Seafood Platter at Carey’s Bay Hotel

I had a little nearly mid-winter treat last night – YD and her friend, tLK and I went out to dinner at a beautiful and historic old pub about 15 minutes from town in a little bay just past the big industrial wharf of Port Chalmers.  YD had somehow scored herself – and us – a free bottle of Riverstone Sauvignon Blanc to accompany the meal.

None of us had been there for years – the last time I went was to have lunch with a couple of friends in the garden of the pub.  The food was okay and the service slow, but seated at the next table over were Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth and we spent the entire lunch admiring and eaves-dropping and wishing she would just up and sing……….. but as it was only us and them, that never happened.

Since then the pub has undergone a transformation – the garden is now covered in and heated by huge gas heaters and you can dine in it even in the middle of winter.  The service is a million times better and the food has upped its game a gizillion fold since Cleo and Johnny sat in the garden with their fried cheese sandwiches and bottle of best  NZ Pinot Noir – I told you we eaves-dropped!

The reason we were heading for Carey’s Bay was the seafood.  The pub is famous for it. But, like I said, none of us had actually been there for a long time. There had been a lot of discussion prior to the event on whether the fish platter was  an actual platter or a basket – YD being set on having the platter – so it was relief all round when she announced during the drive that it was indeed a platter as she had checked on line.

YD has an absolute fetish about fish platters.  I think she has tried most of the platters available in restaurants both locally and nationally – and even in parts of England and Australia.  She likes New Zealand fish the most and locally caught fish best of all.

YD likes fish.  She especially likes fish platters.  Fish baskets, not so much.

Personally, I didn’t care nearly so much, it was just such a treat to go to this lovely old pub with these two lovelies and have a good meal and share a [free] bottle of wine.

We arrived and parked in front of the hotel, right on the waters edge.  The night was calm and almost mild.  The lights twinkled beguilingly on the water and the waves lapped at the moorings of the fishing boats.  The stone pub stood stolidly on its ground, through the lit windows fires sparked and patrons sat in groups talking quietly over their drinks or meals.

Two elderly ladies sat by themselves in the smallest bar, at a small table right in front of a roaring open fire.  A large, heavy silver teapot sat on the table between them as they talked earnestly together.  They were still there when we left……….

We took our seats in the enclosed garden restaurant close to a roaring gas heater and entered into a complex discussion on whether to have the fish platter or some other offering.

Eventually it was decided that we would indulge in a small shared entree, a selection of delicacies available as mains.  In this way, other tastes might be sampled and the fish platter still be loyally adhered to.

When the entree arrived it looked to be enough to feed us all adequately with no need for anything else.  But we had already ordered our main courses……….

The selection was delicious and we took our time over it, sipping on our wine and swapping stories of our doings since last we had all met.

Eventually the main courses were carried out.  I say carried, but really the server needed a horse and cart to get it to us and we needed a much larger table to accommodate it!

There were gasps all round and cries of both wonder and horror conjoined – tLK and I shared many theories on how YD would manage her platter  – and even YD, it must be said, looked somewhat stunned for a few moments.

Careys Bay 1 June 13

This is the platter!

Careys Bay 2 June 13

In the background is tLK’s seafood broth and the Contented Crafter’s fish of the day and salad with a bowl of fries on the side.  The rest all belongs to YD.

YD pretty much ate all of it!

YD is 5’9′ tall and 140ibs.

It’s really not fair…………

If you  are in this neck of the woods, take a trip out to Port and on to Carey’s Bay Pub.  You won’t be sorry – but share the fish platter with someone you love.

Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life ….

You know how I’ve made this life style change in as far as food goes …… well, there’s been an interesting outcome – apart from all the benefits I’ve mentioned in another post and I’ve made a discovery!

And just to remind you, this is what I’ve done:  12 weeks ago I gave up on sugar and wheat.  This meant I had to make all my own food to ensure I wasn’t taking in all those hidden additives and I also haven’t eaten any fruit the whole time.  I’ve been very wary of high sugar vegetables too – potatoes have rarely made it to the plate for instance – concentrating instead on leafy greens, home-made sprouted seeds and the like.

