We left home early enough to arrive in Lyttleton shortly after the Farmer's Market opened. Already it was hard to find parking and the Market was buzzing. To be honest it must still be a well kept secret because there was space to move, just. Lyttleton is only a 15 minute drive from W & A's home in Christchurch so I don't understand why more people don't go there. The produce, baking, meat and fish were excellent. If I lived here I'd probably do 90% of my fresh food shopping here every week. There was also a Collectables, Jewellery & Antiques Market adjacent and a Garage Sale, (Car Boot Sale), as well. Something for everyone. W & A bought a few things and I had a cappuccino, before heading out to Akaroa. I had a minor problem, feeling quite car-sick before we got there. Thank goodness it passed away quickly once out of the car. The hills are steep and the road winds over them for an hour or so. It didn't help that I sat in the back of the car. We had our picnic lunch, packed by A before we left home, on the beach and it became very warm. The sun was lovely.
After a nice break it only took 5 minutes to drive to the Giant's House where we climbed a steep driveway, climbed some giant steps and knew we were in for a treat. The mosaic sculptures were brilliant. I'm going to try to upload some photos using A's computer when I get a chance. A has just given us her book on Park Guell in Barcelona. This local work has many similarities, we could be forgiven for wondering if the artists original inspiration for mosaic sculpture came from Barcelona. The property, with it's colonial New Zealand villa, is not quite so magnificent and the work often quirky. We walked and photographed and climbed and photographed, then sat chatting under a shady tree, listening to the gentle soft flow of background blues, trying to absorb as much as possible. Have you got the picture that the landscaped garden is on a very steep hill, terraced with many stairways from one level to another. I was pleased to negotiate it all with no serious problems.
It was time to go all too soon. We had a short time to rest before going out for dinner at the 'Something' Club. A typical Workingman's Club with plenty of gambling games, well stocked Bar and casual dining. I'm going to be completely honest here. Places like this bring out the snob in me. I could go on but won't. Enough to say that TWJ brought me orange juice because he couldn't see anything else I would drink. Doesn't he know I always order tomato juice in this situation? I hate orange juice except for fresh squeezed and we certainly weren't getting anything like that. The meal was food, not pretty, not especially nutritious, adequately cooked with minimum presentation.
I missed last Saturday but I may as well give you a run down of a cheap Club meal in New Zealand. The choice was reasonable. Fisherman's Basket .... all fried food Hawaiian ham steak. A medium thick round slice of ham sort of grilled topped with a grilled slice of canned pineapple, roast pork, buttered chicken, weiner schnitzel, which would probably be pre-packaged, frozen and more than likely dry, smoked chicken salad, T-bone steak and a couple of other choices I don't remember. We chose our meal and paid as we entered then found our table. Our number was called and we collected our meal from the Chef's counter and proceeded to the table where a Bain Marie trolly kept the roast potato, pumpkin, peas, cauliflower in white sauce and gravy hot. There was also a smaller chilled smorgasbord of salads, potato, pasta, green bean & carrot, lettuce with tomato & cucumber. I had forgotten how much I dislike this form of presenting a meal. I added some bean and lettuce salads and a piece of pumpkin to my plate. The meal was just food but it was reasonably cheap. Because this was A's choice for her birthday meal with family I tried to look satisfied and happy. I think she chose this because the Club is her father's favourite place and she was being thoughtful of our pockets too. The pumpkin was cut into large wedges and seemed to be dry baked. It was quite tasty. The salads were fine. The Fisherman's baskets were pretty ordinary and I gathered the pork was stringy. I suspect it was poorly carved but it apparently was not all that tender.
I really didn't feel satisfied when I'd finished eating although looking back I had a large piece of pumpkin and I would have been wise to stop there but someone mentioned dessert, so back we trailed to the cashiers desk to study the dessert blackboard menu. I saw fruit salad, sticky date pudding, pavlova, banana split, icecream sundae. I chose Pavlova which was larger than expected and came with fresh whipped cream, sickly strawberry syrup, 1/2 strawberry, and a large swirl of soft icecream or cream freeze as we call it in New Zealand. The pavlova was good and I ate it with some fresh cream, leaving the rest for TWJ. I thought I'd eaten well but not extravagantly so was surprised a few minutes after finishing to realise my stomach disagreed with my head. Several hours later I still have stomach ache from eating too much. That's how much my stomach has changed in 3 weeks.
There is a lot of friendly rivalry between Australians and New Zealanders The origin of Pavlova and probably Lamingtons, (see yesterday's post), is no exception. Pavlova is a very simple meringue type dessert of light fluffy. marshmallow-y sweetness inside a crisp creamy white shell. The top is filled with whipped fresh cream and fresh berryfruit or chocolate or whatever you fancy. It is considered a celebration dessert but turns up in various guises on many cheap menus too.
The whole meal cost about NZ$81 or US$56.50 for 4 people, and we don't tip, so I guess we got what we paid for. I would have preferred to cook a nice meal at home except that it's not my kitchen, we were out all day and then there is the prep and clean-up so I really shouldn't complain.
True or a big fat lie.
4. I threw up in front of the Governor General, (Queen's/King's representative in New Zealand). He was doing a tour of small towns and in our town the whole school lined up in formation to honour him and he did a walk through inspection.
The Truth It must have been an autumn morning about 1949, I was 9 years old and highly excited because the Governor General, Lord Freyberg was paying our school a visit that day. Mum had made porridge for our breakfast but I was too excited to eat. Never-the-less mum insisted so I ate, and ran, terrified that I'd be late. Once at school we were lined up in rows on the bitumen netball courts, for the Governor General to walk past, just like a military inspection. I was terribly excited and threw up my breakfast in a heap on the blacktop. I don't remember much about the clean-up except that by the time the Governor General came by there was a heap of sand beside one very white faced little girl. Amazingly, Lord Freyberg stopped and spoke to me although I was so overwhelmed I have no idea what he said.
In 1949 WW2 was still a very close memory. We still had some foods rationed as well as petrol. Lord Freyberg was the greatest of heroes, a legend in the eyes of most New Zealanders as he had commanded NZ forces, earning huge respect, at critical times. Add that to being the King's, (King George VI, our current Queen's father), representative in New Zealand and you have a very special mix. Now add in my mother, an ardent Royalist to this day, and maybe you can understand why I was beside myself with excitement. To receive a visit from Lord Freyberg was so much bigger than any Rock Star, or anyone else I can imagine.
Now I really must put this away and switch out the light. TWJ is moaning at me.