The Wright Sprouts
Contact: (the lovely) firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wright Sprouts
Contact: (the lovely) email@example.com
This is a bit of an interim thing. The equivalent to those four songs in the middle of a teen pop album from the late nineties. We’ve officially moved into our new stomping ground on Cuba Street and I’ve started cooking again, with a gas-top stove and an expel-air, oh untold joys abounding. But, if my free time were a pizza, right now unpacking boxes and arranging the objects that represent our lives to fit in this new space is eating nearly every slice of my time-pizza, not to mention my side order of headspace-fries with aioli.
To tide you all over – because I will start posting with soothing regularity asap to assuage the palpitations of the heart that surely start in my prolonged absense – I thought I might do a round-up of all the restaurants and cafes that I’ve reviewed since starting this blog in 2007 so that they’re in one nifty post. This idea may fall flat, especially considering my international readership, but whatever. This is my blog, I’ll openly pad it out with recycled filler material if I so wish. And if you should ever find yourself in Wellington – and why not? It’s easily the best city New Zealand has to offer the world – consider this a starting point for where to eat.
Read about the faint-makingly fantastic chocolates on Featherston Street’s Melting Perfection chocolaterie: click HERE
Read about Deluxe cafe, which is so cool that I felt as though it was my fault when I didn’t enjoy it that much, Roxy Cafe on Cuba Street which has the BEST hash browns, and Casablanca, a cheap and cheerful BYO: click HERE
And there it is, friends. A rough guide to eating hither and yon across Wellington and a competely understocked guide to eating out in Auckland. A little something to let you know I still am very much in existence.
On Shuffle whilst I type:
Horehound, the debut album by The Dead Weather, ie how much more wine can Jack White squeeze from his mind-grapes? The man is relentless! As is the seriously brilliant album. Jack White, you genius, you’ve done it again.
Next time: for one thing, an actual post with pictures and recipes. I’ve got a whole mess of baking planned for this weekend, and our espresso machine has finally entered the world so I also predict affogatos every which way to Sunday. On top of that there is something quite bewitching about living on Cuba Street. I’m noticing things I’ve never seen before. Like the Babylon Kebab shop – why didn’t they just call themselves Kebabylon? Or, for maximum flair, Babylon Kebabylon? There is a quilting supplies shop just down the road from me that I never knew existed. At Moore Wilson’s the other day (now divinely close to our house) Tim didn’t even twitch when I bought tofu and actually actively suggested that I buy Israeli couscous. This from the fellow who once thought there was no discernable difference between canola oil and extra virgin olive oil. There may have been salty language employed to let him know the difference. You know what I’m saying.
Kia ora readers. For those of you who don’t keep candlelit vigil on my Twitter account, you may not have absorbed the news that Tim and I are moving house. In the grand scheme of things, a little ho-hum maybe, seeing how people do this all the time. Especially young people living in flatting situations. But considering that we’ve been at our current digs since November 2006, it’s pretty significant.
There’s no one real reason we are moving out, but there have been various frustrations that we will be glad to leave behind – including the olive oil on the kitchen shelf regularly solidifying in the cold, the sight of breath in front of our faces as we talk to each other inside the house, the bathroom where long-legged spiders rule with eight iron fists each on slowly crumbling walls, or perhaps the undulating and loose-bricked stairs leading down to our flat from the road which bely the idea that a landlord should have their tenants’ wellbeing in mind.
When we first moved in in 2006 it was tantamount to being in a mansion compared to our first flat – there was carpet as opposed to billiard table covering, the toilet wasn’t in the same room as the shower, our rent was halved, and there was a hot water cupboard! Oh, and the landlord wasn’t going to try and run us down with a steamroller (we had some ‘issues’ with our first one) And we were students, living with a group of friends, life could not have been sweeter, really. The theme song from Cheers could almost be heard whenever you walked in the door. Now that Tim and I are the last ones left of that initial group and while we could easily carry on living here for a good long time – it’s not that bad – we decided that this was to be our final year here.
And then one of my colleagues who is moving overseas lives there and sent round an email asking if anyone knew anyone who knew anyone who wanted to move into her fantastic place in town. Not to be overly dramatic, but I knew this was it. Luckily my instincts, while hysterical, were accurate: the other guy living there seemed to like Tim and I. We got the room.
