Shoppin’ in the summertime: SHOPWATCH special food n’beverage edition

Shoppin’ in the summertime: SHOPWATCH special food n’beverage edition
With Christmas and New Year excess abandoned and a healthy, dry January stretching ahead – oh, who are we kidding? Whether you’re planning a virtuous fruity detox or still polishing off the last of the cake and biscuits with no end in sight, you’ve still got to eat and drink, right? Check out a few of the goodies around town right now that are sure to make summer drinking and dining that little bit more fun.
Mmmm, ginny.

Sours are slowly infiltrating the beer mainstream, and there’s not much more refreshingly, er, sour on a summer’s day than one of these. If you’re not used to them, they take some lateral thinking. Less beer, more sauvignon blanc, but without that grapey, winey quality one would naturally expect from wine. Tuatara’s special release GnT Citrus Summer Sour is an accessible starting point; cloudy and quaffable, with echoes of its spirituous namesake, but nowhere near as boozy. Trust me: sours are great.

Heading up a mountain but unwilling to face life without cocktails? Has vacuum flask inventor Stanley got the product for  you! The Stanley Adventure Happy Hour System – available at good old Ballys  – comprises a sturdy cocktail shaker, jigger, citrus reamer and two steel rocks glasses, meaning you can toast your triumphs in style, provided you leave enough space in your backpack for the scads of booze you’ll require to build your drinks with. The cups are doublewalled, so I guess theoretically you could use them for hot drinks as well.

Ballantynes also stocks ruggedly styled Stanley hip flasks – for emergencies, naturally -and rather cool steel shot glasses in a case that you can clip to your pack with a carabiner. As to how sensible it is to get cracking into the shots in the wilderness, I cannot possibly say, but these are certainly good looking sets.


For the tramper who has everything, and possibly also a drinking problem.

Refreshed and ready for use at last, Carlton Courts is gearing up to house several new hospitality spots. Sun Dog Diner’s appealing logo and promise of “hoity toity comfort food” caught my eye in particular: it’s run by the owners of Mamacita’s Mexican food truck and looks set to be worth checking out. Like a lot of new businesses, it  has a gorgeous website without much actual information on it yet, so for updates, visit the Sun Dog Facebook page. Plans are to open later this month.

Also refreshed in that area is Kanniga Thai. now known as Mama Ree Thai Street Food. I’m yet to try it since it changed names, bur new customers are raving about it on TripAdvisor, and its new signage is certainly cute. Street food seems to be the hot thing in Christchurch at present, which is why I also urge you to visit Delhi Belly in Victoria St, which is worth it for the starters alone – and not pricey, either. Like the decor, the food’s a little different to what we’re generally used to in Indian restaurants, but it’s very worth expanding your horizons.

It’s become almost obligatory for cafes to serve a pile of ingredients so you can put your own sandwich together – deconstructionism is so mainstream now – and sometimes it is a bit annoying. But Vespa, beside Strange’s Lane, is getting it right when it comes to serving its (delicious) affogato. If there’s one thing you do want to control, it’s the moment the hot espresso hits the cold icecream.

Coffee poured and ready to scoff.

Speaking of affogato, you can make it with gelato too. Jed and co at  Rollickin do. You can enjoy their superior gelati, coffees and  other dessert delights late into the evenings now at their cute cafe in the former Auricle space on New Regent St. What better excuse?

Stay tuned!

Shopwatch is an occasional shopping column focused on the central city of Christchurch, New Zealand. All reviews are independent and unsolicited. Any WordPress advertising is unrelated to content.

I was a beer wanker. No wait. Make that AM

I come from a family of wowsers*, but my father – a member, at least in theory, of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association  – was a hard-working man and not averse to an occasional beer on a hot day. We would line up to sip the froth off the top. Thus began my love affair with the brown beverage.

I don’t remember what brand Dad’s beer actually was, only that it came in large brown bottles and, to my infant tastebuds, seemed slightly bitter with a sweetish aftertaste. I can be 100 per cent certain that it was made by either Lion or DB, because that was all you got in New Zealand in those days. It was probably DB Bitter or Double Brown. It was quite a few years before I actually started drinking alcohol in earnest, and while I gravitated towards gin and tonic, fluffy ducks and the infamous Pink Chardon like other girls, I always had a sneaking soft spot for beer.

In London in the 90s I traumatised young men by ordering pints. Apparently women were not supposed to drink them. I stunned them more by drinking pints of bitter. I figured that if I was in England I should at least try their famous warm beer and it tasted all right to me. But before long I was back on the lagers like everybody else, though the power of a good advert won me over to Boddingtons, and obviously I drank Guinness, because it was food and better for you than chips.

I returned to New Zealand to find everybody drinking Speights – formerly of “drink Speights, lose your mates” renown – and something called Canterbury Draught which had apparently been drunk in my province since the dawn of history. Close perusal of the label revealed that CD was in fact Wards. Wards was what old drunk men in pubs had sipped while we pranced about quaffing our trendy Rheineck. In the late 90s, marketing made the least cool beers very cool indeed. But something else had come to the party by then. Proper wine.

Now, I do not have a particularly good palate. My sense of smell is compromised and I can barely tell a fine pinot noir from a scuzzy merlot out of a box. Still, I like a nice tasting drink, and most red wine is palatable enough. (Unless it’s Veluto Rosso. That stuff shouldn’t still be allowed.) So I went through a wine phase. But wine is not low in alcohol and sometimes gives one a headache. It’s also horrible on a hot afternoon. So beer was always an alternative. And just at the point where wine was starting to pall, beer hit back -with a thing called craft.

The rise of genuine craft beers in New Zealand coincided with a rise in my bank balance and a job that kept me out till the wee hours. Primed by pilsner and the occasional foray into Weird Stuff They Have At The Supermarket, I was soon devoted to IPAs and APAs and just about anything hoppy. I revelled in red ales and forked out for $15 pints of fancy things. Beer with chilli in it. Chocolate beer.  Beer that tastes like an Anzac biscuit.

A recent change in fortune means no more $15 pints for me, at least not right now. Frugality is my new buzzword. But nobody should deny themselves completely. A couple of days ago I completed a couple of new, unfamiliar classes and, on a post-teaching high, decided that, much like That Man, I deserved a DB. As it happened DB was all that was available, so I went the whole hog and bought a pint of draught.


It was hideous.

At lunchtime today I ordered a mainstream red ale. It was also hideous.

I’m sitting here looking at an empty bottle of Mike’s Vanilla Coffee Porter and there’s a Rex Attitude in the fridge to enjoy later.

I may have a little bit of a budgeting problem.


*OK apart from all of the ones who are not