...either too many words to an idea or not enough furniture for the idea itself or somebody else's furniture; always a muddle and clutter of speech.
- Towards Another Summer by Janet Frame
I am home alone tonight and it's all dark and cold outside. M is out of town for work and my other flatmate is, well, out somewhere. I don't really like being home alone even when it's light. It's not that I can't entertain myself. More that I just like to know there are other people around. I could do with some chocolate but there is none...very silly I know!!
Since I'm feeling a little down I'll tell you a little about a couple of my favourite meals that I've been having a lot since I got down here. I've always loved nachos (well, at least in the last few years) but the way I've made them has changed over time. I found this old post from 2008 where you can barely see the bean mix under all the vegan cheese! But here is a plate of nachos from the other week...and I think this is the best version so far.
Everyone else was having sour cream so I got a little jealous and thought I'd try some hummus instead and it worked really well!
Another favourite is, well, a sandwich. Makes a great dinner when you fry up some tofu, spinach and mushrooms. Makes an even better dinner when you've been at the climbing wall for the last few hours, it's gotten super late and you are really hungry.
There is something about toasting the bread that takes it from being lunch food to super awesome dinner food...kind of weird but true.
I have also had a lot of tofu (and veggie burger) sandwiches for lunch lately...well, especially since starting my new job last week. ARGH!!! Can't believe I have a job! But it has made life even more of a whirlwind of madness than it was before...but life is still amazing.
I'm off home again tomorrow but I've been chilling down in Christchurch for the summer and in amongst working and surviving aftershocks I've been out and about exploring. Now Christchurch itself is basically flat...flat as a pancake...except for the Port Hills which are anything but flat. I hate flat so fortunately Michael lives pretty close to the hills.
We've been riding up Mt Pleasant in thick mist where you could only see a few metres in front of you. We've cruised up Evans Pass and along to Godley Head with a lovely (haha) headwind all the way up.
We've ridden out to Halswell Quarry. We've raced out to Sumner several times (with a couple of dips in the ocean for good measure). I ventured out on my own up to the Sign of the Kiwi (and didn't even get lost for once!).
We've watched the men's New Zealand Road Cycling Champs and see local boy, Hayden Roulston, blitz the field. Oh, and seen them come tearing so fast down Hackthorne road that it was scary!
We've also been running up in the Port Hills via several different tracks. We've jogged along the river. We've run in circles round the park (oh intervals, how I dread thee). We've run a 5km race at Hagley Park.
Top of Mt Vernon, oh yeah!
Then we've run up and around the Port Hills a bit more for good measure (and battled strong headwinds and long grass to get to the top).
We've been climbing several times at The Roxx, even giving some bouldering a go for something a bit different.
We've even managed to escape from Christchurch in between work and head out towards Arthurs Pass, exploring the hills around Craigieburn, this time without the snow unlike in TWALK (but there was an awful lot of wind...threatening to blow me off the hillsides).
We spent the night camping amongst the trees in the rain at Mt White.
Then run through the bush the following day to the Hallelujah Flats (up up up then down down down) and bashed back down through the river (which was freezing cold).
Canterbury, you've been awesome and I can't wait to come back! Oh wait, I will be back next weekend...awesome :)
But he could not move. He could not make the effort. He lay there with his face turned into the gentle stream of falling water and did not stir again.
- Angel - Seeker by Sharon Shinn
...otherwise known as Saturday in Christchurch.
It started with coffee...or, more specifically, since I've never drunk a cup of coffee in my life, a ginger chai latte with rice milk from The Orange Tree.
I then wanted vegan pancakes and nobody was going to stop me...I doused them in maple syrup and they really didn't last long at all. I love pancakes (oh, and they can make them gluten free too if you so desire)!
I've only just recently started climbing again after various injuries and events got in the way. Unfortunately winter is not really the best time for climbing outside so we just hit up The Roxx. Just so you know, I don't normally climb in socks (or polypro pants for that matter) but my feet were too cold.
There was an emergency peanut butter sandwich consumed partway through (well, not partway through a climb because that might be a little crazy).
Yes, I have chalk all over my hands...they don't normally look that weird.
Climbing makes me hungry so we went exploring for a stop of lunch/afternoon tea. And what did we find?
