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Cooking on Holiday, Food Tours, Island Tours, Malaysian Food consultant, New Zealand, Nyonya Dishes, Pearly Kee, Uncategorized

Cooking in North Island, New Zealand.

I have not written for a long time. The cooking class in our home is progressing well. The internet and wifi, finally is smooth for me to sit down and pen some travel adventure. For some time, I was not able to do it as we were getting intermitten services.

Chandra, Junnie and I went to Tasmania, had so much fun with Neil and Ness but we have to leave them for another adventure.


In whakatane, NZ with John Lee and Chandra.

John Lee and wife Marlena hosted our stay in Whakatane, North Island. Three of us had quite an unforgetable time when we landed in Auckland. We found a place to stay in the Air Bnb and arriving late was madness. Even though we found the place, we were not used to the checking in system to retrieve the key to enter the premises. We were so tired that we fell asleep the minute our head touched the pillow.

Next day, we took a bus to John and Marlena home in Whafatane. I love the bus ride. We purposely wanted the front seat to admire the scenery and the 4 hours passed so fast as the sights were so beautiful. The name of road and district sounds Indian to me.

My most unforgetable dinner we had was a cheese plate dinner with John Lee, Marlena and Jack Tan. Jack was then a participant in NZ master chef and a wine connoisseur, a self taught sommelier. He has driven all over New Zealand to savor  the wine in the regions.

So sitting with them as he shares some wine adventures was indeed memorable. I was fascinated with his stories about which wines goes with what food, when it is best taken, how to store the bottles. It goes on and on. It was the only time I really enjoyed a cheese plate with red wine.

When I got home to Penang, I went to get the same cheese. Jack made sure we took back the great red wine to take home. But it was not the same. The cool air, the ambiance just wasn’t there. The company with wine talk to inspire us was missing.

John knew I love fruits and the amount of fruits, we got to eat is unforgetable. I got to eat golden kiwi fruit after touring the farm. It was so lovely to see a whole farm of kiwis. As it is so costly in Penang, you can imagine how many we ate and ate.

But nothing can beat the feijoa, I had 40 fruits in my 1 week stay. I absolutely fell in love with this unbelievebly sweet, fragrant fruit. Until today, I wish someone or whoever comes to my class will hand carry some for me. John had 2 big trees of feijoa.


Small fishes thrown back to the sea.

We went fishing hoping to patiently catch some but I was sea sick and the air was so chilling. John wanted to cook some wonderful curry but alas, I was so sea sick, nearly vomitting when I told John, we had to turn back. We caught some but had to throw back as it was too small.


Fish ruler

Every boat had a measurement as a reminder the size of fish you can take back. And I am so impressed they actually throw back if it is too small. For us in Penang, all big or small fishes can be caught and eaten.

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But other adventure have to wait as we prepare for the big dinner for 80 people. John, Marlena, Junnie, Chandra and I cook almost 8 dishes for the dinner. Marlena had lucky draws for the guest who came.

We set up a demo for mkaing Roti Jala and many eager hands came up to try making them inclusing the 3 Master chef participant.

The dinner was attended by John students and NZ Master chef participant Jack Tan, Catherine and Kasey Te Awa-Bird. We were so humbled by  Jack, Catherine and many Malaysians who came to the dinner. They all pitch in to do the washing up. They saw how buzy we were and they cleared up everything for us with the help of the staff.

I met many wonderful friends of John who very kindly invited us into their homes and had big lunch with them.

I met George who lived in a little island. We had to take a boat to reach his beautiful house.  Also to Jeanette Horan in another part of  town, who cook a wonderful meals for us. Lovely friends who warmly welcome us to their luxurious home. We were indeed so priviledged and blessed.

Another event we were in is the visit from Prince William and Kate. From Whakatane, John drove all the way to Cambridge on April 12 2014, to see the royal couple. The locals turned up and filled the roads and streets. There was virtually no place to get a good view so I end up watching the big screen.

Even then, it was worth it and watching the screen. The camera stick came in useful but the crowd all had their stick up too so really did not get a good shot in my camera except form the big screen. ohh well, I had to be content.

Overall, our trip to Whakatane was so enjoyable. I told John, I love North Island and this are the few places in the world I would like to retire or at least visit a few more times. The weather is enjoyable, not to cold. Traffic is not overly crazy where older people can drive slowly.






  1. Pingback: Karina and Kasey in Penang | Penang Homecooking School - June 2, 2018

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