Fiddlesticks!

I haven’t blogged about dining much lately, which is a shame as I’ve had some lovely meals out recently but just haven’t pulled out the camera.  Therefore a handily timed jaunt to Fiddlesticks restaurant in town today will help rectify this.

Seven of us headed to this restaurant, which has been going for a few years now.  I had been planning to go for my choice of dining a couple of months ago, but was put off slightly by the somewhat eccentric sounding menu.  It all sounded fabulous, but there seemed to be some very random ingredient combinations in the meals.  Even when checking out the menu online in prep for this brunch visit, there were some examples of this.  For example the Risotto – Risotto of Saffron Braised Fennel, with broad beans, walnut mascarpone and sage.  I am all for adventure, but sometimes too many flavours overwhelm me!  Anyway, I’m pleased to say that it didn’t put me off going.

So seven of us were dining, and two went for quite typical eggs/salmon scramble type dishes from the breakfast menu.  Two chose the Zucchini and Halloumi Fritters  (one sans egg), and then one lad had the pie of the day (Mexican Beef), the other lad had the lamb sandwich and I went for the Smoked Chicken Salad.

Boring choice Susan?  Well, no, frankly it was the scrummiest thing I’ve eaten in ages.  I think I had an entire smoked chicken on the plate (I left a fair portion as I was too full), served up with a mesculine-type leaf, pears, parmesan, spicy almonds, crispy prociutto and the creamiest garlicky avocado “cream”.  There seemed to be a light lemony dressing over the salad which offset the pears, parmesan … well, actually everything.  Apart from leaving some of the chicken behind I cleaned up my plate!

Satisfied grins all round the table and plates emptied clean certified  that the others had all enjoyed their meals too.  Fiddlesticks is on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street.

The last time I was in the building it was Le Bon Bolli, so we’re going back a fair few years.  The new fit out is lovely – we were in one of the conservatory areas, and it was beautifully snug given the cool temperatures today.  Come summer those sliding doors will open up, as will the roof and it will be a lovely outdoor spot to eat.

Service was friendly and pretty efficient, so all round a great outing.

Tailor made crispy pie with crafted fries and pea puree

Tailor made crispy pie with crafted fries and pea puree

BBQ Lamb Sandwich, with smoked cheddar, chilli slaw and fries

BBQ Lamb Sandwich, with smoked cheddar, chilli slaw and fries

Zucchini and Haloumi Fritters (without the egg)

Zucchini and Halloumi Fritters (without the egg)

Smoked Chicken Salad, with prociutto, pear, parmesan, spicy almonds and avocado

Smoked Chicken Salad, with prociutto, pear, parmesan, spicy almonds and avocado

Regaining the Zen

I had to put a warm filter on so as not to blind you with the whiteness of my legs!

I had to put a warm filter on so as not to blind you with the whiteness of my legs!

I’m breathing a sigh today.  I posted last time about how manic it has been at work and how I’ve been low in energy and struggling with the change to Daylight Savings etc etc.  Well after a busy week following a one-day weekend last weekend, it was a chance to catch up on that lost day and have a 3 day weekend.  Yesterday dawned a sunny and beautiful day (although it was a cold wind).  I made the most of the sun and wind and did two huge loads of washing, In my chaotic September I had put aside the reminder about my car registration and realised with a shock on Wednesday I was driving an unregistered car.  I bussed to work on Thursday and yesterday I sorted out the car registration and at the same time renewed my driver’s licence which was looming for renewal too.  A plumber came and sorted out the small niggles I’ve had in the bathroom and laundry since moving back in.  So it was a real catch up day yesterday and a chance to cross a few important things off the list (albeit slightly costly ones!).  I had planned to make up for missing yoga on Tuesday with a Friday class and before I left the house for that I caught some rays in the sun, baring my legs for the first time this spring!

I’m loving my new sliding door to the lounge as it just creates such a great indoor outdoor flow.  I took the opportunity of sitting in the doorway and reading some of my current book (from the stash I posted last week).

Yoga certainly re-sets my balance.  I’ll never get to advanced levels of yoga, because I’m not allowed to do things like head stand, but I certainly get the benefit of many of the intermediate poses.  I came home quite relaxed, re-heated a pasta, poured a wine and sat and watched Graham Norton – a perfect Friday evening.

Today dawned, day two of my 3-day weekend.  It was even more glorious than yesterday, with the breeze only coming up late this afternoon.  I threw all the doors and windows open and greeted the world.  Sunshine does wonders for the soul and the mind.  I prepared for a busy day, quickly menu planning my week, writing up a grocery list (one of the things I didn’t get done yesterday) and was off to the garden centre as well.