Yep, it's Eternal Delight - a raw vegan cafe. I didn't even know they existed (well, in New Zealand anyway). It was all terribly exciting but I had to remember we were going out for a fancy dinner so we couldn't eat too much so we decided to split a main and a dessert. B chose the Italian pizza and salad.
Seriously this was amazing. I don't know how they did it but just looking at the photo right now makes me want it again real bad. The salad especially was very impressive (yes, the pizza was great but there was something about that salad...).
As a sweet treat I picked the Superfood Black Forest Cake which uses goji berries instead of cherries. The guy gave us a discount because it had fallen over. He said that normally it stands tall and proud. Again it was pretty awesome. We decided we'd have to come back here for their Friday night fine dining next time I'm down.
And then we raced home to check trademe (like eBay I guess but specifically for us here in New Zealand). You see, I had placed an auto bid on a road bike as the auction was going to close while we were out so I had no idea if I'd won or not. But guess what?! I won!!! This is exciting news number 1 (more to follow in the next post). I will probably post photos of it everywhere at some point. It's awesome!
Anyway, moving on! Dinner was a special occasion made even more special because B and I were joined by my beautiful cousin D and her boyfriend. So basically, it was dinner with my bestest friends in the whole world and it really can't get much better than that. We decided to go to The Lotus Heart because it's fancy and they do awesome food.
Fries first...you can't really go wrong with that (plus their homemade tomato sauce is real good...they should bottle and sell it 'cause I'd definitely buy it). B ordered tea and I had to take a photo...I want this tea set.
D and I went with their homemade ginger beer...you also can't go wrong with that. I order it every single time.
For our mains B and I decided to order a couple of different things and share (D and her boyfriend did the same). We got the vegan pizza which had their special cashew vegan aioli on it...I have to try this 'cause it tasted super cheesy (well, at least my memory of cheesy).
We also ordered the curry of the day. Somehow I have managed to delete the photo I took of this...oops! Anyway, I can't remember now what it was but it was tasty which is really all that counts. I think the waiter was quite impressed that we polished off all this food with such ease (and then casually asked for the dessert menu too).
Dessert...raw pumpkin pie with raw ice cream. Oh my god! This was really REALLY good. So good that I was very surprised. It was also a ridiculously large portion and I couldn't even finish it which is quite a rare thing for me. I had to take the leftovers home (there was no way I was letting it go to waste!).
And to finish off an awesome night? We went to live comedy...a perfect night (especially because B and I tried to book too late so they'd sold out but somehow 2 people cancelled right before the show was about to start so we got their tickets).
I spent a few days in Christchurch visiting my friends and just generally hanging out...which involves adventures. On the Friday Brent and I tramping on the Port Hills. I'd prefer to run the tracks but you can't have everything!
Saturday was rock climbing at The Roxx. I would have liked to climb outside again but it was really a bit too cold for that. But the textured wall here is awesome. We don't really have anything like that at Extreme Edge up in Auckland.
Then Sunday was some club orienteering at South Brighton domain. I had 2 shocker runs (a 180 on such an easy course is really quite embarrassing!) but it was all good fun and I love orienteering. Plus it's always good to hang out with the PAPO guys.
And finally on Monday Michael took me out running at Halswell Quarry which was quite nice. It was a bit overcast and drizzly for any photos though but it's pretty cool especially when you're at the top of the quarry looking down. Would be nice to have more people to run with in Auckland...perhaps I should move to Christchurch!
'Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice; 'but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!'
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
My final day in the garden city, Monday, dawned perfectly clear and fine so our mission was apparent...to climb outside at last! But first, breakfast...
We'd decided we were going to go back to The Lotus Heart to try out their breakfast menu. The sun was streaming in through the window by our table overlooking Cathedral Square and while we waited for our breakfast to be served I had a chai latte made with rice milk.
Believe it or not I had never had french toast, vegan or not, until this morning. Once I tried to come here for brunch to order it but we missed brunch by about 10 minutes so today I was determined!
This was so delicious - grainy bread for the french toast with caramalised bananas sandwiched in the middle and served with fresh fruit salad and maple syrup. It filled me up for hours. I'm going to have to learn how to make my own french toast now!
After breakfast we let our food settle before I set off for a short run to stretch the legs and B biked round the block. We debated trying somewhere new for lunch but were running short on time so settled on going back to Soul Food. We both picked this delicious flavoured green tea drink to try...refreshing.
