I would like to tell you about a great attraction in Rotorua called Happy Ewe Cycle Tours. Roger Martin takes you on a bike tour through beautiful parts of Rotorua city, including Ohinemutu, Kuirau Park with its hot mud pools and steam and stunning Government Gardens. Roger is enthusiastic about his birth city, Rotorua,and his geological and historical knowledge is broad. The tour takes 3 hours, is suitable for young and old and is highly recommended.
For dinner, take a stroll to Eat Streat at the lake end of Rotorua city and choose to eat your meal at one of the many great restaurants. Favourites are Atticus Finch and Leonardo's. Also highly recommended, but not in the busy, bustling Eat Streat, are Sabroso, The Regent or Herbs and Spices.
Here is a great recipe for home-made Swedish Knackebrod or crackers. So easy to make, children would love to make them and they are healthy for you as well. Take a bowl, add 100g sunflower seeds, 25 grams pumpkin seeds, 50 grams sesame seeds, 50 grams linseed, 150 wholemeal flour, 150 wholemeal oats, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons Olive Oil and 500 mls warm water. Mix all the ingredients well until it resembles thick porridge. Grease two 35 x 35 cm oven trays with oil and thinly spread the mixture over the entire tray with a rubber spatula. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 130 degrees for 15 minutes, cut into pieces with a pizza cutter or knife and bake for a further 15 minutes. Using a heat proof spatula loosen the bottom of the knackebrod and then bake for a further 30 - 60 minutes until golden and crisp. Cool completely before eating. Variations include adding some chilli flakes, cumin or fennel seeds to the mixture or sprinkling a little sea salt on top before baking. Delicious with cream cheese or any of your favourite dips. Enjoy!
Until next time,
Happy New Year to you! Rotorua is full of international guests and we are enjoying an array of visitors at Blossom Cottage.
A new place to visit is the Trampoline Arena in Ti Street, close to the centre of Rotorua city. Great fun for children and particularly great when the weather is rainy. Other oldies but goodies are the Maori shows: Mitai, Tamaki and Te Puia. You can also visit Te Puia during the day to enjoy the arts and crafts and guided tours. Whakarewarewa is also worthwhile.
Free attractions include Kuirau Park near the centre of Rotorua city, with its steamy hot pools and bubbling mud, Government Gardens, and Hamurana Springs and Okere Falls approximately 15 minutes from the town centre.
Here is a delicious recipe for Lemon Tart. This recipe includes a home-made sweet pastry base. You can also use store bought sweet short pastry, if you like.
1 1/2 Cups of Flour, 1/2 Cup Icing Sugar, 125g ice cold butter, chopped, 2 egg yolks, 1 tbsp ice cold water.
Place flour, icing sugar, butter in food processor until crumbs are formed. Add yolks and ice cold water and process until the dough comes together. Gently form a ball, flatten, wrap in clingwrap and place in the fridge for an hour. Roll out pastry very thin between baking paper, about 4mm. Place the pastry on a tart tin and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Blind bake at 160 degrees for 20-25 minutes, remove blind bake filling and bake for a further 12 minutes.
Filling: 1 Cup Cream, 1 Cup Lime/Lemon Juice/Rind, 1/2 Cup Caster Sugar, 2 Eggs, 3 Egg Yolks. Whisk cream, eggs, yolks and sugar. Pour into tart shell and bake at 140 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Delicous decorated with lemon curd, passionfruit or raspberries and a dollop of yoghurt or whipped cream.
Until next time,
Just a quick note before the Christmas and New Year madness is upon us.
A great attraction to visit is Canopy Tours. They have moved into their brand new office on Fairy Springs Road and are all ready to take you for an exhilarating tour high up in our native trees, on platforms, ropes and flying foxes. Great for all ages!
If you are ready for a bite to eat, why not visit the Ciabatta Café in White Street for the best pastries and breads in town, a great atmosphere with a European vibe. Delicious coffee, too. Don't be put off by the industrial area in which it is located.
As it almost Christmas, here is a recipe for a delicious Dutch Christmas almond pastry:
4 cups of ground almonds, 4 cups of sugar, eggs, lemon juice and rind of one large lemon, 3 drops almond essence, roll of flaky pastry.
