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Somerset Cottage Newsletter June 2017
24th of June 2017
June has been rather a big month for us, in the sense that we've had more time away than we usually do. Very shortly I'll have to head over to the restaurant to do all the basic setup in readiness for service tonight - a task I haven't had to contemplate in a few weeks, so will be a bit of a reality check for me!
At the start of the month Rick and I headed to Melbourne for some serious restaurant research, as you do, jamming in as many eating out experiences as was realistically possible.Quite amazing what you can manage to eat, outside your norm, when you have time constraints on you and lots of places you simply need to see!!
And then, in just over 24 hours from getting home, I was back at Auckland airport, this time with two friends for a girls week in Bali. I'm only just back from that excursion and working my way back into normality! My solitary walk yesterday down round the waterways of Carmichael Reserve felt like as extreme a contrast as you could possible get to the frenetic streets of Seminyak and Legion that had been our daily stomping ground in Bali.
I'm still processing all that we saw and did, and over the next few days when I get the time will sit down and write a couple of lengthy blogs on what we encountered eating out, and our thoughts on the trends. I take comprehensive notes when we travel and lots of photos, so writing blogs gives me away to compile those thoughts into a form of shorthand for my own records as much as for those who may be interested. Blogs don't get sent out like this newsletter, but you can click on them on the restaurant website at any time.
Melbourne is a fantastic restaurant city and we had an absolute blast. Our hotel was smack bang in the middle of the CBD so virtually everywhere we wanted to go was within walking distance, and some of those walks during the day were fairly lengthy which was a useful and deliberate thing, given the amount we were eating! You get to see alot of a city that way, and it just confirmed for us how much we like it. We also got to catch up with friends and family, both those who live in Melbourne, and others who were visiting like us, and that all helped us come home feeling very replete in every sense of the word.
(Lune Croissanterie. A bakery we visited one morning that necessitated a reasonable walk in between breakfast and lunch, which was truly amazing. They only make laminated pastries in 5 different styles - the most uncluttered hip looking bakery I have ever seen!)
( The baffling graffiti that is such a feature of the alleys off Flinders Lane. Tonka, an extremely upmarket restaurant was at the end of this particular lane, and the nonchalance around the wall art and rubbish bins just is! We heard an American at a next door table ask the front staff if that was really their main entrance. Obviously he couldn't compute that a good restaurant would be somewhere that didn't look manicured. That's Melbourne!!)
Bali was a total contrast. It happened to be my first extended period of time in a country with a cultural basis totally different to what I've known all my life, and as a result my sensibilities got challenged on a number of levels. I was lucky though, because one of my companions had been there a number of times, and her knowledge and understanding of how things worked allowed me the space and time to simply follow along and ask lots of questions and learn. It was invaluable.We stayed in a beautiful villa right in the heart of the Seminyak/Legion area and that provided a needed haven from the bustle of the streets. All truly fascinating and I got to understand why so many people we know return to Bali repeatedly. It has a way of getting under your skin.
It's also a place of the most bizarre extremes, extraordinary contrasts everywhere you look. And I most certainly wasn't expecting to have one of the best dining out experiences of my life there, but that is exactly what happened at Bambu, a truly amazing restaurant in every sense.
After over 31 years of marriage, this was the very first time I'd ever been away from my husband for an extended period of time, tragic I know but that's just the way our lives have unfolded! I confess to certain levels of anxiety around that thought along with my hesitation about Bali itself but I needn't have worried. We had an absolute blast! Truckloads of eating and drinking and sharing, in amongst much laughter and the occasional tear. I came home feeling like a new woman, although I confess I had mentioned during my note writing the night before we left, that I was definitely looking forward to the hug that I knew would be waiting for me at Tauranga airport!!
(Bambu - exquisite decor, exquisite food, delightful staff, and ridiculously reasonably priced.)
(The lovely Wayan who we got to know because Wendy had befriended her on previous visits. She used to deliver us morning coffee from the cafe Sacred Ground that was just round the corner. I'd been told in advance that the Balinese are special people and they really are. Both Wayan and Elu who looked after us in the Villa were the loveliest ladies, and some of the drivers we had were also delightful - only men driving cabs. Saw women on scooters but never driving a car now I come to think of it...We encountered one or two sharks too but not enough to dent my enthusiasm .)
Rick had managed to cope just fine without me. I haven't had a full account yet but I suspect his time on the bike out on the road was possibly considerably more that he would do in a week if I was around, and that's OK! He also had created a number of new dishes for the weekly menu inspired by our eating out in Melbourne, so I've been getting up to speed with all of those over the last couple of days. And there's lots more ideas to gradually filter through over the next little while, which is always the biggest payback for us with travel.
And the wonderful people that we work with, just kept everything happening. We haven't been away from the restaurant for an extended time in quite awhile now, and if felt great to be able to do so and not fret on any level. And to come back to no calamities. Sometimes it can be rather liberating to not be needed. Must remember that!
And now it's their turn to start taking annual leave, so we get to stay put for the next little while which neither of us see as a hardship. One other always positive consequence of travel is the re-awareness of just how lucky we are to live where we do!
And as part of being around we can now embark on the Winter Cookschool Series - dates for which are now up on the website. As always the dishes that Rick will present will reflect what we are enjoying eating at the moment, and will be appropriate to the weather. Please book online, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to email me on anne@somersetcottage,co.nz.
And now I had better go over and get the tables organised for tonight The All Blacks are playing the LIons at 7.30pm which means we won't be as busy as we normally are on a Saturday, and also means that what tables are coming are pretty much all arriving early. So we'll get a massive hit, with everyone wanting to eat and go. Have told friends who have booked for the more respectable hour of 8pm that there's a high probablity that they will be the only table left in the restaurant by that time. Don't think it will bother them unduly - but it might Rick if he misses the delayed coverage of the game!
Live happily, and we look forward to catching up soon,