USA

Cherry Twizzler Infused Vodka. A poem.

“There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends.” – Sylvia Plath

In this case the somebody was my sister, so we were destined to be old friends regardless of whether we puked together or not.  But it’s moments like these that strengthen sisterly bonds.  So here is a piece I wrote about the time that some friends and I decided to have vodka and candy for dinner, in true teenage girl fashion.  It’s a week late for NZ national poetry day, and heavily influenced by ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn.’

USA

Los Angeles, the northernmost city in Latin America

My sister Lauren picks me up at Los Angeles Union Station and makes fun of me when I stress about where to pay for the airport shuttle.  “People here just don’t care,” she says.  “This is the frontier.  We’re the easternmost city in Asia and the northernmost city in Latin America.  This is your soft entry to Mexico.” 

Having just come from New Zealand winter, it’s not just the warmth of the temperature that’s shocking but also the overt warmth of the people.  Complete strangers will give you advice about which juice to get while you’re in line at Jugo Azteca, or discuss which model has the nicest butt at the Mapplethorpe exhibit at LACMA.  In NZ you’re seen as slightly crazy if you talk to strangers, in LA you’re seen as crazy if you don’t.

tastetransfixed_losangeles_LACMA
View from the roof at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
New Zealand

Veggie Dumplings (Pot Sticker Dumpling Bar)

In this three part series I travel Christchurch in search of the best vegetarian dumplings, assisted by guest expert (and real vegetarian) Netta Egoz.

It’s nearing the end of our investigation into veggie dumplings and the competition is fierce.  The service at Pot Sticker is questionable – they’ve got my order wrong most times I’ve been here, including serving us pork dumplings while doing vegetarian dumpling research – but once the dumps make it to the table it’s worth it.  

tastetransfixed_potsticker_dumplings
Pot Sticker dumps.
New Zealand

Veggie Dumplings (China Kitchen)

In this three part series I travel Christchurch in search of the best vegetarian dumplings, assisted by guest expert (and real vegetarian) Netta Egoz.

China Kitchen’s frontage states ‘No MSG’ and ‘Best dumplings in town’.  Netta jokes that we might not even need to try them but in the end our rigorous investigation methods win over.  No one wins the supreme veggie dumpling award that easily.

the-china-kitchen_tripadvisor
China Kitchen. Photo source Trip Advisor.
New Zealand

Veggie Dumplings (Welcome)

In this three part series I travel Christchurch in search of the best vegetarian dumplings, assisted by guest expert (and real vegetarian) Netta Egoz.

Our first stop is Welcome in Upper Riccarton.  The lighting is bright and the music is soft enough that you can hear the conversations at the surrounding tables.  They’re known for fresh vegetables and bubbling sauces in the hotplates and clay pots.  No one comes to Welcome for the dumplings.  Neither of us had ever had them, this was uncharted territory.

tastetransfixed_welcome_veggiedumplings
Welcome restaurant, Upper Riccarton.
New Zealand

Waiheke Top 5

This is the best of the best, the top five things to do on Waiheke Island. Thanks to the lovely Carmel / George Sand Studio for helping me out with all that eating and drinking, I relied heavily on her expertise when I put this piece together.  Carmel and I met at a restaurant where she was Maitre ‘D and I was bartending.  Before we reconnected on Waiheke, a mutual friend asked if Carmel was ‘still the same, like some magical creature?’  I can answer definitively, yes, she is still a magical creature.

tastetransfixed_waiheke_waterfall
Waterfall near Bach Winery. If I were a mermaid, this would be my secret hideaway.
New Zealand

I traded a day of work for a day of drinking…

Cellar Belly.  Winery staff often succumb to this dreaded malady when they are overly familiar with their own wine to the exclusion of all others.  For just over a year I’d been working at Black Estate in Waipara Valley when I realised I was afflicted.  Luckily, there is a cure to this condition.  Familiarise yourself with as much wine as you can, from as many different places.  With this remedy in mind I headed to Waiheke, New Zealand’s island of wine.

tastetransfixed_podericellardoor
Poderi Crisci cellar door
New Zealand

Waiheke Island, NZ’s never never land

A mere half hour ride from Auckland’s city centre, Waiheke Island is New Zealand’s never never land – it’s hard to tell who actually lives there and what they do.  Known for beaches and wine, the island attracts a combination of the super rich and eccentric hippies and is largely supported by travellers on working holiday visas.  Evidenced by my friend Cat’s first comments when she picked me up at the ferry terminal.  “Oh yes, I’m working barefoot here,” she said when she saw me staring at her muddy feet.  She is a vineyard hand at the Italian owned Poderi Crisci on the island’s remote east side.  “I need to show you the pictures of our staff party last week.  It was on a super yacht, unlimited champagne.”

tastetransfixed_waiheke_prada
Waiheke Prada
New Zealand

Kakanō Cafe and New Zealand’s culinary heritage (part 2)

Jade Temepara’s Kakanō Cafe is a modern initiative that is novel because it celebrates a return to the methods of the past.  She is teaching skills that have been forgotten and re-planting seeds that have been lost.  The cafe includes a seed to plate garden with heritage produce and an on site cookery school with workshops, classes, and speaker events.  In my former job with Life in Vacant Spaces I was involved during the cafe’s set-up and I saw the excitement build around the space.  The homeless men that hung out at Pete’s Landing across the street helped her build the garden beds.  “They think it’s their pad,” she says.  The librarians at the National Archive next door gave her their files and research of heritage produce and Maori food preparation.  Everyone got involved – backpackers, neighbourhood residents, Jade’s family members.  Here she tells me about her family, her ideas about New Zealand cuisine, and the future of Kakanō.

tastetransfixed_kakano cafe_opening2
Jade’s daughter at the Kakanō opening. Photo by Peter Langlands.