Sunday, October 26, 2008

You ever go to a classy cafe and get an amazing meal and want to know who the chef is? Well, I'm that guy. I'm going on my third week of running Plum Cafe during the day, being in charge of ordering, inventory, prep lists and the works. Pretty sweet stuff, although it gets a bit hectic at times. Been a good experience so far, and I'll have that under my belt when a new chef comes in a week to expand the place. It'll still be my show, with my breakfast burrito going on the menu as well as a couple other things in the works right now. Got my own style rolling, which has people coming back and enjoying the place.

Today I hiked to the top of Mt Victoria for an awesome view of the city and the wind. The wind, which is always present in Wellington, was kicking today, making people look for something to hold on to. Pretty gusty, but that just keeps it fresh around town. Here is a video from the top:
video

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rugby

So I got to check out a professional rugby game for the first time. Happened to be the semi-finals, so it was built up to be a huge game. And it was, with the other team, who happened to be the underdogs, actually playing a bit better. But Wellington ended up winning and I'm still confused about some of the game, although I get more of it. The stadium is called the Cake Tin as it looks just like that, all aluminum on the outside and in a nice circle.

Fireworks going off as the team storms the field

Line out

Scrum-diddly um

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunday I moved for the third time to a friend of a friends place. Great view from the house and on 2 bus lines, making me accessible to the city on my own for the first time. Quite nice and in a fun area. After moving in, we set out to hike Mt. Kaukau, a nearby hill/mountain. Sweet hike with great views and a grassy field at the top. The landscape keeps changing here, with a tropical start along a creek, to pines at the top of the mountain in the higher altitude. Sweet views of Wellington and its harbor, plus the south island in the distance. The top of the south island is actually north of Wellington, which is on the lowest part of the north island.


Monday and today, Tuesday, I’ve been working at Plum CafĂ©, plumcafe.co.nz. Working kinda as the head chef during the daytime, cooking all the food, being in charge of prep and working on food orders. I’m working on putting some new things on the menu, which during the day is brunch food. Going to be putting on a breakfast burrito and a quiche if all goes according to plan. The owners like my ideas and want to keep me around, but I’m going to be moving on soon, looking for a better, more organized place. Already got a job trial set up at a new restaurant where I’d be one of the main 3 chefs running the place, so that sounds promising. Got a bank account, a tax number and the apartment starts next Thursday, so life is rocking down in NZ.


Wellington, as seen from Mt. Kaukau

Ah, the New Zealand life, just another average view

Best weekend weather yet

Volcanic snowboarding

On Saturday I went up to Mt. Ruapehu, the main mountain for skiing and snowboarding on the north island. It happens to be a live volcano and has a tropical rainforest all the way around it. I went with Amanda, who I’m staying with and her boyfriend. We left at 3:30am to get there and get our gear rented and be ready to rock right when the lifts opened at 8am. The mountain was amazing, with some fresh snow and not too many people, even though it was the last weekend of school holidays. I used all of the lifts, trying out a lot of runs. The top of the mountain had an amazing view of the mountain below going into the clouds with another mountain off in the distance. A couple of black diamond runs took me down to the middle of the mountain where the wait was less time. Good times throughout the whole day, only falling a few times and getting some good speed. We turned in our tickets at 12:30 to get the half the money back and headed back to Wellington, driving down the mountain, through the rain forest and onto the highway. The highway is the main one between Auckland and Wellington with the mountain in the middle. Hilariously, this main highway has to cross train tracks which will stop traffic if a train is coming and normal traffic has to go 25kph.

Pumped to be heading up

Halfway up, past the lake and clouds

Great day with hardly any wind

The view up towards the top of the volcanic mountain

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Driving on the left side of the road

View on the drive down the mountain to Wellington

Wellington!

Cable Car from the Botanical Gardens down to the city

I got to drive for the first time on the left side of the road. Completely different. Everything is all thrown off, with me looking in the wrong place for the mirrors and suddenly having 2/3 of the car to my left instead of a window for me to place my arm on. But I’ve driven a couple times and haven’t had any accidents or anything too crazy happen. Just gotta keep reminding myself to stay on the left side and it’s starting to feel natural, although turning at an intersection is still weird.

Been exploring Wellington each day. Pretty sweet city and it looks awesome when the sun is out and the wind isn’t blowing anyone away. The lampposts serve two purposes, the first being something to hold on to when the wind is too strong, and the second is light. Took the cable car ride up to the botanical gardens. Couple stops on the way at a university and a neighborhood. Not bad to take a 100 year old, red, tourist trap cable car up to your house.

I’ve got an apartment lined up to move into in a great location. Right where I wanted it. Just have to wait 2 weeks to move in. But I’ve got friends to stay with, so all is well and I’m covered till then. The apartment is on a hilly neighborhood overlooking the city, similar to San Francisco. 3 minutes up the hill are the start of numerous trails, plus a great lookout of the city higher up. One of the main streets with restaurants, shops and bars is just 3 minutes away. Down the hill and 5 minutes away is the waterfront. It’s all going to be there, plus I’m inheriting lots of furniture and a tent, so I’ll be set.

So far I’ve had two job offers from restaurants. Both would be decent, but aren't what I'm looking for, so I'm still out there looking. But being 2 for 2 at the two places I'd been to is pretty good.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

NZ pictures

My first view of Wellington from the airplane, a San Francisco like city of hills surrounding a harbour

Kapiti Island off the coast

The beach we go walking on every morning


Yesterday I viewed 5 flats and had one job interview. It was my first day actually in Wellington, getting to know the city and explore. Fun times throughout, although tiring after 10 hours of walking around taking it all in. Out of the apartments, only 2 seemed alright and for certain reasons, I'm passing on both for right now. Can't cut myself short.

The job interview went good, and I have a trial run on Monday. I'd be the day chef, running things during the day, with a couple cooks under me and working on the menu and food orders. It would be a step up from my last job, so that seems sweet and it's in a great part of town. So we'll see how Monday goes, as well as a meeting I have with a chef friend of a friend tomorrow who will give me the ins and outs of cooking in Wellington. Gotta use the connections to find out what's up.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm a Kiwi now

Made it! All the way through Monday, which I missed on my flight leaving Sunday night and arriving Tuesday morning in Fiji. The meals in the plane flying to the southern hemisphere as to be expected, were backwards. Started with dinner, then lunch and then breakfast before landing at 5am. Not too bad to start the day. After leaving the amazing looking island of Fiji, we landed in Auckland, where I hustled through immigration to grab my bags and head to the domestic terminal which is smaller than expected for the largest city in NZ. The one baggage claim was right next to ticketing and there was no line at the security. Super simple, small, but clean and rocking at the same time. And secure, as out of all the airports I've been in recently, they were the only ones to ask me about my harmonica, as seen in the x-ray.

I'm staying with family friends a bit north of Wellington, and got up this morning for a walk on the beach, passing an old shipwreck in the sand from the 1920s, looking off at a large island that is a bird sanctuary and looking south at the South Island. Amazingly beautiful and as they say down here, fantastic.

I've got 4 apartments to view and one job interview tomorrow already on my first trip into the city since arriving Tuesday evening. Moving quickly and hope to have things settled asap and get to rocking the big city. Things are going grand and get better every minute.