Tuesday September 23, 2014
I was up in Auckland for the New Zealand Game Developer's Conference last Friday, but thanks to some sweet organisation by our office manager, I got to stay in Auckland until Sunday night. I've had an awesome weekend, but I wish I had more time to sleep and relax - it was just completely full on and exhausting at times.
We went up on Thursday night. I managed to grab some Burger Wisconsin before rushing to the airport, and thankfully so because it would have been close to 10pm by the time we got into town and even had the chance to get food. Nevertheless, we dropped our bags at City Lodge on Vincent St and I led the team straight to Giapo, New Zealand's best ice cream. At the store, the lady at the counter enthusiastically told us all about the values of the head chef and his philosophy behind the ice cream, as well as letting us sample the many different flavours they had on offer. I love the passion when people speak about food - I share the same excited tone and expressive vocabulary. I opted for a chocolate laphroaig and peanut butter and banana ice cream. So good!
The night continued on at Vulture's Lane on Vulcan Lane, then Andrew Andrew down by the Hilton, and finally O'Hagan's Irish Pub at the Viaduct. It was 2am when we stumbled up to Kebabs on Queen for some very late night food - it was the only place open - before heading back to the backpackers.
It was an early-ish start to the day at 7.30am so we could visit Moustache Milk and Cookie Bar before the conference started. Great to catch up with Deanna and good to see business doing well, even if the landlords are threatening to hike rent by 36%. We made our way to AUT with cookies and coffee in hand just after 9.30am.
NZGDC was awesome. The keynote was from David Brevik, the lead designer on Diablo 1 and 2. Totally amazing to hear his stories on Diablo's development - it was originally supposed to be a turn-based RPG! There were heaps of great talks throughout the day, highlights being cloud gaming, boids and the tech panel featuring Alex St John, David Brevik and Chris Blackbourne. It was also good to catch up with a few ex-colleagues and meet some new people in the industry, yet a bit sad that the PikPok crew had flights back to Wellington during the afterparty! We ended up at the Bluestone Room on Durham St until around 9pm, when Lloyd, Charles and myself ventured to Daikoku Ramen for a late dinner.
On Saturday, I met up with my schoolmates at Dunk on Parnell, with a quick visit to the Chocolate Boutique as well. We had some extremely thorough discussion about politics (seeing as it was election day) as well as the regular banter about life, jobs and the good old Grammar days.
I had a quick nap back at home before meeting Mel at Orphans Kitchen, a hip-and-trendy little restaurant on Ponsonby Road. We were greeted by a man with a fine moustache (who I later learned was Josh Helm, one of the co-owners), which reminded me of the vibe you regularly get around town in Wellington. The food is an eclectic mix of ingredients that don't necessarily sound appetising individually, but provide an amazing flavour sensation when combined. Highly recommended, and a full breakdown of the meal will appear on my food blog, when I get around to it!
With room for dessert, I suggested we try our luck at Milse, a small but very fancy dessert restaurant in Britomart. We made our way down to find out that they had a 45 minute wait on a table - doesn't matter, I said! I'll wait! I found out that one of my workmates was up for the weekend and was chilling at the Green Party party watching the election results (his mother is quite involved in politics) so we went and picked him up from Beresford Square off K Road and trundled back down to the waterfront. Each of us had one dessert but the real treat was watching the entire preparation routine unfold in front of us. The meticulousness of the chefs as they prepare the desserts is outstanding - such care and pride they put into making these dishes, and what a wonderful masterpiece that comes out the other end. Again, a full review will appear on the food blog when it's done! I had a great yarn to the lady at the front of house, and again, just the way people passionately talk about food is so enjoyable and makes me so happy.
I was still keen to stay out, so we ended up at Gable's Ale House on Jervois Quay for a quick drink before heading home just after midnight. Whew! I was up again early on Sunday morning to get to KCC for the regular service, and then out for yum char at this new place in Three Kings before heading to Julia's for a spot of Smash Bros Brawl and Mario Kart 8.
In the evening, I was at my sister's house for dinner and catching up with my adorable nephews. The older one had been celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day and had donned a full pirate costume with swashbuckling sword action and his best attempt at pirate lingo (so cute), whilst the younger one was stared around, wide eyed and bursting into a huge smile every so often. Love them so much. I really do miss them and wish I could spend more time with them - they really do grow up so quickly.
