It's been a wee while since I wrote here. Lots has been happening and I've had little time to reflect on what exactly that has been. But now, I'm taking the time to put something up I've had floating about in my head for a while.
In early February my parents gave me a birthday present. Unfortunately, they weren't here and I wasn't there with them. So instead of a book or something else, they gave me an experience. I was to find either a cooking class or sailing trip that could be made into a weekend away and they would pay. After searching about on the internet, I settled on the Akaroa Cooking School. A relatively new business in Akaroa on the other side of the Banks Peninsula from Christchurch. We found ourselves a cute little cottage to stay in, through Kokopu Estates and we were set.
After coming home from work Friday afternoon, we spent some time racking the leaves and packing our bags. Finally, we got into our (new) car and headed out of town towards Akaroa. It's about a 2 hour drive, and unfortunately, we left with not quite enough time to get there in the light. So we spent a good 10 minutes driving around in the dark before we found the right road up behind Akaroa and discovered our cosy little cottage beside a wee creek. We unloaded our weekend supplies (telescope, quilting, food and clothes) and made our way back into town to find some dinner. After a delicious meal at an Italian restaurant, we set up the telescope and spent the night staring up at the stars.
[Kokopu Cottage - our home away from home for the weekend]
[Consulting the star chart to locate our next destination for the telescope]
The next day we relaxed. We wandered along the beach in Akaroa, found some food for dinner that night, discovered the wood-fired bath and made use of it and, ultimately, we relaxed. It was a gloriously sunny day, with Bell birds singing all around us, the babbling brook laughing along and the ripe apples and feijoas just falling into our hands asking to be eaten. In the evening, we cooked up some local salmon with a tasty feijoa salad and some couscous, then climbed into bed to make sure we were well rested for our busy day of cooking ahead.
The next morning, after packing up, we arrived at the cooking school at 10am in time to imbibe in a lovely breakfast tart and learn about what we were to be cooking that day. From rhubarb to lamb, sorbet to smoking, we were going to do a lot of cooking. We put on our aprons and got right into it. We began by making up the chocolate sorbet so it would have enough time to cool. Then we moved onto the beetroot relish for a later dish. Finally, we made up some delicious poached rhubarb with a nut crumble and greek yoghurt. This was matched for our tasting pleasure with a nice glass of sparkling local wine. Then it was onto a wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil and yummy parmesean. After enjoying a plateful of this (with some really nice red wine), we went outside to hot smoke some salmon. This was made along with yoghurt and a lentil salad. Throughout the loveliness of making these tasty dishes we talked about food, starting and owning a food business and the joys of being your own boss (along with the more difficult bits). The entree dish we created was roasted lamb loin with a kumara puree (lots and lots of butter is the secret here), served with a herby mayonnaise, beetroot relish, and some steamed greens. Another delicious wine pairing later, we stumbled back into the kitchen to finish our day off. Chocolate sorbet (made at the start), berry compote and chocolate molten cake to be precise. All washed down with a tasty glass of locally made port. Fully satiated and feeling just a little bit torpid, we waddled out along the beach to recover for our drive home.
[Not only was there lots of food being created, but some great conversation too]
[Hot smoked salmon with Greek Yoghurt served on top of a puy lentil and spinach salad]
[Roasted lamb loin with kumara puree, beetroot relish, herb mayonnaise and veges]
[One plate of chocolatey goodness]
Once we had recovered enough, we drove up the hill and decided to take the scenic route home. Up along Summit Road, it takes a little longer, but the views were absolutely fantastic. One side of the hills were bright and sun filled while the other seemed to boil over with cloud. We stopped and watched at one point, where the clouds poured over a saddle and down into the adjacent valley. Eventually, we made our way home and went to bed without any dinner.
[The view Northwest along Summit Road]
Thank you mom and dad, it was an absolutely wonderful weekend.