing enough being on top of them) but there is something to keep everyone not only happy, but getting mileage off the memories way beyond touching down back home.
We just booked a holiday (though epic adventure seems a more accurate description) to India with Katie who is based in Black Tomato’s UK office (they also have an office in NYC but have teams on the ground basically everywhere). I cannot stress enough how much of a straight up star she is and the trip she has put together for us is unreal. When the first phone call is to discuss what you want to get out of your time away, you know you aren’t just being handed a pre-packaged holiday for the masses. You are fully involved so still get all the planning and decision making excitement but without the fear that you just accidentally booked a hotel where the bathroom is actually at the petrol station down the street or the weeks nervously wondering whether “quaint” actually means “decrepit”. The time difference isn’t ideal, but was managed with no hassle at all. Their exceptionally slick branding definitely extends to slick service and I basically plan to contact them every time I propose to leave central Christchurch from now on.
I may have to be forcibly removed from some of our hotels as I doubt I will leave voluntarily, but its the care and thought that goes into the experiences for you that is Black Tomato’s forte. My highlights: going with a local family to the market then back to their home for a cooking lesson, a sunrise yoga session and going backstage in Bollywood. And Katie didn’t exactly say this, but I’m almost certain that “backstage” means I should show up in a sari with an “impromptu” dance routine nailed and probably become a Bollywood superstar. Its pretty easy to jump online and book flights and hotels so its the personal element and their impeccable taste that significantly increases your odds of having a trip that is memorable for all the right reasons. At the very least do it for the poor folk you are inevitably going to regale (bore) with your holiday tales. Anyone with the internet can visit cntraveller.com you know.
While I’m confident they can make even the most well-travelled spots a new experience, its a particularly good way to check out some more intrepid spots. Its impossible to take all the surprises out of travelling but feeling like you are in safe hands, staying at places Black Tomato know and trust and having local guides, transport and support on call 24/7 definitely makes the unbeaten track feel more attainable. Check out their website and prepare for a rapid expansion of your travel to do list. Its addictive.
Time off is a pretty valuable commodity so don’t waste it. The people at Black Tomato appreciate this. Next time you want to escape get in touch. You’ll wonder why you ever bothered to go on holiday without them.
If you are wondering, a black tomato is is a rare fruit that is only found in particular locations and climates, and its taste (when discovered), is an unforgettable experience.
Photo courtesy of Ballet Beautiful
Ballet Beautiful is the brainchild of Mary Helen Bowers (who you may know as one of the most ridiculously good looking people on earth and winner of the genetic lottery) who spent 10 years dancing with the New York City Ballet. MHB has developed this ballet based exercise method which can be used by anyone, anywhere, anytime (if you have a computer and/or can read). It can make anyone feel and possibly look like they didn’t quit ballet when they turned 13 because they looked chubby in a leotard. You can get involved by taking live classes online (the technology is awesome) or even private lessons with MHB. Given our slightly unfortunate time difference, perhaps the better alternatives for us are the streaming videos, DVDs or book (incredibly reasonably priced). There is basically no possible legitimate excuse (believe me I’ve tried). Its perfection.
I’m totally into Ballet Beautiful. Into it in the sense that I buy all the streaming videos the day they are released and pay for super fast shipping for the book from Amazon because I can’t contemplate not having it in my life even for an additional day longer than necessary. Then I let them sit there looking gorgeous, flick through the book, load up the website, flash it about and consider doing the actual workout. Sometimes I actually do. But mostly I consider it doing enough to convince myself that I’m totally a Ballet Beauty. If you asked me, I’m so into it I’m basically a professional dancer. But no more – from this day forward I vow to legitimately be a Ballet Beauty not that awkward enthusiastic (ridiculously red faced) person in the group fitness with max enthusiasm, minimum ability. My days of being long, lean and general all round delight start today. Probably.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it enough to know that while you start out feeling delightfully graceful, you end with muscles burning like the fire of a thousand suns. It’s deceptively tough. After the first couple of seconds of reveling in how graceful your swan arms no doubt are, the impending deep burn starts to set in. Which I suppose makes the experience all the more authentic, real ballerinas look beautiful while showing no hint of the searing pain one imagines must be felt when spending that much time on your toes. (I do not work out in front of a mirror so the illusion that I am hiding the pain and looking graceful will remain intact in my mind). And it gets serious results.
