Tuesday, August 24, 2010

we're moving!

we've decided to shift! you can now find us at:


see y'all there!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

just when you thought books were good

... the new zealand book council makes them even better!

enjoy XX

p.s. this short film is also now the proud bearer of two film craft lions awards from the cannes lions international advertising festival. hear hear!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

karine moinaux's quince paste

there is no denying that one of the best things about the winter cold is eating, and karine's homemade quince paste has quickly staked out a spot at the top of our fireside platter essentials list.

and it's little wonder that we should adore it so - there's such a wonderful story and such fond memories attached to it that, as we are rolling the taste of it around in our mouths and throwing our eyes heavenward in rapturous bliss, we can virtually see our own happy quince paste memories materialising. we already know this paste is something we are going to tell our children's children about (it is going to achieve the mythic status of the turkish delight in narnia and the ginger beer and lashings of whipped cream enjoyed by the famous five).

enough dithering: let us tell you the story. karine's quince paste is made according to an old recipe passed through generations of her family and taught her by her very own maman. as a little girl in toulouse, karine can remember snacking on it with petits beurres (french biscuits just made for such things as quince paste) for her afternoon goûter on her way home from school.

karine, who is now all growed up, still loves her quince paste and recommends that adults who are nurturing a snacking inner-child (heh-hem ... that means us) enjoy it with nuts, their preferred cheeses and a warmed red wine. well, we don't need asking twice. pass us that central pinot and point us to the comfiest chair by the fire!

bon appétit! XX

p.s. you can find karine's quince paste on our website (click here to be redirected via the wonders of the internet). it comes wrapped in cellophane and sealed with j herbin wax or a little gold heart and is made from locally grown wanaka quince. miam miam!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

my mistress's sparrow is dead

a collection of love stories edited by jeffrey eugenides. reviewed by kimberley.

don’t be fooled by this book. yes, it is a collection of love stories but not in the sense you might immediately imagine. absent are the happy ever afters, the swooning princesses, and the gallant knights: this is a collection of stories that show love as it is. together they remind us that there is no one kind of love and it is not confined to one kind of relationship. individually, they show us how love is not always tender, is hardly ever perfect, and how, sometimes, you even find yourself pretending to be someone you’re not because of it.

i could go into detail about why i appreciated every single one of the stories in this collection, but i’ll be considerate of your time (and your capacity to listen. i could go on for hours) and only deal with my favourites.

the first, “something that needs nothing” by miranda july, needs no explanation because i’ve already talked about it on this blog and i loved it this time for the same reasons i loved it the last time i read it. it’s the story of one person desperately in love with someone that will never love her back unless she pretends to be someone she’s not. it’s a story that sensitively captures the hopeless devotion love can entail. visit the post on miranda july’s short story collection nobody belongs here more than you to read more.

moving on. the thing i appreciated the most about the next, “jon” by george saunders, was actually the writing style. this is a story of young love and first compromises between a boy and a girl who have grown up in an environment, saturated with labels and logos and advertising, that is isolated from the “real” world. when the girl falls pregnant, she decides to return to the real world for the sake of her baby, and the boy (who narrates the story) is faced with the decision of whether or not to follow her. his is a voice imbued with the products and advertisements he has been absorbing all his life – he describes everything that happens to or around him with reference to a product he has tested or an ad he has seen. there’s a certain roundaboutness to his way of describing things that is both endearing and also feels familiar in a world where we often relate our own experiences, including that of love, to the media imposed upon us. take the following passage, for example:
and though i had many times seen LI 34321 for honey grahams, where the stream of milk and the stream of honey enjoin to make that river of sweet-tasting goodness, i did not know that, upon making love, one person may become like the milk and the other like the honey, and soon they cannot even remember who started out the milk and who the honey, they just become one fluid, this like milk/honey combo. (298)
while there were a number of other stories in this collection that i would really like to talk about here, i won’t. i'd like to leave them for you to discover for yourself. for there’s one thing that this collection of stories emphasised for me and that was that what we think of as the universal experience love is incredibly diverse, not just in terms of who it impacts and how but how each person experiences it differently from anyone else. which is why it's only natural that every reader’s experience of each of these stories will be as diverse as their individual experiences of love.


Friday, June 4, 2010

lita's rustic plum (or whatever takes your fancy) tart

yum yum yum ... thank you for this recipe, lita! no prizes for guessing what we'll be munching on this long weekend. (yes, we know the picture is not of plums. but we were hard-pressed to find one prettier than this, and we did so want to share it with you. isn't it lovely?)


for the crust

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

120g chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons (approx.) ice-cold water

for the topping

700g (approx.) plums, halved, pitted and each half cut into 6 slices
6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

30g unsalted butter, melted

1 egg, beaten (for glaze)

1/4 cup preserved apricots (or chunky apricot jam)

to make the crust

blend the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture by pulsing the food processor. do this until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. add 2 tablespoons of the ice-cold water. blend until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if the mixture is dry. gather the dough into a ball the flatten it into a circle. wrap the dough in gladwrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

to make the topping

preheat the oven to 200°c. toss the plums with 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the ginger and the cinnamon in bowl.
on a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 32cm round. transfer the rolled-out dough to a rimmed circular baking tray.
mix 1 tablespoon of the sugar with 1 tablespoon of the flour in a small bowl and sprinkle over the dough, leaving a 5cm border.
arrange the plums in concentric circles on the dough, again leaving a 5cm plain border. drizzle the plums with the melted butter.
fold the dough border in toward the centre. brush the border with the beaten egg to glaze and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
bake the tart until the plums are tender and the crust is golden - usually about 45 minutes.

stir the preserved apricots in a saucepan over low heat until gently heated, then brush over the plums. allow the tart to cool for 1 hour on the baking tray. run a long thin knife under the tart to loosen it before transferring it to a plate. serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

sophia and the hippo teach us how to play

when little sophia came to visit us a couple of weeks ago with her grandmother, sandy, she taught us a thing or two about serious playing ...

question one: how do you know when you've had a really good play?

answer: when you've tried out every single toy at your disposal and made a really big mess.

question two: once you've had a good look at all those toys, how do you decide which is the ultimate one to play with?

answer: that's easy, silly. it's the hippo. of course. and then you have to ROAR like he does.

question three: seeing as - what with all that playing and roaring and mess-making - you're going to get pretty tired, you'll need some kind of sustenance. what is the playing fuel of choice of a little blue eyed hippo-imitator?

answer: hot chocolate!

we look forward to seeing sandy and sophia and all their friends again (and the hippo has been asking when his new bff will come for another playdate).


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

an italian escape

if, like us, you are dreaming of an italian escape from the winter, but pesky earthly constraints (like work and money. and time. curses) are hindering you, then let us introduce you to our never-fail winter-greys cure-all: il papiro.

il papiro is a company based in florence which creates hand-decorated paper items, using traditional tuscan techniques. it is also the best way of transporting yourself to florence (or anywhere else in italy you might fancy, actually) without having to suffer from jetlag.

they make a whole range of truly gorgeous paper products from journals, to pens, to highly desirable hatboxes (and who cares if you don’t have a hat to put in them? you can fill them with old socks and they’d still look stunning on the outside).

but our favourites are their papers. each of them is intricately detailed and depicts a scene you really feel you could fall in to. we’ve got them up all around the little brown house and they are doing a marvellous job at keeping the winter greys at bay. hooray!