Plucked From New Zealand Adventures…in response to  earlier post “Good Advice From Chef Maree”

I had a mad and unexpected taste for cauliflower as I had worked up an appetite during a six hour winery bike tour that afternoon. Tired, happy and enlightened; I arrived at the table. A line up of reds awaited, but first proper French Champagne to cleanse the palate and to toast the accomplishment of our collective legs.

We ordered from the list of appetizers selecting a scallops dish, white bait and a beet salad to start. What was nice was the ability to choose from a variety of sizes. We could get a tasting portion or an entree portion – allowing more room for sampling and education.

The food was delicious, the petite scallops arrived first, all nestled into a bed of none other than a creamy cauliflower puree. Remembering my craving, I counted this as a premonition.

It was fantastic!

Next, we discovered white bait, a wonderful little fish, whole, in a delicte eggy binder and formed into small cakes friend to golden perfection… No regrets.

I had salmon for my main dish, playfully prepeared with a flurry of edemame and diced vegetables. Simple but delicious and cooked just right.

In the end I noted in my little book, “Attentive, sensitive, aware food. Attentive to details, sensitive to season, aware of place.”

Your love affair is a brilliant one, Maree.

Nothing like gin on a hot day whose date you might not even know on the backside of Hotel D’Urville with a nice breeze and showered, damp hair. I find when you are on the road for so long, the small pleasures surrounding proper bathing are intensified. Today I trimmed my nails and shaved my legs. Proper. And it’s not because I’m not having a ball enjoying this trip, this girl has just been busy. That little bath washed off the salt water after a day on the Charlotte Sound in a sturdy fishing boat.

The weather was glorious and the water fine. Our boat was so sweet – just perfect – and not too fussy. And for a moment, it made me want one. We were treated to a brilliant sunrise – the light glowed up the hillside then hid on our hour-long taxi into our spot. Cormorants and gulls chased the boat and sped alongside us. Around the point, the water churned and we bounced and surfed the floor of the back of the boat. I loved it. Once there, we parked out off the coast. I had planned to write – I had mentioned that this was to be my “creativity cruise” and wanted to use the time to draw, paint, read and write. But, as fate stepped in, I was promptly handed a double hooked line, baited with chunks of fish and that was that… I would fish with the boys.

I hooked up first, and I have to say I was proud to pull out a respectable snapper. This trip has been well nourished by this delicious, succulent fish. And here it was, flipping and jerking, quite alive in front of me. It ‘s really a gorgeous fish–silver with robin’s egg blue specs sprinkled across both sides. We would keep this one–it met all requirements. I promptly caught another and the same end applied.

On and on it went like this–until the snapper moved out and the blue cod moved in. They were thicker but smaller and we sent most all back into the blue-green water, which then drew in the Barracudas. They snaked and writhed around our little fish as we reeled them out, entertaining themselves. It was amazing how they toyed with us.

The sun was hot and I could have spent all day at the breezy water spot with the dramatic mountains behind us. I was stunned when the captain said “Ok, going to need to pull up in a few.” Hours had gone by… Amazing.

I did manage to dash off a few drawings but I didn’t need them. The sea scene will stay forever seared in my mind. And back home we sped, on top of the waves; passing sailboats heading out, chasing their own catch.

I didn’t expect the hold up.

I’m trying to decide on the final placement of artwork and selection for the cover of the book.

I am now in the final stages of placing design elements on the cover of the book. The Designer has been very helpful and accommmodating through my many, many revisions. (Yes, I am a designer, but I do not specialize in books, knowing this wasn’t one of my strengths, I did hire a designer for this project.) But I didn’t expect that my inability to select a few hand-written wine tasting notes would be the last piece of the puzzle. Who to use?

So many wonderful wines – I have been so fortunate to taste some outrageous producers and vintages.

So many great memories – scribbled descriptions of bottles poured with close friends and closer loves.

Then there are the esoteric descriptors themselves, ranging thoughts like sea-spray on a boat dock, to chocolate drenched cowboy boots, then there is velvety citrus and don’t forget Navajo blankets stuffed with raspberries (good old Chateaux Lafite 1990)…

Do you see my dilemma?

Well it’s all sorted out now. Soon you will be able to see for yourself.