the ablution block

29 May 2006

Gorillas in the Bistro

I was busy enjoying a fantastic meal on Saturday night, with my gorgeous girl, at the Boulcott Street Bistro while everyone else was watching a gray TV screen.  ‘Twas our first meal out since Frankie entered the world (we were also there a couple of days before his due date).

A couple of nice pale ales for me (Hopsmacker, which was tasting particularly nice, and a Little Creatures) and a couple of marvelous minty cocktails for Fritha.  The menu was superb, and the offerings totally did it justice.
My picks:
  • Jerusalem artichoke soup with wild mushroom tortellini.

  • Courgette, rocket and basil risotto with mozarella stuffed aubergine.

  • Pear, Honey and Lime Sponge with caramelised pear ice cream.
And Fritha's:
  • Jerusalem artichoke soup with wild mushroom tortellini.

  • Herb and pepper crusted salmon with creamed sweetcorn and red capsicum.

  • Profilteroles, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

I can’t recommend the place enough.  I’ve long thought that the Boulcott Street Bistro is the best restaurant in town and Saturday night was spot on.  Great food, drinks, service, price and the absolutely the best company.

Meanwhile, a pea soup was descending upon Christchurch.  Gorrillas in the mist.  The Hurricanes missed, and they didn’t hit the lynch mob either.  Oh well, boys, better luck next time.  I hope the after-match fog has lifted.


28 May 2006

Mornin' Yawnin'

Everyone likes a good stretch in the morning and our wee-un is no different. Loads of back arching, with his bum right out and his shoulders back, is the way he likes to get into shape for his first bottle.

Here he is, a much contented boy after that first bottle, showing Wendy exactly how it should be done. She's not paying full attention though, as she's more interested in working out when it is that he'll vacate that warm sheepskin rug...

24 May 2006

Man Alone

Ed Hillary, probably the most famous New Zealander ever, has spoken out about consumer climbing.  I very much agree with some of his sentiments, especially that the ‘attitude towards climbing Mt Everest has become rather horrifying’.  However, I disagree with his statement that the climbers ‘don't give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress’.

Hillary, who ‘had it in his veins’, was climbing as part of a team.  Most of the current climbers are individuals that just happen to be climbing the same mountain together.  They are generally extroverted folk that are doing it for the back slap and the story, or for commercial gain.  It’s the poor man’s equivalent of paying for a trip into space.  This is very clearly illustrated in Jon Krakauer’s fascinating account of the 1996 climbing season, in Into Thin Air.

When I go tramping, I do so either alone or with friends who are up to the particular challenge.  We are equipped to handle whatever situation may arise and are aware of the consequences and escape scenarios should something go wrong.  We are tramping as a team.  Climbing trips are mostly still conducted in the same manner, as a solo or team adventure.  Everest, on the other hand, is not a mountain climber’s mountain – it is a commercial summit for a tourist’s adventure.  Anyone who heads up there knows this and needs to deal with that fact by being able to get up and down alone. As Krakauer tells us, this mountain ‘deals with trespassers harshly’.

There is enough to feel sorry about, without feeling sorry for a “tourist” who dies after having spent over NZ$100,000 to climb a mountain.  That money is paid as an entry pass, not an assurance.

21 May 2006

Brew Day: Southerly Steamer

A cool southerly greeted the first all-grain brew at Wigtoft Villa, a Californian Common (aka Steam Beer) brewed by Brendon and Stu - the Liberty brew team.

The recipe utilised pale malt, a touch each of crystal and maris otter, plus fresh Sauvin and Pacific Hallertau hops, direct from the Motueka hop harvest. Wyeast's Bohemian lager yeast was fermented at ale temperatures, in the Californian Steam style. The resulting "ale" is a fruity, mildly bitter, California Common (aka Steam Beer).

The finished product, which has just been bottled, looks a little hazy but initial tastings seem very drinkable - good pale ale sweetness, soft esters, a creamy mouthfeel, and a fruity mild bitterness. Seems like a perfect beer for a warm spring afternoon, though I doubt it will last that long!


15 May 2006

The Mother's Day, Wigtoft, May 2006

A particularly happy man, a rambunctious little monster, and a contented wee dog, live in a gorgeous seaside house with this, most amazingly talented, beautiful mother. You make our hearts sing Fritha Burgin... lover, mother, master... xxx.


You'll Never Walk Alone

Frankie can't take his eyes of the celebrations as Liverpool take out another thriling final. Like last year's remarkable Champion's League did, this one's going down as one of the greatest cup finals ever. For this wee man, it was just another day in the villa (albeit a busy one, with 17 hungry bodies in Wigtoft for Mother's Day). You'll never walk alone, son.

Father and son sport Liverpool FC shirts, both courtesy of Uncle Todd.

09 May 2006

April Beer of the Month: Goose Island Honker's Ale

April sees me back in the brewery and trying quite a few of my own beers. That and family-life keep me quiet on the beer hunting scene. Life is good but the beer selection is up and down. The beer of the month, Goose Island Honker’s Ale, is a solidly world class ale - an American interpretation of the classic English strong pale ale.

My notes (also posted at ratebeer):

Tasted 16/04/2006. 330ml bottle from Rumble’s, Wellington. Pale copper, bright, lightly carbonated, with a foamy light-tan head that laces a little but doesn’t linger for long. Barley sugars and nutty grain on the nose, a hint of citrus and an appealing, faint and slightly musty, yeast note. Dry toffee-like malt up front, in the mouth, with a mild lolly sweetness. This is followed by citrus hop flavour and a strong, pepper and grass, bitterness. The malt profile holds all the way through the bitter finish. Slightly hard water but not quite as much as some English pales, like Taylor’s Landlord. Soft-medium carbonation in the mouth, medium weight. Great beer, well crafted. A classic strong pale ale, which I’m surprised hasn’t scored more strongly on Ratebeer. Perhaps a little too subtle for the US market. 4.3/5.

Other notables beers (marks out of 5, in brackets) from an up and down beer month in March:

  • Goose Island IPA (3.9)
  • Mort Subite Gueuze Lambic (3.7)
  • Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale (3.2)
All notes, as always, at yalnikim on ratebeer.

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You Can't Beat Wellington...

Another perfect day in Wellington.  Glassy harbour and a crisp autumnal morning calmness.  Wendy’s putting some weight on her lame leg, Frankie’s moving about on his play mat and mummy has just made me a perfect coffee…