Monday, July 30, 2007

Time to reflect

I have reread Peter Hoegs' excellent book 'The Borderliners' where he examines in depth the concept of time. I'm fascinated that it is a constant but goes faster and slower depending on what you are doing. If you have your hand in the fire it goes very slow but if you are making passionate love it goes very fast and is it constant when scientists can't invent a clock that stays accurate!
We think of time as linear, that is going in a straight line, with events happening that haven't happened before but we need to measure the passage of time against something as we do when we judge the speed of a car coming towards us against the constant background or the hands of a clock against it's face. But sometimes events do repeat themselves so maybe there are two times, one linear, and one cyclic which stays the same or repeats itself. Imagine if linear time is moving constantly right (why does it seem natural to me to be heading right?) and we are measuring against cyclic time which is on the bottom half of a circle moving left so it appears that linear time is moving faster and conversely when it is on the top half of the circle it would appear to move slower.
OK now all we have to do is control it consciously. When we are enjoying ourselves we make time move slow and when life's a bitch it's a rollercoaster!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Succulent Sallops

Our scallop season has opened and I watch

the pug-nosed old sea dogs
slinking home with bellies full of contraband
after a night spent
scrounging amongst the seaweed

We have extensive beds in our Bay which, like a lot of NZ fisheries, were raped and plundered almost to extinction when first discovered but now with the season only from July to February and a quota limit set they are producing as well as ever. In places they are 6 metres down so, as a recreational fisherman with a good set of lungs, you can get your limit of 20 in good time.
Here's how I like to prepare them :
Fresh Macadamia Crumbed Mercury Bay Scallops on Corn Hotcake with a Pernod Cream Sauce
Mix Together
2 eggs beaten / 400gm can cream corn
3/4 cup plain flour / tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream / dash of tabasco sauce
tbs sweet Thai chilli sauce / 1/2 small onion chopped fine
clove garlic chopped fine / 2 tbs chopped coriander
salt and fresh pepper

I lightly crumb mine in a mix of macadamia nut and chilli kelp I get from my local macadamia orchard
but you can do them plain.
Have a pan with a little oil searing hot and add scallops, cook 30 seconds, flip over and , add a knob of butter, a little lemon juice and a good splash of pernod. Flame the alcohol (the exciting part) then add 60mls of cream. Cook a minute, remove the scallops, season the sauce with salt and freshly ground pepper and reduce down to a nice consistency. While cooking the scallops cook the hotcakes in 7cm rounds in another hot pan with oil to golden brown.
To serve: place two hotcakes in the centre of the plate, put 6 scallops on top and pour over sauce. Garnish with a nasturtium flower and a sprig of coriander.

The ingredients are deliberately a little loose. Remember to taste, taste, taste as you are cooking to understand what works!
Photo coming when we finish the wild pig our neighbour dropped into us. I can see another recipe coming on: medallions of wild pork fillet with seared scallops on.......

Friday, July 20, 2007

Live music

Wow we're half way through our winter break of 5 months. The lady chasing us to buy the restaurant offered us next to nothing so we will be back with a vengeance come October. Already my mind has shifted towards new menus, new art attacks and I have started booking musicians. I am amazed at the explosion of music venues, apart from bands in pubs, since we started nine years ago. It's great for the musicians to have so many to choose from but I am concerned that there just aren't enough punters to go around and we are adamant that we won't book gigs that are playing in other local venues.
It's not easy hosting live music. At first people would walk away rather than pay a $5 cover charge although they would come in and buy a beer for that. We lost money on every gig for the first couple of years so it took a greater vision of helping struggling musicians, educating people about the value of performance and building ourselves into a serious music venue. We still have trouble with some agents in the industry who think that because we are small (110 max.) we don't qualify for the big names but we have done the hard yards and their 'big names' had to start somewhere. The musicians once they have played here love to come back because of the intimate atmosphere where they can get a rapport going with the audience.
So now most people recognise the value of paying musicians well (the movies cost $15!!) and are willing to pay $5 up to $30 depending on the artist.
They probably recognise also that by supporting other musicians coming into the area it keeps me off the stage! I'm learning new songs I promise!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eco Artists

