A Wellington Weekend…Part 1

Ride the Cable Car, Get this View & then Walk through the Botanic Gardens!

We felt a mid-winter’s break was in order – a change of scene, a change of faces, some new & different food & drink to try and of course, culture. We had not been to Wellington in over a decade, and our memories of it were still on the good side, so away we went for a long weekend in Wellington…

Noble Rot Wine Bar…

Since the Noble Rot Wine Bar was just around the corner from our hotel, we decided to break a Friday night rule – beer before wine – and popped in to a bustling joint (it was Friday after work). I opted for an old time fave, Samuel Gorge’s Grenache which was in peak form & Hound #2 went the bubbles route…

HUSK Brewery

The vino was a nice start, but our house rule rose to the fore & we were off in search of a bar/brewery nearby on Ghuznee Street called HUSK. This place covers a lot of bases – brewery, roastery & eatery…but it was the cervezas we were here to imbibe. Like many craft breweries / bars these days, they are quite accomodating & generous with wee tastings of a good chunk of their range and what a range it was. Hound #2 likes her stouts so a tipple of the Power of Voodoo White Coffee Stout and Shakeit Chocolate Milkshake Stout were quickly swallowed & loved, but she felt like something lighter, so a 1/2 pint of City of the Wind IPA. My choice was, appropriately,  I’m Afraid of Americans West Coast IPA. Excelente!

With a good beverage head start to the evening, it was now time for some food. So off to make our 8:30pm dinner booking @ Mr. Go’s.

This a fun & lively & affordable place folks – hard to go wrong here on any front. Packed & buzzing on this Friday night, we quickly settled into our assigned seats & perused the extensive menu. We started with a bottle of the Arriba Tempranillo which is a house fave @ home & put our order in…Hound #2, in the last month, has gone vegetarian & Mr. Go’s menu suits that preference to a ‘T’…

Mr. Go’s is designed to share & share we did: Kung Pao Cauliflower (Fried cauliflower, Kung Pao sauce, peanut salt), Tofu Popcorn (Marinated and fried tofu pieces, Fix and Fogg satay sauce), Green Beans (Dry pan-fried green beans, Chinese spices, pickled mustard greens) and Go’s Fried Rice (Bok choy, edamame, peas, spring onion, spring onion oil, furikake). Yum!!!

We awoke Saturday morning to yet another amazing day in Wellington (stayed stunning our entire visit) as for any folks that have never been, Wellington has a reputation (deservedly so) for having nasty, brutal weather…that’s why its nickname is Windy Wellington (you can add rain to that monicker too).

We quickly popped in to Hangar for some warming coffees & some edibles before heading to the Wellington waterfront / harbour. In Lyttelton where we live (on the Banks Peninsula outside of Christchurch on the South Island), we have a beautiful harbour too but access is very limited – you can always look but rarely touch. Wellington has a lot of public space waterside & we made the most of it & enjoyed…

Wonderful Wellington Waterfront…

Wellington Museum

One of the highlights for both of us was a visit to the Museum of Wellington – highly recommended & well worth your time…amazing use of modern holographic imagery to tell historical and mythical tales and the section on the tragic Wahine disaster is heart wrenching but informative.

Weeeeeeeeeeee!

Lunchtime came upon us faster than we thought (time flies when you’re having fun & food & drinks) and we made a bee-line for Pre-Fab on Jessie Street. This is a real hustling & bustling kind of industrial kitchen that was created by the folks who started the iconic Cafe L’affare, the place that kicked off the cafe scene in Wellington. Though we had to queue, everything moved quickly & within 5 minutes we had seats….

Prefab, Jessie Street

We’d previewed the menu beforehand & made our choices – the classic Rueben Sandwich for me & the Grilled Halloumi Baguette, Avocado, Smoked Beetroot & Dukkah for Hound #2. Both dishes nailed the hunger pains to the wall – some of the tastiest tucker on the trip for me.