I’ve loved it, and the results have been so spectacular that I have no intention of reverting to my old habits.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that I haven’t missed my old friends – bread, buns, fried chicken, chocolate, ice-cream, fries, crisps.  Pasta and potatoes have been replaced with brown rice, quinoa and lentils. .A staple foodstuff has been chicken soup the way grandma used to make it,  and my daily diet mostly consists of my old friends those cheese and oat cakes mentioned in another earlier post and a variety of salads.

On two occasions in these twelve weeks I found I wanted something sweet – and wandered over to inspect the fridge, the freezer and the pantry.  Finding nothing, I drank a glass of water and, getting out of my own way, forgot about it.

But after the initial detox period of eight weeks you are supposed to gently reintroduce fruit back into your life.  I’ve been slow to do this for a couple of reasons.  One is I’m scared.  I don’t want to undo the good that has been done.  I don’t want to live in a sore and painful body again, I don’t want to risk regaining the inflammation and weight that has so miraculously disappeared.  So for three weeks I conveniently forgot to purchase some fruit from the market and carried on as usual.

But I found a yummy and healthy sweet recipe – something for those times when you just want a little something extra – and thought I might have a go at it.  In place of sugar it uses pear syrup, so I duly went on-line and purchased a bottle of organic pear syrup, guaranteed to be nothing but and therefore free of those nasty things that scare me.

When it arrived I took the cap off and removed that little plasticky cover from the top. It had a film of pear syrup on it.  I ran my finger over that plasticky cover and put my finger in my mouth.

A few moments later I removed myself from the ceiling and, holding the top of my head firmly in place, gathered my wits about me and said to Orlando “Wow!”

My palate was buzzing with flavours and sweetness and layers and layers of summer memories.  It kept on buzzing for at least a half hour.  The taste in my mouth would ease back and then zoom up again.  I gave myself over to the extraordinary sensation of experiencing a natural sugar high.  I wandered if this is what it is like for a heroin addict – you know the effect of that first shot that they try to recreate by using again and again.  [Have I just discovered the cure for drug addiction?  You can only use once every three months if you want the high!]

So this is my discovery:  ‘Sweet’ is not found in our daily intake of sugar in all its disguises.

This is my suggestion:  Remove sugar from your diet – and all those nasty pretend sweeteners also – live your life for three months, then stick your finger into some natural fruit syrup and taste it.  Then you will understand what ‘sweet’ is.

I tell you, an orchestra will play, violins will soar through your palate, cellos will hold the base-note, and a soprano will trill her high C’s through the top of your head!

And I know you will join with me and holler “Wow!” as you remove yourself from your ceiling…….

.Now go listen to the other post – it’s all in there!

Thanks for dropping by and have a great day…………

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks ………

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

here’s a quick lead in:

The book ‘I Quit Sugar’ by Sara Wilson arrived [a late Christmas present] I read it and found myself nodding my head in agreement and really excited about the fact that this could be the road I’ve been searching for.

Now I’m a ‘mature’ woman [chuckle] hell, I’m 63 heading fast towards 64.  I will add, however immodest it may be, that on a good day I look at the very  least 10 years younger and feel timeless. But for the past ten years I’ve been struggling with weight gain despite a relatively healthy diet – my only weakness is for salty foods, I can devour a large packet of crisps in a day when given the opportunity ……………

I’m mostly vegetarian, can’t eat large quantities and don’t have the income or the wish to make fast foods part of my life style. Yet my body is inflamed, often sore and stiff and various attempts at dieting yield at best a loss of up to five kilos before zooming back up to, or beyond, where I started.  My daughter, a very clever trainee alternative nutritionist, has always thought the problem was inflammation and gave me Sara’s book as a possible way forward.

And what an excellent gift it has turned out to be.

I have been catapulted back to the 70’s when I was a novice ‘greenie’ and almost everything my children ate was grown and/or made by my fair hands.  I belonged to one of the first co-ops in the country, ‘Culpeper’s Herbal’ was my bible and Monday was baking day.

