Sunday, May 28. 2006
Despite the glass walls and a (mild) winter’s day the cafe was comfortably warm; that’s an improvement in many Wellington cafes tat seem to regard heating as an optional extra. The seats are a delight, as well; again a point of difference from the many venues that seem to have either hired designers who think comfortable seats are a sign of aesthetic failure, or owners whose business plan involves finding chairs from a decomissioned school.
The staff were attentive without being cloying; they also seem to have the flipside of the Midnight Espresso vat, the bit that pumps out good, pleasant staff (I joiked many years ago, about the time I stopped going there, that Midnight seemed to have a vat they grew identical surley altrna-chicks in; said clones all sported sneers that told customers they were too cool to be working in cafes, and customers bore the brunt of the toxic personalities).
Bolognase on cibatta with sauteed potatoes and fried pancetta as extras was delicious; the pancetta was fried enough to be crisp, but not so much as to lose all flavour and juice. The potatos were perfect, neither fried to the point of being chips, or left undercooked and solid in the center. The bolognase itself was rich, with a wonderful smokey, almost tobacco, flavour.
Maire had pasta with West Coast wild boar, which was sweet and tasty.
Prices are reasonablethe full meals are at the top end of cafe prices, but given that the quality is better than many restaurants around town, they look like a bargain. The lunch menu is a very decent pricethe bolognase on toast was $7.50, for example.
The only caveat is that the food takes longer to arrive than most cafes. On a relaxing Saturday this isn’t a problem. If you’re looking for a heat-and-eat experience, head elsewhere.
I plan on working my way through their menu.
Saturday, May 27. 2006
The Paekak Hill road is an enjoyable, winding drive that links the Kapiti-Mana coast with Pauhatanui and the Hutt Valley.
In spite of the boy racers who hoon around the area the lookout is the biggest road hazard; coming over the rise from the Pauhatanui valley are confronts you with views that make it hard to focus on the tarseal.
Thursday, May 25. 2006
Monday, May 22. 2006
If you’re a Mini afficiando the modern Minis must be a dissapointment. Sure, if you squint a lot they still look nothing like a classic Mini, and they’re about the same size as a Toyota Corolla hatchback.
Sunday, May 21. 2006
When I bought the 350D I got the kit lens (an EF-S 17-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Canon lens (27-88mm equivalent). It’s so cheap as to be a no-brainer, unless you plan on dropping somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 on your main walkabout lens when you buy the camera (or already have one). Nice idea, but I have a mortgage.
From my perspective the kit lens has one glaring weakness: a fairly narrow maximum aperture; you’ll most likely do no better than f/4 unless you’re shooting wide angle. People used to better lenses than me will also tell you it’s quite soft compared to a good (read: prime or L-quality Canon) lens.
But the aperture bugs me more at the moment; with an f/4 aperture I often need a flash for indoor photography, especially in the evening. I far prefer a natural light. On top of that, it limits depth of field effects.
So I did what everyone said I should do: get what was for many years regarded as the 35mm photographer’s standard lens, a 50mm prime.
The 50mm on a standard 35mm camera is supposed to give about equivalent view to ordinary, unmagnified human vision; it ends up giving the same field of view as an 80mm lens on my 350D (due to the crop of the small sensor) but still has the DOF of a 50mm. That crop adds some interesting complications; at 80mm equiv a 50mm prime is a bit tighter and requires I get further away to get an orthodox 50mm shot, which could be a curse indoors.
There are other options: a 30-ish mm lens will give the 50mm magnification, but will have the same DOF as a wide angle lens. More importantly they’re expensive; a wide-angle lens with a max aperture of f/2 will cost as much, not as the $200 50mm f/1.8, but the high-end 50mm f/1.4 USM.
At $200, given my ability to walk backwards, the 50mm f/1.8 is a no-brainer. And I’m delighted with itit’s giving me exactly what I want in the way of DOF, fast shutter speeds at normal light levels. It does have some drawbacks: it’s noisy compared to the kit lens, and like a industrial site compared to my USM telephoto lens.
