Cat on a cold tin roof

Amazingly, the sun actually came out over the weekend, and the forecast for Thursday and Friday is now just “drizzle at time”, rather than rain.  Drizzle at times I can handle.  Drizzle at times means just ducking under the shelter of the marquee for a few minutes until the sun comes out again.  Drizzle at times won’t rain out my party.

I spotted the neighbour’s cat making the most of the sunshine on the roof of my garage yesterday morning.  I’m not sure how he got up there, but given that I know he can leap to the top of the fence easily enough, the extra leap to the roof probably isn’t that tricky.

I had an incredibly busy weekend (and this week is going to be even busier!). On Saturday morning I met up with Lytteltonwitch and we went to the Food Show. Like last year, I got sent free tickets from a PR company (so I probably should have got round to posting something about it before the show was over, so that you’d have the chance to go if liked my pretty pictures, but like I said, too busy…). I don’t know if it was just because it was the second year I’ve been, or because I’ve got a million other things on my mind at the moment, but I wasn’t as impressed by it this year as I was last year – there seemed to be fewer exhibitors (or maybe just fewer exhibitors with products I was interested in), and the celebrity chefs on offer didn’t inspire me greatly (although that’s a matter of personal choice – I know lots of people were raving over Annabel Langbein being there, but she doesn’t really do much for me). However, there was still quite a lot to see: creatively presented exhibits, “health” foods made out of every ingredient you could imagine (my favourite was the raspberry and artichoke (and possibly garlic – it wasn’t entirely clear from their signage) dip), inventive products you never knew you needed, and people in silly hats. And of course, many many free samples. Definitely didn’t need lunch after doing the rounds of the exhibits!

I even bought something – some beeswax-infused cloths that you can use to wrap food instead of using gladwrap or plastic bags. I seem to go through a vast amount of gladwrap taking lunch to work, so we’ll see if these work out better. Or whether I just get lazy about the extra effort of cleaning the cloth each time I use it, and go back to quick and easy plastic…

After we left the Food Show, I dashed up to Northlands to buy some almost last minute bits and pieces for my party, then back home to get ready to go out again. Dana, one of our volunteers, had invited me to her birthday party, at a karaoke bar. I was a bit doubtful about the karaoke, having only experienced it (or rather, avoided it) in the “getting up to sing in front of a bar full of drunken idiots” NZ version, but this turned out to be the more traditional version. Our party (only 8 people) had a private room, which made the idea of singing much less intimidating (especially as none of Dana’s other friends knew me, so I didn’t mind making a fool of myself in front of them :-)). Dana spent a few years living in Japan, and speaks Japanese fluently, so the party was a mix of about half Japanese (or Japanese-speaking) people, and the other half Pakeha NZers, and the music choices reflected that – we were going from anime theme tunes to Disney musicals, and pop songs from half a dozen countries. It turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected, and the three hours we had the room booked for flew past very quickly!

On Sunday, Harvestbird came round for a graduation hair rehearsal. She’s been learning to do all sorts of fancy hair braiding (one of the perils of having two daughters, apparently), so offered to do something clever with my hair for graduation. So while the girls were occupied making decorations for the party, she experimented with various styles, and managed to come up with something that should look good under a trencher, without being too “girly” (the main two instructions I gave her :-)). Photos will of course follow at a later date.

Then I had to get dressed up to go out again, this time for dinner with Pieta, a friend from work. She’s away for Easter, and was most disappointed she wouldn’t be able to make it to my party, so suggested we go out for dinner to celebrate instead. We went to Strawberry Fare, which I haven’t been to for years – it’s expensive, but the food (ok, the desserts – nobody goes to Strawberry Far for the mains, they’re just what you order so you can pretend you’re a responsible adult) is really good. And the service has definitely improved from what it was like before the earthquakes – you actually get the kind of service you’d expect for the prices, now.

