She read the way a cat eats: furtively, daring anyone to notice.
- Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
There is a new vegetarian cafe in town (well, apparently it's all vegan or something like that but I don't really know). Okay, not technically in town 'cause it's in Mt Albert but that's still in Auckland city (until this whole supercity thing kicks in and then everyone is in Auckland I guess). Anyway, it's called Cosset. I had my mate M visiting from Christchurch last weekend so it seemed a good time to go check it out.
This is M's hot chocolate. It came with some kind of spicy biscuit which I got to taste. It tasted like a spicy biscuit.
This was my berry smoothie. It was really yummy and so thick that I ate it with the spoon that they thoughtfully provided.
I ordered the hotcakes. I don't know why other than that it isn't every day you can go into a cafe and order vegan hotcakes. I wanted something savoury but picked something sweet...! They were really sweet (okay, so I did douse them in maple syrup as well so that could account for some of it) and not nearly as thick as I imagined hotcakes were supposed to be. They seemed more like crepes.
So instead I suffered order envy looking at M's toasted sandwich thing with turkish bread and lots of veggies and stuff. It looked and smelled exactly like what I wanted...unfortunately I didn't order it.
I left M in charge of picking some sweet things to finish (you might well say that I'd already had enough sweet stuff for the day...and you'd be right there but that's just too logical for me). Rule of thumb...don't leave a guy in charge of picking dessert when you sort of know already the kind of thing you want and you haven't told them (i.e. I wanted chocolate and cake which is no surprise really if you know me well. M clearly had forgotten this).
So we started okay I guess...dark chocolate and apricot balls (or something like that). They were okay but not earth-shattering or anything.
Next up was some kind of oaty cookie which I attempted to halve but it was very stubborn and rock-hard. It's the kind of cookie you want to dunk in a nice hot cup of tea.
And finally, a spicy, fruity muffin which was the best of the bunch but still not what I wanted (this is not to say it wasn't a nice muffin 'cause it really was).
So all in all, I didn't exactly love my meal but I suspect that was what was picked. Next time I'll get something savoury ('cause that all looked awesome) and then make sure I get to pick dessert. Yes, it's a plan!
The tragedy of Melusina, whatever language tells it, whatever tune it sings, is that a man will always promise more than he can do to a woman he cannot understand.
- The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Oh man, where to begin!! Right, how about nachos? This was me proving to The Chef that they can indeed be (fairly) healthy and yet still delicious (as I recall he went back for seconds).
I was even awesome enough to cook my own beans for once! About time since Mum had given me a bag of dried organic kidney beans for Christmas and they've been sitting in the pantry ever since.
On the Saturday I competed in The Dual off-road half marathon which (for anyone who knows the area) goes from Home Bay on Motutapu Island to Rangitoto Island and then back again with lots of big hills and epic rock sections.
Above is Home Bay and the final part of the hill you come tearing down (well, sort of since your legs feel a bit like jelly about now and my feet were killing me after the hellish rock sections).
This is Rangitoto Island from the ferry on the way home again. Rangitoto is the most recent volcanic cone in Auckland (there are something like 49 volcanic areas in the region) and the biggest. It's surface is all rough scoria rock with native bush somehow growing amongst it all. You run almost to the top before descending down a narrow, rocky track that flattens out at the bottom and winds around the edge of the island (for a grueling 6km) before heading back up and over Motutapu again to the finish.
This was my second time competing in this race and it went a whole lot better than last year! I was a bit more prepared for the section of hell (I think I passed at least 20 people somewhere amongst all that rock) and had an awesome run managing to get in the top 10 women despite still having a lingering cold and taking it easy. I guess it helps that I like hills and uneven terrain.
And because obviously I felt like I hadn't run up enough hills, on the Sunday we had orienteering out on one of the steepest maps we have in our area!
Quite spectacular and I almost wished I'd taken my camera out on the course (this is the view from the event centre.
Anyway, now I've bored you completely with sport we can return to food! I met my darling cousin D for lunch on Friday and after dithering all morning about where I wanted to eat we decided to go to Raw Power.
