Thursday, September 27, 2018

Medusa


Wednesday night rolls around again, and tonight we’re off to see something that is a bit off the beaten track. As part of WTF!, Medusa is billed as “performance art meets power pop politics”. Sounds interesting, I thought.

First up, we’re out to dinner. I managed to secure a park along Wakefield street and we went around the corner to Hot Sauce, the ground-floor dining establishment of Museum Hotel. They’ve recently had a bit of a revamp, both décor- and menu-wise, or so the maître d’ told us…didn’t look that different to me. Anyway, we ordered cocktails (wasabi bliss and 5 spice clover) before ordering a selection from their “asian-inspired” menu. The food was all tasty, although some of it was a little hard to manage with chopsticks. We manfully and womanfully persevered, though, without too much spillage or indecorum.

The dessert selection was uninspired so we headed round to Circa Theatre early, with the intention to get an ice cream from their café…an intention thwarted by their dismal lack of stock. They normally have a selection of Kapiti flavours, but all they had this time was Magnums. Get a grip, Circa!


We took our seats, the doors closed, the three performers sat on stage and…nothing happened. For about five minutes, they simply sat there in silence, with the lights up, so they could see the audience. Every time someone coughed or shifted in their seat, one of them would glance at the culprit. The lights went down, three microphones descended from the ceiling, and the next part of the performance started. This show is part performance art, and part…something else entirely. To find out more of what happens, read this review.

It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting. At the end I didn’t particularly want to smash the patriarchy, or change my white-cis-male privilege, or do something intersectionally aligned. Hey ho.

We got back to the car, and it wouldn’t start. I’m sure that’s a metaphor for something. Using my white-cis-male privilege, I called the AA, who gave us an object lesson in expectation management by exceeding our expectations twice in the space of one hour. The AA man was unable to fix it on the spot though, so we arranged for it to be towed to our mechanics, and got a lift home in his truck instead.

Next week, it’s La Bohème.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Mrs Krishnan's Party


We’re not supposed to go to the theatre on Thursdays now – Thursday night is dancing night. But I’d booked Mrs. Krishnan’s Party months ago, before dancing at Two Right Feet was even a twinkle in my eye…so we had to miss dancing. Mrs. Krishnan’s Party is a sequel to Krishnan’s Dairy, which was the first production of Indian Ink 20 years ago. We’ve not seen that, but we have seen The Pickle King, another of their productions, and enjoyed it. So when another play was announced I naturally bought tickets straight away.

The show wasn’t until 8 o’clock, so, decadent sybarites that we are, we went for cocktails at CGR Merchant before dinner. Nicola had an “Isn’t She Lovely” and I had a cinnamon-infused martini, whose name escapes me. We then went for a curry at Great India, Wellington’s premier Indian restaurant, where we enjoyed the food but were disappointed by the service: when we arrived they asked us whether we needed to be out by a certain time, and we said yes, by 7:45, to catch our show. No problem, and at least three waiters confirmed this to us as they seated us, took our drinks order, and food order. Given that, as the clock ticked inexorably on to 7:35, we began to feel a bit anxious and called one of the waiters over, to find out what was happening. The food arrived seconds later, but, having gone to so much trouble, you’d think they might have informed the kitchen. Or something. Anyway, we had to rather bolt our dinner, then hurry up the road to Te Auaha, a new venue on Dixon Street that is part of Whitirea and WelTec.


As we entered the venue, we were seated by DJ Jimmy James, in full headdress and Indian party costume. We were seated in the “cheeky seats” i.e. barstools just beyond the inner circle.
  


Before the show began, James noted that, despite the advice in the email sent a few days ago to ticket-holders, very few people had come in Indian party garb. To correct this, he co-opted various members of the audience to distribute coloured scarves and garlands to everyone. Once he was satisfied with the audience, the show could start.

Onam is the Hindu harvest festival, and is full of music, dancing, food and general merrymaking. James, a student, is Mrs. Krishnan's lodger, and has decided to organise a surprise Onam party for his landlady. To this end, he has invited us to his party, and he briefs us on how he’s going to spring the surprise on Mrs. Krishnan. When he does so she is understandably shocked, horrified even, and initially tries to get rid of us. But, as James had predicted, she is eventually mollified and, as her guests, starts to cook a dhal to help us celebrate Onam. Yes, they do actually do live cookery on stage, with a little help from some audience members. This is a hands-on, audience-involvement event, and Mrs. Krishnan isn’t beyond a little sly matchmaking! As the play progresses, the history of Onam is acted out by Mrs. Krishnan, and we find out more about her history, and also that of James.

At the end of the play, the dhal is served to the audience so that they can join in the celebration. It’s all good clean fun, and you should go and see it if you get the chance!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

All Blacks vs. Springboks


The All Blacks have been going from strength to strength this year. Firstly they crushed the Wallabies in two tests to retain the Bledisloe Cup 38-13 and 40-12; then Argentina visited these shores for the first test match to be played at Trafalgar Park, Nelson, where they were beaten 46-24. Next, it was South Africa’s turn.

