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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Rawson

A GAP IN THE TRAFFIC with endless food

Right, I’ve got a few days between guests so I’ve poured a glass of wine and thought we could chat for a bit.

I hope you had a marvellous Christmas and I’d like to wish you a wonderful 2022 - it’s got to be better, hasn’t it? I felt a bit flat not being with my family but it can't be helped. We still enjoyed a lovely time.

With the build-up to Christmas, Christmas itself, New Year’s Eve dinner guests and family staying, my head has been full of food - as well as my belly. And now I’m struggling to do my shorts up and tugging my dresses down over my expanded hips! You know that saying - a minute on the lips; six months on the hips? That’s porky me. I‘ll need to take myself in hand … ‘good luck with that, Annemarie,’ she says. Sigh … A vast array of chocolates, Christmas cake and mince pies keep falling out of cupboards and into my mouth, as well as several glasses of wine. Thank goodness this festive season has come to an end. I’m sure I’m not alone. PLEASE tell me I’m not alone! Lol.

Brunch on Christmas Day was here but the actual dinner was at our friends and I’d promised dessert. Here’s the Pavlova and chocolate log in basic form and then 'dressed'. I’d been given some amazing early-season figs and added these to the Pavlova topping. It all went down very well.

The stone fruit season is now in full swing. I’m making delicious fruity ice cream (purely for guests, you understand …), roasting some in orange juice, vanilla bean seeds/pods with a splash of Cointreau then freezing for winter puddings or as a compote to have with cereal for breakfast. It’s all so luscious right now. And look at the soft and sweet raspberries we picked! All for $13. So reasonable. This is what I love about where we live.

Plump plums, apricots and nectarines

We’d been invited to a lunch during December and my job was to provide a dessert. I made this ring of profiteroles, instead of individual ones, from an old Edmonds cookbook recipe. It came out really well. I filled it with cream, laced with lemon curd.

And just for a change, I made individual ones for a NYE dessert and filled each one with my homemade ice-cream - one lemon, the other strawberry. So good!

Mid December It was so lovely having friends, then family for New Year, staying. After a delicious pizza lunch at the relaxed and rustic Te Awanga vineyard, washed down with one of their exceptional wines, we enjoyed our drive home, sweeping through the beautiful Tuki Tuki valley. We could pretend we were in France, driving between the plane trees with their lush green branches meeting in the middle.

Steve pulled into Craggy Range Winery so we could get photos of our friends with the family of charolais cattle sculptures which grace the lawn of the winery. These magnificent beasts (twice real size), is the work of acclaimed British sculptor Paul Day and seem so at home under the exalted Te Mata Peak.

Four years later and across the pond, more sculptures by Paul Day arrived, aptly entitled Chickens. He’s such a talented man and these huge sculptures are perfect for the large expanse of land At the winery.

At Craggy Range

Steve and I decided to get into the photo session on the drive at Craggy Range. We’re so looking forward to having dinner here again in winter, when we’ll use a very generous voucher from the real estate agent that sold our home in Auckland. It’s a fabulous place to eat any time of the year.

After six months of being in our home, we decided to invite new, local friends over for Christmas drinks. The weather was perfect and everyone mingled in our garden in the shade or under cover at the outdoor table. Those that stayed on, sat outside with us for dinner. I marinated an eye fillet and Steve cooked it on the Weber BBQ. With an Indonesian peanut sauce, salads and tiny new potatoes, dinner in the evening warmth and several bottles of mellow red wine, completed a really nice day.

My sister, Jill and husband Ferg arrived for New Year and we had such a super time catching up. They brought their very well-behaved cavoodles, Eddy and Milly who were not one bit of bother. These two are so obedient and stay close when out for walks. I’m almost tempted to get a dog!

Jill and Ferg had never been to Birdwoods and they thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the sculptures, discussing possibly getting one for their own new garden. The two mother geese, taking their babies out for a walk were so entertaining for everyone.

I do hope you can navigate your way through this messy life we are all currently caught up in, find some joy and live a little.

Take care, until next time!


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