Long Weekend at The Mount

For many, Mt Maunganui, affectionately know as 'The Mount' is synonymous with the kiwi summer, surfing the waves and rowdy New Years parties.  Long after the summer holidays, with little planning other than booking accommodation, we headed off with two 10 year olds in tow.  Our last holiday(s) at The Mount was a very distant memory for both my sister and I so we were open-minded about what to see and do.

Spectacular view from the summit of The Mount (photo by Sarah aged 10 years)

Spectacular view from the summit of The Mount (photo by Sarah aged 10 years)

Steps, surf and sunset

The vista from the summit of The Mount after the strenuous 347 steps climb, at times teetering close to the edge, is simply breathtaking – it’s worth the exertion. And while watching the paragliders float effortlessly down from the summit at sunset was quite spectacular, I’m sure they hung around for a little longer simply to enjoy the glorious view before landing on the sandy beach.

First of many paragliders landing on Mt Maunganui beach

First of many paragliders landing on Mt Maunganui beach

From the white sand beaches of Mount Maunganui and Papamoa to the Hot Salt Water Pools and the Bay Wave Aquatic Centre, water will always be a huge attraction. The kids were excited to have a pool and spa at the apartment too.

The Foodie Inc’s top picks for eating out

Quirky bar area at Mount Social Club

Quirky bar area at Mount Social Club

Shopping and Markets

The main strip is lined with fashion retailers, specialist homewares and gift shops and an amazing assortment of eating places to suit everyone’s tastes.  Take time to meander down one side of Maunganui Street and back up the other, stopping for a coffee or cold drink along the way.

Sundays would not be complete without a visit to the farmers market; held rain or shine 9am - 1pm in the main street car park. Stalls crammed with locally grown fruit and vegetables, artisan breads, chutneys, relishes and honey, cheese, fish and meat; and not forgetting the freshly made to order pancakes, hot Cornish pasties and great coffee too.

Sunday morning at Mt Maunganui farmers market

Sunday morning at Mt Maunganui farmers market

And if you time it right (and we didn’t) the first Saturday of every month is The Little Big Markets. Look out for Food Truck Friday, a new winter event happening fortnightly from Friday 8 May. For more information on Bay of Plenty events click here Little Big Events

Mount Manganui Beach

Mount Manganui Beach

Go on, you know you want a long weekend away, especially now winter has appeared with vengeance! The Mount caters for everyone, any time of the year.  We won’t be leaving it so long to visit Mount Maunganui again.

Michelle

Butterflied BBQ Chicken

Following on from the Weekend Escape post earlier in the week, thought I’d share the recipe for the simple and delicious BBQ chicken we made while away last weekend.  While the chicken in the photo is a little more chargrilled than anticipated, the herby zesty flavours with a little chilli for heat, shone through brilliantly.

Butterflied BBQ Chicken

Butterflied BBQ Chicken

  • Whole chicken
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 fresh chilli finely chopped or 2 tsp fresh chilli (from a jar)
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • Zest and juice of one large lemon
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil

Butterfly the chicken by placing whole bird breast down on a board, cut down either side of the backbone, and remove bone and excess skin.  Loosen flesh around joints before turning chicken over and press gently down on breast bone until it breaks, and you can then flatten out the chicken so that it cooks more evenly.  (I’m no expert at this but it was easier than I envisaged.)

Mix all other ingredients (except the oil and sea salt) to make a paste.  Push paste under skin so that it evenly covers the flesh. Season with sea salt, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

Heat BBQ to medium-hot and grease plate with a little olive oil. Place chicken on BBQ breast side down and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 15-20 minutes with lid closed - or create a makeshift lid with a large roasting dish, like we did. Using a skewer or sharp knife, check it is cooked by inserting into the thickest part of the chicken - juices should run clear. Leave to sit covered for 10 minutes before cutting into portion sized pieces.

Serve with your favourite salad.  And if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, its perfect sliced with avocado and tomato in a sandwich.

Don’t forget you can play around with various herb and seasonings to make a paste eg coriander, chilli and lime; rosemary and lemon; tarragon and orange.  But I do find keeping to one type of fresh herb in a paste ensures the best flavour.

Enjoy your weekend.

