The Wild Weird Wide World of Sushi

Food & Drink, General, Reckons

If I’d thought of sushi yesterday, I would never automatically have also thought of hotdogs. Today, the world has changed.

Hotdog Sushi

After my marginally disappointing experience with Beethoven’s Hair I went and had some Japanese for lunch with Lin, and what do I spy in my bento? That’s right, hotdog sushi. Nigiri made with sushi rice & nori, frankfurter, pickle, mustard & mayonnaise.

My friends, Hotdog Sushi is a harbinger of the end of the world, it was foretold.

Make your time.

All these fruits are yours, except bananas. Attempt no eatings there-of.

Food & Drink, General, Reckons, Reviews

Claire left her phone at home, so I went on a mercy mission to drop it off at her workplace (she has a desk with no phone, the company opting instead to use the mobile network wherever possible).  Following that, George took me for a walk around the domain, and then the trouble started.  On the way home from the park, he told me I should stop and get some fruit, so I did.

So far this afternoon I’ve eaten seven (7) oranges, three (3) mandarins, and two (2) kiwifruit.  It would have been even worse, but the pears have a slight firmness that I’ll give them a day or two to recover from, and the bananas have a very slight tinge of green at the ends.  So who knows what would have happened if everything had been ready for immediate gobbling?  I don’t know.  But it sure would have been delicious to find out.

Other food I’ve been enjoying recently, starting right up the very top, was One Tree Grill last Saturday night, when we celebrated our pretty (but dim) friend Sandra’s mumblingth birthday, I opted for the grilled venison (in a wonderful thyme’y crust) with frites and bearnaise sauce, and a rocket, parmesan & pear salad.  It was really, really good.  Super tender and delightful.  Louise had the pork belly, which was great as well.  Claire chose the tuna steak, which was ok, but disappointingly less great that those we make at home.  I tried a little of Sandra’s calamari, and just between you and me, it was pretty awful.  Very rubbery and a bit fishy.  For dessert I chose the sticky prune & walnut pudding, with vanilla ice cream and a butterscotch sauce, it was very good.  All in all, One Tree Grill was less stellar than other times we’ve visited.

On Sunday we visited my mother, then headed over to Shoreville to visit Dylan, Melanie, & little Harrison to eat pizza (it was very bad, their Domino’s makes very dry pizza compared to two orbiting around our suburb) and play a new board game Claire grabbed off TradeMe: Apples to Apples.  A very simple to learn card based game, which I’m not going to go into detail to describe (if you’re interested you’ll google it), which was really good fun.  And I’m not just saying that ‘cos I won both games.  (I sacrificed my second win so we could play a couple more hands, giving Dylan a chance to catch up, preventing him from crying like a friggin’ baby, but he still didn’t manage it.  Melanie took it out, just before Claire could.)

We’ve done many other things since I last wrote, but you know.  Pfft.

A Fish & Chips Games Night.

Food & Drink, General, Reckons

We headed over to Adam & Sandra’s to play games, on the way I was totally jonesing for fruit – I’d had meat, and a lot of it, for lunch.  And my body was just begging for something different, so I grabbed some apples & mandarins when we stopped briefly so Claire could take pity on a lonely bottle of pinot noir.

The takeaway place (on Marua Rd) was just one of those standard suburban Chinese food places, and not wanting big starchy lumps of fried fat I instead opted for a chicken chow mein with extra cashews (as you do), and a can of creaming soda.

My only complaint about the chow mein was that there was just so damn much of it.  It was enough to feed a family of 4.  Really.  And all I really want was sauced up noodles and roasted cashews.  Very good.  (Unlike the fish the girls got, which was apparently really crappy, though the chips were pretty good.)

We played Cranium, which is good as there are so many different challenges.  And it was a nice close game, which we only won by a single card at the end.

Now, I’m really wishing I’d packed up all that left-over chow mein to bring home for lunch today, I’m really craving some of that chicken & vegetable noodley goodness.

A Chinese Food Birthday.

Food & Drink, General, Reckons, Reviews

Being Monday, it was time to go out for dinner with Pat to celebrate his birthday (I don’t know which one, and with that beard of his it’s pretty hard to judge) so Claire walked around the corner from her offices, and I drove up Gillies Ave, to a place on the corner of Khyber Pass & Kingdon St called Sunnytown Chinese Restaurant.

