F is for Friday Fajitas

Friday fajitas are a family tradition. With the meat (chicken and steak) cooked on the BBQ, the ones in New Zealand, eaten in the fresh air are particularly tasty. A table full of dishes of salsa, kidney beans, re-fried beans, grilled peppers, grated cheese, salad and sour cream are all the ingredients you need to add to your meat and wraps. Delicious.

F is for food generally. The food in New Zealand restaurants is fresh and tasty. We sampled many, from the formal to the casual. Local to F and J’s house, some of the best places to eat were within an industrial complex. The Silver Dollar is one of those, Cafe IZone another. At Cafe IZone I had the biggest, most delicious prawn salad ever.

In Akaroa we found The Brasserie where I had my first breakfast of buttermilk pancakes drenched in maple syrup and topped by grilled bananas and bacon. Extraordinary and yummy.

Also in Akaroa we had a delightful family dinner in Le Petit Bistro. Champagne to start of course. Wonderful lamb and beef. Canterbury beef with a truffle jus and horseradish croquettes.  Sadly one of us was horrified when her fish arrived on the bone and with its head still on. So a good deal of negotiation and food swapping went on. We accompanied the main course with red wine and finished off with a calming dessert wine, Hunter Valley Semillion.

Near the end of our trip we had dinner in The Curator’s House in Christchurch Botanic Gardens (where we spotted an Oxbridge style punt being steered by a chap in striped blazer and boater). The restaurant is a Spanish tapas restaurant. I had the best steak I have ever had — crispy on the outside and perfectly tender inside. The boys shared a paella.

On our way back from Akaroa we stopped at the Taitapu Hotel for a platter lunch. Sitting in the shade in a large sunlit garden we tucked into pork, chicken wings, Camembert balls, salami, chips, tomatoes, garlic bread, olives and pate.

On the transalpine express train, I had an incredibly sweet caramel and chocolate muffin. Sadly the potatoes gratin F and I shared was small and microwaved. Tasty though.

Off to a business meeting about memoir writing at the Laboratory and discovered smashed avocado and smoked salmon on toast is great.

Perhaps one of the strangest snacks were “Spaghetti Scrolls” made of scone mix covered in spaghetti in tomato sauce and cheese baked in the oven. Excellent. The food of choice for J and his golfing tournament buddies but there was plenty left for us!

Of course we mustn’t forget how organised and hardworking both F and Fr. Were as they catered and cooked in between forays to restaurants. As well as the Christmas and caravanning fare there were quiches, macaroni pie, chicken alla carbonara, bacon and egg rolls amongst many other meals — all delicious.


A is also for Alpacas

Mummies and babies

We visited a wonderful alpaca farm owned by two friends of Fr’s. Sherlin Alpaca Stud. We witnessed several alpacas being sheared (protesting loudly) and then were allowed into the field with two mummy alpacas with their newborns. The shop was full of gloriously coloured wools (dyed by the owner) cosy coloured blankets, sweaters, gloves and hats.



T is for transalpine express

This was a wonderful day trip from East to West on a comfortable train with huge windows. Dramatic landscapes through the alps, contrasting with long tunnels, small townships, lakes and rivers. We started in bright sunshine which decreased as we progressed, finally giving way to rain by Arthur’s Pass. We looked out in vain for the ghost of the Scottish Labourer making his way back to the coast and home. On the way back we celebrated (naturally) with a bottle of Prosecco. wp_20170117_030

Normal service New Zealand blog resumes! A is for accommodation

wp_20170114_001Perhaps the most bonkers accommodation we had in Akaroa was the bach that F and J rented for us all. It stood out on the hill with its red, white and blue striped deck railing. Inside this was echoed by the metal staircase which, at night, lit up in increments red, white and blue! The lighting everywhere was movement sensored — not so funny when one is quietly on the loo and the lights go out! Industrial themed decor reigned in the public rooms. There was a huge first floor sundeck and a sophisticated sound system complete with music to our taste! Sadly the swimming pool was not quite finished.

This was a great improvement on the accommodation I had booked for Fr and me when we arrived in Akaroa a few days early. Supposedly “12 mins walk from the centre of town” it was at least twenty minutes fast hike along a narrow road which fell into the sea on one side and against a cliff face on the other. This walk ended up with Fr getting a dramatic blood blister which burst in a scene like a horror movie, arterial coloured blood splashing everywhere!







A is for Accommodation contd.

Our next accommodation was a chalet at Hamner Springs — an alpine village with hot springs and skiiing. J and F had rented a two storey chalet with a sitting room that had a deck and a view over a duck pond with an island. The other rooms had magnificent views of the mountains. We had a huge double bedroom with dressing room and ensuite bathroom on the first floor.


 Hamner Springs View

Everything in Hanmer Springs was easy and close together. Even getting to the start of the “Conical Hill” was a few minutes away. More about this in L is for Leisure and E is for Exercise.

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