Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Whatever Happened To Summer

It looks like Mother Nature has given Wellington a miss this year..It isn't so much the rain that has been a problem but the incessant driving wind that rattles and shakes everything and interfereswith the garden producing its usual abundance of summer vegetables and fruit. We wistfully yearn for the sunshine, the warm days and nights and the cravings for ice cream. Hopefully it is just round the corner, a little late but planning to pack all its resources into a magical February, March and April. In spite of being somewhat windswept the garden is looking suprisingly good at the moment.

There's nothing nicer on a beautiful afternoon than to sit outside with a cuppa and a piece of Jan's yummy baking and take in the view, the cruise ships and ferries coming and going, or maybe watch the sunset light up the evening sky. Our guests often take dinner outside, having discovered the local fish and chip shop, Chinese takeaway and Indian restaurant just a minute or two up the road. There is a bottle shop too where they can pick up a bottle of good NZ wine, a beer or spirits and bring them back to enjoy here. Those wanting a sit down meal have  only to drive for 5 minutes to be able to choose from 36 restaurants in Jackson Street, Petone, just a block back from the waterfront. Our favourite is La Bella Italia, a superb Italian restaurant, operated by an Italian family who have been in the food business for generations. There are many ethnic cuisines represented in Jackson Street,also a couple of good pubs where the food is generous and affordably priced. Another 15 minutes drive will take you into the heart of Wellington where there are said to be more restaurants per head of population that anywhere in the world. Generally the food in Wellington is excellent, a  critic's bad review will have them out of business in no time so the standard is consistently high.There are also many boutique breweries to see and 'taste'.
We are always happy to host our guests for a typical Kiwi meal by prior arrangement, and can cater to company reps or single travellers with a plate of 'whatever we are having' that night'....also by prior arrangement. We had guests from  the USA here for a meal the other day and served them delicious fresh South Island salmon. After several weeks of travelling and eating out at restaurants all over the country our guests relish the thought of a nice meal without having to go out for it, and enjoy the company and conversation. And we enjoy it too, we meet so many interesting people from all walks of life and from all over the world.
Here is a recipe for one of the desserts Jan makes to serve with dinner. We have fresh lemons on our lemon tree ripe for the picking and she has made this recipe for years .It came originally from a book by Delia Smith and has been changed very little over the years. It has become a firm family favourite.


200g butter                                               1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essesnce                   2 cups flour

Process butter in the food processor till soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and whizz until just crumbly. Combine by hand. Chill for 30 minutes then roll out and line a tart tin. Bake blind at 180 degrees C till  the base is just cooked, about 15 minutes.

270ml lemon juice                                    170 g caster sugar
zest of 6 lemons                                         6 eggs
200 ml cream

Blitz the eggs and sugar together for a few seconds in the food processor. Add the juice and zest, then the cream. Blitz briefly again and pour into a jug. Take the jug to the pastry base in the oven and carefully pour it in. Bake 170 degrees C for about 30 minutes or until set. Dust with icing sugar to serve. Delicious with a scoop of ice cream or a blob of whipped cream.