Let me cut a long story short, the food was kind of okay, but the selection wasn’t very good, the rice was rubbish, and it’s just bloody lucky I was there as early as I was, so I could stick an oar in an get at least a couple of dishes that people wanted.  (One person decided to take control of ordering, and placed the orders before everyone had actually arrived.)  They also only had a B hygiene rating.  The roast duck was pretty nice.  And the lemon chicken was okay.  But there was something about the place I didn’t especially like – I think it could have been that it was huge, with heaps of empty tables, which just isn’t a good sign.

We headed somewhere else for coffee & dessert, and I guided everyone to Safran, which is just off that park on the corner of Khyber Pass & Broadway.  Let me just say, it was a relief to go somewhere good to finish the evening off.  I had the bread & butter pudding with apricot liquer and it was really, really great.  I had a limonata as well that just tasted like Roses cordial, but never mind.  And Claire has a glass of a really tasty Chianti (I didn’t get the name of it unfortunately).

To sum things up:
Sunnytown Chinese Restaurant = Not so good, but with the caveat that most of the food was okay.
Saffran = Really good, but we didn’t have mains there.

Our Weekend of Laura’s Birthday (aka, Our Weekend of No Skiing)

Food & Drink, General, Reckons

We’d planned to go to Laura’s birthday in the city on Friday, then drive down to Whakapapa early on Saturday morning for a nice afternoon of skiing (and ski fighting, perhaps even in a shiny car) then a full Sunday of exhausting skiing, followed by a nighttime drive back to the city on Sunday evening.

It turned out that we’d gotten our wires crossed, and Laura’s thing wasn’t on Friday at all, it was on Saturday, so we apologised and begged a rain check, and only then did the weather report take pity on us and threaten gale force winds for Saturday (and rain on Sunday), so we canned that idea in favour of … not wasting a bunch of money and time on a pointless trip to a town that is pretty boring when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Laura’s thing was at Mezze on Durham Lane, I parked next to Albert Park, and we strolled through the grounds arriving at the restaurant just after 7pm, Claire took pity on a glass of Rabbit Ranch pinot noir, I grabbed a ginger beer – they only had Phoenix, which is actually a bit of an inferior drop, certainly nothing compared to the now pretty long in the tooth Bundaburg.  David was there, of course, as well as Laura’s brother and his new wife Reiko, and a couple of her other friends, it was pretty fun, even if I couldn’t hear everything that was said – it can be a bit noisy in there.  We ordered 4 or 5 tapas, the others mostly got main size dishes.

Claire took pity on a bottle of the Rabbit Ranch (it’s pretty nice, quite light, quite lovely).

I was quite suspicious of their dessert board, favouring going to David & Laura’s place, but luckily the others didn’t agree, and only then did I discover that their cake selection actually contained a couple of great looking things, I got a big slice of delicious lemon tart and whipped cream and ice cream.  Claire got the sticky date pudding (same one she got last time we were there with Karl & Louise).  Both wonderful, but I ended up feeling so full that on the walk back up through Albert Park I almost felt asthmatic.  I blame all the water I was drinking, trying to match Claire’s wine consumption.

This morning I finished off my book (‘A Quantum Murder’ the second part of the Greg Mandel trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton) then rolled out of bed and made breakfast-in-bed for Claire, before watching the latest episodes of Stargate SG1, and Stargate Atlantis.  Then I pulled on some dirty old pants and my most crappy pair of shoes, before getting the big line trimmer out of the garden shed and whipping the back yard into shape.  We left it to go fallow over winter, and it was way too long for a normal mowing.  Makes for easy going having such a big over powered piece of equipment.  I’m not sure why we got such a big one, but, you know, sometimes it’s nice to have more gun than you need.

(Congratulations, you just read about me doing the lawn.  You’re officially a big fat internet addicted time waster.  Welcome to the club.)

