90 Day Challenge Day 1

September 27, 2013

A friend mentioned a 90 day challenge that she and her family were doing to support each other and lose weight. They kindly let me join them.

Today was day one.
I started with a breakfast of homemade muesli and some yoghurt. A lovely rhubarb-topped creamy yoghurt that probably isn’t diet friendly but I needed to use it up.

Lunch, because I had nothing healthier in the house, was home-made bread and some pate (and butter).

I’m between contracts at the moment so, after a morning looking on TradeMe for jobs I decided to go for a walk. I wanted to ‘recce’ a walk for my walking group, Wellywalks. So I took the train to Paremata to walk the Ara Harakeke Way. It was a disappointment that I’ll go into later. I’m just glad I didn’t schedule it as a meetup without doing the recce first.
After walking 10.5km I bought a Turkish Delight at the shop where I asked directions to the railway station. I’m going to ache tomorrow.

Dinner was mashed kumara and pumpkin with a stir-fry of lean pork and peas. I’m still putting too much on my plate.


(EB) Plum on Cuba Street

April 23, 2012

I’ve been to Plum before. They have wonderful desserts. One day I went there with friends for an afternoon drink and snack (we’d been somewhere in town that morning), stayed chatting and found it was dinner time so ordered dinner.
It;s a lovely place with mirrors all along one wall and a good, comfortable atmosphere.My friend, Mona, and I started our level two burlesque class today. I suggested we eat using the Entertainment Book and gave her a few options. She sensibly suggested “anywhere on Cuba” as the dance studio is there. So we went to Plum.

I had the Free Range Corn Fed Chicken Breast Stuffed w Herbed Cream
Cheese On Sautéed Mushroom, Artichoke & Bacon Lardons (full price $25.00) and Mona had the Seared Aoraki Salmon on ratatouille (full price $26.00)
Salmon at Plum on Cuba Street
which melted in the mouth – it was wonderful.

We shared a side order of Gourmet Potatoes Tossed In Salsa Verde ($7)

The service was good and we had a glass of white wine each before going off to giggle with our new classmates.

Venue: Plum on Cuba Street
Offer: BOGOF (up to value of $35)
Visited: Tuesday, 18th April 2012 at 6pm
Verdict: Fabulous food, nice venue.

EB: Concrete Bar in Cable Car Lane

April 23, 2012

We go to the pub quiz at the Green Man on Monday evenings. We meet others from the Wellington Wonders meetup group and the meetup officially starts at 6.30pm, for the quiz that starts at 7pm. This means eating out (or taking a packed dinner as well as a packed lunch) as it leaves no time to go home first. The food at the Green Man is variable in quality and overpriced so, if we remember, we try to eat somewhere else. It occurred to me that we should have been using the Entertainment Book (EB) for this.This week (16th April) we did. I chose ‘http://www.concretebar.co.nz/ Concrete Bar on Cable car Lane, about halfway between my office and the Green Man. The offer for 2011/2012 is ‘one complimentary main course when another main course of equal or greater value is purchased’ Maximum value $30 (BOGOF).

I took a look at the menu and found that mains were only served at lunchtime, that the evening menu was tapas, so I called them. A very friendly and helpful girl took my call. She explained that on Mondays and Tuesdays we could order from the lunch menu. She took a reservation and said she would tell the chef we would want to order from the lunch menu. The 2012/2013 offer is for 25% off the total bill.

Two of us arrived and were seated by the window where we could look down and see if the third was on his way. We were given menus, cold water and asked if we wanted to order drinks (we didn’t – I try not to drink during the week). Joe and I ordered the rosemary roasted New Zealand lamb cutlets served on a rocket, cucumber and parmesan cheese salad. The cutlets were topped with a mint, pea and parmesan pesto and a balsamic reduction. The full price was $22.50 (so we paid $11.25 each). It was lovely. The salad very fresh and the cutlets so delicious I wanted to eat the bone. The portion was a lunch size, or a dinner size if a side of carbs were added.

Rik had the chicken quesadilla – also delicious was a very tasty filling. His chips were great too. His choice cost $16.50 and we didn’t get a discount ont hat as we’d used it on the more expensive lamb dishes.


Venue: Concrete Bar on Level 1 of Cable Car Lane (just off Lambton Quay)
Offer: buy one main course get another free
Visited: Monday, 16th April 2012 at 5.30.
Verdict: Great food, good service.

