Sunday, 21 December 2008

Things that piss me off

One thing that pisses me off is retailers who advertise something on special in store and who do not have the item in stock. This behaviour is basically a bait and switch scheme and doing it violates the Fair Trading Act. It happened to me twice today.

Camille and I were out looking for a 7" digital photo frame. Both these stores had signs in their shops advertising them on special at $99.00. On asking for one both shops said they didn't have any in stock. We walked out of both without purchasing anything. In the second shop I was pissed off enough to rip the advertising off the display stand and hand it to the shop assistant telling him to stop advertising items they don't have in stock.

The stores were Harvey Normans Hastings and Dick Smith Electronics, also in Hastings.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Timaru: The dog

One thing I forgot to mention about this B&B is the dog. It's a huge slavering beast of a thing that greets you at the door and...

It's actually a small black and old spaniel which also happens to be totally blind. It wanders around the place gently bumping into things. I have been fairly impressed by its navigation skills but it does remind me of a battery operated toy I had years ago which was a bus with a set of rotating wheels under it. It would move forward and bump into something and then the rotating wheels cause it to change direction.

The dog operates in exactly the same way only without the wheels.

Timaru: Bed & Breakfast and Ginger & Garlic

We are staying a very nice Bed and Breakfast in Timaru called Nelson Heights. Very comfortable and with good hosts. Camille has stayed here on a number of occasions and likes it very much and with good reason. To the right is the bedroom we are in (photo shamelessly lifted from the B&B's website). The bed is excellent - I'm lying in it at this very moment. This is the room which has the ensuite with a spa bath which we didn't get to use. This place is substantially better than many hotels I have stayed at.

Last night we ate at the Ginger & Garlic restaurant which has, as I said in yesterday's post, pretty good reviews in Dineout. I can recommend this place. The food is good.

Shortly after being seated we were given an amuse bouche of a whitebait patty with oil which was quite pleasant.

Our table of five started off by ordering the roasted garlic and mozarella bruschetta, the salmon bruschetta and duck liver pate with breads. This was all good though perhaps a little more bread could have been served with the pate. I particularly liked garlic and mozarella. We got the usual "Would you like cracked pepper with that?" question to which the response was, "Leave the grinder at the table, please".

Rant: This is one of the things that really annoys me about some restaurants. If I want pepper on my food, I want to put it on myself. I want to be able to make the decision to put pepper on after I have tasted the food, not seconds after it has arrived at the table. I want to be able to make the decision to put more pepper on part way through the course without having to call someone over so they can trot off and get a grinder.

While eating I occasionally ground a bit of pepper over the salmon bruchetta portions I had whilst other members of our party chose not to have pepper at all.

For an entree I had the Caesar Salad which I was a just little disappointed with as it was a bit blander than I expected.

This was followed by a sorbet palate cleanser.

For the main, Camille and two others had the pork fillet and were all pleased with it. Some people just can't go past a bit of pork crackling. The fourth member of our party ordered the lamb back straps and was also very happy with it. I was in a bit of a quandry. Beef or Duck? Or more accurately, Angus Pure beef fillet on Moroccan potato gratin w garlic puree and dark mushroom jus or Salt & pepper crusted Canterbury duck breast, oven baked on garlic mash w baby fennel, beetroot tart and peppercorn jus?

I hate decisions like this. I plumped for duck in the end and was not disappointed! It was the fennel that did it for me. I love fennel (mmm fennel braised with garlic in white wine!) and don't get to eat it often enough. This was an excellent choice and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We had a Peregrine Pinot Noir with the meal (actually 3 bottles) which was good but this leads into rant II.

Rant II: Another thing that annoys me about some restaurants is the way the wait staff continually interupt the flow of conversation and the general dining experience by continually attempting to fill my wine glass up after I have had about two sips out of it. Once they have been firmly told, "No. I will fill my glass when I want it filled", they shouldn't keep offering to do it. If they must do the wine pouring they should wait until the glass is at least near empty and I shouldn't have to continually fend them off.

The Ginger & Garlic is a good restaurant. If you are in Timaru and hungry I recommend you dine there.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

To Timaru!

Camille is driving and we are just south of Ashburton on our way to Timaru where Camille has a course graduating later today. It's been a somewhat ho-hum journey though landing in Wellington was fairly interesting. Very up and down and a bit of sideways too. I think it was the rockiest landing I have had at Wgtn for over 20 years.

We had just enough time there to grab a quick bite to eat and after walking all around the food outlets giving them the sniff test ("Oh... Not that one! Too greasy"), we settled on a samosa from the indian outlet. While it had an almost pleasant flavour,they were still semi-frozen in the midde and so were returned for re-heating. Back they came and they were still semi-frozen! We had to lump it though as we had to leave for our flight.

Passing through the security always amuses me in Wellington as I have to divest myself of various toys: phone, camera one, camera two, laptop out of the bag, USB drives etc. Today I realised that I had four USB drives in my pocket, all with legitimate uses I hasten to say.

  1. DOS bootable drive
  2. Linux bootable drive with lots of good utilities
  3. drive with lots of files and utilities on it for other stuff
  4. drive which gets used in other people's computers and then reformatted under linux before it gets used on any windows computers.
All very necessary!

The flight to Christchurch was pretty uneventful. Here we picked up a rental car. We had booked a Camry sometime ago but when we showed up we were given a bloody Hyundai Sonata and it is NOT a good replacement. Avis drop down the list for rentals for that one!

I had forgotten how boring it is to drive through Canterbury. Flat, straight and relatively slow. It seems to be full of drivers who speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down. Fortunately there are lots of passing lanes and I made good use of them when I was driving. During one Camille started repeating "Cop, Cop, Cop" to me and I belatedly realised that I was doing close to 140km/hr whilst passing a long truck. I backed off to 120 and he let me go by without giving chase. What a nice chap.

Canterbury is another place like Hawke's Bay. Full of farmers trying to do farming that is completely unsuited to the area. If you live in a place where you have to use huge irrigation plants to keep your grass growing so you can feed your cows so you can milk them means YOU ARE IN THE WRONG TYPE OF FARMING FOR THE AREA!

Later today we will be going to the Ginger and Garlic restaurant which has a few good reviews on the Dine Out website. I'll try and post something about it later.