Satya (K Rd)

Food & Drink, General, Reckons, Reviews

By now everyone in Auckland surely must know how good Satya is, and you’e probably visited at least one of their locations – first the tiny little place with a couple of tables squeezed in on Hobson St – where were introduced to them by David & Laura – then later when the first rumours of their Hobson St building being demolished were hinted at, they established a second location, very conveniently located to our Balmoral house, on Sandringham Rd, but this location also being almost comically small – especially as they very infrequently let people use the private dining room upstairs.

Finally the Hobson St building was demolished (years after the first rumours), and now they have a new location – this time with plenty of room, the dining area is a similar size and shape to Simla in Mt Eden Village – this time on K Rd, just along from the Pitt St intersection.

Let me just get an important point out of the way: The Dahi Puri is to die for, if you have nothing else, have a serving of these little fellows, they’re SO good.

We also had a masala dosa, which was as good as you’ll find anywhere.  Satya special chicken, which is a very savoury dish, with the chicken pieces (and secret potato pieces, waiting to trick you into thinking that they’re chicken) liberally coated in a wonderful spicy sauce, served cocktail style with toothpicks.  It’s quite a dry one – it doesn’t have a thick soupy gravy as you might be used to with most curry dishes, in this case they’re just served on a bed of shredded cabbage.  The old staple butter chicken, which was very good.  And a very hot lamb vindaloo.  Some garlic parantha (perfect, some places make them almost like roti, at Satya they’re buttery, crusty on the outside, many layered, and wonderful), and a selection of sauces (raita, mango chutney, etc.) rounding the table off.

Simply put, it was all wonderfully good.

(If you don’t like spicy food start somewhere a little more Europeanised, with milder sauces, even the medium at Satya is fairly hot.  And the hot is wonderfully sweat inducing.)

Our food weekend.

Food & Drink, General, Reckons, Reviews

Friday night I was invited along to the ‘Quicksilver has been sold let’s have a dinner to say buh-bye’ dinner, which happened to be at Mithai on the corner of Hobson & Victoria Streets.

It’s an interesting Thai place, the interest comes in the form of the apparently organic expansion they  appear to have done over a period of years (though it’s possible that it was a publishing company that did the expansion, or some other restaurant, who knows) where they now take the top floor of a row of maybe 5 shops, with steps making the difference between the level splits.

We took the entirety of the floor closest to the kitchen, with a group of nearly 40, we needed the space – which, while it was set up for large groups, it wasn’t set up for this large a group, so we were distributed around a bunch of large tables.

Starters came out and were freaking great, particularly the sesame and pork toast… things… delicious.

Then came the soup, which was thankfully a tom kha gai, which is probably my favourite of all soups.  Unfortunately, the chicken was crap, and the creaminess from the coconut was unbalanced with the tang of the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf, and ginger.  So it tasted sort of smooth and creamy – which is great sometimes, but in tom kha gai, not so much.  Tsz really liked it, but he’d never had tom kha gai before – he’s in for a wonderful surprised when he orders it somewhere that makes it really well.

Mains were yellow chicken curry, fish curry, pork & something, and a dark savoury beef thing (served the way it all was, I didn’t see exactly what was being served, so *shrug*) which were all very good.  Topped off with fruit & ice cream & a slightly unusual rice pudding, it was all really very nice.

We stayed very late, finally being kicked out long after the place probably would have liked to close – but they knew what side their bread was buttered on, and (former) Quicksilver owner Matt was picking up the tab.  Some of us tried to find a nice bar, but didn’t have much luck – we tried the sky city bars and they were all horribly loud and dark, and full of young people.  People trying to find sex, rather than people wanting to enjoy a nice drink and some conversation, so we ended up at Esquires again. (We went after Thursday Night Curry, which I’m not going to go into as it was more or less the same as every other Thursday Night Curry – far too many dorks, it’s fallen a long way since it was instituded years ago, when normal cool people would go along.  Arkady breaking his chair was a highlight of the evening.)

Saturday was time for Monsoon Poon.  We met up with Amanda & Darren, had a couple of drinks in the bar (I had time for a couple of ginger beers, Claire started sharing a bottle of vino with Amanda, and Darren was on the Macs Gold), then they finally managed to find us a table.  (The place must be absolutely printing money, it’s quite big, and totally full.  And sure, they have to pay for a really nice fit-out and lots of staff, but still!)

