2015 Reflections & Highlights from a Year in New Zealand, Pt. 1

2015:  What a year. It’s startling to think back to last January and realize how much has changed, and how quickly. If you’ll indulge me, then, on a trip down memory lane featuring some photos of New Zealand that for one reason or another never made it to the blog.

I’ve had to split up this post into two parts, simply because there was so much I wanted to share! Part 1 will cover our travels in New Zealand from January through August. Part 2, to come in a day or so, will include photos from Australia and more thoughts on our move to Portland. I hope you enjoy!

Wellington Botanic Gardens
Wellington Botanic Garden

We begin in windy Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, in high summer. The hydrangeas were blooming gloriously in a riot of colors this day in the Botanic Gardens. We stayed in cheerful, blustery Wellington in a dilapidated rental house until January 16th, when, bidding goodbye to our feisty South African friend and chef extraordinaire, we drove our unreliable Honda Accord onto the Interislander Ferry and sailed south across the Cook Strait. Continue reading “2015 Reflections & Highlights from a Year in New Zealand, Pt. 1”

A Very Wellington Christmas

Piping hot cinnamon rolls

Icing the rolls

Piping hot cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning —

Wellington Christmas tree

– Tree in the center of town —

Sugar Cookies

– Sugar cookies galore —

Candy cane, stark

– Tasty tree ornaments —

Harbour on a sunny day | Wellington

– Summer walks along the sunny Wellington harbour —

Pohutukawa blossoms

– Bright & festive red Pohutukawa blossoms —

Chocolate cream pie

– A crowd favorite: luxurious chocolate cream pie —

DIY Christmas tree

– Our humble but adorable baby pine tree —

December blooms

– Beautiful roses blooming throughout December —

Beef Tenderloin, defrosting

– A massive 1.4 kg beef tenderloin from a proper butcher

Duxelles on Proscuitto

– Preparing to assemble the Beef Wellington

Colman's Mustard

– Brushing English mustard over the just-seared beef —

Ready to roll

– Ready to roll (puff pastry not pictured) —

BEEF WELLINGTON

– PERFECTION: A Beef Wellington, IN Wellington —

It’s been sometimes lonely, sometimes surreal, spending the Christmas season 8,000 miles away from home. But, as you can tell from the array of images above, I daresay we managed to keep our holiday spirits high. Christmas Eve, in particular, was a gorgeous, sunny, and warm summer day, and we ended the night with dinner and several glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier at the home of a new friend. Thanks to my determined mom and sister, I even had physical presents to open on the big day itself. What really sealed the deal was that absolutely massive fillet, which, with a touch of mustard, several feet of clingfilm, some determined smashing of hazlenuts using a rock from the front yard (no food processor to be found in our adopted kitchen), and, let’s be frank, a dash of Christmas magic, transformed itself into a buttery, flaky pastry-wrapped earthy, oozing, wood-spicy beef creation. I may not be in Texas for Christmas this year, but I still appreciate a damn fine piece of meat. Wherever you are, I hope you found your own ways of celebrating.

Here’s to more festivities, fireworks, and a parade on New Year’s Eve!

Photo credits: rolls, candy cane, chocolate pie, rose, and defrosting tenderloin taken by G. Remainder by me.