Top: Reuben Sandwich – Yum!; Parrotdog IPA; and Grilled Halloumi Baguette, Avocado, Smoked Beetroot & Dukkah.

Post a wonderful lunch, we were in the hood of Moore Wilson’s Fresh – my absolute fave food store in all of New Zealand. I mean, what’s not to like or love here? One of the biggest & best offerings of food & et al in the country, with everything from fresh as fruit & veg to meat & fish to cheeses of the world to condiments galore…heaven. And it has certainly grown over the years, but managed to maintain its super high quality while expanding its breadth of offerings. Only draw back is: (a) we had no kitchen or fridge where we were staying so no cooking and (b) we had only brought 1 checked bag so not loads of space for transport home :-(…

Moore Wilson’s Fresh – Estupendo!

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!


Meat & Fish…

The Wine Section….

So onto Part 2 of the trip in the next posting….

 

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Grater Goods…A Vegan Revelation.

Grater Goods Deli & Butchery

Hound #2 had a list of Friday errands to run so we hopped in Gertie the 1975 Series III Land Rover on a bright, crips sunny day & toddled off into town (Christchurch). Lots of very basic, boring things to do like pick up dry cleaning, visit the new, monstrous Durham Street New World (our life is so exciting) & then we had planned to check out a mate’s pre-auction warehouse viewing session but we had more than an hour before that kicked off.

So…lunch!!!

For the month of June, Hound #2 is going vegan for reasons I won’t get into but it creates a bit of an eating quandary…but I had read about Grater Goods (vegan deli & ‘butchery’) in several local publications & I had just missed out on their amazing Mushroom Market the prior Saturday. So this lunch option was proposed & readily taken up…

The Blackboard Menu

Grater Goods is housed in an old industrial building hidden away at 105 Orbell Street & conveniently located round the corner from Junk & Disorderly (always worth a squizzy). We perused the blackboard menu & queried “How can you have a Rueben sandwich without corned beef???” to which Flip Grater offered a very acceptable explanation of exactly how they do it with vegan ‘meat’ and vegan ‘cheese’…so we took the bait – with fries.

Inside Grater Goods…

Man oh man…what an awesome sandwich! I would seriously have a blind folded meat eater taste it, and mos def not be able to say if it was not a real (with meat) Rueben sandwich. And the fries were top notch too & I have no idea how they make the mayo or aioli but delish just the same.

The Vegan Rueben – Estupendo!

So if you are in the neighbourhood…or not, do yourself a favour & take a chance & have the vegan Rueben…you will not be disappointed.

Fishing New Zealand’s High Country Lakes with UK Charlie…

Lake Georgina…

I kept getting tagged by mates in a Facebook post by a local Lyttelton woman who was in search of fly fishing folks to take her visiting UK Dad out for a New Zealand fish. I decided to offer up my services if time & plans allowed & was shortly in communication with UK Charlie.

One minor hiccup was that UK Charlie is a ‘lake person’ whilst I am pretty much a 99.9% ‘river person’. Not that I wouldn’t mind at all taking him to a lake it was just that my lake knowledge & expertise is next to non-existent so I had not a clue as to where & when to go. Hit up a mate of mine who is not only a serious lake man but had spent the better part of this season fishing the lakes that surround Lake Coleridge. He messaged me with some serious details on each of the lakes & with those facts in hand (coupled with a Fish & Game notice of two 15 pound rainbows recently released), we made a bee line for Lake Georgina….

Stunning day @ Lake Georgina…

UK Charlie & I could not have asked for a sweeter day – the drive up was a stunner with UK Charlie regularly blurting out – “This is real New Zealand scenery…” and a day that was near on perfect – blue sky & sun, no wind and fish!