I wasn't feeling all that hungry so got a salad from the salad bar. They have a collection of different salads to pick from and you basically just fill up your bowl with what ever you want. Clearly I overdosed a little on the peanuts but it was delicious all the same, especially the pearl barley salad (which I think you can just see poking out on the left).
D got me a melting moment cookie too which was sitting there tempting me the whole time I was eating my salad so it had to be devoured straight away! SO good (but a little rich...sometimes I wonder what is happening to my tastebuds these days!).
Right, I have to race off and start packing for another adventure!
He'll never get past them crawling, especially crawling down stairs. He has a faint recollection that he tried crawling down some stairs in the recent past, but remembers only that it was definitely a mistake.
- Z Is For... from Rite by Tad Williams
A new vegan restaurant, Golden Age, opened in Auckland a few weeks ago which is a pretty big deal because it's actually the first purely vegan restaurant to open in New Zealand. Naturally as soon as I heard about it (thanks Auckland Vegan for the heads up) I had to go check it out and my friend E decided to join me. We ordered heaps 'cause, well, it was all terribly exciting (for me anyway). I've never been to a restaurant or cafe where I can have absolutely anything on offer.
First up E picked the Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup.
I actually only had a spoonful of this 'cause I'm not a big fan of this kind of soup but I can vouch for the fact it was hot...in more ways than one! But E seemed to enjoy it and was determined to polish off the whole bowl (which was bigger than it first appeared).
Next we had two main courses between us with rice (not pictured 'cause you all know what a plate of rice looks like!). E picked the Combination Tofu.
Your standard fare...but good all the same especially the veges for some reason, maybe because they weren't overcooked and still had a little bit of crunch to them.
I um-ed and ah-ed for ages but eventually picked the Lemon Veggie Chicken.
This was SO delicious...I was quite taken by surprise really. How do you describe it? Hmmm...so good that it HAD to be bad for you! No idea if it tasted anything like chicken but I do know I will order it again.
Of course dessert was a requirement so we got an almond cookie (I'm just guessing the flavour here but that's what it tasted like).
Crunchy and not too sweet. Very delicious.
Lastly we had to get a Red Bean Pancake to share...naturally.
I adored this which wasn't really surprising as ever since I had my first one a couple of months back I've fallen in love although it could have done with a little bit more red bean mixture inside. Now I've just got to work out how to make them myself!
"Now," the man in black said, laughing. "Oh, now. We make great magic together, you and I. You kill me no more than you kill yourself."
- The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
The fuse for the oven is blown so we've been without cooking abilities for the last 2 nights...still waiting on the electrician to come since it's one of those really old fuses that make no sense. Other than that though the new flat is great.
That's a terrible photo of our backyard from my bedroom. One lemon tree with more lemons on it than tree, 2 very sour orange trees and a grapefruit tree...awesome! Also a bonus is that the sun is out this morning. I'm solar powered so I feel more alive on sunny days.
I often have breakfast at work during the week since I've come straight from training so I need a variety of quick, easy, filling and delicious meal options that don't require much effort at the time and I can preferably eat at my desk. I love the taste spelt flour gives to baking and I am in love with the spelt flour muffins they make at Kokako so naturally I had to make the Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins from Vegan Brunch (I bought a copy via The Book Depository...free shipping and much cheaper prices than books here anyway? How is that possible?).
I only had mixed berries so I used those and I've never seen vanilla soy yogurt in my life. It's hard enough finding plain soy yogurt anyway so I used a berry-flavoured one which seemed somewhat fitting! Also, I made mine texas sized...perfect for breakfast with a piece of fruit. They were SO good.
Another recipe I tried from Vegan Brunch was Chocolate Beer Waffles. I had my friend C over one day and his main hobby seems to be drinking (okay, not really but he does like beer...a lot) so, well, beer and chocolate seemed the perfect mix for a lazy brunch.
My mixture came out pretty runny but I thought I'd give it a shot cooking it anyway...nope definitely too runny. Once I added a little more flour though they were perfect...kind of like a chocolate beer brownie waffle! More of a dessert than a brunch but hey, everyone deserves to treat themselves sometimes.