Seeds, veges and herbs, new gardening gloves and motivation!

Seeds, veges and herbs, new gardening gloves and motivation!

I spent about an hour clearing out the weeds and clumping out the old hard soil, before getting to the task in hand.  I have planted zucchini, pepper,  basil, coriander and kale seeds in my germinating tray, I’ve potted some small seedlings of celery and cavelo nero into biodegradable pots for planting when they’re a little bigger and planted the lettuce into a small pot.  I’ve also fertilised a section of the garden and planted rainbow carrots and radish!  I’m not the biggest green thumb – I fail at a lot of my gardening attempts, but I do enjoy the therapeutic benefits of weeding, planting and the hope that something will spring up!

After that effort I had a nice long cold drink in the sun, sat and read my book and just breathed.  Although it’s been a busy morning and quite hard work, I actually feel more energised than at the start of this weekend.   I’m about to do another bit of yoga, before pouring a wine and getting dinner on.  I’m looking forward to sitting with the doors open too, with the warm day we’ve had.  It’s such a nice feeling thinking I’ve got another day off yet, too.  The weather is forecast to be good again, so I’ll do a little more weeding in the flower garden, read some more of my book and just feed my soul.  There’s something about sunshine, fresh air and getting back to basics that is calming.  That, and having a nice bit of music in your ears that matches your mood.

Catching my breath

It’s been manic at work – this time of year is the busiest for my department.  I had a one day weekend this weekend and was back at work today.  On top of that, I have had more blood removed a couple of weeks ago and it really hit me energy wise.  Coming at the busiest time of the year probably didn’t help.  Then we lost an hour’s sleep for Daylight Savings.  I don’t seem to be alone at work when struggling with the change – isn’t weird, such a small adjustment to our time frame can throw us for a few days.

I’ve been a bit slack on the blogging side of things too – I’ve just been a bit too tired to go out venturing anywhere, and although my dining friends and I went for brunch last week, I didn’t take any photos, so even that didn’t end up on here.  (I will say this, though:  Sugarhorse, Moorehouse Avenue – very good).

I have a 3 day weekend next weekend (to make up for this one) and on my one day off yesterday I did venture to the library for some books.  I’m hoping if the weather isn’t warm enough for some light gardening, then it will be good to stretch out on the sofa and make a headway on these.

Some light reading

Some light reading

Nothing too heavy in this lot, but I’m not quite in the space for War and Peace.

I am also making a concerted effort to do some yoga every morning, so am “disconnecting” from all screens at 9pm, having a read in the evening and getting up at 6am to do some asanas, that hopefully will fill me with a bit of energy too.

So all in all, I’m just catching my breath and getting back “in-sync”.

Brightening up the carparks

Christchurch is slowly rebuilding. In fact at the moment my office is constantly vibrating and rattling due to piles and foundations being drilled in near vicinity.  It drives us all a bit nuts but we keep going by having a mantra of “it’s progress, it’s progress”. However my daily walk is past two blocks of vacant land turned into carparks. In my more cynical moments I think Christchurch is the carpark city rather than the garden city!   Then out of the blue something pops up to brighten the surrounds and your spirits with it.  This little project from Greening the Rubble is a gap filler type project.  The Garden plot has been a work in progress for a while. However the final touches went in this week and last night this spot was officially opened. I walked past the garden on the way to meet friends so tonight I stopped to take a photo.  The chair and ottoman are made from broken China gathered after the earthquakes. True recycling!  For more on this venture check out Greening the Rubble. image image image

Listening to … Damien Rice

I’m so excited!  Tonight I heard the new song from Damien Rice.  My friend Bridget introduced me to Damien when I was living in Dublin.  We’d got talking about music and discovered we had similar tastes and she asked me to go with her to see Damien in a concert at the Olympia Theatre.  I still have the ticket, and it’s not even faded.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Damien had at that point released a few EPs and his debut album “O” was just out or about to come out (I can’t remember which, it’s 12 years ago, after all!).  The concert at the Olympia Theatre was one of the most memorable I’ve been to.  It was the first time I’d been there, and the concert was on Damien’s birthday.  He slowly got drunk on stage as he celebrated with everyone, and when he was presented with a cake at the end, it turned into a food fight on stage.  The antics were, however, overshadowed by the brilliant performances.  It can be hard to go to a gig when you’re not familiar with the songs.  But I was drawn in so quickly by the songs, the melodies, the mix of guitar and cello (which has always got me), along with the other instruments, that by the end of the night I was a fan.  When we left the theatre by the side door and walked back down the alley to Dame Street we discovered Damien had moved out on to the footpath with his guitar and was “busking”.  For a good 20-30 minutes before the Garda arrived and moved on the traffic that was spilling out on to the road.