Late Summer was the time when everything in sight was preserved or prepared for the freezer [I remember the immense feeling of satisfaction  as I surveyed the gleaming rows of jars brim full with peaches, apricots, pears and anything else that had arrived into my kitchen].  I can see it all so clearly and I feel the sense of accomplishment, of pride and pleasure and satisfaction that young mother had …………… [the fact that those jars of preserves were laden with sugar shall be glossed over at this point – and I dread to think how much sugar all the hundreds of jars of jams and pickles and chutneys that came out of my kitchen contained.]

My kids didn’t eat sweets until they went to school and the real world intruded into my back to nature idyll.  The years passed, and life happened and I gave up baking on Mondays and preserving at the end of every summer.  I went back to work, got divorced, my kids grew up, more life happened and I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago and flung myself happily back into the world of creating my own food from scratch.

It wasn’t completely straight forward though – first I had to sort the kitchen.

I moved into my little flat about two years ago, and so disinterested had I become in kitchen related activities that wherever items had gone on arrival, there they had stayed.  For instance,  for two years now I have rummaged about in three different cupboards when making my breakfast!  So, obviously the first job was to sort all that out and find the whereabouts of the ignored appliances that would now be necessary to aid me in making pumpkin puree, nut butters, humus and other tasty treats.  I also decided to remove any and all foodstuffs that could no longer be part of my personal food chain.  That was interesting!  I read labels – some for the first time – and out went a load of ‘healthy’ options.  This process reawakened the impulse to be in charge of what goes into my food – also interesting this time I wasn’t doing it for the welfare of my children I was doing it for my own good.  Yay me!

Clearing out meant cleaning too – so everything was scrubbed from top to bottom.  Obviously once everything was rearranged and clean some new interior decor was also called for – I remade and re-purposed furiously – every activity lead me on to a new good idea and so it grew and grew.  My open plan kitchen decor spilled over into the living area – which spilled over into my craft room……. which is now uninhabitable as it holds the remnants of curtain making, old or re-purposed cushion covers, rejected items from the old decor and a plethora of odds and sods that somehow turned up in kitchen cupboards that should never have been there.

I indulged my anal-retentive streak and labelled everything with my previously under used ‘Dymo’ label maker.  I spent a happy evening sorting all the herb and spice jars – emptying out the stuff that was a gizillion years old and refilling with new and wonderfully aromatic spices required to make the delicious and moreish ‘spicy activated nut’ snacks and other goodies.

The frenzy of decorating was interrupted only by the kitchen activities of creating the pantry basics necessary for my new life style.  The previously mentioned pumpkin puree and spicy activated nuts were joined by salt and vinegar almonds, chicken stockone chicken

Chicken Stock

made a huge amount of stock, some of which made a very tasty and healing soup [chicken soup for the soul springs to mind] which got me through the two days of mild detox that hit mid week…..

I can’t even remember all the things I made, I know I have begun experimenting with versions of my oldie but goodie recipe of ‘cheese and oat cakes‘ which has accompanied me through the last forty years – as I’ve given up bread for now I need something to replace that particular comfort food.  I already was growing my own fresh alfalfa sprouts and upped that out-put.  I have a jar of spring onions in water [an idea found on pinterest] that gives an endless supply of  fresh herb and I added in potted mint, parsley and rosemary to my windowsill.

Orlando has not been forgotten in all this make-over frenzy.  His favourite perch is the windowsill at the back of the cooker where he could peer over the cafe curtain and keep an eye on the comings and goings of the neighbourhood.  The cafe curtain has been removedOrlando at window and a space made so he can now sit on the window sill and not on the cooker [which has been an often fraught and frantic activity, of which more later if you are interested].

I realise I don’t care if I lose weight or not from this new lifestyle.  I am full of energy and renewed interest in my kitchen…………….. and I just realised the operative verb is ‘life-style’  not ‘diet’ ……. my contentment grows and spreads 🙂