Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Christchurch + the Waipara Valley, New Zealand

Christchurch New Zealand is known the world over... but sadly it's often the earthquake of 2011 that people first think of when they hear the name. I didn't want to start out this post talking about something the locals are trying so hard to move on from, but I kinda feel like we need to acknowledge this tragedy of the past in order to really get a sense of how far this beautiful city has come in the 5 years since, and to really appreciate the mammoth efforts many locals are putting in to get people talking about more than just that one dreaded day. So yes, there was a bloody huge earthquake, yes it destroyed much of the city, especially the city centre and the old stone buildings Christchurch was well known for, but as I found out on a recent trip down south, there's so much more to this beautiful part of the country than meets the eye.

I spent 3 nights in Christchurch a few months back when I was in town for The Food Show and I won't lie, I left feeling incredibly sad. Sad for what once was, sad for the people who have been so greatly affected by the earthquake and the destruction it brought. My opinions were not entirely fair though, as I didn't get much spare time to see the city or its surrounding areas between shows. I only saw a tiny glimpse of the city, and the beautiful Cathedral which sits in wreck and ruin. 

A few weeks later I was flown back to the city, courtesy of Christchurch & Canterbury New Zealand and my initial impressions were completely turned upside down. With more time to explore and a local showing us around, I instead saw beautiful buildings being lovingly restored to their former stone-glory, quaint New Regent Street, the beautiful Botanical Gardens (scroll down to see the stunning big yellow tree we spotted there!), inspiring Gap Filler Projects all over the city, and we even went punting up the Avon river. We also ate our way around the city, from beautiful homemade food and teas at iconic C1 Espresso, to one of the most memorable eating experiences I've ever had at Roots Restaurant in Lyttleton. It turns out, all I really needed was a little time and a few local tips to really see and experience the 'little pockets of awesome' Christchurch is becoming well known for, in these post-earthquake times. 
Friday, May 20, 2016

Roasted shiitake brown rice salad w/ miso mustard dressing

Few things in life make me as happy as strolling around farmers markets. The beautiful produce, smells, colours and passion fuel my imagination and never fail to get my creative juices flowing. Since moving home to NZ I've missed my weekly farmers market shop as the closest market is now a 45 minute drive away from home, meaning we only make it there if we happen to have something else on in the city on that particular day. When I travelled to Christchurch a month or so ago for the first of my Food Show appearances, the first thing I looked up were the farmers markets, and I was gutted when I realised I wouldn't have time to squeeze it in before my demo on the Saturday morning. You can then imagine my delight when not long after I was invited back to Christchurch by Christchurch and Canterbury NZ and our entire Saturday morning was spent at not one, but two local farmers markets! 

First up we stopped in at the infamous Riccarton markets, set amongst the beautiful trees alongside historic Riccarton house and grounds. Naturally, I wanted to buy everything, but refrained from tipping my baggage over the allowed weight and only bought a little bag of locally grown shiitake mushrooms, which lets face it, don't weigh much! After spending the previous day alongside Alesha from Bear Lion Foods (we have so much in common it's not even funny) I knew I had to try some of her legendary Ottolenghi-style salads, so salad for breakfast it was (bloody beautiful too!). My friend Delaney instead opted for a bowl of Posh Porridge, which looked like the best excuse I've ever seen to eat dessert for breakfast, yum! A quick stop in at Lyttelton markets after wards was in my humble opinion, not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.
Monday, April 25, 2016

Spice-roasted Butternut Pumpkin w/ Herbed Millet + Tahini Dressing {vegan}

The town fire alarm woke me at 2.44am this morning. It wailed for a long time before the first volunteer firemen/women got down town to turn it off. I can only imagine it was a car accident, at that hour of the morning. Living in a small town I dread hearing that alarm. When there's only 3000-odd people living in your town the chances of you knowing those affected increases dramatically. I lay awake with a lump in my throat, struggling to stop my mind from wandering to all the sad possibilities. It may well have been nothing major, I've not yet found out. But at that time of the night/early morning, lets just say it takes a whole lot of strength and mite to get my silly mind from straying to places it shouldn't go. Being Anzac day has also had me in a funny mood today, as I stop to think of how much I miss my grandparents who are no longer here. This is my first year back in Raglan on Anzac day, since they passed. The few years before Grandad passed he was no longer strong enough to walk in the parade, but you could always see him sitting in the front row of seats set out in front of the library, alongside the few remaining old diggers. After he passed nearly four years ago, Nana was the last one standing of that generation in my mums family. But now with her gone too, it all feels a little strange to think of a Anzac Day without them both. 

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