Pieta has been learning to weave, and gave me a lovely bouquet of flax flowers she’d spent the day weaving:

So yeah, a very full weekend. Tonight I’m going to a sciency/mathsy stand-up show, then tomorrow I’ve got a full-day workshop at work, and in the evening there’s a Toastmasters meeting, and a farewell for one of our members, then on Wednesday I’ve got to pick up my graduation regalia, and organise some more last-minute stuff, then family are arriving in the evening, then Thursday is graduation, then Fuzzle arrives that night, and Friday is my party, and on Saturday I’m taking the kids to the Crate Escape for their joint belated/early birthday present… and I’m already feeling exhausted just thinking about it! Good thing Easter and ANZAC Day fall so close together this year, so I can take the few days off in between and have a nice long break – I’m going to need it!

Official food blogger

As promised, a totally selling-out post on the Food Show, which I attended today (with Lytteltonwitch as my trusty assistant) thanks to free passes from a friendly PR person.

I was greatly amused when the free passes turned out to be media passes!  Yes, I know blogging is social media and all that, but it’s still funny to think of my little blog being considered media.  A few stallholders noticed my badge and asked who I was affiliated with – I think they were probably hoping for The Press or one of the big magazines, but they all hid their disappointment well when I admitted I was just a blogger 🙂

Anyway, here’s all the pretty pictures.  Proof I’m not a journalist: I was more concerned about getting good photos than including the companies’ branding in the pictures, but I did make a note of the names of the ones whose free samples I particularly enjoyed (So many free samples!  There was an area where you could buy lunch, but by the time we’d done the rounds and sampled everything on offer, neither of us felt in need of an actual meal).  Mostly though I just took pictures of attractively laid-out displays, or particularly enthusiastic demonstrators – just stuff that caught my eye, in other words.

Chilli-infused lemonade, from Pete’s Natural. Interesting, but seriously intense (yes, that is an actual chilli pepper you can see inside the bottle, and it tasted like it too!) – I can’t imagine drinking a whole bottle of it! Their Lime-o-nade flavour was really good though – it had mint in it, which was so nice. If I wasn’t going away so soon I probably would have bought a few bottles to take home.

This guy was wonderful. Very strong Italian accent, calling out compliments to everyone who passed and encouraging them to come and try some limoncello (which was very nice, especially the cream variety, but with a serious kick – I reckon it would be very easy to get very drunk on it very quickly!)

Parsnip dip (no, not the cat, the vegetable 🙂 ). The stall wasn’t actually selling dips though – it was actually promoting vegetables grown in Southland. They had boxes of really nice-looking winter vegetables for sale that again I probably would have bought if I wasn’t heading away so soon.

When the woman at this stall saw I was taking a picture, she quickly rushed to re-fill the dishes of olives so they’d look better for me. So even though I wasn’t particularly excited by the food (I’ve never been a big fan of olives), I’ll give them a plug just for being nice 🙂

Rosewater-flavoured icecream. An interesting idea, but a bit sickly for my taste.

The samples of mussel paté at this stall were being grabbed up faster than the staff could replace them!

A refreshing break after all that spicy food (and especially salami – it seemed like every second stall was offering salami. So many so that they all began to blur into each other, and I can’t remember now which ones I liked). Fruit and juices from Nelson. They gave me a notebook and pen too – swag!

Apparently pipi have been rebranded as “Southern Clams” now. You can’t fool me, they’re still pipi, and you can pick them up off the beach for free :-p

I almost didn’t notice this guy until Lytteltonwitch pointed him out. He looked very tired (though he perked up a bit for the photo) – I suspect he’d been on his feet all day.

There were cooking demonstrations from various celebrity chefs over the course of the day. We only watched one, but it was very entertaining. Robert Oliver was demonstrating some Samoan recipes, but what made it really fun was he was “assisted” by Cindy of Samoa, a fa’afafine entertainer whose commentary had the audience in hysterics – she was turning everything Oliver and the MC said, no matter how innocent, into a double entendre, and had a poor young man from the audience blushing intensely as she taught him the traditional way to scrape a coconut (which involves sitting on the scraper and rubbing the coconut on it between your legs… yeah, you get the idea).

So, general impression of the day: fun, lots of interesting foods to sample, and I reckon if you’re a foodie probably worth the entry price.  And definitely worth it if you can score a free entry! 😉