As we kitted up we were both a bit amazed at the level of trout activity already in progress – in any direction you cast your eye fish were jumping…lots of wee to mid size ones but quite a few big boys too. All morning long UK Charlie & I were into fish & it did not seem to make a damn bit of difference what fly you had on…I started with a Parachute Adams, caught fish. Switched to a Blue Blow Fly, caught fish. Put on a Yellow Humpy, caught fish. And UK Charlie was having the same success with a succession of oddly named UK flies like Boobies & Buzzers (?). UK Charlie was the first to connect with a couple of respectable fish – a decent 3-4 pound rainbow that I was able to capture in the photos below.

Fish On!

We decided to sit down for lunch @ 1:30pm and as we ate & talked, we noticed the surface activity has slowed considerably. So I re-rigged by shortening up my leader to 5 feet & putting on a bead head Wooly Bugger streamer to probe the deeper part of the lake centre. I had no action for the better part of an hour, hurtling my heavy rig to the lake centre & stripping it back…when all of a sudden there was a sharp tug & then nothing. A guide mate of mine taught me that when fishing streamers, many times the big fish will hit the fly hard to try & stun what they think is a fish & then circle back to eat it. So your best plan of attack is once you have the first big tug, stop stripping & let the fly sink…which is exactly what I did & all of a sudden there was another BIG tug & an anchor on the end of my fly line. And it was an anchor that made straight for the lake centre despite as much pressure as I could muster & my rod doubled over. UK Charlie just kept saying “That’s a bloody big fish…” but we never did see it – after just a minute or so of struggle my streamer came free with a chunk of lake moss the size of a rugby ball attached. One of the 15 pounders I do believe…

Lake Marymere…

UK Charlie was keen to go out again before his return to the UK in early March, so again a conundrum – what lake??? Just by pure accident, I’d had an reupholstery fellow visit my house to quote on some work & we got to chatting as he was a serious fly fisherman and he told me the story of his daughter. She was having a bit of a rough patch so he offered to take her fly fishing for the first time. He took her to one of his favourite lakes – Lake Marymere – where just after her 3rd or 4th cast with a fly rod she managed to hook & land (on 4 pound tippet) the fish pictured below.

Typical Lake Marymere Trout….

Reading up a bit about Lake Marymere it is a lake known for its big trout – both browns & rainbows. UK Charlie & I had yet again a perfecto day for fly fishing & we were just hoping the fish would co-operate…

Well the fish are there alright – we saw at least a dozen or more like the fish above, cruising about 2 rod lengths off shore & not wanting to give us the time of day, almost thumbing their fins at us daring us to make a cast. Which we did, and which they completely ignored. I am not at all sure how you actually might catch these fish – as well as we seeing them, they could clearly see us & there is next to no cover to hide behind except along one shore.

Lake Marymere & UK Charlie…

But it was still an awesome day out all the same, with typical New Zealand scenery making the day and a gorgeous memory for UK Charlie…until next time Charlie!!!

The Noble Merchant Opawa…

Thr Noble Merchant Opawa – Bagel Sundays!

The Hounds keep a fun-things-to-do-list ready @ hand so that whenever we read or hear about something that would make a decent distraction, we put it on the list & then try & check them off ASAP. So I’d read about this fairly recent cafe/store opening that was just through the Lyttelton Tunnel called The Noble Merchant & for the month of July (it may be extended if it achieves success) they were trialing a Sunday bagel breakfast.
So off we toddled @ just after 8am (the web site & Google said it opened @ 8 (Monday-Sunday) & promptly arrived there at about 8:40am only to find out it was clearly still closed, apparently ready for a weekend opening of 9am – no worries…took Hound #1 for a nice stroll along the Heathcote River and we rather like Opawa anyways compared to many other Christchurch suburbs on the flats…some beautiful grand old villas & houses & lots of park space in view of the lovely Port Hills.

Baked Goods from the Bellbird Bakery – Yum.

