Tuesday, May 15, 2012

sweet as.

On Friday night, I headed towards the bars on Courtney Place. I walked past the bars and climbed the steps to a yoga studio above a bagel shop. Hot Yoga NZ wasn’t much compared to Wade’s class at home. I’ve honestly never found a class as good as Wade’s. I'm gonna go ahead and say it might just be the best in the world. But it was cheap, I did a lot of restorative breathing, and I probably lost at least 10 pounds in sweat. Overall a good time.

Early Saturday morning I ran 15 miles along Wellington’s waterfront. Waves caught the sunlight and sprayed up onto the sidewalk. A light breeze sent clouds scuttling away across the sky. Everything was easy and bright. It only took about two hours. Not too shabby.

After the run I gallantly set off to erase every health benefit I’d accumulated in the past 12 hours.

Our lovely Arcadia program staff had another awesome activity for us: a pavlova-making lesson. (Remember how excited I was about pavlova? It's probably one of my favorite things about New Zealand.)

A Wellingtonian named Matt graciously opened up his home to introduce us to the sugary side of Kiwi culture. 
He even had balloons to celebrate Trevor's birthday and a full table spread of Kiwi snack food: marshmallows, gummy Eskimos, mini sausages, fairy bread (what Kiwis feed their children: bread with butter and sprinkles), and some kind of mysterious cream-filled sponge cake called a lamington (pink thing in the back right corner). Everything was deliciously processed and full of white sugar.
Matt walked us through how to make a good, fluffy meringue. Good God. It's labor intensive. We used a hand mixer, because I assume electric mixers make food taste worse.We took turns beating the egg whites and sugar together and taking breaks to nibble on candy. After about half an hour of whipping (Matt: Beat the hell out of it!), pavlova bakes in a barely-warm oven for hours and hours before it's the proper crumbly consistency. A whole lot of love has to go into a good merengue. Matt chuckled and pulled out two a couple he'd prepared the night before. We split into two teams to decorate, and the claws came out. Lemon curd and tangerine slices were flying.
Our team went for a classic Kiwi motif with subtle hints of accent color.
The birthday boy's team got creative with sprinkles and letter-candles. They came up with "Happy Dr. T" and a lemon curd face.
 A striking resemblance.
Silly decorations aside, Matt's pav was delicious. We sat around the living room eating and chatting and playing with balloons.
Since lamingtons, fairy bread, and sausages have gluten I opted for a second serving of pavlova. I had a fantastic sugar buzz vibrating in the back of my head as we left that afternoon.

On Sunday I woke up with a sugar hangover. My friend Loren's birthday party to go to that afternoon. It was supposedly going to be a tea party, and there were rumors of a cupcake decorating contest. The thought of sugary treats made my teeth hurt. I'd only have a couple nibbles.

My resolve fell apart immediately.  First Loren had a selection of terrific tea, along with fruit kebabs and hummus and more fairy bread. She even walked me through all the foods so I knew which ones were gluten-free.

Then the cupcakes came out.
Another sweet contest ensued, this time with lots of frosting-nibbling and sugar-sprinkling.
I went a little overboard this time. My theme was "everything." I even had candy dinosaurs.
But my sprinkle explosion didn't stand up to the beach scene or the giant marshmallow tower.
Or the cupcake of death.
Thank goodness Loren had ice cream and more cupcakes to console those of us who didn't win the final vote.
I walked home from Loren's with a deep desire to brush my teeth. It was absolutely delightful.

So friends, you might want to rethink going out to the bars for your birthday parties. Explore the possibilities of tea and cupcakes.

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