Reviews Published

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Live to Eat

Do you have a favourite gourmet restaurant? I do, and I bet you mine is better than yours. Does yours offer a chorizo and onion tartlet with squid and goat cheese froth? Well, ok, neither does mine, not any more, but it used to... and despite the wacky description, it was a sublime concerto of textures and tastes, one that I miss in my most depressing dreams.

I have a confession to make: I’m a terrible snob when it comes to food. While most of my life I eat takeaway curry, weatbix and fish fillets microwave-cooked from frozen, every once in a while I indulge. And the more restaurants I visit, the more certain I become that the best gourmet place in Auckland is not the renowned French Café that gets all the Metro Restaurant of the Year awards. It’s The Grove.

For those of you unfortunate enough not to live in Auckland, this place alone makes New Zealand a worthwhile place to visit. I’m not kidding.

Last Tuesday, I had a roasted crayfish tail with cauliflower purée (I couldn’t taste a whiff of cauliflower, it was all texture), pomegranate molasses, lemon salad and curry oil. They didn’t provide a sauce spoon, so I licked the plate clean with my finger (no, it’s not usually that sort of place, unless I’m there). The quail starter was almost as good (five spice quail with baba ghanoush, cucumber and peanuts, spring onion relish, honey emulsion). And although I haven’t had it for three months, I can recommend their yellow fin tuna with bonito gelée, wasabi caviar, mirin dressing and seaweed: the delicate tuna flesh contrasts beautifully with the granularity of the “caviar”, the flavours are as diverse as they are well harmonised.... You get the idea.

Sometimes eating is like watching an art movie, going to a gallery, listening to Beethoven’s 9th. Sometimes it’s even better than that.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

That big screen

I have two jobs and two small kids and 103 writing projects. So it’s only to be expected that sometimes months would go by without my checking in with the real world.

BUT there were two movies I wanted to see this year: Basic Instinct 2 and The Pink Panther. When I wanted to book the tickets for my Mother’s Day outing, however, I discovered that they were long gone. Finished. Sharon Stone and Kevin Kline came to New Zealand’s theatres and I missed it. It didn’t even register on my personal blipometer.

Sad, I tell you. Friends try to comfort me by telling that both movies were crap. That’s even sadder, in a way. And now the Da Vinci Code I so looked forward to for my nameday is getting bad reviews too.

MI3, here I come. Reluctantly.

Still, there are movies out there worth a mention. Like the Inside Man: a thoroughly enjoyable thinking thriller, with two timelines that pushed it above the average for me. Imagine Me and You was also highly watchable, although it did make me realise that my ear is now far more attuned to a myriad of American accents, and that it’s a challenge to understand plain spoken English.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dreaming helps you make it through the day

Dreaming, when there's nothing left to say
Dreaming, helps to take the pain away
Me, I live in dreams.

So much for one of my favourite Amanda McBroom songs. If you don’t know it, buy it. The reason it’s snorkelling around in my head is because of a book “Always a Bridesmaid” by Jane Beckenham.

“Always a Bridesmaid” is a romance, and it made me understand why so many women turn to that particular genre: from time to time, a woman needs to dream about a tycoon in shining Armani suit who will come and take her “away from all of this”.

What I like about “Always a Bridesmaid” is that it takes place in New Zealand (a rare find in itself) and that it’s not formulaic. Yes, there is an ex-wife who also happens to be the leading lady’s archrival, but no, she is not part of the problem. Yes, there is the alpha male’s brother, but no, there is no silly confusion or misunderstanding between the leading lady and the brother. And there is an adorable four-year old kid who doesn’t miraculously save the day.

And there is a happy ending. Dreaming, no it’s not the same as lies.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Yes, it’s official: even with two preschoolers, we can - from time to time - pretend that we have a life. A few weeks ago we decided to do just that. And so we abandoned the children (at the cost of $10 per hour) and rushed off to the closing night of a Pulitzer Prize winning play called “Doubt”.

It was good. Superb acting and a fast-paced script with surprising twists and quirky reactions, but ultimately, I wouldn’t have given it the Pulitzer. It didn’t carry any profound messages and it lacked originality (I’ve heard the story about the feathers and gossip before). We discussed the play immediately afterwards, and the next day we hardly remembered watching it.
I measure all plays against “Twilight of the Golds” - now that was a Play.