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Saturday, August 23, 2003

Yesterday's food: Ok .. so what did we have last night for the party:

Chicken Satay skewers:
    I like the put quite some lime and coriander (dhana or cilantro) in the marinade. Blend that with chilies and peanuts and you get close :)
    I first gave them some charing treatment on the George Foreman Grill . and later in the grill in the oven. I guess they came across a bit dry.
South Sea Chicken
    I have done that recipe before and it was on the blog .. like last january .. it is in ThIS part of the archives ... This time we only used drumsticks, and it came out very well, the meat just fell right off the bone.
Parsley Potatoes
    A very simple, but very yummy dish .. cook the potatoes until they have passed the 'al dente' point a bit ... cut into 'bit bigger than bite size' and sprinkle with lots of fresh parsley, salt and fresh pepper.
German style meat balls
    If I tell you that recipe, the german mafia will come after me and kill me ... all I can say that ketchup and mustard is already in the meat mix. Also some soaked bread. You may find more by asking for "Frikadelle Rezept"
    Fijian style fish dish. Take some nice white fish, as fresh as you woul dare to eat it raw, cut into cubes and marinade in lime juice over night (or at least 2 hours) ... schnippel onions, chillies, a bit of green capsicum, maybe some spring onions and some nice ripe tomatoes (de-seed them .. otherwise it may turn to mushy.) Drain the fish, but keep the marinade, mix fish with chopped stuff, add some coconut milk, add some of the marinade for taste ... let sit for a bit, do not refrigerate too much, as coconut milk parts may get solid. Eat cold, yes, there is no cooking involved. Some freshly chopped cilantro never hurts.
Fumi Salad
    A new favorite! We just encountered that Saturday afternoon at another bbq / party / function. A very tasty take on cole slaw. Cut some cabbage very thin, add some copped spring onions. In 2 nonstick pans try to toast slivered almonds and sesame seeds seperately ... I am saying "try" as it is very simple to burn them .. first 20 minutes nothing happens .. and then they turn from white to black in 10 seconds. You have been warned. Top the salad with that .. dressing is a simple half half mix of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is good) and sugar, some salt and pepper too .... see .. nearly no fat .. but great in taste .. and you can prepare all the stuff in advance .. and just mix 30 minutes before people come ... or when the bowl is empty.
    I just checked some recipes on google and a lot of them suggest to add crushed uncooked ramen noodles ... interesting idea, will try some time.
Vegetarian Pasta Salad
    Cook some bow tie and spiral pasta just al dente, shock in cool water to stop cooking (unless you prefer your pasta salad to be a mousse). Dressing is a mix of Mayo, sugar and vinager with some salt and pepper added. For flavor I chopped some green bell pepper, sundried tomatoes, and sweet basil .. then added some toasted pine nuts and parmesan. Give it time for the flavors to mingle
Desert: Peach Melba:
    This version is fairly easy to make ... blend some canned peaches (we can hardly get fresh ones here, the few you see look old and are pricey). Add some vanilla extract, maybe some nutmeg .... If you want it a bit more viscose, heat the mix and add some gelatine powder. Keep cold after that ... Make a simple sauce by heating frozen raspberries (another thing we cannot get fresh here) add sugar. maybe some dark rum ... For serving, scoop some of the peach stuff into a class or bowl, add some vanilla icecream and top with the hot raspberry sauce.

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YES .. finally!!! .. no .. we did not kill the rooster .. but we caught that stray cat which was around the house, meowing, harrasing our adorable cat Misha .... and it was fun how it happened .. we had people over for a small after b'day get together (they actually sang happy birthday, which was very moving) and Misha was MIA .. but that other cat, which we call "chickenshit" (as he runs away as soon as he sees us) showed up from time to time .. and at some point I saw that this cat ventured very much inside .. and in great teamwork, Ritsu covered the front door and I the veranda doors .. and we had him trapped inside ..

Once he realized that there was no way out .. it was easy to pick him up and put him into our small bathroom ...

well .. so far we let him out again, checked him out, gave him food .. but the night he is staying in that bathroom again .. wonder how loud he may get ... Monday we will take him to the vet .. and will take it from there ..

Oh .. party pics :) I will write about what kind of food I made later.

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Friday, August 22, 2003

Last night, our current house guest Robert, treated us to a steak dinner at Aberdeen Grill. And while the steak was better than the last 2 times, I am not sure if we can recommend that place any longer. First of all it seems the staff has been exchanged. That nice fijian guy who remembered us every time is now replaced by some young indian guys who seem to have no idea what is actually on the menu. We heard earlier that the head chef had left and is now sizzling meat chunks at Metal Ox. The very sad looking salad bar (one bowl with actual salat, while the rest looked more like opened cans of corn, mini cobs and chick peas) was also occupied by 3 mini roaches. We pointed them out but the staff seemed a bit oblivious.