The Springboks test was in Wellington, and I’d booked our tickets ages ago to make sure we weren’t disappointed. The weather was looking good, so after parking in our usual secret spot we walked up to the stadium in plenty of time, to take advantage of the now somewhat improved catering available and grab a quick pre-match dinner. There were no Piri-burgers on sale this time, so we had lemon and garlic marinated chicken burgers instead. Then we took our seats, and let the action begin.

In the last few matches the ABs have been a bit slow to start – indeed, falling behind in the scoring for some time. Not this time, however, and Jordie Barrett dotted down in the first five minutes. The Boks came back with a try, and it was back and forth for a bit. But Beauden Barrett kept missing the conversions, and with the help of a penalty on half-time, the Springboks went in 24-17 ahead, although both teams had scored three tries.


In the second half, the tries came again in alternate fashion, with the Boks pulling away only to reeled in by the ABs. But they couldn’t quite draw equal, and with two further conversions going astray – Beauden hit the uprights twice – it was all coming down to the last five minutes, with the All Blacks camped out near the Springbok try line. Despite the obvious drop-goal opportunity, none was attempted, and instead a back-line move came from the ruck. With the All Blacks having a 3-on-2 overlap on the right side, Crotty…took the tackle instead of passing. The game ended with the Springboks ahead 36-34, despite having scored one fewer tries.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth, whilst predictable, was short-lived. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned here for the All Blacks. Post-match analysis showed at least three times when they had an overlap, but went to ground instead of passing the ball. Added to that, they gifted two tries to the Springboks, once with a poorly thought-out quick thrown-in, and once when they passed the ball to a man in green instead of a man in black. After dotting it down easily, he went back to thank the hapless Lienert-Brown who’d passed it to him.

According to some commentators, the championship is now “wide open”. Let’s be clear: for South Africa to win the championship (and they’re the only other team who can), the All Blacks need to not only lose their next two games, but South Africa have to win theirs AND score more bonus points than the ABs. It’s a statistical possibility, but hardly “wide open”. All that has happened is that the All Blacks have lost a match. It happens from time to time.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Modern Girls In Bed

Wednesday night is theatre night, and at the moment there is the WTF! going on in Wellington. WTF is WTF!, I hear you ask? It’s the Women’s Theatre Festival at Circa, and therefore there’s a lot of women on stage, writing, directing, and all the other things that go in in a theatre. One of the showpiece events is Modern Girls In Bed, which features a number of women. In bed. What’s not to like about that?


We went for a quick dinner at Monte Cervino beforehand. Monte Cervino has risen from the ashes that were Matterhorn, after they had to leave the building which they had occupied for some 55 years. This was because next door, a heritage building, had been damaged in the Kaikoura quake of 2016. In order to strengthen and save this, buildings on both sides needed to be vacated. Fortunately, in Wellington’s ever-changing restaurant scene, new premises were quickly found on Tory Street, and it was resurrected as Monte Cervino (which is what the folks on the Italian side of the border call the Matterhorn). We’ve been there a couple of times already, and found it a useful venue as they do the now-ubiquitous “sharing plates” with style and panache. We started with a  pizzetta, followed by raw fish, meatballs, and broccoli. We finished in plenty of time to stroll along Tory Street to get to Circa.


Modern Girls In Bed features, unsurprisingly, a bed as the centrepiece of the set. On it is 18-year-old Ally, who invites her bestie, Petra, for a “bed-in”. They’re going to bed, and not getting up for the rest of their lives. Petra is initially dubious, as she has a shift at Countdown in a few hours. As they lie in bed, a number of women appear from between the covers: first Katherine Mansfield, then Kate Sheppard, Heni Pore, Helen Hitchings, and Akenehi Hei. They discuss the idea of going to bed as a cure, and interact with each other. All being from different eras, they often have contradictory ideas of how women should behave – Sheppard is horrified by the idea of having a baby whilst being Prime Minister; and at one point Mansfield is referred to as “Katherine Mansplain”.

All very interesting and that, but it’s the second half where things start to come together. Ally and Petra are still in bed, but the other characters have morphed into their mother and aunts. Also, it becomes clear exactly why Ally has taken to bed in the first place. It’s interesting the way the characters retain elements of their previous incarnations – one aunt is a writer, expecting a summons to a symposium in Europe, whilst another (guess who?) has become a Green MP and is now in government. They all, in their various ways, rally round, cajole and berate Ally for her behaviour, whilst bitching between themselves, and getting drunk.

OK, some parts are a bit contrived, but it’s a jolly romp and even the serious parts don’t take themselves too seriously. In the end, you have to become a grown-ass woman. And wear hot pants (or trousers) in like-minded company.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Piggy McPigface


I’d finished my Saturday morning activities, and Nicola was on a whole day coaching session in Kilbirnie, so I decided to stop off in town for some lunch. I’ve been gazing longingly at Grill Meats Beer’s Piggy McPigface for some time (I’m subscribed to their page, natch, so I get all the updates).

But, wait! Isn’t Wellington On A Plate over? Why yes it is, eagle-eyed observer…but the finalists in each category (festival dish, burger, and cocktail) continue to serve their entry for the following week, pending judgement. And Piggy McPigface is one such finalist.