MHB trained Natalie Portman for her role in Black Swan (and Zooey Deschanel does it!). So take a class with MHB and your degrees of separation to Natalie Portman decreases to: basically best friends*.
Give it a whirl, you will feel, in this order, graceful, in pain, in increasing pain, disbelief that something so graceful can cause so much pain and later, extremely satisfied.
*Although numerous, I should be clear this is not an authorized Ballet Beautiful promise.
Georgia Currie is a whirlwind of energy. You’ll hear her before you see her, but once you see her you wont forget her. She’s dressed in boyfriend jeans, a long slinky knit top, with a structured blazer and red lipstick complimented by her signature infectious smile. A Christchurch girl hailing from CPIT with a diploma in fashion technology and design, she has managed to fit a lot into her twenty-three years. After winning the Westpac Young Designer 2011 and the Telstra Clear Design Excellence Awards she is preparing to unleash the debut collection of her own line GEORGIA ALICE on the New Zealand market.
The self-titled label is fundamentally inspiring for New Zealand women by providing ready-to-wear, adaptable looks. Georgia’s passion for the power of clothes to transform the mood of a day is evident in her work; the new look book is an array of ensembles for real women; it is an elegantly feminine, crisp and statement making style, with an obvious air of practicality and comfort. It is luxurious everyday style, with particular attention to the quality of the fabrics used, and the way each piece compliments the other. The ‘look book’ really does illustrate a realistic capsule wardrobe; not an easy feat, but a highly coveted one.
Georgia has interpreted what women need from their clothing with a refreshingly realistic flair. She has aligned ‘fashion statement’ high end style with everyday practicality, and through careful tailoring with an emphasis on dramatic linear effects, texture and luxury fabrics she has made the clothing feel good on the wearer, as well as look good holistically and make a statement. The Imperial W/13 collection epitomises the idea of investment pieces; items of clothing that can be worn with so much, with emphasis on quality construction enabling you to wear them for seasons. The collection’s flexibility also leaves room for personal flair.
“I like the idea that people can form their own decisions about the line. After all, the clothing helps define the wearer and vice versa, the wearer makes the clothes that bit more amazing! You have to respect the people that you design for. I have so much faith that the women of NZ will appreciate my clothing and I can’t wait to see the way they will wear it- I am very excited!”
Georgia is driven; there is no doubt about that. When talking about her label she has the type of energy to be envious of, there is passion in her voice and lots of hand gestures. If you are emailing her, more than likely it is in CAPS LOCK TO EMPHASIZE HER EXCITEMENT. It is this liveliness that is her charm; it comes through her brand and sends a message to the women that wear it.
“I get to create clothing that I love and do something every day that is stressful, and scary and completely amazing… I am the luckiest girl in the world! I would just like to say to all the ladies out there be confident in your bodies and your brains! Dress to impress YOURSELF!! …Having inner strength is important but sometimes if I am feeling super insecure and I put on a really amazing outfit it totally changes how I feel…”
Creating strong statements and encouraging this confidence with clothing is important to Georgia; her self-proclaimed inspirations are her friends, they encourage her to create. This is perhaps the reason why her line so effectively achieves real world application; she is inspired by real women.
GEORGIA ALICE ‘s Imperial W/13 line will be stocked in Christchurch at the Infinite Definite boutique located in the Cashel street container mall opposite Ballantynes. You can also visit her website www.georgiaalice.com for more information and inspiration; make sure that you get your hands on some essential items as they will move fast. This brand has already gained some serious traction before it has even been launched. It is as good a time as any to invest in a very bold future presence in NZ fashion. Also it will wind Georgia up so much THAT SHE MAY NEVER TURN OFF CAPS LOCK AGAIN.