Eating the Entertainment Book

April 22, 2012

Here in New Zealand (and in Australia, too) we have something called the Entertainment Book. The books are sold by organisations to raise cash for charity. They contain hundreds of money-off vouchers (25% off, or buy one get one free are the main ones) for lots of shops and services but mainly for cafes and restaurants. They come out each year in late March or early April and the voucher are valid immediately and expire on 1st June of the following year.
I’ve just bought the 2012/2013 book which means it’s time to use up the vouchers in my 2011/2012 book. I didn’t make enough use of it this past year. I’m going to make better use of the new one. I’m also going to blog about the food I eat and the places in which I eat it.

This coffee walnut cake is from Cafe Mamba up Plimmer Steps off Lambton Quay. It’s a cafe and I met Rik there for lunch one working weekday. Its decor is very basic, the ceiling is concrete and this, coupled with the music that was playing made it very difficult to have a conversation.
They do an all day breakfast and I opted for that rather than one of their pasta dishes which is what I probably should have had. The English breakfast tea was very good – I think they must have used boiling water rather that just very hot which far too many places do these days.
I didn’t feel comfortable getting my camera out to snap my meal but I’m sure you know what an English breakfast looks like. the sausages were a little weird, but many kiwi sausages are. The bacon was good, the eggs (I chose scrambled) were fine but the mushrooms were awful.
The place was very busy so I assume that some of their other dishes must be really good because there is plenty of competition in the area.
I bought some coffee walnut cake to take away. Rik ate his piece that afternoon but I had mine the next day. It was still moist and tasted delicious.

Venue: Cafe Mamba on Plimmer Steps
Offer: 25% off total bill (up to value of $25)
Visited: Wednesday, 11th April 2012 at lunchtime
Verdict: Too noisy to sit in, don’t bother with the big breakfast, the coffee walnut cake is worth buying but take it away.

Sushi from Woodward Street

April 15, 2012

I don’t know a lot about sushi. When I lived in England there were some sushi places in central London but it seemed to me that you had to know about it, to understand what you were getting. Then it spread to the supermarkets and the supermarket versions I tried were, of course, mass-produced and, unsurprisingly, not fabulously fresh or fabulous at all. They were also quite expensive for what you got.

Here in New Zealand almost everyone I know eats sushi. People often have it for lunch or a snack. There is at least one chain of sushi places but also lots of little individual sushi shops. I try to avoid chains. There are so many good individual food places here in Wellington, both food shops and cafes and restaurants to try. I’ve heard good things of, and seen the long queues outside, the sushi place in Woodward Street. Today I bought some there for the first time. I chose ones that didn’t have sauces over the top as I wasn’t sure I’d like them.

I don’t know the names of any of these so please feel free to educate me.

Top row, left to right:
Avocado – a little too ripe and squishy to be perfect.
Gorgeous! Chicken in some kind of sauce with carrot and avocado. Sesame on the outside.
Rice with salmon on top – do they call this type nigiri?
This one was rice all the way through with this strange fried-looking cover over it. between the ‘cover’ and the rice there seemed to be something juicy and slightly sweet. I’m not sure if it was a separate ‘something’ or if it came from the ‘cover’. It was nice though. I’d definitely have this one again. I’d love to know what it’s called.

Bottom row, left to right:
Gorgeous – beef in some kind of sauce with carrot ad cucumber.
I’m not sure if this was prawn, or minced prawn and other stuff in a prawn shape. Tasted good though. with lettuce and carrot.
Another avocado one.

There were no prices on anything but this whole lot came to NZ$4.20. A bargain!

A friend told me that the one near Midland Park is good, too. I’ll try that next

New Zealand photo dieter

February 28, 2010

Breakfast: Vogel’s cafe style light muesli & lite milk
Lunch: slice of Vogel’s 12 grain bread, olive oil spread, cheese, tomato, mini cucumber, red pepper, grapes
Afternoon snack: chicken noodles
Dinner: spaghetti bolognaise
Supper: fresh pineapple 

Well, I’ve now moved to the other side of the world and have found a house and a kitchen. Our goods arrived by ship and were delivered the day after we moved into the house and I have set about putting my kitchen to rights, deciding what goes in which cupboard. I have a much better kitchen than the one I left behind in England. Well, it could hardly have been worse, really! 

Although I have visited NZ three times before, and fed myself each time, cooking in a proper kitchen in which I am staying put, rather than in a succession of backpackers, is a very different thing. I am discovering many subtle differences. 

Pork pies are not like UK pork pies (but I knew that already – my kiwi brother had raved about English pork pies when he visited many years ago). 

A standard large loaf in the UK is 800g. Here it is 720g. This means that slices are smaller. 