Mix all ingredients together, adding lemon juice last, until you have a thick, but slightly soft paste. Cover the almond paste with plastic foil and leave in the fridge for at least 3 - 14 days.
Roll open the pastry and roll out a little thinner. Cut in half in the length and then put a thick strip of the paste along the longest length. Wet the other three edges and close the pastry with the seam on the bottom. Leave the pastry as a roll or form a ring with the pastry. Brush on some egg wash or milk. Bake at 220 degrees for about 18 minutes. When cooled drizzle a thin mixture of lemon juice and icing sugar over the pastry and decorate with green and red glace cherries. You could also dust it with icing sugar instead. Prettige Kerst (Happy Christmas).
All the best, Marianne
We couldn't have wished for a better season and the holidays were no exception. Rotorua children have returned to school, but we are still welcoming a melange of new guests to beautiful Blossom Cottage.
I thought I would bring you up-to-date with what we have on offer at Blossom Cottage. Let's start with outdoors: we have an entertainment area with table tennis, table football, swings, slide, small sandpit, life-sized soccer goal, uni-cycle, bikes, trampoline. The list goes on.
Lurking around in the meadows are a bunch of cheeky, quirky, mischievous animals, who I will introduce to you now: Teddy and Cloudy, our male and female cats, who wee in our slippers, sneak into the bedrooms for a snooze when our backs are turned and who deliver a selection of deceased rodents and birds for our inspection and approval on a weekly basis! Milky and Cocoa are our snorting, snobby alpacas, who stick their noses up in the air and walk off in a huff if you don't feed them! Hanging around in the other meadow like a couple of naughty teenagers: Ellie-Mae and Sam, our donkeys, who will occasionally scare the living daylights out of you when they pull a desperate face, bray and show off their large teeth. Keeping these two characters company are Luke and Jill, the sheep. Jill is sweet-natured, but Luke is the boss, pushing everyone aside with his fat bottom when there are delicious morsels on offer! On occasion, Luke will race after Ellie-Mae and Sam like a wild dog, causing them to gallop around the perimeter of the paddock multiple times at high speed with dust billowing up in the air! Also living here on the property is a group of scratching, scrounging hens, who always manage to find their way to our house or the cottage and leave some smelly goodies at the door. Not so smelly and decidedly delicious, are the warm, freshly-laid eggs that the hens leave in their nests for you at the hen-house. Collect the eggs early in the morning for your breakfast and let the hens loose for another day of free-range fun. Come and meet the bunnies, Snow and Shadow Mist, and Hercules, the Giant Flemish Rabbit. The bunnies are a tad reserved, but Hercules will come when called and won't say no to a good cuddle and something delicious to munch on. Kwikkie and Kwakkie are our Orpington duck couple, who unfortunately lost their daughter on Christmas Day 2014, when a dog attacked her while she defended her nest with 11 eggs. Last but not least, our newest addition to the menagerie is Betty our petite bantam and her three Araucana chicks. Betty is not the chicks' biological mother, but took it upon herself to keep the eggs warm until they hatched, and is the kindest step-mother you could ever meet. One day they will tower over her, but for the time-being she is enjoying her very important role.
The icing on the cake is your own secluded, spacious hot tub, located next to the cottage for your private use. The outdoor hot and cold shower can be used before or after luxuriating in the hot tub and looks out over stunning countryside, bush and rolling hills. The door to the fully-equipped laundry is located next to the hot tub.
Indoors is a fully self-contained cottage with a fresh, vintage-style decor. Everything you could wish for is provided: heat-pump, electric blankets, full kitchen, television, two inviting bedrooms, movies, books, games, toys and dressing-up clothes, and a fridge full of breakfast provisions, which you can prepare in the morning at your leisure. As you have just read, all you need is your suitcase with favourite clothes and the rest is here at Blossom Cottage for you to enjoy........no hidden costs, all of the above are included in the nightly rate.
Before I go, here is a fantastic chocolate cake recipe. It is dairy-free, egg-free and affordable. The trick is to mix the ingredients quickly, as it is the fascinating chemical reaction that ensures that the cake is light and delicious. Double the recipe for children's parties or big groups and bake in a large baking dish.