One of the many exciting things about this new place we’re moving to next month – perhaps the single most exciting thing (apart from the fact that it has a sauna, I know) is that it gets sunshine. Real, genuine, sunshine. Imagine you’ve spent your whole life using synthetic, cheap vanilla essence and then suddenly you inhale the scent of a real vanilla bean (possibly smearing its shiny black seeds on your face to enhance the effect). That’s what it will be like. Amazing.
Which will mean exciting things for my food photography potential. Much as I’d personally take content over photography, the wider body of blog-readers seem to demand exquisite, magazine-ready photography as well as scintillating, original prose. Not that I’m claiming I can (or do) provide either, just…I’m going to be in a better position to take nice pictures, which can only be a good thing for us all.
Just realised I used that vanilla analogy in my last post. So much for original prose. And come to think of it, I could have just said “imagine you’ve been living in a cold dark house and then you move to a nice warm sunny house.” Hmm. Anyway, I predict lots of reminiscing from Tim and I between now and when we move, possibly resembling one of those cheesy clip shows that surface occasionally on things like Friends, and Home Improvement, and Saved By The Bell, which was really one giant clip show in a way. Or, knowing Tim and I, it might be more like THIS.
What I’m listening to: They Might Be Giants and Michael John LaChiusa.
Next time: Chocolate Guinness Cake!
7. The Wright Sprouts (so organic that they don’t even have a website!)
I’ve been joyfully camping in the great outdoors for the past few days and will return soon, this being just a brief respite for those modern wonders – high pressure showers, the sound of a flushing loo, the internets. The camping I do is nothing too taxing though – I’ve never drunk so many gin and tonics nor eaten so much blue cheese in my life and yesterday I read one and a half books in the space of a sunny afternoon. The only footwear I brought with me are jandals and ugg boots, so there’s no fear I might have to go hiking anywhere. Yes, that sort of camping. My whanau have been going to this particular beach yearly since I was but a wee baby and in coldest, rainiest July (remember, New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere) I think of camping with longing. I’m certainly not going to reveal where it is that we go however, it’s already far too crowded. (Anyone who has seen the Outrageous Fortune Christmas special episode will understand – “This is our spot!”)
Christmas itself was a jolly affair, with several dishes from Nigella Christmas making their debut successfully. It is this time that I really love though, when it’s neither this-year-nor-last-year and all I have to do is lie about in the shade – being pale as I am – and re-read beloved novels. I have also been reading lots of newspapers and magazines as they appear and have noticed that they all seem to have a round up of the years events. I was planning on doing my own recap of the year, and I typed it all out, but got to November (I know, so close) and suddenly got bored and did an abrupt volte-face on my idea. However who could forget this moment:
Just before the faint-makingly good Rufus Wainwright concert in February, Tim and I met Siobhan Marshall and Antonia Prebble, who play Pascelle and Lorette West respectively on Outrageous Fortune, the best New Zealand TV show there is (and I mean that in a straight up way, not a damning-with-faint-praise way).
Another exciting moment- in April, my first ever photo accepted to Tastespotting.com, that wonderfully inspiring website that can be something of a necessary evil to food bloggers. I wish I could say that my blog would have been as successful without it but frankly I don’t think it would have. Either way, this shot of a spoonful home made creme fraiche made it on there which was a huge boost to my confidence as a blogger.
And of course, Oscar the kitty and his death-defying faceplanting skills was there to boost morale at regular intervals.
There are a million other things I could have included here (these are just the photos I have handy) but the point is, it has been a long, varied and at times arduous year. As all years are in their own way, I suppose. I’ll be back in Wellington and cooking up a storm soon enough, and this place will once again resemble a fully-functioning food blog. I tend not to go in for wild revelry at this time of year, in fact sometimes I wish I could skip New Years altogether because that whole, desperate, “we must have FUN” thing can be all too stressful, and I prefer to have fun on my own terms rather than at the dictation of the calendar. All that Scrooge-ness aside, I sincerely hope all my readers have a fantastic time wherever you end up, and that 2009 heralds a vaguely more optimistic time for us all. Anyone have any New Years resolutions they plan on actually sticking to? At this stage nothing has really occurred to me personally, but I’d be interested to hear any – especially the more obscure. Has anyone here resolved to put on weight? To speak in an affected French accent for at least a month? To dye their hair a different colour each week? To take up carpentry? Do tell, and do have a safe start to the coming year.