Back in Wellington on Sunday night and back at work on Monday, but I was suddenly roped in to help out with a stall at a careers fair down by Mac's Brewery Function Room that night. It was really cool, but rather exhausting - I don't remember talking so much and to so many people in such a small space of time! It is quite exciting though, you get to meet heaps of different people and tell them heaps about industry and life at PikPok. Hopefully we strike it lucky and hire some good talent this summer.
Tuesday September 16, 2014
I felt so tired after last weekend that I was in need of another weekend to recover. Yesterday I woke up at 6am and fell asleep again, only to dream that it was a public holiday. One can only imagine how disappointed and frustrated I was when my alarm clock went off to remind me it was a Monday. It turned out Monday wasn't too bad afterall, apart from a visit from senior Labour Party candidates - David Cunliffe, David Parker and Grant Robertson - obstructing the passageway to the kitchen and preventing me from getting tea!
The weekend started off on Friday night at Kazu. Around 20 of us had gathered to celebrate Dewi's birthday with loads of food and loads of alcohol - plates of sushi, soft shelled crab, dumpings, takoyaki, tempura came out in droves and we ate and drank and talked and laughed. Naturally the only way to end the night was a solid round of karaoke! Woohoo!
Saturday morning came too early, but I was eager to get to badminton for a full two hour session. Still getting back into the swing of things, but have definitely retained some tricks from seven months ago. My back seems to be holding up more and more, especially with a bit of help from painkillers, so hopefully I can return to being a normal person soon. After some baked goods from Aro Bake and a solid nap in the afternoon, I was off to Bryan's house for his birthday celebration, where I caught up with a few people over some drinks and pizza. Good times indeed.
I was too tired to go to church the next day, but I managed to fit in groceries and marketing, before heading to the sauna for a bit to relax my back and left leg. Then it was back to town and off to Josh and Christine's for Mooncake Festival Part Two - another celebration with meats from land, sea and air. This whole process seems to be going smoother and smoother, so maybe I should do this more often? It was a thoroughly enjoyable night with fine company and fine food.
Monday September 8, 2014
With Wellington on a Plate well and truly over, and with such positive feedback from several people, I have decided to formalise the 'foodie' part of my blog in a separate section. It'll function pretty similar to this one, but it'll be focused on food only. I intend to keep it pretty casual and probably only for special occasions or exceptional food experiences.
Wellington on a Plate was a blast. I had an amazing time, dining in 26 restaurants, with 36 people, had 11 meals and 21 burgers, spent $971.17 and enjoyed every minute of it. So good to share my adventures with people who truly appreciate food in all aspects, and I am well and truly blessed to have friends like that - especially the crazy ones who came down from Auckland specifically for this! The Last Supper at Arthur's was poignant, with thirteen people in attendance as well. So amazing.
I played badminton for the second time in seven months on Saturday, and survived, but just barely. My quads are pretty sore from the jumping but my back held up quite well, so I just need to soldier on with some painkillers and keep on trucking. Following that, I met up with Jord, Joe, Jen, Josh and Christine for lunch at Leuven before heading to Escape Mate. In a very similar vein to all the escape rooms that I went to in Malaysia and Singapore, Escape Mate is nestled on Johnston Street in Wellington CBD, opposite from Leuven. There's a single puzzle room inside a vault, but another room is due to open soon. It was an intense afternoon, and we got out with 1 min 48 secs to go, but managed to break a bottle used as a prop in the process.
I've been playing Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright for 3DS too, and just finished that last night. Fantastic game, great characters as always, but I felt a bit let down by the ending and really missed the ability to yell ~OBJECTION!~ into the microphone. I think the writing is much better in Phoenix Wright games - you become very attached to the characters and it's clever how particular storylines weave together and intersect at the last moment for a dramatic finish, and that was missing in PL vs PW. Nevertheless, the game has amazing production quality - absolutely loved the artwork and character modelling, and so nostalgic hearing familiar themes again, especially Investigation ~ Cornered and the Turnabout Sisters.
And finally, yesterday, I celebrated Mid Autumn Festival by cooking my annual mooncake festival dinner, with roast pork, deep fried tofu, Thai prawn salad and lettuce wrap, and of course my favourite pandan mooncake to finish the meal. Yummo!