Ingredients: 3 cups plain flour, 2 cups white sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 cup cocoa, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tsp vanilla essence, 2 cups cold water. Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda and cocoa into a large bowl. Make three wells in the dry ingredients and pour oil, vinegar and vanilla into each well. Carefully pour the cold water over all the ingredients and mix quickly with a fork. Pour into a baking tin (25x35cm or large, round tin) and bake for 30 - 40 minutes at 180 degrees until just cooked. (Check regularly. If you leave it in the oven too long, it will be dry). Take out of the oven and put on a rack to cool slightly in the tin. Lay a piece of baking paper over the warm cake, then lay a tea towel over the baking paper and let the chocolate cake cool completely in the tin. Ice with your favourite icing and serve with a dollop of thick cream.
That's all for now. Next time, I will bring you more information on all the Rotorua attractions, animal antics and reveal to you a few of the mishaps that occurred over the years at Blossom Cottage. Very embarrassing but, at the same time, irresistably funny!
Until next time!
It's March and the weather is still pretty warm, with the occasional shower. This season has been our busiest for years and we have had guests from various countries. We have also had many honeymoon couples, including a couple who are staying at Blossom Cottage as I write this newsflash. Honeymoon couples come to Blossom Cottage to enjoy the large, secluded hot tub, the serenity and the romantic ambiance that this magical place offers. We have also welcomed families, who come here to enjoy our menagerie of animals, including Hercules the rabbit, Luke the bossy sheep, Milky and Cocoa, the sneezing alpacas, and our quirky hens, who will chase you around the meadows for a tasty morsel! We also have a playground, plenty of movies, books, games and toys.
Hercules, the Giant Flemish Rabbit, has settled in well at Blossom Cottage and is great fun for young and old. Call his name and he will come and greet you, eat out of your hand or wait to be cuddled. We have also welcomed 18 new Brown Shaver hens to the animal family and in a month or two they will be laying your warm, freshly-laid hens' eggs for breakfast! (Our veteran hens are doing that job at the moment).
I have discovered a couple of shops in Rotorua that might interest you. Atlantis is a vintage bookshop in Eruera Street. Old posters adorn the walls and inviting music lures you into the store. They have many second hand books for sale and also sell vintage records. There is a great vibe in the shop and it is appealing for young and old. In the middle of the store are a couple of comfy couches and visitors to the store are welcome to relax and read their books, while enjoying a drink. Atlantis is just across the road from Capers, a popular cafe.
Another store I discovered is called Mountain Jade at 1288 Fenton Street. They sell beautiful products made of pounamu (jade) at reasonable prices. There is a small factory in the store and jade carving tours for small or large groups. Visit the store and ask for Sabine, who will arrange a guided tour for you at no cost.
After hours of sight-seeing, visit the place locals love to go to for lunch: Sushi Gallery for the best takeaway sushi in town. You will be greeted by the cheerful staff at the Sushi Gallery and be impressed by the selection of delectable sushi. Try the tuna or chicken rice balls, which are big enough for two to share. Take your sushi with you and devour it at the Lake Front and enjoy views of Lake Rotorua and Mokoia Island.
One attraction that you should not miss is Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, only 20 minutes south of Rotorua city. See the Lady Knox geyser erupt and then meander past steamy pools, plopping mud and breathtaking colours amidst native flora. Well worth a vist for young and old. One warning, though, keep to the paths, as the ground can crumble under your feet if you do not keep to the tracks.
That's all the information for this month, and now for one of my favourite recipes. If you are looking for a dessert for a special dinner party or celebration, here is a delicious and easy dessert, which you can make a day or two beforehand:
Lemon Passionfruit Pots with Zesty Biscuits
Put 600ml cream in a saucepan with 50g sugar and heat slowly until the sugar is dissolved. Turn up the heat to a rolling simmer for only 3 minutes, stirring now and then. After 3 minutes, add 125ml of lemon juice and stir into the cream mixture as it thickens. Let it cool slightly and then pour into pretty vintage cups and put in the fridge overnight.
