After a stressful week, all you want to do at the weekend is get out of the city (without driving too far), stay in a comfortable place (without paying too much) and eat some good food. In search of just such a place, the Boyfriend and I stayed at the historic Governors Bay Hotel last weekend. Although it is only about a forty minute drive from Christchurch, once you emerge from the Lyttelton tunnel, which cuts through the Port Hills directly south of the city, you feel like you’re arriving in another, more relaxed world.
I’ve been taking full advantage of the Christchurch City Library and their ever-fabulous selection of cookbooks, a pile of which are currently sitting by the bed. I’ve always been an avid reader of cookbooks – in Ireland the Boyfriend accused me of spending more time reading them than cooking from them! – but now it sometimes gets a little out of hand.
Yesterday morning was miserable. It was wet and stormy, I hadn’t slept well and I woke up with a nasty sore throat. I was lying in bed, feeling sorry for myself (I had to cook dinner for nine last night) when the Boyfriend said “there’s a parcel here for you!” A parcel in the post is never something to be sniffed at, especially when I had a suspicion that it was sent from America by my Mail Blogging partner, Deborah. Before I knew it, I was out of bed and tearing open the wrapping to receive a veritable avalanche of goodies! And that was only the start. When I checked the proper post (as opposed to the parcel post) later I found a card telling me that there was another parcel to be collected at the post office. This morning, the third – and final – parcel was delivered, along with a lecture from the postman as the bottle of porter (yes, porter! Alaskan Smoked Porter, actually) it contained fell out as he took it out of his sack. He was not impressed – apparently the New Zealand post office take a dim view of bottles of alcohol falling out of parcels. Thankfully it survived, although I don’t think I’ll be opening it for a while. Mr Postman said it had survived a lot and it should be put on display!
My only experience of pumpkins while in Ireland was at Halloween during my first year in Dublin. One of my then housemates bought a pumpkin and carved it into a grinning Jack O’Lantern to sit in the window. I had only ever made Jack O’Lanterns from turnips before and was amazed at how easy it is to hollow out a pumpkin rather than spending ages digging your difficult way through the tough flesh of a turnip! With touching (and undeserved!) faith in my cooking abilities, he set the pumpkin flesh aside and informed me that it was my job to turn it into something edible. I failed the challenge, I must admit. Every time I opened the fridge the watery yellow flesh rebuked me and it wasn’t too long before it made the trip to the dustbin. Since then I’ve seen pumpkins appearing in Irish supermarkets in time for Halloween each autumn but I’ve never even been remotely tempted.
I’ve always loved getting parcels in the post (hence my involvement with Blogging by Mail 2!) and this year in New Zealand has only accentuated that fact. When you’re far away, it’s always nice to know that your friends and family at home are thinking of you, something which is even more appreciated when there’s chocolate involved! My mother is great for sending on bars of Butler’s Irish Chocolate and chocolate Santys at Christmas time – I even got a (very squashed) box of Black Magic for my birthday and a slab of Bournville (especially useful for bach hot chocolates).
I was just taking a look round the Cork Film Festival website when I came across their Slow Food on Film event. Slow Food Cork are behind this amalgamation of food and film which is in its third year. It always sounds amazing but, as I’m normally based in Dublin (when I’m not in New Zealand!), I haven’t yet managed to attend.
Due to the vagaries of the post between Ireland and New Zealand, my reading of the Observer Food Monthly is always a few weeks behind. Seeing as we’re never in season with the produce it doesn’t really matter and it’s always a red letter day when the most recent edition arrives, along with recipes and restaurant reviews torn from Irish publications – thanks again Mum!