PS – title quoted from RENT…what else?
Because it seems to be the done thing in blog-land these days: Merry Christmas y’all. Or happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa…or even just happy nonstop-cheesy-movies-on-TV-season. Whatever you may or may not be celebrating right now I hope everyone has a grand old time and I’ll see you again soon.
I’m flying down to Christchurch on business early tomorrow morning, and won’t be back till Monday afternoon. I was hoping to get a post out about the roast pork I made earlier this week (I even had a punny title ready, but I’ll not reveal all my cards at once) However, Tim and I went to see the ballet Don Quixote tonight and so real life is getting in the way of blogging, as it should. I actually took ballet lessons for about thirteen or so years – long after the point where my childbearing knees and womanly shoulders and inability to reeeally pirouette made it painfully clear that I would never have a career in it. But even when it was causing my self-esteem to plummet it was still the thing that made me happiest, and I was highly excited to be immersing myself in ballet again. Don Quixote was one of the few big ballets I’ve never seen before… and it was utterly fantastic. It has been a while since I’ve seen a Royal New Zealand Ballet production, I used to go all the time in the nineties, so there was only one name I really recognised in the company – Sir Jon Trimmer. If you’re not from New Zealand you may not know who he is, but he’s not just a ballet legend, he’s just…a legend. He has been dancing with the RNZB forever and got awarded an MBE before most of you were even born. It was such a treat to see him again, playing the titular Don with great aplomb. I didn’t know the story of the ballet and for some reason was expecting it to be really dark, but it couldn’t have been a perkier time. Stunning sets, constant hilarity, the classic happy ending with multiple fouettes…I highly recommend it.
So, how ridiculously exciting was the American election? I realise that I’m probably the squillionth blogger to comment on it now, but let it be said once more: “WOOHOO!” I couldn’t be happier that Obama won. But so confusing was their system of feeding through information (ie, “this just in: Obama takes the state!…..we predict”) that I thought actually McCain had it. During Obama’s speech I was literally standing on the couch, I couldn’t remain seated. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to actually be American at that moment. It was enthralling…amazing…wonderful. Disappointing though, was that Prop 8 passed…who are these people that vote for it – that think it’s right to suppress and take rights from people for no good reason? Baffles me beyond belief.
Today I voted for New Zealand’s upcoming election. It was my first time voting – last time I was in England and had a meltdown trying to do it over the interweb – and I must admit I got a unique thrill being there in the booth. I already knew which party I wasn’t voting for – unfortunately I suspect they’ll end up being the party in power – but I read up diligently on everyone’s policies prior to making my final decision. It was exciting to think that my voice is worth something, and that whatever happens, I’ve done my part. And I felt soooo deliciously grown up.
Above: Pistachios – the loveliest nut in The Pantry…Yesterday I recieved the sad news that one of the founding members of a tight-knit online cooking forum I am part of had died. She went by the name of Pistachio and will be dearly missed by many. I never met her – she lived in Spain – and didn’t actually “know” her as well as some but I know that her presence online – and now lack thereof – will not be forgotten soon.
So, you’ve raised your kids in a small country village of verdant New Zealand farmland. There’s a school, and a church, both of which have been there for over a hundred years. There’s a hall…several animals of a bovine persuasion…a long-disused pub…and that’s about it. People who live there tend to stay there. It’s tiny, but clearly loveable. And then it conspires that Waste Petroleum Combustion Ltd – the WPC – the owners of a waste oil treatment plant – want to relocate. Across the road from your house. A mere 80 metres from the aforementioned school and the preschool behind it.
It might look something like this:
What would you do? Well, in the case of my father, he not only became president of the Kinksianly named Otaua Village Preservation Society, he went one further. He conceptualised, wrote, directed and produced (aided by the technological whizzery of my brother) a monumentally, fists-in-the-air awesome protest song and video. Now this may not be your problem. You may not care. You probably don’t live in New Zealand. You might be thinking “where are the recipes and the moderately competent food photography already?”