But, the steak arrived nicely hot and as ordered, medium rare, the creamy mushroom sauce I do recall as being a bit better before. Ah well, things change, maybe we should try the steak at metal ox next time.

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Thursday, August 21, 2003

I just posted another small videoclip over on the movieblog, from last weekends hiking trip .. go take a look ...

other than that .. weather is ok .. gloomy, a bit more humid (88%) but not that hot yet ... but summer is sure coming.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I want to do this "newspaper headlines" post again ... one from yesterday that is just too strange to forget is "Boy, 15, rapes girl, 3" ... and that is no typo! ... How .. i mean just HOW ???

ok others are

"Britain keeps ban on kava" (Kava is a drink made from a root which is supposed to have all kinds of effects, from healthy to just sleepy, but a 30 million export industry), "Driver mows teacher dead"... Lawnmower? "Ship to Rotuma breaks down, again". it is the "again" that puzzles me. Rotuma is the farthest of the fijian islands."Villagers demand film payout". This is related to the filming of Anaconda 2 here. Local people trying to get money out of it (while saying that no one else has the right to ask for money)

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Monday, August 18, 2003

You will never guess what the cat brought in last night .. and no, it was NOT the rooster ... too bad

Around 4 AM she made the usual "look I found something" sound. And you can imagine how freaked out I was seeing something that looks like a SCORPION running towards my leg. I think I was about to shriek .. but very soon I identified that it was a freshwater shrimp, very similar to what we bought 2 weeks ago and smothered in garlic and white wine ... Now .. where the heck did it come from .. most likely the drain, I think Misha caught it there and brought it in ... no way a shrimp decides to walk into our house or hops out of the toilet ..

Anyways .. I returned it to the drain .. though it could have been the freshest ebi-sashimi ever.

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Sunday, August 17, 2003

We just returned from Taveuni, where we spent the long weekend in the Maravu Plantation Resort. Taveuni is one of the fijian islands in the north, and one of the few pieces of land which is crossed by the 180 Meridian, meaning technically one half of the island has monday, while the other is still sunday ... gladly at some point the world calendar people decided that the "dateline" does not have to be a straight line (beware, that link really goes into detail), and so it makes a slight curve around Taveuni ... but it still is the closest you can get to a time-jump (or just a smoking head thinking too much about it)

Will write more later, plus pictures and the usual stuff (2 nice video clips ! )

Pictures are now here

Ok, I am tring to get my collective thoughts together about our long weekend stay in Taveuni, at the Maravu Plantation Resort. Not going to be easy as there are just SO many impressions I still have in my mind, and the mix of fantastic to not so great is a colorful one.

After a nice 50 minute flight from Nausori we arrived at Matei airport. Technically we have crossed the 180 Meridian and thus were back in yesterday. The expected pick up was not there, but the nice people at the tiny Air Fiji counter called and a taxi-van came in no time and a 3 minute ride from the airport later we were greeted by guitar strumming people and a cool green coconut drink, while we sat down to fill out our registrations. Our bure (hut/cottage) was not ready yet, but it was soon time for lunch: Pepper Mussles and Pistacchio crumbed fish with kasava and very yummy cabbage. Desert was "Peach Melba". Very nice version, basically a can of peach smoothed in a blender and served with vanilla ice. Somehow missing the raspberry sauce of any classic peach melba recipe, but very tasty.

The first bure we got was very nice, but since it was one of the few "2 bures under one roof", we opted to move the next day to a single bure. This bure #9 was very nice though, and since there was no neighbour in #10, it felt like ours alone. Too bad that after one time locking the door the lock failed to work. We had several staff members try and they all agree that it does not work anymore .. the immediate fix was a bit surprising ... the mosquito guard next to the door can very easily be removed by hand .. and then you can reach inside and open the door ... so much for the purpose of the lock (oh .. having to have a key is something we were not used in a while...)

The rest of the afternoon we explored the beach and checked out the 2 dive operators close by. We were booked with Aquaventure for sunday since they were fully booked saturday. They also said they cannot do the "white wall", one of a few famous dive sites in that region, they claimed the tides were not good. It turns out that Aquaventure is actually not the closest to Maravu. Oh, need to explain. Maravu is a garden resort and has no direct beach. Which is not a biggie, as they DO have their own beach, it is just a 3 minute walk away from the resort (on the other side of the main road). Right there is "Swiss Divers Fiji", which looks way more professional, has a bigger boat, and it equally in price compared to Aquaventure ... they are a bit more pricey even ... but we found out why and it was good. First of all they are very concerned about safety. They would not let us dive sunday, as our flight back to Suva would have been 22 hours later (it needs to be 24 hours according to the textbook, but some sources say 12 is enough ... ) . Then, their boat is bigger, looks more stable, probably faster and has a head and a shower, a dry area and other nice creature features ... while I have not tried Aquaventure, I can very much recommend Swiss Fiji Divers ... and if it is not just for the much smaller distance you have to carry your dive gear .. but more about diving later ...