Cream 250g soft butter with 1 cup of icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the zest of 2 lemons. Sift 1 cup of cornflour and 2 cups of plain flour and mix into the creamed mixture by hand, kneading well. Roll out thinly and cut into rectangular shapes, about 6cm x 1cm. Prick with a fork and bake at 50 degrees for 15 - 25 minutes.
Pour some passionfruit pulp on the set cream pots and place the cups on a vintage saucer with one zesty biscuit on each saucer. Serve with a bowl of whipped cream, if desired, and enjoy!
That's all for this month. Until next time!
The summer at Blossom Cottage has been hot and unrelenting: great for our guests, who have spent their days at our beautiful lakes cooling off, but not so great for our farmers, who only had crunchy, yellow paddocks instead of lush, green grass to offer to their cattle and sheep.
Let's start with animal antics. Our animals have managed to behave themselves to a certain extent.....well, most of them have....it's just that our cat cloudy was locked in the house one night. Not her fault; she was just overlooked when we made our way to bed, and spent the night prowling around the house looking for a way out. At one point, with her legs crossed due to an urgent need for a potty stop, she spied a shape in the dark, which reminded her of the kitty litter tray she had used as a young kitten. She finished her business and left her 'kitty litter' feeling quite relieved. Next morning, Rene, the man of the house, got out of bed, put his chilly feet into his favourite woollen moccasin slippers, only to discover a pool of ...........you've guessed it...something decidedly cold and wet floating around in bottom of his slippers! A guilty-looking Cloudy made a quick getaway out the front door when she realised her mistake!
I would like to tell you about all the wonderful, free activities that can be enjoyed in and around Rotorua. Pack a picnic lunch and take the children to the Blue Lake. Play in the water on the floating platform or at the playground, take a walk around the Blue Lake, swim to your heart's content and then buy an ice-cream at the shop. Barbeques are available at the Blue Lake, so cook some sausages and hamburgers and eat your dinner at the water's edge.
Take a walk to steamy Kuirau Park with its bubbling pools of mud and boiling water. Just on the outskirts of the town centre.
Visit the Rotorua Information Centre and ask about their free walking tours. The local guides are knowledgable and will give you an insight into our fascinating city, its culture and its people.
Enjoy a walk in the forest at Okere Falls, take the steps down into the cave and watch the white water rafters making their way down the river and steep falls.
Hamurana Springs is breathtakingly beautiful with its redwood trees and clear, pristine water. Throw a coin at the source of the springs and make a wish, take some bread for the ducks and trout and feed them from the bridge or enjoy a picnic lunch on the grassy banks after your walk.
Not free of charge, but well worth a visit are the Blue Baths, where you can enjoy a soak in the pool, while admiring the 1930s architecture. One of the pools has been converted into a venue for musical shows in the evening. Order a delicious platter of food and one of their many cocktails while watching the show and enjoy a night of fun!
Before I go, this is a home-made recipe for muesli and is delicious with a splash of milk or a dollop of yoghurt:
Cranberry and Cashew Muesli
Line an oven tray with baking paper and place a kilo of oatmeal on the tray. In a pan, warm up half a cup of oil with two heaped tbsp of honey. When melted, pour the honey/oil mixture over the oats, add a handful of raw peanuts and cashews and put in the oven at 180 degrees. Stir the mixture every five minutes, ensuring it doesn't burn, until the nuts and oatmeal are golden brown. Take out of the oven and stir every 10 minutes until cooled. Toast 125g of pumpkin seeds in a frying pan and add to the mixture and also add a 100g of cranberries, 100g of raisins and 100g of chopped apricots.
Until next time. I will be back soon with more news on our city's attractions, animals antics and easy, delicious recipes for you to enjoy.
Bye for now,
It's been a while since I wrote a Newsflash. What about our beautiful, exciting and interesting city? Here are some of the many attractions in and around Rotorua: Canopy Tours, which takes you on a zipline tour with flying foxes through native forest, is one of our most popular attractions: exciting, educational and fun.
Kuirau Park: a thermal park with bubbling pools and steam. There's a playground and plenty of picnic spots and, best of all, it is free of charge. Just on the outskirts of town and within walking distance.