Photo by Kieran Scott
The following recipe and text was kindly provided by AL BROWN…
A fresh scallop opened just moments after being gathered from sea floor, unadorned or with just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is for me, one of the most agreeable tastes I can think of. They are truly a special shellfish and a favorite the world over. Scallops are found around the coast in the sandbanks and mud banks of sheltered bays from the low tide mark out to about 50 meters. The main area’s that produce these delicacies are Tasman Bay, Golden Bay, Malborough Sounds, and also the Coromandel and Northland Coasts.
To take they have to be over 10cm in width across the widest part of the shell and the legal limit recreationally is 50 per person. As usual just because the limit is 50 per person, don’t feel you have to take that many. Along with so many other shellfish, I’m a big believer that recreational quota’s should be halved in many cases. Take enough for a feed, and eat them fresh. This dish celebrates all that is good about summer.
‘ Go Figure ‘…..Scallops are a fast growing shellfish, and when conditions are ideal, can reach a legal size of 10 cm within 3 years.
Serves 6 Main Course
Step 1 Ratatouille Salsa
- Olive Oil ( For sautéing )
1 Cup Red Onion (Small Dice)
½ Tbl Garlic (Chopped fine)
1 Cup Zucchini (Small Dice)
1 Cup Aubergine (Small Dice)
2 Roasted Red Capsicum (Peeled, Seeded, – Small Dice)
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Fresh Basil (Chopped Fine)
- Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper.
Take a skillet or sauté pan and plane on medium heat. Add a little olive oil, then season and sauté the diced red onion and garlic until golden. Remove and pour into a bowl. Do the same with the zucchini and then follow with the eggplant.
Add the roasted and chopped red capsicum and two tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in the fresh basil , then season with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Cover and leave at room temperature for a few hours, or if serving later than that refrigerate until required.
Step 2 Creamed Fresh Corn
½ Cup Shallots (Rough Chop)
1/3 Cup White Wine
1 Cup Cream
3 Cups Corn Kernels (Freshly Cooked and removed from the Cob)
- Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper.
In a suitable sized saucepan add the butter and shallots. Place on low heat and sweat for 20 minutes (no colour) stirring occasionally.
Add the white wine, turn the heat up a little and reduce for 5 minutes before adding the cream. Cook for another 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
Take a wand blender or place in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to break up some of the corn kernels. You want the creamed corn to still have a slightly chunky texture.
Season with sea salt and pepper to taste, then refrigerate until required.
Step 3 Cooking and Serving
- Creamed Corn
60 Scallops (At room temperature)
- Cooking Oil
- Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
- Ratatouille Salsa.
Heat up the creamed corn gently in a saucepan over low heat or slowly in a microwave.
For the scallops , place a skillet or sauté pan over high heat. Season and oil the scallops before batch cooking them in your hot pan. Cook no more than 30 seconds per side, and when you turn them add a couple of knobs of butter, just before removing from the pan. Keep warm while you finish the rest.
To serve, spoon a little creamed corn in the centre of each plate then divide out the 10 scallops per serve. Top with a few spoonfuls of the ratatouille salsa, add a pinch of sea salt and a grind of fresh black pepper. Serve now!
It doesn’t take too many instances of walking into a shop and being ignored or given the once over like you just dragged yourself out of the gutter for online shopping to look pretty appealing. The old NZD is strong which means cheaper fancy clothes for us. Plus when it arrives I have usually forgotten I had to pay so it feels like a present. But its trial and error size wise and as easy as some places make it to return things, its not as easy as putting it back on the rack after trying it on in store. Needless to say, to justify spending the often more expensive prices in person, customer service is what’ll do it. Its pretty hard to hand over your hard earned cash to someone who is making it clear you have disrupted their sitting around. I’m a super loyal customer but I won’t hand over a cent to anyone who makes me feel like an inconvenience. However, I am a rubber arm when it comes to spending and if I get good service, I’ll basically start direct crediting my salary there. I am a big fan of shopping online, but I’ll still pay more for good in person service. Like everywhere, its a mixed bag in Christchurch. I’ve definitely experienced both ends of the spectrum here.