We ordered the starter combo platter, it was just about perfect, piled up with squid rings, Vietnamese rolls, Krishna pakora, shishkebab rolls, deep fried chilli wings (delicious) and it was all superb.  Just about the right size for 4 as well, so the price isn’t too bad.

I had a ginger ale.

Amanda had a hard time choosing a main (we were sharing, so the pressure wasn’t too high, but it seems the pressure of the large selection causes her some trouble).  But eventually we ordered a Mee Goreng Ayam, Bang Bang Chicken, Phoenix & Dragon (chicken and prawns), and Golden Lemon Chicken.  Added to this we had a cone of coconut rice, a cone of saffron rice, and a couple of garlic naan.

The girls also had another bottle of wine, I had another ginger beer, and Darren had another Gold.

The food, as it arrived, was fantastic, the Bang Bang Chicken especially was superb, very spicy, very delicious, the chicken was perfect – and a perfect match with the delightful coconut rice.  The mee goreng was great as well, I didn’t have much of the Phoenix & Dragon or Golden Lemon Chicken, but everything I tasted was good.

It was dessert time, I order the chocolate and caramelised ginger brulee (Amanda had the same), Claire had Lao Mandarin Panacotta, and Darren had handmade chilli chocolates.  About this time I realised that I’d had four ginger drinks, and was now eating a ginger dessert, so I started to wonder if I had a problem, deciding that the only was out was through, I scoffed the lot and then helped Claire a bit with hers.  The panacotta & brulee were both good but somewhat unbalanced, needing something to make them more interesting than the fruit they came with, though I’m not sure what would do it.

After dessert, Amanda, who had been drinking a bit faster than Claire, and getting instant refills from the (perhaps over) attentive waiter, didn’t realise quite how much she’d had to drink, and then she managed to break her glass on the table (very lucky not to cut her hands).

It was a great night out.  I strongly recommend Monsoon Poon to anyone, but beware that it’s quite spendy.

Sunday was felt Yorkshire Puddingish, so that’s what I had.  With lots of plum sauce and well seasoned italian sausage.  Hell yeah!

Now you’ll have to excuse me, but the groceries are here, and I have to go and get the dog off the delivery guys.  (Maybe he can smell the chorizo – none for you George!)

Super Captain Jack Returns

Food & Drink, General, Movies, Reckons, Reviews

Last weekend we met up with Karl & Louise, grabbed a coffee (actually a couple of big white chocolate decaf mochas), then headed into Imax to watch the ‘enhanced for imax’ print of Superman Returns.  The enhancement in question was a number of 3D sequences.  And it actually worked pretty well.

If you’ve ever been to a movie that used those red/blue glasses, you’ll know how completely useless and sucky they can be.  This didn’t use those.  It used very oversized polarised lenses, kindly designed to be comfortably worn over glasses if required. Things definitely popped more on screen during the sequences when the glasses had to be put on.  But that did require being pulled out of the movie universe by flashing red icons at the bottom of the screen, putting the glasses on for a while, then taking them back off after a while, which didn’t entirely allow me to really sink into the story.

The movie itself?  Well, I guess it felt like a slightly updated version of the Superman movies from the 70s & 80s.  And perhaps they could have updated a bit more to suit the more cynical modern audiences.  Such as what Batman Begins did, with the dirt and the violence and so on.  We’re dealing with bad nasty criminals here, would it kill you to have them swear from time to time?

What Superman did have, was special effects.  A great many.

Right from the opening sequence you could see that the poor CG techs had probably given themselves a few nasty cases of RSI in the production of the film.  It started with the supernova that ate Krypton, and then during the opening credits we travelled along with Kal-El as he made his way to Earth, passing many weird and varied planets and other astronomical thingamabobs.

They clearly did a lot to get rid of the corny, cringe inducing cheese that seems to float around Superman’s oily head, but there was still some there.  Changing Lois Lane for a more interesting actress probably would have made it better.  A bit of swearing from the bad guys, and maybe a bit more visceral violence.  Who says Superman can’t just punch someone’s head off then throw their body into the sun?  Or just pull off their skin?  Burn their eyes out?

