Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The night I ate Mary's lamb

Eventful Woman and Mary (in white) (copyright Eventful Woman)
At a recent charity auction my eye was drawn to lucky item No. 7: "Mad Mary will cook for you and your three guests her famous Lamb Neck Chop Casserole".

Fabulous food and great company always makes for an eventful night. I bid ferociously and soon the prize was mine.

TH (The Husband) and I thought long an hard as to which of our many friends would score the guest seats. The lucky two  were issued with strict instructions - no diets, no party poopers, second helpings mandatory.

The non-drinking TH was volunteered as the sober chauffeur to collect and safely return everyone to their homes. He issued some firm instructions too: If he had to drive then there would be NO singing.  I can't understand that, as I am a magnificent singer after a couple of wines.
About to open the bubbly (copyright Eventful Woman)
The bubbly was popped on our arrival and served with delectable ash-covered chèvre (French goat's cheese with a salted charcoal coating) on crackers, with a mild basil leaf and a drop or two of liquid gold - virgin olive oil.

Mary put on soft music as we took our places at her gorgeous table.
Candles, flowers and silverware - just gorgeous
(copyright Eventful Woman)
Mary's Lamb Neck Chop Casserole is legendary and was showcased recently on TV One's Family Recipes Show It is slow cooked for hours with onions, potato, kumara, tomatoes, fennel, sage, parsley, thyme and rosemary and served with crisp cooked green vegetables on the side. The taste? I was almost deafened by the overwhelming 'Mmmmmmmmmm's' from all, me included. Tender, moist, yummy, with the meat just falling off the bones. The flavours were a perfect marriage, just like TH and me really. (Ahem)

The dessert was chocolate fudge cake, served with lashings of cream.  Some things are simply better being rich - chocolate, coffee and men. For a chocoholic, Mary's cake ticked all of my boxes.

Between delightful mouthfuls of this wondrous food, Mary entertained us with her catering stories, including an infamous incident involing a duck and Lady Astor (in UK).  My lips are sealed, but I could be bribed with dark chocolate any time to reveal all.

Mary is a fellow writer and she is currently finishing her latest book, which is described as "The Three B's" - booze, boats and bonking. With the "Oooohs and Aaaaas" around the table that night, I felt we were helping Mary to write the text.

Thank you Mary Elsmore-Neilson for a wonderful night and to your lovely George, who kept a quiet eye on us during the evening.
Mary's George, quietly observing while lounging on a Persian rug
(copyright Eventful Woman)
Find out more:
  • How to make Mary's Lamb Neck Chop Casserole. Click here to see the 'how to' video from TV One's Family Recipes Show.  (Warning: There's a lot of mmmmm's and ooohs' and aaah's)
  • About Mary. Click here for her Facebook page.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Climbing up to see the water fall

Wairere Falls from the road (copyright Eventful Woman)
I should have realised that there could be no huff without puff when TH (The Husband) and I decided to check out Wairere Falls. (Te Reo Maori translation: Wairere = Waterfall). We'd seen these falls from a distance in the Kaimai Ranges, while driving on State Highway 27. We had often said "We must go there one day".

Well, THE day had finally come to get up-close and personal with the falls. While lacing up my 'action woman' walking shoes, I glanced at the information sign at the start of the track: 1.5 hours walk to the base of the falls and back. I huffed at that, thinking it would take me no more than an hour.

The walk started gently through the dappled bush and past some impressive, moss-covered boulders. 'Easy on the eye' as well as easy walking. I began to gloat that I'd knock it off in 45 minutes.  As the saying goes, 'pride comes before a fall'... 

The track took a sharp turn down to the river. The puffing started as we started to climb steeply upwards, following the river. Soon I was scrambling over large rocks. However, the prettiness of the river banks and the rushing water were charming. This was great stuff and I wanted to see more.  It was then that I saw the staircases towering upwards. Who would have thought we'd find those in the middle of the bush?
Stairway to heaven? (copyright Eventful Woman)
I puffed up several sets of stairs and stopped on each landing to gasp and mop my brow in the summer heat. I hoped the view would be heavenly when we got there - right now it felt like a treadmill to hell. TH scoffed at my groans, but I noticed that his chest was heaving.

Rivers of sweat later and gasps of "How much further?" to those coming down, we stumbled onto the lookout platform. The falls were magnificent, even if they were in low flow because of the dry weather. We lolled against the safety barrier, drinking in the view. The whirring of the cicadas drowned out the wheezing moans from other hikers still slugging up the track.

Wairere Waterfall (copyright Eventful Woman)
Going down was a happy affair. No puffing nor huffing, plus the chance to give encouraging cries of "not far" to those groaning their way up.

Going down is easy  (copyright Eventful Woman)
It took exactly 1.5 hours return to the car park.  (Not counting the time spent enjoying the waterfall). HAH, so much for thinking I was faster than a speeding bullet.

Recommended as an eventful trip.

The track status is 'dog friendly'. Take your togs (swimsuit) and plenty of water to drink (for you and your hound). Expect lots of people during the summer holidays. Great family outing.

Further information:

Click here to find out more about Wairere Falls and how to get there.

Need accommodation? Eventful Woman recommends Homestead Mountain View Bed & Breakfast in nearby Te Aroha. The homestead is a 1890's villa, lovingly restored to it's original elegance and splendour and set in a peaceful, picturesque garden. It has uninterrupted views of Mount Te Aroha in all it's changing moods.  Click here to find out more.

Misty morning view of Mt Te Aroha from the guest bedroom at Homestead Mountain View B&B (copyright Eventful Woman)