Kereru Hop To It Pale Ale & New Zealand Short Tailed Bats


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Today we drove to Upper Hut and visited a brewery, as you do.  Kereru Brewing Company is a local artisanal brewery here in Wellington. Kereru has good beer and some great beer label artwork.

One of the beers brewed at Kereru is called “Hop To It” and there are native New Zealand bats on the label. How cool is that?


These are New Zealand Lesser Short Tailed Bats (pekapeka-tou-poto).  There are two extant bat species in New Zealand:  New Zealand Lesser Short-Tailed Bats and New Zealand Long-Tailed Bats.

From the back label:

New Zealand short tailed bats hop around the forest floor. They’re pretty hoppy. So is this beer.

Kereru Hop To It is a good, well balanced Pale Ale.

Umami Tsunami


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How did I end up here?  Well…

I found a beer from Garage Project, a local Wellington brewery.  The beer is called Umami Monster.  Yeah, Umami Monster.  Imagine a beer made with Japanese dashi stock.  Umami flavours in a beer should pair well with grilled meats.

So, we’ve endured cold, wet Southerly conditions here in Wellington for about 7 days in a row, except for today. This morning the wind turned northerly and it was sunny – excellent BBQ weather, even in Winter.

So, I set up The Mighty Hibachi with hardwood charcoal – the good stuff, mind you – great chunks of charcoal, fist sized bits straight from the bag.  I could really use a bigger BBQ, but that’s a different post for a different day…

I figured, as you do, that a grilled umami burger with Umami Monster beer would hit you like an Umami Tsunami.  Oh, never mind.

Back to the umami burger… I made a miso-dijon mustard with dijon mustard, miso paste, and xioxing wine (would have used rice wine, but didn’t have it).  I grilled red onions (heaps of umami there…).  I grilled 200g of beef mince over hardwood charcoal, basting the burger with the miso-dijon mustard as it cooked. I topped the burger with a mixture of grated aged cheddar and Grana Padano cheese and covered the burger on the grill until the cheese melted.

When the burger was cooked medium rare, I took it off the grill and let it rest for a bit while I got the rest of the burger ready.  I spread kewpie mayonnaise on the toasted bottom bun, then topped the bottom bun with cos lettuce, bread & butter pickles, and a couple of tomato slices.  I placed the burger on top of all that, then placed the grilled onions on top of the burger.  On the top bun I spread some miso-dijon mayonnaise, then assembled the burger and plated it.

I served the umami burger with Umami Monster beer…

It was an Umami Tsunami.

Would I do it again?  Probably not, but it was a fun culinary exercise.

Windy Wellington


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Metservice issued a Sever Weather Warning for the Wellington Region for severe northwest gales, with gusts reaching to 120km/hr in exposed places.  We decided to go for a drive around Miramar Peninsula and watch the gale force winds and waves along the beach…

First, we drove along the southern tip of the Miramar Peninsula, to Tarakena Bay, to see the leeward side of the peninsula and the entrance to Wellington Harbour (Port Nicholson).


Occasionally, the swells would come in at just the right angle and crash against the rocky shoreline.


We noticed the Interislander ferry approaching from the west, so waited and watched as the ferry entered the harbour.  The swells were not too bad today, but we later found out this was the last ferry sailing of the day as they were cancelled due to high winds in the harbour.

We left Tarakena Bay and drove through Wellington Airport, then north, along the east side of Evans Bay, to Shelly Bay.


The windward side of Miramar Peninsula.  The northerly gales were really howling into Evans Bay.  We drove further north along Shelly Bay Road and parked at the Chocolate Fish Cafe.


At this point, waves were crashing against the seawall, sending thick sprays of water onto the road.  We turned around and headed back south.


Keep in mind, these swells are generated within the harbour, not from open ocean.


Pretty impressive wind!

An Ethereal Blue Cheese Souffle


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It’s time to dig out your ramikens!  Eggs, blue cheese, freshly grated nutmeg – what’s not to like?


Believe it or not, this souffle had actually deflated a bit when I removed it from the oven and jiggled it to the table and grabbed my camera.

This recipe is based on an Ina Garten Recipe for Blue Cheese Souffle.  I used Whitestone Highland Blue instead of Roquefort and freshly grated Grana Padano instead of Parmesan, because that is what I had in the fridge.  I have made this recipe a couple times before, when I halved the recipe and baked a couple smaller, individual souffles.  This time, I used the full recipe and a 2 quart ramiken.  Also, since I do not have an electric mixer, I whisked the egg whites by hand.

Blue Cheese Souffle

Serves: 2 to 3 servings

Makes enough for 6-6oz. ramekins, 4-8oz. ramekins or a 2 quart soufflé dish. The 8oz. versions may take slightly longer to bake. I have also divided the recipe in half successfully when I want to make just 2 or 3 individual soufflés.


  • 43g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 43g (3 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 85g (3 ounces) good Roquefort cheese, chopped
  • 5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar


Preheat the oven to 205C (400 degrees F).

Butter the inside of an 8-cup souffle dish (7 1/2 inches in diameter and 3 1/4 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.When it is completely melted and the foam subsides, with a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot, stir in the Roquefort and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Whisk a small dollop of the hot butter-flour mixture into the egg yolks so they don’t cook when you add them to the saucepan. Now add the tempered yolks to your saucepan, whisking to incorporate.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the saucepan and gently fold them into the cheesy mixture with a spatula. Add the remaining whites in two more additions, folding them in gently. It is not necessary to fully incorporate the egg whites. Since the goal of folding is to preserve as much of their volume as possible, it is okay to see small bits of whites in the mixture.
Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw your thumb around the inside of the ramiken to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 190C (375 degrees F). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don’t peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Flat Stanley Goes To The Beach


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Flat Stanley is heading back home to California tomorrow and asked if he could see where we like to spend time in our community before he leaves.  So, this morning I took Flat Stanley for a walk along Lyall Bay Beach…

Flat Stanley climbed all over the driftwood.

Flat Stanley climbed all over the driftwood.

Flat Stanley loved to watch the sea birds walking on the sand.  We found a few birds a bit further along the beach…

Flat Stanley wanted to run  all the way to the end!

Flat Stanley wanted to run all the way to the end!

We walked to the western end of Lyall Bay Beach, where there are houses right on the beach.

The western end of Lyall Bay Beach.

The western end of Lyall Bay Beach.

When we reached the houses, Flat Stanley asked if we could turn around and walk all the way to the eastern end of the beach.  I love to walk along the beach, so I walked with Flat Stanley along the beach, close to the waves, to see if we could find anything interesting on the beach.

Flat Stanley found heaps of cool rocks on the beach and a neat paua shell sitting on the shingle.

We found a paua shell on the beach.

Flat Stanley was excited to find this beautiful paua shell!

Flat Stanley was a bit tired of walking, but we made it all the way to the eastern end of Lyall Bay Beach, right next to the runway at the Wellington Airport!

Flat Stanley was hungry, so I bought him a burger at Ekim Burgers.  They set up a caravan next to the beach.  As it turns out, today is the last day Ekim Burger will be open at this beach.  They are moving into a shop in downtown Wellington.

Flat Stanley got to meet Mike Duffy of Ekim Burgers!

Flat Stanley got to meet Mike Duffy from Ekim Burgers!