Since we seem to be on the topic of breakfast/brunch, I've also been having the odd green smoothie...
...very tasty but definitely not good on my stomach before going for a run! Better to save it for afterwards...
Wall Street and the City of London had plenty of money to fund new ideas, but only if they were easily understandable ideas, ones that merely modified what could already be done.
- Electric Universe by David Bodanis
I finally got around to cooking properly on Tuesday night but I was still feeling fairly drained so it was a pretty simple meal - a good old tofu stir-fry using a block of pre-marinated tofu.
It made enough for 3 serves so I had leftovers to look forward to for lunches for the next couple of days. Always good!
The following night my friends S and E took me out to Sunflower Cafe, an asian vegetarian restaurant in town with a variety of mock meats. I'd never been to a restaurant serving mock meats before so I had to order one of the fried chicken stir fries just for the hell of it. Turns out it was very delicious!
Can't remember everything else we ordered but it was all really delicious and filling. I even managed to score leftovers of the chicken dish to take home (more leftovers...yay!).
Afterwards we went back to S's place where we devoured vegan chocolate cherry cupcakes that S had made and chocolate-dipped orange peel alongside copious amounts of tea and gossip. I haven't had such a good night in a long time (or felt quite that overly-full)!
I also met my Mum in town during the week and took her out to lunch at Revive as a very belated Mother's Day present (she's been overseas...that's my excuse!). I ordered the hotpot of the day which was Dahl Aloo with potatoes and brown rice and the German style slaw on the side.
I love all the colours in the slaw...it's like eating a rainbow straight off your plate! And just because everyone deserves a treat now and then, we had bliss balls to finish...perfect :)
I wanted to post some photos of the house and garden here but it's been raining non stop which made my race yesterday a mudbath! Looks like more rain is forecast for the up coming week too...fun times!
The timbers of the house, like the bones of an ageing person had 'settled' and shrunk, as the years acting like a wine-press had squeezed out their substance.
- The Carpathians by Janet Frame
Saturday was date night. After going to the gym then relaxing in the spa afterwards J and I headed off to Gina's, an Italian Pizza and Pasta restaurant that is famous for being very loud! I ordered their Alla Salute, a vegan pizza covered in garlic, onions, capers, artichoke, olives, basil, rocket and fresh chili.
It was pretty yummy but I can make better pizzas at home...the atmosphere was pretty funny though.
After dinner we headed up the Sky Tower to look over New Zealand's biggest city at night then ended the night with sorbet on Queen Street under some outdoor heating.
Delicious (and don't you just love the peacock they put on it? I'd started demolishing it before I remembered to take a photo).
If you ever visit Auckland I will give you one word of warning, it is NOT cycle-friendly. In fact it's a total nightmare. J and I are pretty pro having something done about this so the opportunity to join the protest about getting cycle and pedestrian lanes on the harbour bridge was a no brainer. The Auckland Harbour Bridge (50 years old this week) is what bridges the city to the North Shore. It's chaos during rush hour as there is no other feasible way across (other than ferries).
Several thousand of us gathered on the city-side of the bridge hoping the Transport Agency would say yes and let us cross. Unfortunately they wouldn't budge in their decision but after the leader of the protest announced that we were not to use force but there wasn't enough police to hold everyone (try like 20 police officers just trying to make sure no one got run over!) the crowd pushed through onto the bridge ending up blocking every North-bound lane across.
Oh my god the bridge is awesome! Okay, so I've driven over it countless times but it is nothing compared to crossing it on foot. The views of the harbour are incredible and it's pretty cool to see the structure up close. There are places where you can see all the way down to the water below. Here's a video of the bridge crossing too.
Memorable quotes of the day have to be, "Let's burn fat, not oil" and "Less talk, more walk."
After the last couple of days you could be forgiven for thinking that Auckland is a city of protests with the Auckland Harbour Bridge protest on Sunday and the Auckland Super City Hikoi on Monday (hikoi being a Maori word meaning protest march or parade...more here if you're interested).