It is a fine time to be a Renthead (insofar as I am able to consider myself one) in the greater lower North Island region as of late. I don't have time to give a full blow-by-blow review of the production of Rent that I saw in Palmerston North on Friday ("oh no! whatever shall we do!" I hear you cry), well, not yet. Briefly though, it was very good, really quite slickly done with nice attention to detail (I'm 99% sure that the girl who played Mimi had been listening carefully to Daphne Rubin Vega in "Goodbye Love," it matched note for note.) Also I'm happy to report that the photo of the cast that I saw really must have been a bad one - the guy who played Collins was much nicer looking, and Collins-ier in person. The only thing that really annoyed me was that Mark was far too camp and the waiter at the Life Cafe wasn't nearly camp enough. Mark is awkward, not camp, and that's that. All told though, an excellent performance.
Above: Frankly, it's not a bad time to have me cook dinner for you either. I was at the Design campus from 10.30am till 6.15pm yesterday hunched feverishly behind a computer, moving things slowly from left to right on Photoshop. And I'll be back there before and after class today. I was somewhat tempted just to have the chippie cook dinner for me last night after all that but Tim, bless him, had endured the rain to get me free range eggs, spinach, and beetroot from the vege market, plus I thought a proper dinner might be good for the brain (not to mention the thighs). Unfortunately it just won't stop raining which means that it's impossible for me to get my final shots for the assignment due...tomorrow after work. It's raining right now in fact. If you don't hear from me for a while, it's probably because I've hightailed it to Tijuana.
I am such a fan of roasting beetroot, and they're very cheap at the moment. Paired with soft, crumbling, blindingly white feta cheese it enters the realms of "ridiculously delicious." Seriously, you know how a while ago (perhaps coinciding with the lamentable "cranberry and camembert" trend) it was wildly fashionable to pair spinach and feta together? Well beetroot is feta's newer, better accessory, as though it had discarded its floor length boho skirt (NB - I loved boho skirts. Flattering, comfy, thigh-concealing...) and picked up...you know I don't have any clue what is even fashionable these days. A shemagh? Passe already? My point being, beetroot and feta are meant to be together, and you'll see it everywhere soon, trust me. I'm not even sure if I invented this salad that I made for dinner last night- I mean, I didn't have a recipe for it but I'm sure I'm not the first to eat it- but here's what I did, if you're interested. Shrewdly, Tim bought a LOT of beetroot, so I'm sure they will appear regularly over the next couple of posts (as will carmine splotches over anything I'm wearing while making dinner...)
Above: Hey, why not look at it again. I'm tired, and it's not a great photo, (though I like how you can see the slice mark in the pistachio) so I guess you could consider this filler material.
Roasted Beetroot, Feta and Pistachio Salad with Sumac and Roasted Red Chilli Dressing.
(How cafe does that sound?!)
2 good-sized beetroot
1 large red chilli, halved and seeded (I used my lovely Orcona chillis)
Feta Cheese (only you know how much you want)
2 or so tablespoons pistachios (I used some from my precious stash that Mum sent me)
Heat oven to 200 C. I never bother to peel or wrap the beetroot, but if this is how you like it then be my guest. I just chop them into chunks, tip them into a roasting dish, (add the chilli here) and leave them in the oven for about 3/4 of an hour. Heating the chilli, funnily enough, seems to take out all the fire but leave behind that magical, smoky flavour. Since I can't handle much in the way of actual chilli, this suits me perfectly. Once the beetroot is tender, mix together 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon ground sumac, 2 tablespoons of water, and the red chilli, finely chopped. Tip the beetroot into a bowl and pour over the dressing, leave to cool. Finally, tumble over your chopped feta and pistachio nuts. I also biffed in the last of the organic sprouts from the Wellington Food Show. This serves two, although I could, without a doubt, eat the whole thing alone. It is a good recipe if you have bought some Sumac and are thinking "now what?!" There's also something about the red, green and white of the salad that makes me think it would be nice at Christmas...perhaps with some chopped mint sprinkled over.
Above: Because doing uni work all day makes me feel listless and needy, I decided to indulge in some form of pudding. I don't know who I thought I was kidding by combining a low fat option (Jill Dupleix' Banana Berry Ice Cream with brown-sugared yoghurt) and a blatantly not option (Vanilla Apples with Sweetheart Croutes from Nigella Express,) in the hopes that the former might cancel out the latter...
Above: The flavours actually went marvelously well together. The cold zing of the icecream lifted the buttery apples (literally - you chop them then stew them in butter) and the sweetheart croutes were, if kitchly named, a pleasantly crunchy contrast to everything else. But if you are going to make the ice cream - and I highly recommend you do - you should know it sets rock hard. I guess this is because there's no fat and barely any sugar to keep things mellow. So, take it out of the freezer a good 25 minutes before you want to serve it or you'll just have a bright pink slab that you can pick up with your hands and take a bite out of (how do I know this...?)
Above: I don't tend to go in for that whole "million photos of the same dish from different angles" approach on this blog but I couldn't help myself with this. It really is quite pretty.
My brain is so tired from all this uni stuff, and I really don't want to go back to the design campus (located handily in the throbbing heart of Wellington's red light district!) but I'm going to have to. It has been cold, windy and rainy here and I just want to lie in bed all day, watch DVDs, and bake (simultaneously, natch.) Soon, soon though. At any rate I'm sure I've learned some kind of important life lesson from this photog paper. More than I learned from that compulsory school trip in sixth form to the Outdoor Pursuits Centre, which I still bear the mental scars from. Why does everyone insist you have to go abseiling or climb an insurmountable hill in order to grow emotionally as a person?
One thing that has shaken me awake though was the discovery of some more videos of The Wild Party on Youtube, including - oh frabjous day - a clip of Idina Menzel singing The Life Of The Party. Seriously, I nearly fainted when I watched the video. She is incredible! For those of you who can't be bothered looking on Wikipedia, The Wild Party is - was - an off-Broadway show from 2000 based on the Joseph Moncure March poem, and is set in the 1920s. It bears the dubious distinction of being what got me into Rent (Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs originated roles in both musicals.) And for those of you who like it old-school, I also found an amazing clip of her singing Cornet Man from Funny Girl. Go on, indulge me. I'm feeling fragile. And it was my birthday recently...ish...or something.