Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mini Egg Showdown, 2010!

And the Winner is...

First I'd like to take a moment to thank the judges for joining the showdown.  
And now on to the findings. In true Miss America fashion, the third place mini egg 2010 is....

The Kiwi Cadbury mini egg.
Pleasing packaging. Pleasing, realistic spots on the eggs, but inferior chocolate with unusual spices (I still think I can taste cloves/cinnamon here). However it must be noted that this was B.W.'s highest ranked mini egg. Again.

The Runner Up is...

Cadbury's Royal Dark American mini egg. Complex. Haunting. All that is good about dark chocolate is here, if your into that kind of thing.

And this year's mini egg winner is...

Yes, no one can hold a candle to her, she is Cadbury's standard, American mini egg.
Perfection in a crisp sugar shell.

Which leaves...

the non-Cadbury mini egg in the dust. You never really had a fair shot at it, I'm afraid. Better luck next time.

And so another tradition ends.  Tune in next time for Winter 4th of July Bon Voyage at the bach!

Mini Egg Showdown, 2010!

Meet the Judges!

P is our defacto Officiant and is always the Randomizer as she actually doesn't like chocolate and thus would make a terrible judge. She helped to decorate the four egg cups that would hold the eggs for our blinded judges. As the eggs actually look quite different from each other I realized last year we need further blinding of the judges to exclude certain bias. Also, this means scent becomes that much more important. A double bonus. P also handled the random shuffling of the egg cups to the judges. 
A.M., a longstanding friend and chocolate fan, is also enthusiastic about new traditions - a perfect late entry to the judge pool!

H.B. is the reason this whole tradition started! I'm so happy you also were disgruntled by Cadbury kiwi chocolate! I hope you are back in time for next years Showdown!

A.H. is a discerning chocolate eater of distinction who somehow manages to look dashing even in a green bandana. 

As my husband, B.W. pretty much has to be involved with all my shenanigans. Fortunately he likes chocolate and is opinionated so he is good judge material!

Each judge was given a random cup of eggs and full glass of wine for palate cleansing, and told to sniff, lick and enjoy their eggs, noting preferences as they arise. Egg cups were swapped for each round and at the end each judge was allowed to resample any egg that needed further consideration.

Not surprisingly, some eggs were better others.

Hold tight for the winners!

Mini Egg Showdown, 2010!

Meet the Contestants!

Living in a new country and culture has taught us to make some of our own traditions, like the annual mini egg showdown! I suspect this one will stand the test of time despite being the exact same every year (but I guess you could say that about most traditions, eh?) because it involves us eating lots and lots of mini eggs! What's not to love?

Meet the Contestants:

#1 and #2 were lovingly flown in at special request (thank you!) and will be representing the US. #3 was bought here and is representing NZ (and Oz). #4 was also bought here and is the not-Cadbury confounder.

#1 is the standard American Cadbury mini egg, and is the reason this tradition began. Like back home, you can only get mini eggs around easter here, so when they came out here last year I was thrilled to buy some and then devastated to find that they were INFERIOR to my memory of the mini eggs we had back home. My friend from the UK went through the same experience. This led to a 3 country mini egg taste test you can read about here.

#2 is the dark chocolate version of Cadbury's American mini egg. Oooh, tricky! I like your style, Cadbury!

#3 is the Australian made Cadbury mini egg that is sold to New Zealanders. I was intrigued to find these were made in Oz as we have a Cadbury wonderland on the South Island, but now I just blame Kraft and move on.

#4 is the "other" mini egg, the confounder, if you will. It is manufactured in the UK.

Missing from this years showdown is Cadbury's UK mini egg. Must remember to ask for it well in advance next year!

Now that you have met the contestants, meet the judges!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Te Arai Point

Meet IB and his pet jellyfish - a blue bottle, otherwise known as the Portuguese man-o-war. He also had a pet seastar.

If you ask IB what you should do if you get stung by a jellyfish he will tell you:
First, swear. Then piss yourself. Then weep quietly until help arrives.

We spent a weekend with the expats at Te Arai beach. You've already seen B's monster fish. He also speared a red moki and gathered some enormous mussels. It was a hunter-gatherer weekend as we also had an easter egg hunt.

 Te Arai point at sunset with some expat body boarders.

We might have to stop going to the beach on the busy weekends as they tend to get overcrowded. Of course of the 12 people on the beach easily half are from our party.
We're overcrowding the beach, evidently!

Te Arai point. Lovely.


Speared a big kingfish last weekend, appropriate shirt, eh?

Friday, April 2, 2010

The hegemonic hedge

We have a lot of hedges in our neighborhood. What can I say, we live in the burbs - it's all about peace and privacy out here. But this hedge is abnormally large. B calls it the hegemonic hedge.

Maybe it doesn't look that big in the above picture, but below is the same picture but with and an added P for perspective. It's a big mama of a hedge.

Here's the same hedge but looking downhill.

And this one shows why it is a hegemonic hedge- what you can't tell from the other pictures is that it overhangs the walkway significantly thereby restricting how many people can walk abreast up the sidewalk and inducing a sense of claustrophobia.
Although small or stooped people can walk under the hedge.

I've always been overwhelmed by this hedge. It was only last year we found out Xena the warrior princess lives behind it. Perhaps it's time to drop off some cookies and be neighborly!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tween saves her own life in violent dawn brawl!

A sneak attack on a local tween was thwarted Sunday with quick reflexes!

Perseverance BrAmPa climbed out of her bed Sunday morning then woke her father by imitating a car alarm before sitting down to enjoy her breakfast with a book.

"Not five seconds later I heard a squeal and then the whole room was filled with flying arms and legs and debris" her mother reported after the incident that left the household of three mildly disturbed, but also amused.

"I was just about to bite into my Ricies when I saw it moving on my bathrobe. That's when I freaked out." Perseverance remembers yelling and jumping up to swat at the offending insect with Calvin and Hobbes, the Sunday Special. The insect retreated under the dinner table where it was contained with a clear plastic bowl by her mother, much to its fury.

"This spider was unlike our typical spider visitor, and I was able to identify it as the dreaded White Tail Spider, one of two harmful spiders in New Zealand, this one being brought here from Australia, naturally," reported Perseverance's father, who attempted to transfer the spider to a more suitable container but accidentally squashed in it the process, thus ruining any desire to save it and show it to friends.

The White Tailed Spider feeds on other spiders and usually only bites humans if provoked, however the bite is immediately painful. Landcare Research notes, "It is usually possible to catch the perpetrator easily, since the spider has poor eyesight, and its identity can then be confirmed. It should be noted that cases of confirmed White-tail spider bites have rarely resulted in anything more severe than a red mark and localised, short-lived pain."

In other news, Syndey, Australia, land of the nasty, biting animals, has been inundated with funnel-web spiders as of late. This from the NZ Herald, "Unlike most spiders, which scuttle away when disturbed, funnel-webs, which can grow to up to two inches long, may rear up and bare their fangs....Found mainly in eastern Australia, they are said to be able to leap 18 inches, and their fangs can penetrate soft shoes and fingernails."

night race to Mahurangi

Over the weekend we were invited to join the night race to Mahurangi.
This was my view for a good portion of the race:

These boats were also in the race. I think.

If you look really hard (opening the picture in another window helps as well) you might be able to see the moon over this boat.

We arrived at 10:38pm, and celebrated with a drink in the moonlight! Overall a great way to start Anniversary weekend!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Trial run, Year 8

The school year is about to begin, in fact tomorrow is P's first day of Year 8!
Too bad I thought today was her first day and sent her to school!