But do me a favour and watch the video. You won’t just be helping me – you’ll be helping the village that I grew up in, the school I was schooled at, the church I was baptised in, the cows that eat the grass next door, the ducklings that gambol in the meadows…I apologise for the rampant sentimentality and blatant attempts to tug at your heartstrings. Just to bring us back to earth, I should probably warn you that there is a break-it-down rap segment in the middle. Anyway, the video is amazing, and stars my dad (with a cameo from me on the trumpet!) and several other neighbourhood personalities like…my brother and our cat.
All attempts at a witty sardonic tone aside, your time taken to watch this video is hugely appreciated.
“Some things I cannot change but till I try I’ll never know” Elphaba, Wicked
“It’s too close to home and it’s too near the bone…I’ve seen it happen in other peoples’ lives, and now it’s happening in mine” Morrissey
“How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?” Bob Dylan
“I stand for the power to change” Idina Menzel
“You built a house of cards and got shocked when you saw them fall” Jack White
“The more you ignore me, the closer I get” Morrissey (he’s quite the fertile hotbed for pithy quotes!)
“Moo with me” Maureen, Rent (as if I could let that one slide. She has a protest song too!)
Thank you! If you have a youtube account and would like to add a comment/favourite it/etc click here.
Next time: my blog will not be masquerading as an audio-visual suite.
If there are any confused readers stumbling about, scratching their heads befuddledly and looking for recipes, this is my own personal catharsis post. Scroll down for normal food rambling…but if you have a heart, keep reading.
By the time you read this, Rent will have played its very final show on Broadway. I am in a strange position to comment on this, as in a way, having never been to New York, I’m mourning the loss of something I’ve never had, and now never will have. Before you make a hasty exit because I’m wallowing in mawkishness – well, maybe I am – please watch “Seasons of Love”, taken from the tenth anniversary in 2006, where the entire original Broadway cast reunited for a one-off performance. This song is the heart of Rent, and it’s incidentally the song that people who hate Rent seem to like, so everybody wins… It is also one of the most beautiful things ever written. The sound and visuals aren’t the best but the message comes through, and what a message: measure your life in love.
I first came to know Rent through the DVD of the film adaptation. It is particularly special in that six of the eight original Broadway cast reprise their roles for it and it caught my eye because of Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs, who originated roles in another favourite musical of mine, The Wild Party. As soon as I heard those harmonies in “Seasons of Love”…and the driving sound of the drums at the start of the title song…I knew it would change my life. Sounds overwrought, I know. Even while I was watching it my mind was trying to come to grips with whether it was monstrously cheesy or utterly, heartbreakingly brilliant. Funnily enough, the pendulum swung towards the latter. And so I am forever thankful that this film exists. In spite of its debatable flaws – not enough Taye, the most haunting part of “Goodbye Love” cut, no New Year sequence and surely I can’t be the only one with an entire screenplay of “Christmas Bells” in my head – it is a gift in particular to people outside America who have had no chance to see it at the Nederlander theatre in New York. And there is no real way of explaining what it’s like to see Idina sing “Over The Moon,” in all its wide-eyed, ferocious, doofy glory for the first time.
You don’t need me to give you a full-on history of Rent. If you’ve already decided that you hate it then you won’t want to know, if you are vaguely intrigued then you’ll hit wikipedia and if you’re anything like me you know it all already. So rather than tell you about it, I’ll let Rent speak for itself. Some of the most intriguing, clever…stick-in-your-brain, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that lyrics I’ve ever heard come from this musical. And, frankly, a few of the clunkiest (although I love that the character of Benny gets to rhyme “seductive” with “counterproductive.”) Here is but a bare smattering of phrases, snatches of sentences, reasons why Rent sticks with me like a lump in my throat.
“How can you connect in an age where strangers, landlords, lovers, your own bloodcells betray?”
“Christmas bells are ringing, somewhere else – not here”
“No day but today”
“Will I lose my dignity?”
“Live in my house, I’ll be your shelter…be my lover, I’ll cover you”
“Follow the man, follow the man, with his pockets full of the jam”
“Once you donate you can go celebrate in Tuckahoe”
“The only way out is up…a leap of faith”
“This is Calcutta – Bohemia is dead.”
“To fruits, to no absolutes to Absolut, to choice, to the Village Voice”
“To being an us for once, instead of a them – la vie boheme”
“Hey mister, she’s my sister”
“German wine, turpentine, Gurtrude Stein, Antonioni, Bertolucci, Kurosawa – Carmina Burana!”