We headed back to deli @ exactly 9am and it looked open, but the owner/barista was still milling about & the footpath signs were not out yet, but a couple of local yokels could clearly be seen inside, so in we went…Hound #2 made a joke with the owner (who was British born but grew up in Christchurch) about his opening times and that we were keen  to try the bagel breakfast & he fired back straight away “2 free coffees!!” for being the first through the door for bagels…you do not get shouted much of anything in New Zealand so good on him.

The owner had a good dose of the British banter and his bagel maker was on site to put together the bagel platters & he told us he was from Israel and a very good bagel maker, but a very bad Jew :-). A good bit of amusing & convivial chat was a wonderful way to start a Sunday…

There were 3 bagel options – a traditional smoked salmon & cream cheese (Hound #2’s choice), a venison salami & Dijon infused cream cheese (my choice) and a roasted red pepper & cream cheese  – all for the mere sum of $9.50 and served with sides of olives, pickles, caper berries, cheese & pesto.

Bagel with Salmon, Cream Cheese, Pesto, Caper Berries & Olives….

The final verdict? Excellent bagels, super toppings & sides and an A+ for presentation! And besides the bagel Sundays, The Noble Merchant is also a well stocked deli & grocer if you happen to be in the neighborhood & need to stock up.

The owner also has a cafe & gourmet food store in Lincoln called, funny enough, The Lincoln Pantry, which we had seen on one of our other Sunday outings to Lincoln that I wrote about in one of my other blog posts

So if you want an authentic bagel experience, head to The Noble Merchant on Sunday morning & give your taste buds a thrill….

Bagel with Venison Salami, Cream Cheese & Dijon Mustard, Olives, A Cheddary Cheese & Pickles…

Hello Sunday Cafe…

Hello Sunday

We had yet another ‘chore day’ last Friday with the most boring task of buying a new mattress. Our current one has gone past its ‘use by date’ by…ummmm…a decade or more & is possibly a contributing source of numerous body aches & pains in the morning. And our usual modus operandi is to mix the good/fun with the bad/not fun so we decided to check out & possibly have lunch (if we could get in) @ Hello Sunday. We keep a list of the fun things we’d like to do & we make a concerted effort to check as many of them off our list as we can & Hello Sunday was at the top…

Sweet Decor….

And just like our good luck with The Bicycle Thief, we once again struck gold & scored a 2 top table in the main part of the cafe. A space designed & decorated very much in line with my own personal aesthetics with a wonderful use & mix of old and new…its got a good dose of class & atmosphere. Also had a bit of an extended squizzy before we ordered & made it to the very back where they have a micro-greens garden in full bloom and a very sympathetic (with the front room) back room eatery. Ah…the food order…

Backyard Green Garden…

We had not checked out the menu beforehand so it was all new to us, but it all looked great with a seriously good mix of food on offer across a nice price spread – sandwiches & salads @ $10-$12 all the way up to the Thai Fried Chicken Burger @ $24. Oh so tempting…

Hound #2 struggled with her choice but ultimately decided to give the Beef Cheek Hash (very curious to see how they do this) & Poached Eggs ($22) a whirl. I too was a bit torn but liked the sound of the Spicy Pork Belly Salad ($20) as pork belly is something I do not often cook @ home.

Beef Cheek Hash & Poached Eggs…

What a wonderful & inventive concoction this Beef Cheek Hash was – well done chef & oh so tasty…I will order this on our next visit.

Spicy Pork Belly Salad with Crispy Shallats & Bok Choy & Some Heat!

But that is not to say I was not as equally thrilled & pleased with my choice – a perfectly put together Spicy Pork Belly Salad that had just the right touch of heat & loaded with flavour. No complaints here…

So if you are bumping around Sydenham or parked up @ The Colombo, do yourself a favour and a taste treat & have lunch @ Hello Sunday. And if you are more of a dinner person then maybe it is worth the try to dine @ their new sister establishment – 5th Street, which is just around the corner. It’s going on our fun-things-to-do list….