Michelle

Weekend Escape

Living less than 500 metres from the beach in Auckland, you’d think heading off to the Coromandel Peninsula for a long weekend at the beach wouldn’t hold the same appeal. But having just spent a long weekend at Whiritoa (between Waihi and Whangamata) and writing this post the old-fashioned way - with pen and paper, while sitting on the deck in the sunshine, jumping in the car and heading out of Auckland at lunchtime on a Friday really does feel like escapism.

Coming over that last hill and seeing that first peek of the ocean... magic!

Long days hanging out at the beach, watching the surfers patiently wait to catch their perfect wave.  Last weekend was all about catching up with friends: lazing on beanbags on the deck with a pile of magazines; a game of tennis first thing, if you could drag yourself out of bed before 8am; and lots of chatter, refreshing drinks and delicious food of course. 

Whiritoa beach looking north

Whiritoa beach looking north

Our friends’ daughter qualified as a surf lifesaver these holidays - what an awesome achievement.  Her younger brother had to settle for being a rookie lifeguard but those duties still included going out on the roam (golf cart looking vehicle) and IRB (boat) and manning the watch tower – how cool is that!

Whiritoa's newest lifesaver - out on the sand and the waves

Whiritoa's newest lifesaver - out on the sand and the waves

Holiday cooking

Its great spending the weekend with someone who enjoys trawling through foodies magazines and cookbooks, as much as I do, looking for dinner inspiration and recipes we could adapt based on ingredients on hand.  Funnily enough driving a mere 15 minutes to the nearest supermarket for a missing ingredient didn’t enter our heads, we were here to relax and enjoy being at the beach house. Saturday night we feasted on mussels three ways - why not three ways, we had time on our side.  And barbequed butterflied chicken with a zesty, herb and chilli mixture stuffed under the skin, salad and homemade focaccia.

NZ Mussels three ways and delicious homemade focaccia

NZ Mussels three ways and delicious homemade focaccia

One of the best things about being away with likeminded friends is the relaxed atmosphere – no pressure to do something or go somewhere if you didn’t feel inclined. We’d go from non-stop chatting and even the odd bit of debate, to almost an eerie silence when you could hear the waves crashing on the beach. The sadness of packing the car up late on Sunday for the two hours drive home is made up for by knowing next weekend is a long weekend too...

Enjoy!

Michelle

 

For The Love of Tennis

“For the love of tennis”, the ASB Classic’s advertising tagline beautifully encapsulates why people, many who have little interest in tennis throughout the rest of the year, join the crowd at the ASB Classic and Heineken Open tournaments held in Auckland during January.  After all, New Zealand is on holiday, so why not!

Having experienced tennis tournaments: from a corporate box to the concrete steps of the Yock Stand at Stanley Street (it’s a long day for those who forget to bring a cushion); to three of the Grand Slams many times (yet to make it to US Open), I love the intimacy and atmosphere of the tennis in Auckland – there’s nowhere else in the world where you sit so close to the action. With Arthur Ashe’s centre court capacity a little over 23K, and Wimbledon, Rod Laver Arena and Roland Garros all holding 15K people, centre court at the ASB Tennis Centre swells to 3200 with all that extra seating, so it’s a very intimate affair.

Courtside at ASB Classic - January 2015

Courtside at ASB Classic - January 2015

The crowd’s very relaxed and all sorts of people go along.  Some are simply there to soak up the atmosphere, have a few cold beverages, catch some sun and brag to others when back at work.  For many, including young kids, it’s their first experience of live tennis.  And then there are the diehard tennis fans that have been going for years.  Of course there’s always a few with absolutely no clue whatsoever about tennis crowd etiquette, gently chided by the team of volunteers for getting out of their seats at the wrong time – crowd watching can be lots of fun too.

It must be tough on the players being so close too - it’s no wonder they don’t smile much during a match. Trying to concentrate with the crowd's noisy cheering, chanting and clapping, they would be so aware of the gasps, murmurs, and even the odd coaching tips - sometimes mid-rally, coming from the crowd. 

Venus Williams, centre court with Yock Stand in background

Venus Williams, centre court with Yock Stand in background

New Zealand’s ability to attract top-ranked players is incredible, with the hard work behind the scenes paying off, providing a fantastic summer spectacle.  With 8 days left of fantastic international tennis in Auckland; ASB Classic finals are Saturday and the Heineken Open men’s tournament starting Monday 12 January, don’t miss the opportunity to see international tennis stars up close and personal.  And while some sessions are already sold out, it’s not too late to grab some tickets,

Happy tennis...

Michelle