Monday, August 24, 2009

Wellington on a plate

Great piles of paid work have been keeping me too busy for blogging, but now it's 10.30 pm and I thought I'd just fit in a post before bedtime. Wellington is having its first Wellington on a Plate food festival and for once I've actually managed to get to a few things.

On Sunday I went with my friend Lesley to high tea at Finc, which has a lovely old interior with an original black and white tiled floor. They did it beautifully with waitresses in little black dresses (much lower cut and shorter than they would have been in the 20s/30s, but too bad), starched white frilly aprons and lovely headbands of broderie anglais with black velvet ribbon.

The customers - it was packed, with lots of young as well as older - got dressed up too, mostly 1920s, but Lesley and I did vaguely 30s with bias-cut skirts, as it's much more flattering for the mature woman! We listened to the jazz band, people-watched and slowly, happily ate our way through a completely over the top afternoon tea: club sammies, scones, eclairs, raspberry tartlets, mini lemon meringue tarts, and finally (honestly) little freshly made doughnuts. All washed down with a glass of elderflower bubbly and a giant pretty flowered china pot of Earl Grey.

It was Really Good, and the setting was perfect, you really could imagine you were back in the right era. I personally think it would be better to drop the doughnuts and have one more savoury thing, maybe a tiny hot vol-au-vent? Or something with cheese? But otherwise, mmmm. Too much of a good thing is definitely wonderful.

Then today I went to lunch at Capitol, next to the Embassy, with a wonderful friend I haven't caught up with for far too long. They were one of the many restaurants doing a special lunch deal, two courses -either entree and main or main and dessert - for $19.50, plus a glass of wine for another $5.50, a very pleasant riesling (forgot to see what it was). In effect I had two lunches - a generous plate (I wondered if I'd got the mains-size by mistake) of beautifully tender squid rings with aioli and green salad; followed by Neapolitan baked eggs, two poached eggs in a gratin dish with beans, tomato, spicy sausage, topped with grilled cheese, plus two large pieces of toasted bread which I didn't eat. Well, only a tiny bit. To mop up.

The desserts, which we didn't have (well, you have to draw the line somewhere), were orange rice pudding with rhubarb and vanilla cheesecake with cherries. Maybe I'll have to go back and do main and dessert instead...

On Friday I'm going to food comedienne Jan Maree and a three course dinner at Sandwiches. I can only hope she approaches being as good as Prue Langbein, whose legendary "Condom Cookery" show was one of the most hilarious pieces of brilliance I have ever seen.

She cooked scrambled eggs in a condom, in a microwave. And, of course, Spotted Dick. Talking very nicely to us all the while about what convenient receptacles they were, in a lovely professional chef doing demo sort of way, she would fill the condom, knot it, put it in the microwave and keep on talking while it swelled and swelled. Just it was obviously about to burst, she would casually hit the stop button. I talked to her and she said it exploded only once. Sheer genius.


  1. I saw Prue Langbein do that, in a Hens Teeth review, in the late 80s in Wellington. And when it had cooled a bit, she passed the spotted dick round the audience. It felt really, really... weird and horrible. Everyone kind of gasped or shrieked and passed it on quickly.

  2. Hooray for Wellington on a Plate (but sad that I was away for most of it!) - looks like you got to sample a bit of what was on offer! How was Jan Maree's show?

    Scrambled eggs in a condom sounds... frightening, though amusing... would they taste like latex?!

  3. I think the weird feel of the Spotted Dick is common to microwaved floury things of any kind, they're all a bit - flaccid! Jan Maree was good, Millie - sometimes brilliant - and it was my favourite kind of stand-up, spinning marvellous gold from everyday straw. But the show would benefit hugely from a fierce and relentless edit to get rid of all the weak bits and the over-long bits, especially when she's spreading sweetness and light - I'm not saying she can't do that at all, but it has to be really brief and crisp.