I spent the weekend in Martinborough, the charming little village, 45 minutes north of Wellington, famous for its vineyards and Food and Wine Festival. Not much was going on. I guess it is the middle of winter so I didn't have very high expectations.
We were lucky to be able to enjoy dinner Saturday night at Wendy Campbell's French Bistro, which had just won the Cuisine Magazine regional restaurant of the year award. It is a nice little bistro, I guess it seats 30 people at a time. The award obviously caused a bubble of interest - or perhaps Saturday night is always full. I didn't really enjoy the meal itself - maybe grey old French traditional cuisine can't cut it when you have been exposed to fresh, well prepared contemporary food - available in any cafe or bistro in Auckland or Wellington. The owners are parents of John Campbell (of TV3's Campbell Live current affairs programme) and it was nice to meet his dad, amiably making guests feel at home. In spite if my criticism of the food, it wasn't bad and if you like that style of cooking, you'll be happy.
One of the fascinating things I noticed was that there are some interesting street name choices in Martinborough. I think my favourite was Radium Street. Kind of random. I'm not sure I would be all that happy to have that as my address - or maybe not, it has a certain charm and an impressive half life.
Then there was the fabulously optimistic New York and New York Street West. The town planners in the Wairarapa certainly know how to have fun.
Stopped in at the new Dowse Gallery in Lower Hutt where I noted this sign. They don't mince words in Lower Hutt, do they? It's a nice gallery. I didn't like any of the current shows, but I'd like something like it in my neighbourhood - Auckland's North Shore should have a gallery - maybe up by the Design School in Albany Village - a sattelite of the Auckland City gallery.
By the way, the cafe at the Dowse is excellent. Very good fod, well priced and a young staff that 'get' service. Nice chowder.
The sign below is a slightly self-conscious 'branding' excercise for the Gallery. Funky but strangely purile - high on the patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel scale.
With a wait in Wellington we revisited the Marinui Surf Club cafe. This has to the be the best surf club business in the country. Close to the city (not like Piha) and very funky. This is the door to the dunnies:
Note to self…return in summer.