What do you mean that’d make him the bad guy.  That’d make him the AWESOME guy. 

I guess my favourite scene was the one with the minigun, Superman flys in and stands in the stream of projectiles, shielding a couple of idiot security guards, and slowly walks towards the gunman.  Bullets ricocheting off his chest strike all over the roof of the building they’re on.  Finally the glowing barrels of the gun spin to a halt, then the gunman draws his pistol, points it directly at Superman’s head and shoots him in the eye.  In super slow motion we watch as the hammer strikes, the charge ignites and the bullet exits the barrel of the gun propelled by a growing cloud of hot gas, it travels the couple of inches to his face, then squashes flat on Supermans eyeball, before dropping to the ground.

What should happen next would be the gristley crunching of the dudes spine being removed, but what does happen next is Superman slightly tilting his head and the bad guy knowing his number is up.  That’s it.  No spine pulling at all.

Other fun was the very quick catch up on Clarke Kent’s development into Superman, discovering his powers and so on, all very entertaining, watching him running through corn fields and gradually adding new twists, jumping higher and higher, and so on.  Charming stuff.

In balance, I have to admit that the movie was rather a lot better than I expected.  If you have the choice, I think you should see the Imax release, the 3d sequences are better than anything you’ve seen in a popular release movie before.

This weekend we decided to see another movie, so on Saturday night we headed (with Louise and Sandra) to De Poste for an early(ish) dinner  – I had Belgian sausages and stoemp and a glass of the exceptionally ordinary Palm Speciale, it tasted like Lion Red to me, exceedingly average and certainly not special, let alone speciale, and Claire had steamed mussels and a glass of some sort of wine I have to confess to not paying much attention to (I was busy with the sausages, forgive me).  Then we headed to meet up with Karl at the Lido, where we watched ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ – this is the second part of a trilogy based, most bizarrely, on a freak*ng theme park ride.

Let’s start with the easy stuff, Johnny Depp is really is a great actor.  It’s not exactly a controversial thing to say, I know, he’s got a huge body of work behind him featuring a broad range of characterisations.  For example, contrast his character from Once Upon a Time in Mexico with his portrayal of Willy Wonka now compare that with his portrayal of Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Go on.  See?  He’s good, and he’s not afraid to play challenging characters.  That’s moot.

This movie, however, I’m just not sure about.

Once again, it’s heavy on the special effects – and they are pretty bloody good.  Davy Jones’ crew featured some amazing CG work, it looked, for the most part, like real things.  (As with other CG, who knows what we’ll think of it in 5 or 10 years, it might looked like something from Nintendo by comparison, but for today, it’s good work.)

As for action, let’s just say that all buckles are swashed.  Including pirates going for a zorb ride in a spherical cage made of the bones of their crew mates while being chased by hordes of cannibal savages.  And an extended sword fight on top of a very large water wheel as it careened out of control through the undergrowth of a jungle covered island.

Let me just sum up by saying that while I enjoyed the movie, and yes it was entertaining – something was missing.  I was left with a slight hollow feeling.  Perhaps if you’ve seen the movie you can share your thoughts on why this might be.

Things that are easy to like:

Trinity of Silver’s Eggs Benedict with Bacon.

I’m not kidding, these were simply the best eggs benny I’ve ever had.  Add organic free range eggs & bacon and you have a lovingly crafted meal balanced with the peace of mind of ethically treated animals. The sauce was just right, the bread was light and crunchy.  Great job.  You should go and try them out.

Earth Sandwich

BakerMonkey, Food & Drink, General, George, Reckons

[Update: this video is also available on YouTube.]

The video clip I mentioned the other day is all done and dusted – at least as much as it’s ever going to be. I’m still feeling a bit weak from my food poisoning and get quite light headed very easily, so I’m just not going to edit this sucker anymore. And it probably needs a bit more cutting. I think it’s funny as is, but still overlong by probably 3 minutes.

Earth Sandwich

About ‘Earth Sandwich’

Ze laid a challenge on his site to create the first Earth Sandwich, this is a piece of bread on opposite sides of the globe placed on the ground. I placed mine in my front yard, the opposite happened to be on land (which isn’t true of most of the entrants who placed their bread in North America – resulting in a sandwich that needs its other half in the middle of the Indian Ocean) in Spain.