But today is a happy tale. I’ve been looking for a dress for my brother’s wedding, as was my Mum, and we were repeatedly ignored or given the gutter stare in several shops. Maybe I look dero or something? Mum persevered but I gave up and was deadset buying an amazing DVF from Shopbop.com (the Zarita, look it up). Today I was summonsed to Trelise Cooper in Re:Start for a second opinion on Mum’s outfit. And ended up buying a dress in about 5 minutes. So did Mum. Anyone who was a fan of World in High Street won’t be surprised to hear that working in Trelise Cooper today, was the incredibly stylish and generally amazing Jane Hadlow. If sartorial elegance is your goal, you need to meet Jane. She has impeccable taste and is honest (in a nice way). When she worked at World I once went in and bought approximately half their new collection in one hit (on laybuy – I’m not Christian Grey). So I was super excited to find her again, not at all surprised that I immediately found something I loved and suspect now might be a good time to invest in Trelise because sales are about to skyrocket. Her ability to style is like a superpower. So put down your laptop (for now) and go and see Jane. She will make you look and feel a million bucks.
The Food Show weekend is a special time. One that conjures memories of years past, with good friends, steadily eating our way around an events centre, one piece of tiny free food at a time. Sigh. I’ve obviously lost the will to drop the elbow in order to muscle in on the complimentary goodness because this time around I decided I might actually attend some of the chef talks. And what a decision this was.
First on the agenda for the day was a masterclass with Al (Al Brown to those who aren’t now best friends with him i.e. all of you). I’m not going to lie, I was a shellfish prude pre-Saturday. But I am a skeptic no longer. This was not only $50 well spent, but also worth the significant investment in fresh from the shell oysters and clams I now inevitably see in my future. It was actually worth it just for his chat - he is hilarious. If he ever needs a sideline, stand-up should be it. His enthusiasm for cooking is infectious, esp the rugged kind like with fire. Yes Al Brown even makes me want to go camping (or become a pyro – I’m not actually sure which is more unlikely).
On to the demonstrations. I sat like a mature student at the front of the class (I actually looked like a contestant in Masterchef watching the masterclasses, in awe, all suckup-y like) and let their wise words wash over me. (More to follow on the actual food…)
Safe to say my Masterchef dream is over before it begins. I can never go on this show. It seems I can’t compose myself around chefs, maybe its their knife skills, I don’t know. When I had the pleasure of meeting Al Brown, Ray McVinnie and Josh Emmett, I most certainly did not play it cool. I was like a 12 year old at a one direction concert. God forbid I should ever meet Heston, I’d go full noise Belieber on him. I wish I was joking. During my photo op with Josh Emmett (in his very striking custom made apron that I want to copy) AT had to pretend someone had shut their eyes to continue snapping away as I looked “way too excited” in all of them. Mr Emmett even enquired as to who the blinking culprit was, which threatened to unravel the whole thing. To no avail as I look like a kid with Santa in every single one.
Its easy to think of these guys as a bit of a marketing machine. They have their shows and endorsements and while they are super entertaining, its all a bit rehearsed. This was an opportunity to see them in their element. And it was glorious.
Fact: everyone likes wine. And if you aren’t drinking it from cardboard it makes you feel fancy. Wine tastings in particular are the ultimate in fancy, because you are drinking and learning.
It was in the depths of winter that we went to Decant for an evening of wine tasting and general good times. To get in on a private tasting we needed a group of at least 10. Because I like to surround myself with like minded people I know a lot of people with rubber arms so that was no problem. What did pose a problem was the massive layer of snow which caused our first attempt to be abandoned. The weather knew better than to keep us from our wine again and a week later it was all go.
