Café culture

Athfield Havana Bond (19 October 2015)

Athfield Havana Bond (19 October 2015)

Architect Ian Athfield died on 16 January this year. In the New Zealand Listener (dated the day before), Diana Wichtel presented an engaging interview, first published in the Listener in 2012, in which Ath “talked about starting his landmark ‘act of defiance’ in 1965, and finally wanting to finish the place.” Interview: Architect Ian Athfield

My image shows an advertisement for Havana Coffee. The green Telecom Building peeping in at the top corner of the image, was, according to one NCEA student, “built in a boom period when New Zealanders had big ideas and wanted their cities to look like international ones …”

Kaizen – a change for the better

kaizen

kaizen

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The Japanese term “kaizen” translates loosely as improvement or change for the better, according to the web-site of Leclair Ryan, an American firm of legal advisors. In Porirua, however, Kaizen is the café at Pataka Art + Museum.

After visiting my father at Kemp Home, Titahi Bay (21 May 2015), I met my sister for lunch at the Kaizen. The beautiful Japanese garden adjoining the café added to our experience as we ate the best spanakopita we’ve tasted in a long time … and the coffee was great!

Incidentally, kai refers to food in the Māori language, and a pataka is a place to store treasures.

Pataka houses a fine collection of sculptures, including one of Michel Tuffery’s tin-can bulls (image below).

Outside the entrance, and elsewhere in the vicinity, heaps of white sandbags – needed after mass rainfall on 14 May resulted in extensive flooding in the area. (My camera could not resist.)

 

What exactly is matcha and why is everyone talking about it? – Eater

“Meet matcha, the current darling of the tea world. This finely milled green tea powder – the staple ingredient upon which traditional Japanese tea ceremonies were built in the 12th century – has seen a surge in popularity recently thanks to its visual appeal, purported health benefits, and beautiful, distinct flavor.” (Kathy YL Chan, in ‘Eater’)

word pond

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Breakfast discipline

toast soldiers

toast soldiers

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My soldiers are
tall and slim today, with the
marmalade spread thin.

I have taken care
to make the coffee quite strong
(no sugar, no milk).

__________

The image connects to a recipe (on Orgasmic Chef) for eggs and toast soldiers – even though I’m not especially keen on boiled eggs – because I liked the narrative style.

Image credit: I Knead You (a WordPress blog).

In autumn

autumn preserves

autumn preserves

Fairytale crescent
evening star twinkling
autumn sky windless

The brief experience to which this haiku points dates back almost a fortnight, but I’ve been waiting for it to crystallize – you know what I mean, don’t you? Having decided recently to release myself from a commitment to the 5-7-5 syllable count, I have nevertheless been fruitlessly attempting to reduce it. And it has been so long since my last post …

How would it be if I changed “sky” back to “air” (the way I had it at first) in the third line?

We’ve had heavy rain and some cool days lately, after weeks of Indian summer, but today’s forecast is for 23˚C in Wellington.

I ought to look out for some cheap fruit at the weekend market – I really enjoy bottling preserves and jam-making.

__________

The image comes from a piece titled Autumn Break on a blog called Foxs Lane.

Signs of the times

caution wet floor sign

caution wet floor sign

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Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret. (Ambrose Bierce)

A couple of days ago, I went into a Burger King outlet. The winter sun was shining and I fancied a soft-serve ice cream. Between the entrance and the counter, there were two yellow signs … and not a drop of water anywhere I could see.

Since the day I observed customers (several years ago, and at another Burger King outlet) tripping over a similar sign, I have developed a bit of an attitude to these ubiquitous objects.

At the counter, I handed the young man a one dollar coin and launched into something of a tirade. “Nothing personal,” I assured the BK staff member, eventually. “Now I’d like an ice cream, please.”

“I’m sorry, sir, the machine is off for maintenance,” said he, handing me back my cash.

Although, as Ambrose Bierce points out, I will regret my angry outburst until the moon turns to blood, the unfortunate truth is that it was far from my best speech.

What did I learn? I learned that my upset about this matter goes way deeper than I’d recognised – so deep, in fact, that I was unable to articulate my grievance cogently. There may be a connection with a life-threatening childhood accident … but I’m not going into that right now.

Yes, I think these are, literally, signs of the times – memes, if you like – that utilise ready-made templates within which we are invited/expected to formulate our communications.

I do not believe such signs signify that companies care about my welfare; it seem more likely that they are seeking to minimise their exposure to litigation.

PS: I hope nobody gets hurt tripping over one of the signs.

Sticky moments

crab-apple jelly (07 June 2013)

crab-apple jelly (07 June 2013)

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My breakfast yesterday morning began with a toasted English muffin, spread with my new home-made crab-apple jelly. I’ve been trying to remember how many years it has been since I last got the chance to persuade a bag of these little beauties to yield up their unique flavour and gorgeous colour. It would be five years or more since I made raspberry jam – another of my favourite things – but how long  since I got my hands on a bag of crab-apples?

For several days I had revelled in the mere sight of the bowl brimming with red and yellow-gold fruit in my dining-room – and spent some time photographing it – but at last there was a clear morning and a clear evening.

In the course of trimming and quartering the fruit, I reserved a small bowl of attractive specimens to keep around for a few days. Even so, it was necessary to cook the prepared fruit in two batches. Each time, following Mary Wynne’s advice, I added “enough water to be able to see, but no so much that the crab-apples [were] floating.” Once the fruit was turning to pulp, I mashed it up a bit against the sides of the pan using a slotted spoon.

Both batches of pulp went together into an old (but clean) pillowslip, which was then strung up over a large bowl, while I went out for lunch, returning home in the early evening.

The strained pulp having produced twelve cups of liquid, I measured ten and a half cups of white sugar into a bowl, as per the instructions given by chef Jonny Schwass, whilst starting to heat up the juice. Setting the oven to 100°C, I put fourteen jars in to sterilize. Then, cup by cup, I counted the sugar into the pan. Just as well – I had measured out one cup too many!

It took twenty minutes or more to bring such a large quantity to the boil, and a further twenty before the jelly reached setting-point. There was sufficient to fill eleven jars, with a bit left over for breakfast – which I ate whilst eradicating all evidence of the previous evening’s sticky moments.

Last word: For an elegant supper, toast an English muffin, spread with a liberal layer of hot-smoked salmon, season with salt and pepper, and top with crab-apple jelly and a fresh basil leaf.