“And Roger will attempt to write a bittersweet evocative song…that doesn’t remind us of Musetta’s Waltz.”
“Life’s too short babe, time is flying, I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine…”
“To people living with living with living with not dying from disease”
“The opposite of war isn’t peace…it’s creation.”
“Take me for what I am”
“Without you, the ground thaws, the rain falls, the grass grows…”
“Marky, sell us your soul! Just kidding!”
“That’s poetic…that’s pathetic.”
“Just came to say, goodbye love…hello disease”
“I don’t own emotion, I rent…”
“We’ll somehow get to Santa Fe, but you’d miss New York before you could unpack”
“There’s only us, there’s only this, forget regret, or life is yours to miss, no other road, no other way, no day but today.“
Jonathan Larson, the creator and writer of Rent, died of an aortic aneurysm the night before the show’s first off-Broadway preview. He would never see it win Tony awards, the Pulitzer prize, Drama Desks…he would never see his original cast flourish in their further careers, never see his show become the 7th longest running Broadway musical, never have a hand in creating the film adaptation. And he would never be able to write such lyrics as those that I reproduced above. Which makes so much of Rent all the more heart-wrenching to absorb. When AIDS-afflicted Roger sings of his desire to write “one song, before I go,” when Mimi says “you don’t want baggage without lifetime guarantees,” it becomes so much more than mere storyline. Of all the lyrics, “no day but today” I think is particularly brilliant – a consise improvement on that old cliche, “live every day like it’s your last.”
Sharp-eyed readers will know of course that this very blog takes its name from the title song from Rent. “We’re hungry and frozen, some life that we’ve chosen…” Rent is unfinished, raw, imperfect…perfect.
I’m going to wrap up here otherwise I’ll ramble on ad infinitum. Okay, I’ve never actually been to the Nederlander to see Rent. But put yourself in my position: I’m from New Zealand. I’m never ever going to be able to see it. I’ll never get to have a photo of myself beside that famous wall. I’ll never be able to try for the cheap seat lottery. I guess I just thought it would wait for me forever… And despite not being a part of the generation of Rentheads from the mid-nineties – well how could I have been – my love for this show is so fierce that I just had to write something, and be it self-indulgent or incoherent, its my version of closure.
I felt more empty today than anything else, especially when, sometime this afternoon I realised that the show would be winding up in New York. And then I saw this video of the final curtain call, and…the floodgates opened. I embraced my inner Mary Anne Spier and wept. The look on Tracie’s face, Gwen’s final high note, Anthony’s claps up to Jonathan, Wilson and Jesse standing together, Eden singing her heart out…I kid you not, it really made me cry. If you’re not a fan it probably won’t mean so much to you, but if you are, tread softly and carry a big hanky.
Thank you, Jonathan Larson.
Tim: That was amazing.
Me: Oh my gosh yes. I haven’t been this moved by a film since Rent.
Tim: *exasperated silence*
Well, since everyone else in the world is talking about it I might as well too…Just a quick post to say that we (myself, Tim, Emma, Paul, Scotty and Matt) went to see The Dark Knight when it opened here in New Zealand on Tuesday night…okay it was actually 5.30 in the afternoon but it was pitch black and howling with sleety wind so none of the excitement was lost. Anyway; WOW. I hate scary movies and go out of my way to avoid them, but this wasn’t so much scary as intense and brilliant. The hype is pretty well justified, I’d say. Heath Ledger was just electrifying as The Joker but it was eerie seeing him, so recently dead, 20ft tall across the screen. And Christian Bale is quite amazing as Batman/Bruce Wayne – darkly charismatic. Maggie Gyllenhaal I could take or leave, but Micheal Caine was as fun as ever. A very, very good movie.
In other housekeeping, I’ve just discovered that I have about 470 assignments and presentations due over the next three weeks so posting might be a little light. Or, you know, daily. I am also having…erm…camera issues…and clumsiness issues…and warranty issues (you join the dots) which is very depressing and might take a while to sort out, thus impinging on my already dubious ability to take blog-worthy photos.
You can find my articles (2 so far, another one on the way) for Tearaway magazine here, if you feel like wincing at my overeager attempts to sound down-with-the-kids, or indeed trying the recipes, which are quite good I think.
And I’m done. Cakes below. Not sure whether I’ll pop back in here or not at this stage, but have a good weekend!