I was hoping they'd have a vegan BLT left but unfortunately we were obviously a bit late and the cafe had been super busy so there was none left so I ordered the vege burger (same as B ordered on Saturday) and salad instead.
Delicious (but not as good as the BLT). Why can't we have food like this easily accessible in Auckland? Or am I looking in all the wrong places?
Anyway, after lunch we headed off to the Port Hills (the only real hills in Christchurch!) and to a patch of rock called Rapaki where we met up with one of B's climbing friends.
Climbing outside is quite different to climbing on a wall inside. For a start you can use anything you can as handholds or to put your feet but it isn't immediately obvious what you can use. We climbed fairly easy climbs since it was my first outdoor experience but it was still tough work as it was so different (and SO hot).
Look at that view off the side of the wall...it was such an amazing experience. I am totally doing this again (I've become seriously hooked on climbing).
A glorious end to what was quite possibly one of the best weekends I've had in a long long time. As I hopped on the plane I was kind of wishing I didn't have to leave...although my body sure was glad to be able to resort to normal eating habits!
I walked on the muddy foreshore of the river with my baby on my hip and tried not to know that it was happening. The wind blew gently up the river and a seagull called mournfully over my head.
- The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Saturday started with a slice of peanut butter and banana toast which I couldn't be bothered photographing since it was terribly unexciting and not part of our food challenge. Then we set off on a short run round Hagley Park from his flat (we are going to be doing this race together next month).
By the time we'd got back, found we were locked out in the freezing cold and rain (I was turning purple), knocked on people's doors to find a ladder, managed to scale the side of the house to get back inside and finally showered and defrosted, we were starving so we set off for lunch at Soul Food. It was a bit of a challenge to find but that may have been because we hadn't looked on the map beforehand and were starving!
I started with a drink...organic cola.
It didn't last long.
After reading about the Vegan BLT on The Fairest Feed I knew as soon as I saw it in the counter that it was what I wanted.
I have to say that it totally lived up to expectations. It was SO good - the bread was deliciously fresh, the bacon was awesome but I think it was the sauces that really made it (vegan aioli or mayonaise?). The side salad was also delicious. So if you ever find yourself at Soul Food...get the BLT!
B ordered the Vege Burger which was also vegan. This had a pattie made from brown rice (and a few other things) as well as vegan aioli and served inside a grainy bun.
It was pretty tasty (I snuck a bit off his plate) but not nearly as good as the BLT.
Finally they had some sweet vegan options so dessert was required. I got a muffin which I think was apricot and apple...maybe (okay, I'm sure about the apricot part but not about the apple part).
It had a really nice texture which reminded me of spelt and a delicious dob of icing on top. Yay, lunch mission accomplished!
After lunch (and having a bit of a lie-down after eating too much!) we headed off to The Roxx, the indoor climbing wall at Christchurch. We were hoping to head outside for my first taste of climbing on real rock but the weather wasn't up for it.
The Roxx isn't nearly as big as Extreme Edge which is where I climb in Auckland but it has some pretty crazy climbs. Good fun but I was a bit disappointed we couldn't climb outside.
Dinner was planned for The Lotus Heart restaurant in Cathedral Square, which we'd both been to before. Since we were running late we didn't bother going home to change and just rocked up in our climbing gear (minus the harnesses and stuff...we're not that crazy!).
I am rather partial to a good ginger beer so when I noticed they had a housemade ginger beer on the menu that had to be ordered.
Delicious (although it could have been a bit more gingery). I liked how it wasn't super fizzy either. We started off the meal with a bowl of fries with tomato sauce because, well, we could...
I don't know what kind of seasoning they used but it was very tasty.
For some reason I really felt like a burger despite having had a sandwich for lunch and their Sun Burger caught my eye. It's described as a "live" burger pattie with salad, salsa and vegan aioli in an essene bun.
This was a seriously good burger - delicious and also a bit different. Their vegan aoli is really good and totally made the burger otherwise it might have potentially been a bit dry and helped make the burger not taste so dense. This meal was probably the highlight of the day.
The Lotus Heart has an actual dessert menu and as a vegan you have more than one option! Having come here before I knew I had to try something different from last time.
Yeah, chocolate cake caught my eye! Served with raspberry sorbet (which was really good despite the fact I don't normally like berry sorbets) it was intensely rich and awesome. I didn't want it to end!