After “0” came “9” – about four years later.  I was back home in NZ by then and ordered my copy from an Irish website so I could get it more quickly.  So it’s been 8 long years for him to produce a new album, which is due at the end of October.  The track I heard tonight brought back the talent I saw on stage.  Falsettos, use of strings, a touch of punk attitude, and a song that builds up with tension.  There’s always a feeling of rawness as his songs build and that’s still there.  So yes, I’m excited and am anticipating the album due at the end of October!

 

Anniversary Day

In about about 6.5 hours, it will be exactly four years to the day, minute, hour  when Canterbury was rocked by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that started a chain of aftershocks which included the catastrophic February earthquake and over two years of shakes, and shudders.  Our lives changed like nobody would predict and we live daily with the ongoing effects.  I wondered how to er… ‘celebrate’ the anniversary, and decided to look at it as positively as I could.  So, without further ado:

Things I’ve learned in the four years since 4 September 2010, 4.35am

  • My dodgy ticker can be quite strong
  • Rumbling noises can stop me in my tracks
  • It is important to have a wind up torch and spare batteries for your radio
  • Have an alternative heat source and a food kit
  • I can be very calm in the face of utter chaos
  • Although I live alone, my family are close
  • Flexibility is the new black
  • I quite like open spaces and warm sun
  • I am quite forward thinking
  • A house is bricks and mortar.  A home is where you, your loved ones and your friends are
  • I don’t have deep alliances to anything made out of brick, no matter how pretty it is/was.*
  • History is what you make of the future as well as what has happened in the past
  • I am over gravel, and uneven muddy carparks
  • We should encourage ideas outside the square
  • Cantabrians love to eat – we have more food venues than pre-quake
  • I like cool spaces like off beat alleys with bars, and remodelled warehouses**
  • Human spirit is amazing
  • If we work together, we can achieve ANYTHING
  • Insurers are not fun to deal with, but shooting the messenger never helps
  • There are a lot of good people working in all industries to bring our city back
  • Road cones are a proverbial pain in the ….
  • Always add at LEAST 10 minutes to a journey if you’re on a time deadline to cater for road diversions***
  • As well as a caring family spread around New Zealand I have the most amazing group of friends anyone could ask for here in Christchurch
  • I wouldn’t live anywhere else in New Zealand****
  • and finally, as I know everyone’s journey has been different and some have been very hard – I am very grateful as I am one of the luckier ones.

 

Footnotes:

*I would be upset if the Eiffel Tower disintegrated.

**am slightly wary if it’s a brick alley way.

***GPS or a fully charged phone are useful in these situations

****I would be tempted by a fully paid up move to Spain, however!

Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament

Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament

 

Favourite Places

It’s a year since my trip to Europe began. I was out for dinner with friends on Friday night and all of us have had international travel in the last year, some just very recently. The talk turned to photographs. Most of us haven’t managed to get around to printing and putting photos in albums, journals, frames. Discussion came up about your “top 10 photos” for a dining evening to share photos with others.

I printed 100 photos while I was in the motel for my EQ repairs, thinking it would keep me busy… but alas I struggled to put them in an album, which I wanted to double as a scrapbooking project.

Streamlining to 10 photos? I don’t know about that. Today I spent the day finally putting a photo book together on the computer. I’m sick with the start of a head cold, so wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything else. My 20 page photo book grew to 32 pages. I’m quite happy with the result, but there are so many photos missing!

It got me to thinking what would be my favourite place out of where I visited? I re-visited a few places on this trip. Of the new places, Strasbourg, Bordeaux were beautiful and Faenza had a special meaning. Of the places I’ve been, Paris, Barcelona and of course my other home, Dublin, rate as great places. “Too difficult!” I say.

The same with New Zealand. One of the most beautiful spots I’ve been to in New Zealand is Moeraki. I’d love to base myself there and write a book. However I adore Central Otago and the wine regions both there and in the Nelson area. The Coromandel is also beautiful.

Anyway, just for the blog, here are a few photos that made the book.

Trinity College

Trinity College

Le Tour Eiffel

Le Tour Eiffel

La Bicyclette!

La Bicyclette!

Courtyard within Castillo

Courtyard within Castillo

La Cite, Carcassonne

La Cite, Carcassonne