In the UK milk comes as ‘ordinary’ (I can’t for the life of me think what it is called) which is, if I remember correctly, 4% fat; semi skimmed which is 2% fat and which I usually bought; and skimmed which is 1% fat and is tasteless and unpleasant.
Here milk is standard (I think), lite and trim. I keep forgetting which has more fat, lite or trim. I know they have less fat than the UK semi and skimmed. There is also calci-trim. And probably others that I’ve yet to encounter. 

Supermarket meat is a better quality than I expected and they generally have a good selection of fish and seafood. Fruit and veg are generally more expensive than I had expected and have been variable in tastiness (so far). 

I feel that my weight is creeping back up so I have given up the L&P and Tim Tams and am photo-dieting again.
Nearly all the brand names are different so the calorie charts for bought foods that I already had are of no use. I shall have to start over again with a spreadsheet.

Day 00: October 15th: From London to New York

October 31, 2009

What I ate today:
An airline meal (Delta – Milan to JFK): Chicken with risotto and almost raw brocolli. I also ate the cheese and crackers that came with it but not the salad (I made the mistake of putting the rather nasty dressing on it), nor the roll. Are cattle class airline rolls ever edible?

An airline egg and tomato roll: this was given to me as breakfast on the first (BA) flight from London Heathrow to Milan. I didn’t eat it at the time – it did not look nice and I just couldn’t face it. Rik kept it for me and gave it to me later. Despite being a textureless bap type piece of bread and some egg and tomato chopped so finley you could safely feed it to a small baby, it didn’t taste too bad. I wouldn’t want one again though!

After getting to our hostel, too tired and jetlagged to to any further, we went into the second eatery we stumbled across. This was the Palacio Azteca at 1374 York Ave (between 73rd St & 74th St) New York, NY 10021 (212) 249-7313 (no web address found).
Day 00: Chips & salsa Palacio Azteca Day 00: Dinner at Palacio Azteca
I had a rather nice piece of steak, some shrimp (prawns) a tasty salad, served wtih green salad, Mexican rice (as far as I can tell it just means it has some tomato in it) some guacamole and a bean thing that was far nicer than it looked. It was a lovely meal in a small cafe-type establishment. No drink licence but you can BYO and we were directed to a beer shop a few doors down. They were also happy to bring us tap water and we got complimentary chips’n’dip while we waited.
Rik’s meal was similar bbut with spicy prawns and no beef.

The travel blog for the day can be found at

Now – The Travelling Photo-dieter

October 27, 2009

Photo-dieting while on my trip was going to be too much bother. But was it?

I realised that it was a perfect time to record the food choices I made, the food choices available to me, and the different places I ate. I’ll be travelling for nearly three months between leaving the UK and arriving in New Zealand. All but two of those weeks will be in the United States. We’ll betravelling from New York to Los Angeles. Then we’ll have two weeks in Rarotonga int eh Cook Islands.

So I decided to get the camera out at mealtimes again. To choose the ‘heathy choice’ where there was one, and not to worry too much when there wasn’t. I’ll photograph the food and, when I can, the place in which it was eaten or bought.

I missed photographing a couple of the meals on the first day or so as I’d not yet decided I was doing this.

No new posts till 2010

September 7, 2009

Well, that’s it. The flights are booked, the leaving do planned, and the shippers contacted.

We are moving to the other side of the world.  Which is why I’ve been too busy to blog.

We’ll be doing some travelling first so, between the middle of October and the beginning of January I will be eating all over the US and in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Once I get settled in a new house in New Zealand I promise to show and tell about lots of interesting food. Then I will be  blogging about the new and different foods I encounter there.

Wish me luck!

prawn and mushroom quickie

April 25, 2009

We had lots of mushrooms left from our trip to the farmers’ market last week. I’m off to Turkey later today and wanted to use them up. I knew my SO would probably not use them. There was a bag of spinach as well.

I took some raw prawns from the freezer and threw them in a dry pan on a low heat to start the thawing process.
Meanwhile, I chopped half an onion, three-quarters of a red pepper lurking in the fridge, and peeled the mushrooms. (You don’t have to peel mushrooms but I just do).

After removing the thawing and just-starting-to-tinge-slightly-pink prawns from the pan and setting them on some kitchen paper in a bowl, I wiped the pan and heated some oil.

I fried the chopped onion and peppers, then added the mushrooms.
While they were colouring I put some spinach in a pan with hot water and a little salt and put the lid on it.
I threw the prawns back in and cooked them through.
Finally I put in a good spoonful of the chili jelly we bought at the farmer’s market and melted it in, ensuring everything was covered and the jelly (now a sauce) was warmed through.

I put the prawn & mushroom quickie on a bed of the spinach and served it with a Marks & Spencer garlic & parsley butter ciabatta.

It was really nice. Quick and light. I’ll definitely do it again.