Saturday, July 6, 2013

Puttering About in Parnell

Auckland Skyline from Parnell Rise
After a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, and a couple of buttered crumpets, we set out into a sunny morning, and walked up the Parnell Rise a mile or so to the French Market, next to La Cigale.  It was fairly quiet when we arrived, perhaps just the locals were there, picking up their organic produce. A great selection of the usual suspects was on 
display, so far as vegetables go, with a few new to us, as well. There were also some phenomenal breads, regional honeys, duck and goose liver parfaits, olives stuffed with dozens of ingredients, fresh oysters whole or shucked, fish fresh from the sea, or cooked in fresh pressed oil with macadamia coating. It was wonderful.

We grabbed a cup of coffee from a crew who proclaimed themselves "Coffee Gods" - they may have been right. Sampled all sorts of things that struck our fancy, and ended up dropping a bit of cash on some amazing honey with a bold flavor from the Puhoi Bush, sold by a Kenyan expat. We sampled some stuffed olives, but couldn't determine our favorites, so we had to have the nice young fellow mix us a container full of every type they made. The feta-stuffed sweet chili peppers at the next booth over were marvelous, as well, but we passed on acquiring a kilo or two. La Cigale's cheese shop was pushing a soft, rather sharp, cheese that we really should have taken home, but we didn't want to commit too soon, you know. Bought a fresh baguette, and a takeaway box of the famous seafood paella, and headed back down the hill to eat our lunch.

Just outside our apartment
Stopped at a rather tony little wine shop called Caro's and picked up a bottle of Squawking Magpie's Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay - the photo on facebook in front of Liquor Land was just for fun - this time. Ate the paella for lunch, and I'm afraid I have to say I've had better at home in Idaho's Basque country, but it was a worthy effort nonetheless.

Maori Cultural Presentation
The weather was looking great, so we threw a few more items in my backpack to prepare for a ferry ride to Waiheke Island and a day spent tramping about there. By the time we walked down to the Ferry Building, though, it had clouded over once more, and the prospect of spending a day outdoors in the rain made no sense, so we hopped on a bus (an excellent and reasonably priced way to get about Auckland) up the hill past Parnell again to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Entry to the museum is NZD, but do not hesitate to splurge on the additional $25 to see the Maori Cultural Presentation, should you ever get the chance. We had arrived about a half hour before the show, so we "wasted" a bit of time looking at the Moana - My Ocean exhibit - the 3D underwater film is best viewed from the bean bag chairs, just shove those children out of the way.
technically free, though the suggested donation is $10

Waka Waka!
The cultural presentation was done by a professional group affiliated with the museum, and they demonstrated traditional weapons training, Maori games, music and singing. I should have taken notes, but Michele did get some videos to capture the experience. We focused on seeing everything in the Maori section - the intricacy of the carvings on nearly everything, even everyday use items, was very impressive. We also caught a performance of the Ellenbrook Secondary College Senior Choir on tour from Western Australia in the rotunda (we heard singing, and Michele could not resist the siren song), checked out the Boer Wars, WWI and WWII collections, the Hillary Trail detailing Everest's summitting, and a great exhibit on volcanos which included some Mt. St Helens footage for those of you from the Northwest who lived through it.

Japanese Zero - with an oil leak, just like a Harley
Stepped out of the museum around closing time, and got to see a bit of a cricket match in the Auckland Domain (think Central Park without crackheads) and then wandered back to the bus stop for a trip back to the CBD. Went to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner back at the apartment. Our lovely hostess departed on a tramping expedition in the morning, and left us the entire apartment to ourselves for the rest of the weekend, so we decided to stay in and cook rather than dine out, especially since we were looking forward to enjoying some of our morning's purchases. Bought a seafood medley and some Nando's Peri Peri lemon herb marinade, and ended up sautéing that together with some steamed broccoli, baguettes and a Waimata Taepo brie cheese, accompanied by chardonnay and followed at last with a pain au chocolate.

And he fades off into the sunset...or melts into the chaise lounge.

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