It’s also not robust; I dropped the first one from a table maybe half a metre high, and it exploded into component parts. It was cheaper to replace than repair, especially since the fine folks at Wellington Photographic Supplies took pity on me and gave the replacement for wholesale.
Some sample shots:
Jaques (click here for full size version); f/1.8, 1/160s:
Jaques and Isis (click here for full size version); f/1.8, 1/320s:
Greg and Tamon (click here for full size version); f/3.5, 1/160s:
Friday, May 19. 2006
Wednesday, May 17. 2006
(The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM IS would be kind of tempting, but it costs the same as the 24-105. The better max apeture really isn’t worth the difference in quality between an L lens, especially since the 17-55 is useless on full-frame cameras.)
(Of course, this isn’t real lens lust, which would have a laundry list of enormously expensive lenses that are only good for quite specific purposes, like tilt and shift lenses, as well as hyper-expensive L class lenses.)
Sunday, May 14. 2006
I went for a wander through Hataitai and down to Roseneath to have lunch at the excellent Feast cafe today, and hauled a camera along to see what I could see.
Looking past the Miramar Peninsula and Somes Island to Eastborne:
Somes Island has been used for a variety of purposes over the years, including an internment camp for Germans and others of suspect loyalties during World War I, and a quarantine station. It’s currently administered by DOC.
On this tip of Miramar is the Massey Memorial:
This is a mausoleum containing former populist prime minister William Massey; popular at the time, he is today rememberd for the class war he waged via Massey’s Cossacks, and (rightly or wrongly) being directly responsible for breaking the quarantine that had protected New Zealand from the 1918 influenza.
You can also see the Eastborne ferry running through the murk. Workmates who live in Eastborne wear by it as the most civilised way to move to and from the city.
The Hataitai castle:
OK, so it isn’t a castle, and it’s probably closer to Greta Point than Hataitai proper. But if you mention the castle a goodly number of people will no what you’re talking about; a sprawling manor-style house with broad lawns, sitting on a Mount Victoria foothill all its own; a cable car runs down to the road below.
The Door to Nowhere:
Wellington is hilly, and our streets are narrow with poor parking. This leads to some parking solutions than in other places would be remarkably novel, but here are fairly commonplace:
(Feast, sadly, was jam-packed, so we had to pass up their fine service and excellent fare.)
We decided to give Boulôt a try; it’s a restaurant set up by the Bresolini borthers, sons of Remiro Bresolini of Il Casino fame. It’s a more casual affair than Il Casino, and with the three of us (Maire, Carla and I) ambling in on a Friday evening we were still able to score a table, something of a pleasant surprise.
There’s a bar with a reasonably broad cocktail menu, an impressive kitchen visible to the customer (with a large, wood-fired pizza oven); there’s no obnoxiously loud music (a staple of too many Courtney Place bar/restaurants).
The service was good; when Carla ordered a long black, meaning a Founder’s Long Black beer, and got a coffee, the staff replaced it with a the desired beverage without any argument about who said and heard what; someone was always at the table when we needed them and not bugging us when we didn’t.
The food itself is very good indeed; we kicked off with a shared garlic pizza between us, which was delicious; this was a favourite of mine at the departed Europa cafe/restaurant on Oriental Parade, and Boulôt do it well.
For mains I went for the Pizza Rustica, a basic tomato, cheese, and proscuitto topping on a thin crust. The base was delicious, the topping exquisite. The proscuitto is added post-cooking, and is extra-tasty for it; the pizzas appear to be made on the spot. It was huge, and easily defeated me, derailing my plans for dessert.
Maire had confit de canard on cassoulet, and pronounce the duck perfect; Carla had a rigatoni which demolished her.
Carla and I split a bottle of an Italian desert wine (Nivoli Asti); mildly sparkling and not too sweet and syrupy. Maire had a quince tart that was, apparently, perfection.
All and all I was very pleased; at $147 for the three of us it’s in the middle of Wellington restaurant prices.
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