Thursday, March 18, 2010

pt 19 - Taupo Museum, dinner at The Brantry and some lazy cricket watching

Wednesday 3 March – Taupo Museum and pottering

We’re badly in need of a down day so today we are just going to potter about, pay a visit to the Taupo Museum and get ourselves organized for the flight home and departure. I’m also quite keen to catch up with the journal and have a nice restful day and early night so that we can get a really early start tomorrow and make the most of our opportunities in Auckland.

Late morning we head over the museum and pay our $5 entrance fee. We mosey around the galleries looking at the carvings. There is a nostalgia display of an old caravan complete with sign saying please feel free to step inside.. the caravan is pretty cool, daughter 2 would love it.

Nearby there is a section on forestry, and a whole stack of info about huge trout that have been caught in the past. These days the trout seem to be smaller which is probably good for meal size etc.

I look with interest at the Maori carvings and the meeting house that is progressively being completed by the local people…however there’s no particular differences I can identify with the other carvings we have seen and the interpretive panels don’t interpret the symbolism of the carvings to that degree. For the uninitiated if you’ve seen the carved meeting houses elsewhere you really don’t need to make time here. The Taupo museum is only small and not a must see really. I would say all in all you’re way better off heading to any of the other museums we’ve visited on this trip.

For lunch we still have a passionate desire to avoid the busy tourist strip, so we’ve used trusty Google to track down a local bakery. This one is in Rifle Range Road. We have no trouble parking in the spaces outside the small local shopping strip and head on into the bakery. It’s quite a different set up to bakeries at home, or others we’ve visited in Northland. Here there are heated display cabinets arranged around the room in a U shape. Rather like an Asian cake shop at home, with tongs and sliding doors and the expectation that you will help yourself and take your selections to the attendant on the register. They must sell a lot of pies to make so many heated cabinets necessary. There’s also a small cake display with slices and such but these are not self serve.

Once again, there are “savouries” as an option. These are what we would call “party pies” at home. They look great and have been great elsewhere so I can’t resist trying those. We decide to be a bit adventurous and sample the chicken, camembert and apricot pie; bacon and egg pie; and hubby got a seafood pie. They want 50 cents for a little sauce sachet that was only 20 cents in Russell! I continue my investigation into afghans and get one of those as well. Overloaded with food we head on back to our apartment for some lazy cricket watching and blogging.

The savouries are, once again, delicious. The chicken pie was the best of the others, but a bit light on meat or apricot, being mostly gravy. I think hubby said he got a small piece of apricot, but I could detect no trace of it at all in my sampling. The bacon and egg pie was pretty ordinary. I was happy to hand both these full sized pies over to hubby after a few bites. I did very much enjoy the savouries though. They were delicious with lovely pastry. Hubby says the seafood pie was also not real great, but I had less than no desire to try that one.

The cricket was great. We are in the midst of Aussie v Kiwi cricket fest. The game on Sunday was Twenty20. The second of two. The first match, Australia flogged NZ and won by 6 wickets (ie 6 batsmen not out). Second match the kiwis came back with a vengeance resulting in the most entertaining game we’ve seen in years, as noted in an earlier blog installment. It was brilliant match ending in a narrow kiwi victory in “super over” ie they had to play another over to decide a winner. Todays game is part of the Chappell Hadlee Series which consists of 5 one day international matches.

For the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with cricket, Twenty20 means that each team has 20 “overs”. An over is 6 balls bowled and the winner is the team who scores highest number of runs. A one day international has 50 overs. Basically these limited overs games are fun to watch because they tend to be a “slog fest” with batsmen taking more risks than is typical in “test” cricket. Limited overs is a totally different game strategically to test cricket. Naturally you can also see the conclusion of the match in the set period of time as well.

In test cricket basically one team is batting until either the opposition gets all the batsmen out, or until the batting team “declares” ie voluntarily surrenders the field to enable enough time for the other team to try to better the runs that the declaring team have scored. If one team just bats forever there’s no chance of either team actually winning. When this happens viewing is pretty boring. A test match can go for 5 days by the time each team has taken their 2 innings.

Anyway, the commentators on both sides of the Tasman don’t expect another match like the second Twenty20 thriller. .. but the odds are defied and this 50 overs game is pretty thrilling and a very close result. We have a very pleasant lazy afternoon, until it’s time to head to dinner at Brantrys in Rifle Range Road - just around the corner. If we weren’t so lazy we could stick to the original plan and walk, but the Aurion is feeling like a run and the cricket kept us busy.

We start our meal with some really lovely bread rolls. Then we are delighted by an amuse bouche of chorizo with Onion jam. After such a large lunch we summon a tiny modicum of self control and skip the entres (starters). For mains Hubby had steak with pumpkin gnocchi while I had pork belly with apple aioli and prawn ravioli. The mains were delicious but very large portions for a restaurant of this class. We were glad we did not order entres tonight! Now for those who followed our pork belly adventures in the South Island late last year.. let me just say that this was easily the best pork belly we have had in New Zealand! LOL

Both mains came with a decent array of vegetables which on top of the portion sizes makes this venue very good value indeed. Though not realizing this we ordered a side of seasonal vegetables as well. The extra vegetables were $7 and more elaborate and with a greater range of veges than you usually see for a side dish. Most enjoyable.

Hubby can never resist dessert. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. He leads me astray with an order of panna cotta with a tiny pear alongside. Not wanting him to feel too greedy ( ;o) ) I had a plum trio. This was a stylish narrow rectangular plate neatly arrayed with a small Plum Tarte Tatin, a neat little pod shaped scoop of plum ice cream and another cakey thing (what a scandal their menu is not on their website for a memory jogger) I can’t remember what it was called. Hubbys panna cotta very rich and thick and creamy. Beer selection tonight was Steinlager pure. No preservatives etc. A very nice local drop. I’m wondering about the ownership of Steinlager.. when I got back home a visit to the local bottle shop revealed an extremely similar product, similar bottling and marketing, also named Pure from one of the local Aussie brands.

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