Some really cool guys (Canadian brothers Jon & Duncan from flew from London to Portugal, then drove into Spain and with the aid of their GPS handset found their way to the exact opposite side of the planet, where they placed their half of the Earth Sandwich. They released a clip of their escapades, and I didn’t want to be left out so I made a clip of my own – even though my expedition was far, far less exciting or cool.

Amazingly, by our powers combined, we beat everyone else on the planet.

Even so, to make up for the un-cool-ness of the placement of my half of the sandwich, I had to resort to farce, sound effects, and speeding up my footage.

I think it’s hilarious, but I’m very very sick right now, so you’re free to disagree. (Either way, leave a comment, it’s fast and easy.)

About this clip

It’s pretty big, so if you’re not on broadband, it might not be worth the wait. It’s encoded to MP4 so it could be worse. Quicktime will play the file nicely, as will VLC, or I guess Windows Media Player might be able to do it if you keep quite up to date.

Any further hypothetical video clips will certainly be a lot shorter and smaller.

Baguette Recipe

500g flour
4 tsp yeast
300ml warm water
3 tsp salt

Mix the flour and yeast in a large bowl until evenly distributed, then add warm water and mix well for a minute, finally add the salt and knead well for about 15 minutes.

Roll out into 2 or 3 rough baguette shapes, place on a lightly floured baking tray, then cover with a cloth and put somewhere warm for 20 – 30 minutes to raise. (I put mine in the hot water cupboard.)

Score each baguette 5 or 6 times with a sharp knife, then bake in a pre-heated oven at 240c for about 30 minutes. Keep a good eye on them, you’ll notice that while I said mine looked good, they were actually pretty dark brown (but they really were very delicious). I’ve cooked this recipe a bunch of times, and our oven seems to have some difficulties maintaining the even temperature, so it hasn’t been quite the same twice.

Great Big Pan Cakes.

BakerMonkey, Food & Drink, General, Reckons

Yes, I said Pan Cakes, not pancakes.  Capitalised, and two seperate words.  They deserve it.  These are some seriously heavy duty items of foodification.

Great Big Pan Cakes looking all golden brown and bubbly.

Recipe is good for two, there are options I’ll lay out as we go through things.


  • 2 – 4 Tbsp butter.
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp brown sugar.
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • 3 eggs.
  • 1 1/2 cups flour.
  • 1 1/2 cups milk.
  • 1/2 tsp salt.

Fruit.  Apples, pears, or peaches.  Just a few slices is plenty.

Pre heat oven to 200c, while it’s heating put 1 – 2 Tbsp butter into bottom of two oven safe pans, a small cast iron frying pan is ideal, but you can probably get away with using a cake or pie tin as well.

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl, don’t go crazy, once they’re well beaten and just starting to froth is heaps.   Sieve in the flour, pour in the milk, and sprinkle on the flour.  Now beat again, but only until it’s all just mixed, some lumps are fine.  If you over mix it won’t work right.  Don’t waste time doing this, you don’t want to leave the pans in the oven too long, the butter will start to burn off once the oven gets up to temperature.

Take the now hot pans out of the oven, gently swirl the butter around to cover the interior of the pans, including up the side walls a bit (be careful, it’s hot) now sprinkle 1 – 2 Tbsp of the brown sugar, then the cinnamon, into each pan.  Now if you want fruit in your Pan Cake, distribute the slices around the base of the pan.

Now pour on the batter mix, and put the pans into the oven.

After about 25 minutes they should be very puffed up and golden brown.

Great Big Pan Cakes with butter and maple syrup.

Remove from the pans to a warmed plate, you’ll find that the body of the pancakes is very light and springy, and quite wonderful.  Serve with butter & maple syrup, or whatever you like on normal pancakes.

Great Big Pan Cakes with fruit.

If you included fruit (in this photo, about a third of an apple, rougly sliced) maybe you’d rather have cream than maple syrup, but really, do what you like.  I’m not the pancake police.  If I was I might make you have it with custard, but I have no idea how that’d turn out.