Winter seems to be moving into spring, with brighter mornings, sunnier skies, tulips beginning to pop up and magnolia in blossom. To celebrate the end of the season, we spent the weekend in Leigh, 80km north of Auckland. The area has lots of beaches and is also the access point for Goat Island, a marine reserve. Thanks to one of the friends we were away with, we were able to stay in a house owned by the Danish Society of New Zealand. The property is set in several acres of land, with access to beaches as well as having some nice parkland to wander about in, and was able to accommodate thirteen humans and one dog for a lovely couple of days.
We flew up to Auckland on Friday after work, and were then driven by our friends up to Leigh. After settling in, we dined on lamb sausages and steak cooked on the barbeque, before sitting down in front of a blazing wood fire in the sitting room.
On Saturday morning, some of our party went fishing while the rest of us set off for the farmers’ market at Matakana. There were stalls selling oysters, eggs, locally produced nut butters and beers, with live music as well. I bought some really good cashew and almond butter from Matakana Nut Butters and we ate some tasty croque monsieur based on some really good bread for a lunch time snack. Dogs were not allowed in the market, but you could leave them with dog minders who also had bags of ‘dog biscotti’ for sale!
Oysters – yum!
Karl by the dog minders
From there, we drove to Morris and James pottery, a place full of lovely, bright coloured pots, plates and other ceramics. As well as these outside pots, there were some gorgeous tiles of every colour you can think of. I was really tempted by a few things, but finally bought a little jug and bowl you can see below.
Jug and bowl from Morris and James
Dinner that evening was a real feast. Those of us who like oysters (and I am one) started with a few bought at the market that morning. They were so good and I think some of the best I have ever had. The main course was a magnificent Beef Wellington cooked by my friend’s father. Good beef, smeared with pate and covered by soft flaky pastry it was a feast for the eye as well as the stomach.
This was accompanied by roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips baked in a creamy sauce and a salad. To say we were all full and content at the end is an understatement. Dessert when it came later was a fabulous, rich chocolate cake with ice-cream, baked by one of our party. I confess that my only contribution to the meal was buying ice-cream and washing up afterwards, but my complements to the chefs involved.