05 December 2010

The Day I went to Narnia: Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking Class

Sometimes when opportunity knocks in an unexpected way, you just have to go for it.

This week was cruising along like all others until the phone rang Thursday night. It was my friend Tracy calling, with a proposition. My other friend Tracey (confusing I know!) was coming down to Welly for the Bon Jovi concert and Tracy had been struggling to resell 2 tickets to a Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking Class due to 2 friends pulling out with medical emergencies. Tickets to these days go on sale in July and sell out pretty much immediately. Anyway, Tracy offered me the chance to go with her and the other Tracey at a much discounted rate, and even though I am always loathe to spend a whole day away from the boys on our precious weekends together, it was an opportunity I just couldn't refuse.

Luckily I also had a very understanding hubby who had himself experienced one of Ruth's cooking classes a few years back and his words were "Meg, you must go". Even though Mylo has been way below par all week with a bad virus and rash and was likely to be hard work. What a trooper Mark is!

So off we drove bright and early on a simply stunning Wellington day. Surprisingly, it was cloudier up the Coast (Ruth Pretty is based in Te Horo) but it didn't take long for the cloud to burn off.

We arrived to fresh coffee and lavender lemonade served in the Garden Room. Acccompanied with orange and frangipani tarts, vanilla yoghurt/cream and strawberries. Um hello, I gotta feeling this is gonna be a good day!

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

At 10am the class kicked off, and I counted 36 other keen culinary customers in the kitchen. Ruth was extremely good fun and entertaining, talking us through how to make:
  • Walnut and Fig Brad with Blue Cheese, Apply and Celery
  • Pan Fried Scallops and Prawns with Celery Herb Salad, Grapefruit and Celery Leaf Pesto
  • Hot Smoked Salmon with Ginger Coriander Dressing and Bl;ack Beans
  • Honey Glazed Pork Loin with Apple, Raisins, Lemon and Rosemary
  • Gingerbread Roll with Rum Butter Sauce, Apricot Compote, Chocolate Leaves and Crystallised Cranberries
The cooking was spaced out over about four hours with 2 breaks for more coffee and delicious tarts and an opportunities to shop in the Ruth Pretty Shop where all manner of amazing culinary contraptions could be purchased.

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

I must admit I skipped the shopping for the chance to go take a few photos. And am now kicking myself big time as I didn't get an opportunity to go back and pick up a few cute little bits I  had spied at the end of the day as we totally ran outta time. Drat!

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

Oh and I mustn't forget there was also a refreshment break with a glass of wine looking out over fields of nikau palm and toitoi swaying gently in the very limpid breeze.

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

OK, so about now you're probably all going 'huh, how does this have anything at all to do with Narnia? Just hang in there peeps. I'm getting to it!

As I said, Ruth was rather good fun, and tried to con us into thinking that lunch was going to served 'following a trek that involved a DOC permit and some navigating across a swing bridge'. However, she led us on a merry goose chase that involved a very short stroll through a field and back to an unassuming looking shed.

As we waited and Ruth cleared spiderwebs from the door, there came a sound of classical music from within. The door opened and one by one we entered.

It was like walking into a wardrobe in this world and suddenly realising you can go further in, and further in, and further in again. And when you feel as if the wardrobe couldn't possibly be this deep, the cloaks in the wardrobe suddenly part, and you find yourself suddenly in Narnia.  And your breath is taken away in an exhalation of amazement.

Because suddenly you find yourself in the most beautiful winter wonderland grotto. Lichen-covered trees covered in fairy lights and glass jewel drops. In the middle of the room a giant furry snowball globe with flourescent lights inside. Each table beautifully set with individual names on the back of rustic, looking chairs.

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

And so we sat. Partook in the most divine of Christmas dinners. In a magical other worldly world. Dining like the Kings and Queens of Narnia would have done. I wanted to pinch myself on numerous occasions. Was I really here? Was this really happening? My stomach and eyes kept telling me yes, it was all very true.

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

Unfortunately, after deciding to have to have extra asparagus and orange spiced carrot salad (it was that good), I didn't quite leave enough room to finish the dessert. VERY disappointing - it was also that good!!

You all know that time in Narnia is not like our time. Days, weeks, and years in Narnia are but the blink of an eye in our world. Well for us, the opposite was in fact true. It seemed as if only 5 minutes had passed since entering Narnia, and we could have stayed all day. But a quick check of the watch proved that, in fact, time had slipped cheekily on without us noticing and we were beginning to run late.

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

Suddenly, it wasn't so much a matter of finding our way back through the wardrobe. Instead we all felt a little like Cinderella did at midnight worrying about our coach suddenly turning into a pumpkin. In the real world, we all had to get back to Wellington quick smart. Tracey had the Bon Jovi concert to prepare for, and I needed to get back to help Mark out with dinner and bathtime as we had a hot date with Harry Potter awaiting us. And no, I didn't knowingly plan both things for one day, I assure you, I'm not quite that mad. We'd already had Harry Potter planned a week or so before my unexpected invitation.

And so, somewhat unwillingly, we had to exit the magical wonderland. Stepping out into bright sunshine. So bright it hurt our eyes. The smell of hot and dusty gravel and the heat assaulting us immediately. Bringing us quickly back to the reality of this other life we lead. So brief this journey, but so magical.

Ruth Pretty Christmas Cooking school review

A day that was never meant to be, suddenly became.

Farewell Narnia. I will not forget you.


Leonie said...

oh..wow! that looks amazing! what an experience. I love all that attention to detail. wow.

Sarah said...

When you said you were going 'on a cooking course' and me not knowing much more than how to boil an egg, let alone who 'Ruth' was (admit the name seemed familiar, but couldn't figure out why), I truly had NO IDEA! WOWEEeeeeeee, what an unforgettable experience! I was so blown away reading your post, with the stunning photographs and evocative writing (which I didn't want to end). So happy for you and I am sure you will make it up to Mark with some scrumptious cooking :) x

Amy said...

Enchanting. We are going to be staying for a month about 7 mins from Ruth Pretty :) and my bestie and I love hanging out in her shop and drooling over the cute stuff. Can't wait to go back. Glad you had a delicious time.

Jason and Jacinda Papps said...

Wow, what an amazing day. One of those unforgettable moments!

Sammy said...

What an incredible day- absolutely wonderful!! The best experiences are often those that are unplanned and off the cuff. Sounds like an amazing day.

Mika said...

Loving your photographs.
The Narnia experience sounds divine!

Penny said...

Amazing photos! Loved reading this post! What a great day


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