I kicked into life slowly today, sleeping until 8am. (people will know how late that is for me.) By the time I’d done my housework, revisited the Maori Waka to see if I could find out more about the 1888 Maori test – soory very little, and checked train times, it was lunchtime.
Following the tips of locals seems to have worked elsewhere, so when I was told about Euro and Steve Gault, a TV celebrity chef on NZ’s Masterchef programme, going to one of the world’s top 50 restaurants on the waterfront in Auckland, with reasonable prices seemed like a plan, and so I booked for this lunchtime. Yet again the tip was a good one, (especially for fish), so I went the whole 9 yards, which is an appropriate phrase, as if I was on death row, my last meal would be something like this one. For starters I had salmon gravaldax (I thought that gravaldax was salmon), with white asparagus and pea puree. Mains was oven roasted snapper with Crab risotto, yuzu butter and ginger, with seared pak choi, followed by chocolate pudding, which had a warm chocolate sauce inside. This was served with rum and raisin caramel and rum and raisin ice cream, and a chocolate fig. With sparkling water and a tip for the waiter £52. I should imagine El Bulli would be a tad more expensive. Everything on the menu was quite simple, with stunningly fresh ingredients, and no clever cooking techniques involving liquid carbon dioxide, Bunsen burners. It must have been good as Josh Kronfeld was on the next table.
I made it via the train over to Glan Innes to watch the Australian Combined Services get trounced 62 -17 by the British Army. While I was there I wrote a letter to Johnno, cc’d the RFU.
Dear Mr. Johnson,
Rugby is a simple game and you might like to speak to the Army coach. He could help you decide on a game plan that wins games and entertains people. So you know what to expect, as you are such a cautious man, I’ll give you a bit of an insight. Attack off first phase ball, mostly through the 13 channel, (but not always) a fast runner who looks for gaps in the defence, with the skill to offload raher than spill the ball in the tackle. If the move grounds to a halt, the back row, who are close rather than waiting for the ball on the wing, ruck quick ball, and if not quick, recycle to the prop, who runs forward to reset the attack. Funnily enough, this seemed to take the team forward into points scoring territory (50 by half time). In defence, when a tackle is made – the forwards – not the backs, challenge for the ball at the ruck, not string across the field waiting for the next tackle, rugby league style. Funnily enough this quite often gave the mobile back row a turnover, which allowed a quick counter. I don’t know if this plan will work at such a high level, but I’ve heard there’s a team in black playing tomorrow with a 13 called Conrad Smith who employ similar tactics. By the way, the referee didn’t have to keep speaking to the captain or going into his pocket.
Yours in rugby etc.
At full time as Defence champions of the world, the Army celebrated with their ‘tour’ song, California Dreamin’., and off I went on the the train to see Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. This was another bucket list item, see a classical concert with full orchestra, and singers. OK the classical bit was full of short popular items such as William Tell Overture and Carmen, and musical numbers such as Climb Ev’ry Mountain, but the Orchestra lead and the Conductor came on separately, and he also accompanied the singer onto stage just like at a proper concert. There were tow excellent baritones there as well, which came as a surprise as they weren’t fat Italians. Obviously encores followed, ending with Kiri singing the last song Po Karekare Ana. ( The song is a bit like the story of Running Bear –of Johnny Preston and rugby tour fame – only the girl makes it to the other side. It’s a sad tune with a happy ending rather than a happy tune with a sad ending.)
I think I’d better find some cheaper Bucket list items to replace some of the ones I’ve done this holiday.
California Dreaming – Mamas and Papas. In tribute to possibly the most complete performance by a team I’ve seen here. I’ve always wondered what the filling was in the sandwich that choked Mama Cass.