04 Mar 2020

Sydney, Australia 2020

Sydney is still right up there as one of the best cities in the world. If we left the United States this would be one of the top two or three cities we would move to. It's just that it is a bit far. Maybe that is a good thing these days. 
The first order of business in Sydney after the ship clears is our usual fun meal with a large group at Doyle's Watson Bay location. Beside having fine food and terrific ambiance, we take the ferry for 25 minutes to remind ourselves of the Sydney beauty. 
In between eating is always shopping at the elegant Queen Victoria Building. It was completed in 1898, when Sydney was in a severe recession. Elaborate Romanesque architecture was specially planned for the grand building in order for the government to employ many out-of-work craftsmen - stonemasons, plasterers, and stained window artists.
One of Allyn's favorite stores , Via Condotti, is located here. She says you just can't get this kind of stuff at home. Why go to Italy for Italian shoes when you can get them here?
Two of my pals opted for the evening climb of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Their wives joined Allyn and me for dinner.
Dinner was at Sydney Cove Oyster Bar. The food was as incredible as the ambiance. it may have been the best meal we ever had here.
The final evening of this year's aborted world cruise was spent with my beautiful grand niece, Allegra Long, who is spending a semester abroad at the Boston University campus located here.
She is twenty years old and previously had never eaten an oyster. She loved them. I think I may have to alert child protective services about potentially abusive parents.

26 Feb 2020

Dunedin, New Zealand - Royal Albatross Colony



Normal folks take a car or a bus, but Allyn convinced me that it would be fun to take a long bike ride to see the world-famous Royal Albatross colony.




Albatross are the world’s largest seabirds. They normally breed on remote islands and spend at least 85 percent of their lives at sea. The only land time is for breeding.


Here at Dunedin is the only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony in the world.


They have 10-foot wingspans which allows them major gliding. They don’t like to work hard, yet they travel very far.


In fact, when they leave their nests, they travel a third of the way around the world to hang out in South America.


Then they return and take the long route home, circumnavigating the globe, just so they can glide with the prevailing winds.





They only lay one egg per pair every two years. The breeders arrive back in September.

Incubation duty lasts a period of 80 days and is split between the parents.


The parents keep an eye on the newborns for 35 days and then they are on their own for protection, but the parents still feed them for a while.


They fly out the next September.  They return in five years, and the cycle starts again.



25 Feb 2020

Akaroa, New Zealand 2020

We decided to take it easy today and feel we made the proper decision taking an Akaroa nature cruise on a new motored catamaran. The weather was perfect.
Our primary goal today was to see some Hector’s dolphins, the smallest and rarest marine dolphins in the world. As you can see we did.
Note the dog on board. He can hear the dolphins and points them out to the captain.
Then we visited a New Zealand fur seal colony. They are sometimes difficult to spot. Besides beautiful scenery, the photo immediately above has two seals perched on the top left.
Even the rocks were pretty.

24 Feb 2020

Picton, New Zealand 2020 - The Cloudy Bay Winery

Guess where we went today.
On the way to Cloudy Bay Winery from our port at Picton we stopped for a pleasant visit at the Upton Oaks known for its gardens.
Like most wineries, Cloudy Bay is lovely just to walk around and enjoy the vistas.
However the reason we were here is that this winery made New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and, indeed, the Marlborough wine region, famous  giving it a reputation as one of the great Sauvignon Blanc regions of the world.
Of course there was the usual wine tasting, and here it was in quite a nice location.
Here are some important New Zealand sauvignon blanc (“SB”) metrics:
*New Zealand SB has really only been renown since 1985.
*New Zealand is tiny (about 1.5% of USA population) and produces only about 1% of the world’s wine. Yet it is now second, only to France, in SB production.
*90% is exported and it sends the most to the USA.
* New Zealand wine production has grown at a rate of 17% per annum this century.
In 1913 Cloudy Bay was purchased by the $200 billion luxury conglomerate LVMH.
And sadly we are at yet another port with logs earmarked for China just piling up and causing economic havok.

23 Feb 2020

Wellington, New Zealand 2020 - A Day With Chef Shawn Clouston

 by Allyn Shiulman, Guest Blogger

What a spectacular day in Wellington, the capital of bustling New Zealand hosting 420,000 inhabitants, affectionately known as “kiwis.”

I chose to take a foodie tour with a famous local chef, Shaun Clouston.  We started the day visiting a local market.
I was amazed to learn that the markets do not have bakers or butchers.  The local bakers bring their goods in every morning.  One local baker’s bread is so popular, it is brought in four times a day, and never stays on the shelf!   
Similarly, the popular green lip mussels and tuatua are a local favorites. The tuatua, huge delicious clams, are indiginous to and only found in New Zealand.
They sell herbs and microgreens that are still growing as the kiwis are a very healthy bunch!
They support all homegrown activity and sell only their local olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Then we headed to the beautiful Logan Brown restaurant where we started the festivities with a creative and fabulous gin and tonic.  
The sommelier began burning leaves that included kawakawa, a local medicinal herb.  She held a glass so the smoke went into the glass.  Then she added gin, a home made tonic and spooned a creamy white honey flavored mixture on top.  It was flavorful and appealing to look at.  She explained that New Zealanders as a whole, don’t like strong alcoholic drinks so she creates drinks locals will enjoy.
Next we were invited to enjoy a seven-course meal, with some of the local items we had purchased that morning. Did I mention the WINE PARING??  With one course, the sommelier decided we needed to taste TWO wines.
My favorite course was a small crayfish sandwich with herb mayo and summer truffles that were to die for, along with sipping a 2016 Pinot Gris.  I had never heard of a Pinot Gris, as opposed to a Pino Grigio until a wine tour a few days ago. The are the exact same grape, but one is Frech and the other Italian.  Pinot Gris wines are more full-bodied, richer and a bit spicier.
Their signature dish was lamb with smoked ricotta and pasta filled with Rabbit Bolognese with peas sprinkled on top.   Magnificent.
The meal wouldn’t be complete without a chocolate dessert with a seared marshmallow.  Wheel me back to the ship please!
The cuisine, the people, the chef, the wine, the restaurant, all top notch!  I highly recommend Logan Brown if you are in New Zealand!!