Lake Tarawera: take a drive, stop at the beautiful Redwood Forest for a walk and continue past beautiful scenery, the Blue Lake and the Buried Village until you reach Lake Tarawera. Enjoy a meal at the Landing Restaurant, while taking in the breathtaking views over the lake, mountains and bush. About 20 minutes from Rotorua city.
There are many excellent restaurants in Rotorua. Leonardo's in Pukaki Street, is an authentic, Italian restaurant and they prepare their meals with fresh produce each day. It would pay to book a table, as they are popular.
Pig and Whistle: set in a beautiful, 1940s building on Tutanekai Street. It is a Pub-style restaurant with LARGE, tasty meals and friendly staff. Try their curly fries...delicious!
Capers Cafe Restaurant in Eruera Street: caters to every budget, with a variety of meals from the menu or from the cabinet. They have a small children's playroom and a selection of magazines and newspapers available. Table service in the evening.
Atticus Finch Restaurant at the lake end of Tutanekai Street: tapas style food to share with those at your table, excellent cocktails and a great ambiance.
Just to bring you up to date with the animals at Blossom Cottage: we now have cats, hens, ducks (Kwikkie and Kwakkie), alpacas (Milky and Cocoa), donkeys (Elly and Sam), bunnies (Snow and Shadow Mist) and sheep (Luke and Jill), who enjoy company, still think they are baby lambs and love to drink milk from the bottle occasionally!
Unfortunately, some of our animals have dishonesty written all over their faces and go around stealing from others. Yes, stealing! Stealing food! I had just put my feet up and was relaxing with a good cup of coffee, when a couple of feathered fiends (shifty-eyed hens) looked left, then right and then tip-toed into our kitchen to steal Cloudy and Teddy's breakfast and dinner. A soft cushion thrown gently, sorted out these feisty females once and for all and, after slipping and sliding on our wooden kitchen floor, doing the splits a couple of times and leaving smelly gifts as a token of their appreciation for their stolen meal and clucking and complaining, they then departed to scratch for bugs in the vast free-range paradise of our property.
Who are Cloudy and Teddy, you ask? They are our family cats, one fluffy female, cute and laid-back and one sleek male, with a bit of a diva attitude. One balmy night, we had all the bedroom windows open due to the heat and were happily dreaming when, next minute, there was a bang and a crash and a muddy-pawed Teddy, who had just finished digging up the garden, jumped through the window and walked all over our faces, meowing pitifully, feigning death due to hunger. It is an understatement to say that we were annoyed, especially after we were face-painted by Teddy's muddy paws several more nights during the heat-wave!!
Summer is the time for going to barbeques, outdoor parties and on picnics. Here's a recipe that is so easy, delicious and perfect to take with you on your outings.
Vegetable Cheese and Bacon Slice
Fry one chopped onion, 8 rashers of bacon (optional) and 2 cloves of garlic in a pan until cooked.
Add 225 gram grated zucchini, 225 grated carrot, 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 2 cups of frozen baby peas, chopped bacon and 2 tbsp pesto. Mix well.
Add 300 grams of lightly beaten ricotta, 6 lightly beaten eggs, salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1 cup of self-raising flour to the mixture and pour into a greased 20 x 30 cm tin and bake at 200 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Cool and cut into pieces. Re-heat if desired. Delicious with a crispy salad, relish, pesto or a sour cream/grated zucchini mixture.
That's all my news. Until next time!
Hi everybody! Just a quick newsflash from me to let you know about an exciting attraction in Rotorua. It is the new Zipline Thrill Ride, which descends 385 metres down the side of Mount Ngongotaha from Skyline Skyrides. Take the gondola to the top of the mountain and then hurtle through the air at 80 km an hour while taking in the spectacular panorama: the city, Lake Rotorua and magical Mokoia Island. While you are at the top, make the most of the Luge and other attractions and end the day with a delicious buffet dinner, while the sun sets in the distance. You can find them on Fairy Springs Road, only 10 minutes from Blossom Cottage. Well worth the visit! Bye for now, Marianne