What’s in a Piggy McPigface? Pork, you’d think, and you’d think wrong. It’s described thus: Beef patty with Sriracha-candied bacon, bacon marmalade, bacon and pickle aioli and feta whip in a Pandoro bacon bun, with fries. Yes, it’s a beef patty, but with a lot of bacon added. It looks like this:


Biting into it, a substantial amount of marmalade and aioli squirted out of the burger and onto the board. I do wish burger makers would get the hang of this: if you add too much sauce or wet ingredient, (a) it’s wasted as it all squirts out, so you’re not doing anyone any favours, (ii) it causes instability in the burger, and (3) it’s very messy to eat the burger. Stop it! The burger just about managed integrity until the end, but it was a close-run thing. The chips were their standard chunky chip, crunchy and hot, with their own tomato ketchup. The Garage Project beer match was Fuzzbox, a cloudy pale ale, and tasty brew.

Other than that, though, this was a good burger. And so it should be, given that’s what their main stock in trade is. I cannot award it a 10 though, for the reasons above, but I’ll rate it a 9. Not that this counts for anything as voting closed last weekend. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Meet, Mix & Mingle


Wellington On A Plate draws to a close, but we have one last event – possibly the last event of the whole competition?  – to attend: Meet, Mix & Mingle at Coco at The Roxy.

For the past four years, WOAP have been running a Cocktail Wellington competition along the same lines as Burger Wellington: competitors are asked to design a new cocktail, and accompanying tapa. In the first year, this competition was won by Ray Letoa, chief mixologist and barman at Coco at The Roxy. I remember drinking this three years ago.

In 2016, the competition was won by…Ray Letoa, from Coco at The Roxy.

In 2017, it was won by…Ray Letoa, from Coco at The Roxy.

We’re still waiting for the 2018 result.

In this event, Ray took us through the three winning cocktails, with their accompanying tapas, as well as this year’s entry. He also explained his inspiration for the cocktails, how he works, took questions from the audience, asked the audience some questions of his own, and generally entertained us for two hours. With cocktails and food. What’s not to like?

First up, he introduced the Miramar fizzy pop – a combination of gin, pomegranate juice, ginger and lemongrass syrup, mango foam, dried raspberries, and dry ice. He explained the use of dry ice in cocktails and the effects he can make with them. He also explained that he has a background in chemistry at university, which helps a little. He invited us up to the stage to try making this cocktail ourselves:



Next up, the 2016 entry: a cocktail without a spirit base. In this drink Ray combines red wine with a secret mix of foraged herbs and spices, and a bitters of his own concoction. This was the Welly(on)wood. At the time it was served with a tapa of dumplings containing foraged ingredients served on Wellington driftwood, which he was unfortunately unable to reproduce for this event…so we starved for this round. Ray is not he kind of guy to foist some substitute or inauthentic ingredient on us. Meticulous is his middle name.

The 2017 entry was Sonntag’s Journey, a remake of an old-fashioned cocktail. Ray used a little-known unaged bourbon, then aged it himself using a barrel bottle. This was accompanied by pulled pork sliders with his own chilli chipotle sauce, and slaw.


The final cocktail of the evening was this year’s entry. He’s again rung the changes by collaborating with Fortune Favours brewery to create a pina colada beer, and enhancing this with rum, adding toasted coconut syrup, lime juice, and a mango-pineapple foam. Served in Vietnamese coconut shells! He explained the difficulties he’d had importing those into New Zealand, with our strict biosecurity protocols. He also explained why he was using ice (the barman’s enemy) instead of CO2 for this cocktail – as it was topped off with beer, adding CO2 would have had the whole concoction foaming all over the place. This was served with a beef rendang and pineapple slider.

At the end, he asked us which was our favourite. The majority vote was for the Miramar Fizzy Pop, so he offered us another round of these! We staggered out somewhat woozily and caught an Uber home.




Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Che Burger

We’re onto the final day of Wellington On A Plate – the last chance to grab a burger. We decide to head out to somewhere local. Both Café Polo and The Larder are usually packed out on weekend lunchtimes, so we head a little (but not far) off the beaten track, to Franziska in Seatoun.

We were fortunate in arriving ahead of the rush, as, although only one table was occupied when we arrived, the place was full by the time we left. Franziska’s offering is the Che Burger: beef patty with fried egg, cheese and chimichurri mayo in a housemade bun, with fries. The Garage Project beer match is Hāpi Daze, which is a great beer. It looked like this:


It fell open as I took the picture. D’oh! So what’s not apparent from this is how tall the burger is, nor how thick the patty: This was going to be a knife and fork job from the word go. In we tucked. The cheese was melted over the burger, and the egg cooked enough so that the yolk didn’t drip all over the place, but was still liquid (just). Due to the thickness of the patty there was a hint of underdone-ness in the middle. A minor cavil is that those aren’t fries, they’re sauté potatoes, and weren’t crispy. Not that I ate much of them – the carb to protein ratio here was somewhat out of whack, with a dense bready bun as well. A good concept, but could have been executed better. I scored it a 6.