And soon it was time for dinner. The way you select food is very similar to the way we got used to at Toberua: There is a menu with several items to select at some time of the day ... Dinner for friday was either Pumpkin Soup or Cucumber Mousse (which was overly salty. I asked the waitress to ask the chef if this is meant this way or if he is madly in love [old german proverb, if the food is too salty, the chef must be in love], but all I got was a giggle, no real answer to the question) as appetizer. Then a veal dish in a very ginger-y sauce with pumpkin and very tasty potato. And desert was amaretto parfeit, which was great. The open air style restaurant is very comfy and creates a nice atmosphere. Their dinner chairs are great! They too have a band of 4 or 5 guys serenading each table once. They even have a CD of those boys for sale, and one in each bure with a CD player to listen to it.

Tired from all the travelling we spent some time looking at the stars through the palm trees and went too bed very soon.

Saturday we had to get up early to get ready for diving ... There was some confusion about moving from one bure to the other, some lady told us the night before we need to have all our stuff packed and cannot get into the new bure before 3 PM, other staff members again said it was no problem to go back to the first bure to take a shower and wait till next bure is ready. Anyways .. off to the diveboat we went. I think we were around 7 paying guests and 4 staff divers .. and YES, we went to the great white wall, a fantastic dive, leading you first though a nice tunnel and you come out at 90 feet at a wall full of white corals.

After a lazy afternoon, we went to the bar for cocktail hour. Somehow, among all the other things we have been told at check in, about all the complementary things being offered (like Kayaking, mountainbiking, horseback riding) they failed to mention that this saturday they had a complementary cocktail gathering at the beach with free maitais !!! That's when we realized why the bar is so empty.

Dinner was nice, a hot&sour soup for Ritsu and a brushcetta for me ... I may be wrong, but I always thought a bruschetta was a mix of tomato, garlic, olive oil and herbs roasted in some bread ... guess how nicely I was surprised to find a yummy slice of salmon on it. The main course was a rolled slice of walu, filled with rou rou (dalo leaves, some people may refer to it as fijian spinach). Very nice ... desert was Crepes Suzette (even though the menu spelt it "Grapes Suzette").

Again we were nicely tired and went to bed right away ... must be the nice air ...

Sunday morning we went of a hike to the Tavoro Falls in the Buomo national park. The van took us 40 minutes to the east side of the island, passing many villages. Once at the entrance to the walkway to the park, we had to pay 8F$ entrance fee per person (Filo, our hike guide, reminded us of that just in time before we left, none of the other publications ever mentioned that). That hike was a lot of fun. The first waterfall is just 10 minutes walk on easy / same level ... after that it gets a bit more hairy, up a hill, down again, then up again .. along the way beautiful flowers, lots of green stuff and banana spiders, also known as orb web spiders. The trip to the second fall is about 40 minutes from the first .. and pretty steep and you need to cross a river ... fun stuff .. we took a break there .. returned, and watched as our hike buddies Ryan and Karen jumped into the first fall's pool together with Filo ... it looked fun .. but also looked very cold ..

We returned to the resort at 1:40 PM, lunch is supposed to be from 12:30 to 2:30 ... so ..and that day lunch was BBQ ... well .. coming that late, it looked like we got leftovers ... from the appetizer salads only the noodle variety was still there ... we got a nice medley of beef, fish and chicken bbq'ed .. but basically served as a pile on one plate .. no sauce or anything ... it was ok .. but nothing special. Desert was "scoop your own" fruit salad.

We spent a lazy afternoon again, enjoying a nice shower (the nicer bures have outside showers, which are great) and read and having a beer in the sun. We also walked down to the dive shop again (to pick up our gear) and I had a nice chat with the owners. Later we returned to watch the sunset on the beach.

Dinner was a mushy pumpkin ravioli (pastry pouch) and then some fish with veggies in aluminum foil .. that was actually very nice ... too bad the outside veggies (kasava, pumpkin and culliflower) were cold .. and the dinner rolls came late and were burnt black on the under side .. What was very nice was that the music guys came over to sing "happy birthday" and I got a cake ... very nice ...

That pretty much sums up the Taveuni experience .. I am looking forward to come back again, so much to do there, so many other resorts to try!

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