Having been to law school in Otago, I’d been lead to believe that the “cheese” element of Wine and Cheese evenings was just a figure of speech, maybe an ancient pairing separated over the ages with the term cheese left as a relic from a simpler time. Imagine my surprise when we arrived at Decant and saw what was possibly the most cheese I had even seen in my life outside of a dedicated cheese facility. The good stuff too and they did not hold back. (Generous pourers as well, this really was money well spent).
We were taken on a viticultural Tour de France (happily no one showed up in Lycra) and enjoyed amazing wine from different regions in France, and learned a few things along the way. David, our host for the evening imparted information on the regions and wines in a way that did not make me feel uncultured or bored. This man knows his wine. I challenge you to ask him a wine related question he can’t answer.
The fact that possibly more cheese was sold than wine is not a reflection on the wine, merely that the cheese was insanely good. There was nearly a punch up over who got the last goat’s brie. Okay that’s not true but I could see it brewing. Plenty of wine was sold too and we left with fancy unusual ones, ideal to bust out at your next soiree (but not BYO, please…unless it’s one of the civilised ones where people eat, not the usual kind) or as a talking point in your burgeoning wine cellar. It is my hope that one day I will have such a cellar, to date, demand has outstripped supply and there is nothing in the reserves. Tough times.*
Good times were had by all. Including Decant as they gained 16 loyal customers and their cheese sales skyrocketed. And yes, they deliver.
Decant 61 Mandeville Street (03) 343 1945 decantwine.co.nz
*I think I should mention I did Dry July this year. And now regularly take cheese with my wine.
There’s this patisserie in Manly in Sydney that is, from the outside, (and to a tourist), unnoticeable. It had a sign the size of an A4 piece of paper and nothing else. But I saw people flock in and out with parcels constantly, so I thought to myself, there might be something to that place. But you know, I’m lazy so I didn’t cross the road. Meanwhile, in Christchurch Johanna was texting me raving about Andriano Zumbo the famous Sydney Patisserie, and how I definitely had to go and try his creations. I thought to myself, well that guy sounds so famous he wouldn’t even need to have a big sign outside his shop to get patrons, they would hunt his treats out. So the next day, spurred on by my fomo, I crossed the road.
Adriano Zumbo is cool. There is no doubt about it. His signature dish is the ever popular macaron, and on “Macaron Day” he was responsible for the creation of 30,000 macarons. According to his website his goal is to “caramelise the nation”. He is nationally acclaimed and a household name in Australia. He is a celebrity from his features on Masterchef , has had a TV show made about him, and has countless reviews in the press. He is famous for making dessert, and I love that.
I tried some of his macarons, firstly because they are what he is famous for, but mostly because he calls them Zumbarons and I respect wordplay. In my cute wee box I had the following flavours: Annunziata Chocolate, Pancake and Maple Syrup, Custard Crunch, Peach Iced Tea, and Salted Butter Popcorn. I ate them in the fashion of dreams; one bite from each and then back in the box. And then back for more, like I had macarons to burn, no big deal. One thing is clear, these are not ordinary biscuits. I had never had a macaron before, and I wonder, are they just the next cupcake? All I know is it is astounding that a biscuit can taste like a glass of peach iced tea.
What I am proposing is more food-related celebrities. Go on, open a shop that has so much taste and decadence in it that people cannot stay away. Make people talk. I want my city to celebrate people who create amazing food; everyone appreciates food. Its worked in Australia, now lets try it. We’re going to rebuild this city, and we’re going to need some sustenance. Maybe this is just my way of trying to convince Zumbo to look into international expansion? Either way, this is a piece of Sydney I’d love to see inspire some new trends in Christchurch.
If you would like to try your hand at being a boss in the kitchen, Zumbo has a cookbook called “Zumbo: Adriano Zumbo’s fantastical kitchen of other-worldly delights.”