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Seasquirt

The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for Food

Ready, Steady Cook

As we are currently in Chiang Mai, we decided to follow all the other thousands of tourists who take a cooking class here. We duly booked into a half day course and were ‘picked-up’ (read collected on foot) and taken to our cooking school (5 mins round the corner, 10 mins late).

We started with a quick tour round the local market - lots of exciting looking fruit and veg, some rank smelling meat and some fish flapping around on the concrete floor. Very intriguing. We were introduced to four types of aubergine (none purple), four gingers, and three basil - who knew such variety existed?!

Back at the school we prepared four different dishes under the instruction of two entertaining teachers. First up was Phad Thai (yummy) followed by Tom Yum Soup (hot, spicy, kind of nice), Tofu and cashew (v yummy), and Green curry, from scratch (v yummy, if a little spicy for my still-delicate taste buds!!). So, all round to ours for some nice Thai cooking when we get back (might have to find a useful shop for ingredients first though)!

Budding chefs:

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The finished product:

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‘Tis the season to be jolly

Well, actually in NZ it feels like completely the wrong season mostly - all a bit too warm and sunny. On Christmas day the weather did its best though - it was very wet and rather chilly for quite a lot of it. We did, however, manage a walk to look at the Fox glacier before the clouds burst again. The glacier is pretty impressive, although it perhaps might have been more so if we could see the big mountains that were obscured by cloud in the background. Ah well.

For Christmas we both got flip flops as our previous pairs had sadly passed away over the last couple of weeks - very distressing, especially for mine which have been with me for a good number of years and a few travels - Reef flip flops therefore highly recommended.

We treated ourselves to a buffet style lunch full of our favourite things at a nice picnic spot in the rain, with an almost constant stream of campervans and cars driving past, though there were nice views when the rain stopped. We had a lovely, yummy Christmas cake that Nicola had very kindly provided, and we even got a twinkling Christmas tree for 97c (about 30p) courtesy of The Warehouse in Queenstown “Where everyone gets a bargain” - apparently this is true!

After checking out our planned camp for the evening and finding it was in fact a car park, and busy as well, we headed along the road and found a nice little grassy spot where we had our Christmas dinner - for those interested this consisted of “Marinated Aubergine Steak”, “Sauteed garlic mushrooms and capsicum” and new potatoes glazed with butter. Delicious. This was rounded off with a rather nice white wine from Gisborne, NZ.

Hope you all had an equally lovely day.

Tourist sheep

During our travels we have noticed a curious phenomenon - tourists behave rather like sheep.

Let me explain: on our second day in our new camper van we approached Lake Pukaki - a beautiful blue lake with Mt Cook behind. We pulled into a small side road, parked and stopped to admire the view. Unfortunately, our van was visible from the main road and before long ten other vehicles followed our lead and our seclusion was gone.

Now, this irked me slightly - it was our spot! But I did feel even more sorry for a German couple prancing about on the shoreline. They were about to enjoy a private skinny dip in the glacial waters - a brave event under any circumstances. They modestly glanced up to confirm their privacy before the final bit of their undressing and looked slightly surprised to see 20 people staring at them. Oh dear!

Being German, they carried on regardless and even filmed the event. Marvellous stuff. What would we do without Germans?

We first noticed this phenomenon in Mexico (the sheep thing, not naked Germans - we noticed them a long time ago). Being vegetarian we would choose our restaurant based on whether it served something we could eat rather than any qualitative assessments. So we’d sit down in a completely empty establishment of entirely mediocre quality and before long it would be full of gringos not enjoying their meat.

The Land of the Long White Cloud

We’re in New Zealand! The nice Quarantine people at the airport did indeed clean our boots for us! Over the last few days we’ve been enjoying the fine hospitality provided by Justin and Nicola, friends from the Polar Star.

We have seen the sights of Christchurch - in places like a clone of Oxford and Cambridge (you can even go punting). We have been welcomed by the numerous species of European birds which were introduced by the early settlers to make us feel at home. This has been a successful enterprise, we do indeed feel at home, but now I have a hankering for something of a more native persuasion.

I found a lovely model of the MS Explorer in the Antarctic department of the Christchurch museum. It was labelled “A Historic Tourist Ship” - the label now needs a little updating with its recent demise, but is largely correct.

Yesterday we had a lovely drive on the Banks Peninsula and enjoyed several tiny Hector’s Dolphins, some wonderful scenery and some very nice food (there’s even a cheese shop!).

We’re off to collect our new campervan home in a few minutes. Must fly…

Melbourne to Port Fairy

Over the last few days we have been visiting Melbourne, and were kindly taken in by Ameera - a doctor from OpWall. We actually kicked her out of her lovely new house, which was very kind of her!

Melbourne was very bad for our waistlines (well mine, Chris is skinny as ever) as we managed to wander from cafe to chocolate shop whilst trying to avoid the rain - all very European and yummy. Ameera took us for a tour of the Dandenong Ranges just outside the city where we managed to see some Lyrebirds, and devour more tasty food.