I am involved with a new brand launch called Eco Artists New Zealand which will focus on art and artists concerned about the environment and raise money through commissions for environmental projects. Started by the excellent Lochmara Lodge it is hoped artists and galleries in all regions will hold exhibitions to promote the brand.
Because of New Zealands' unusual evolutionary past, we hold stock to one of the worlds most unique collection of plants and birds but unfortunately we have lost proportionally more of its species than most other countries. One in two of our endemic birds and one in ten of our native plants are currently under threat of extinction and a variety of endemic reptiles, amphibians, invertabrates and fish species are gravely endangered.
We are organising an exhibition here at Eggsentric to open on the last day of our annual sculpture symposium Sunday 2nd Dec. and run for two weeks. The artists themselves set the % of commission they want to donate to the organisation which takes the pressure off those that are poor (probably all of them!)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Air Car

A car that not only has zero emissions but also cleans polluted air as you drive it? French man Guy Negre has developed an engine using compressed air which stores energy via air compressed into carbon fibre tanks and does away with the heavy, costly and environmentally unfriendly batteries of the electric car. He has teamed up with a company here in NZ which has developed the technology of replacing the 22 kg wiring system of a car with a single wire and operating it with radio signals. Sure it does need electricity to run the compressor but we are lucky in NZ that because of our hydro lakes we have virtually pollution free generation and of course compressed air is already available in all our service stations. The company has already signed up Tata motors, a large car and bus manufacturer in India, and is looking for other countries to come aboard. Love to have one here but my meagre savings won't run to a manufacturing plant!
Just had the mother of all storms with 200km winds and 6 metre swells. Our power was down for two days but we got off lightly compared to some with severe flooding and roofs missing. It reminded me of the time when the kids were young and we had no power and relied on the woodstove and read and played games by the light of the gently hissing kerosene lanterns. Them were the days!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Mutton birds

Enjoyed the German film 'The Lives of Others' portraying the before and after of the fall of the Berlin Wall in East Germany. Totalatarian governments are right to target the intellectuals because that is where the dissent is born and spreads to the will of the people. The film shows that those against the regime knew they had no chance of a revolution through force and yet little by little (74 years!) they changed the peoples' will and the Soviet Union dissolved away with virtually no blood spilt.
On a personal level it's hard to not feel powerless in the overwhelming world but it's amazing what drip feed can do. Look at the environmental movement. Seen as lunatics when they first started protesting they have now become so mainstream through the constant media attention of climate change that they are directly shifting government policy. You can make a difference!!
I enjoyed my first mutton bird for a long time. These are the young of our common seabird the sooty shearwater (of the petrel family) which fly to Stewart Island on the 13th September (yes like clockwork) and lay one egg in a burrow mostly on the 25th November which is incubated by both parents and hatches on Christmas Day. The Titi (Maori name) need to eat their weight of food each day and become little balls of fat which the Maori people harvest around the middle of March. The plucked birds are preserved by salting heavily and require boiling in several changes of water then crisped under the grill usually out the back in the shed because the smell is.....distinctive. The flavour is at once salty and gamey and I'm going to design a dish around it for the restaurant. Maybe a mutton bird and possum terrine.....

Monday, July 2, 2007

Sculpture chair

The weather has turned colder and wetter which means Sam has had a couple of days snow boarding on Mt.Ruapehu and I always take the cliff track to Shakespeare in the early morning to get warm and forage for dead manuka (ti tree, pronounced tee because the Maori vowel i is sounded as ee) to keep the home fires burning. Today the tide has swept a lot more sand up to the high tide mark almost covering the black iron sand that appeared a few weeks ago and a flotilla of brown foam whipped by the nor'wester is sailing up the little stream at the end of the beach. Far out a circle of gannets are diving deep for their breakfast, white scraps against a grey oncoming shower.
I finished my chair last night. Two weeks from conception, design and completion, not too bad. Half way through I decided I didn't like the loop under the feet so cut it off and am better pleased with the balance. Today it's back to my arches and maybe the start of a new design which I have been playing with. I'm almost ready to invite a gallery to view the finished pieces in the hope of an exhibition which is never easy, I'm not good with rejection. Toughen up. Who cares!!