After a couple of days in the city we headed along the Great Ocean Road (after renting a car in the city and managing to avoid scary hook turns where you stay in a left lane to turn right!). The coastal views were as amazing as promised - lots of big waves and funky limestone geology.

We stayed in a lovely little place called Port Fairy and went for a night time stroll to a small island where Short-tailed Shearwaters flew overhead and occasionally squawked at us.

I continued in my mammal spotting and saw lots of Koalas hanging out in trees - some were having cuddles - all very cute. I did get scared when one of them started making weird noises from the ground behind me - wasn’t sure if koalas were prone to viciously attacking humans (yes, I’m a wuss).

We are now enjoying the sights of Sydney - it’s so big! Blue Mountains tomorrow though…

Australians won’t give a XXXX for anything else

Whilst in the supermarket, we decided to treat ourselves to a beer (to take away that is!). I headed for the off licence and perused the fridge section which only seemed to contain alcopops and premixed spirits. I obviously looked a bit lost and bemused as a shop assistant asked if he could help - I asked him if they had a fridge with beers - he pointed me through a door. Much to my amusement, this turned out to be a huge freezer room with crates of beer as far as the eye could see! I managed to select a couple of nice sounding bottles (which were nice). And had to send Chris to experience the way Ozzies do beer!

Crooked Tree, Crooked Tree

Fiona with her long and strongly felt love of the cashew nut was desperate to get to the location of the famous Cashew Fest in the village of Crooked Tree.  As it happens, Crooked Tree is in the middle of an internationally important area for birds so I was happy to go there too.

We spent a couple of nights in this sleepy little village wandering the trails and admiring the birds and cashew trees. I particularly liked a tiny bit of marsh that had Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis’, Great White Egret, Snowy Egret, Green-backed Heron, Bare-faced Tiger-Heron and Northern Jacana all feeding together.

Fiona liked the spoonbill because it was pink.

We also saw the Prothonatory Warbler, notable simply because of its ridiculous name. Marvelous. I don’t even know what prothonatory means can anyone enlighten me?

We searched the shops for Cashews but too no avail (actually, we searched for the shops too - they were camouflaged as houses - this is a local village for local people). Cashew season is May apparently. Only when we were disembarking the bus in Belize City did Fiona spy what she was looking for. She accosted an poor man who was off to market and just happened to have a large bag of cashews. Purchase made, Fiona was happy.

A break from the norm

We spent the night in Puerto Cortes - the only thing of interest was a nice Parque Central so after 15 minutes we searched for alternative entertainment. We chanced across a cinema - Ocean’s 13 was billed, and it was in English! Before the show we needed feeding. It was a sleepy Sunday and all that was open was fast food joints so we succombed. One chicken place even had veggie food.

The cinema was funny - 30 Lempiras (75 p) took us into the pitch black room where we had to find a seat by feel. The film was fun, but the sound quality was awful. I don’t suppose it matters if all you are interested in is the subtitles.

Afterwards we needed pudding so headed to the only likely place - Pizza Hut. We ordered a small pizza and a couple of deserts assuming the young waiter would work out our order of requirements. Needless to say he didn’t and we got our meal backwards.

I think the waiter was as amused by us as we were by him.

Food or Sea?

Whilst eating our lunch on a Caribbean beach, I noticed Chris had finished and was gazing longingly out to sea having finished his small portion of food (I´m sure most of you know how important food is to him). Much to my amusement I successfully guessed the dilemma he was faced with - if he went for a swim it might seem a bit rude since I was still eating, it also meant (more importantly) that he might miss out on the chance of scavenging some extra food from me. He decided to stay and this decision paid off as he was able to successfully beg some scraps from my plate!

We bothhad a very pleasant post-lunch splash around afterwards!

El Paraiso

For our last week with OpWall we treated ourselves to a trip to the coast, staying in a very posh hotel that was taken over by us lot for the week - it was a lovely little place, newly done up, with swimming pool, idyllic Caribbean views and hanging beds in the garden (oh and hot showers and laundry). All was pretty much perfect, with the exception of having to entertain some spoilt, cotton-wool covered public school kids (who happily slated us staff in their reviews, so this is just revenge!). They weren´t even excited when Smammal Sarah caught an Opossum, or when Chris showed them some Hummingbirds and Woodpeckers, hrmph.

So, enough of them. The food was another change at this ´camp´ - it was delicious, although not very timely and in quite small quantities (didn´t bother me, but the others were left feeling unsatisfied). We managed to supplement the meagre portions with mangoes and coconuts that were kind enough to drop from nearby trees. We also made the very exciting discovery of chocobananas - frozen banana halves on a stick, covered in chocolate - delicious, satisfying, vaguely healthy and very cheap (1 Lempira each = 4p!!!). Will definitely have to give these a go on our return home.

Oh, and the other excitement of this ´paradise´was a long distance viewing of some Manatees that lazily surfaced every now and again from a distant shore. Lovely.

Unfortunately we had to return to base camp for a couple of days before finally leaving OpWall and the forest behind, although having said that it was kind of nice to be back for the last few days, even if database duties got a bit hectic towards the end…

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