Tag Archives: French

been | Basement Theatre’s Santa Claus

If you enjoy surprises, impromptu comedy entertainment, and being taken out of your comfort zone, then go and see Santa Claus.

Santa Claus, the Basement Theatre’s ninth annual fundraiser Christmas show is being played until Wednesday 20th December. The show is directed by Leo Gene Peters, director of the award-winning independent theatre company A Slightly Isolated Dog. Over the last few years, A Slightly Isolated Dog has been exploring how to make a theatre experience truly alive, by removing all barriers between the audience and performers, and this could not have been more evident in Santa Claus.

At around 6.30pm on Friday evening, the wonderfully petite venue saw crowds of (mostly younger) individuals sipping beer and wine before the show. What people didn’t know then was that they should probably sip a little more, to gain some well-needed courage for later on.

The story, which I found quite hard to follow, (after all the laughter and unprepared involvement) celebrated the way we build up expectations around Christmas and showed us how those expectations can then turn into a nightmare.

At the very beginning of the show, each French cast member introduced themselves, chatted to the different audience groups and asked Christmas related questions. They then used the information they had gathered to open the show. Firing statements back and forth from each cast member… “Camilla will be having a friends Christmas this year, as she is visiting New Zealand.” “Well Ben doesn’t enjoy Christmas because…” and so on. As soon as this happened, the audience felt immediately involved in the show, and we were already giggling as we got to know more about other people.

The killer cast of Hayley Sproull, Jack Buchanan, Andrew Paterson and Susie Berry were truly amazing, which was more evident as the show went on. From my experience, each cast member was personally lovely, hilarious and very spontaneous. They proceeded to put the audience members on the spot, encouraged them to be spontaneous (without much choice) and seemed genuinely interested in ensuring everyone had a great time. They were charming, sexy, funny and very French.

The celebrity guest on Friday night was Rose Matafeo, New Zealand comedian and TV presenter. She’s a writer and performer on the NZ late-night comedy sketch show funny girls, and she was a natural in Santa Claus. She was brought into the story of the show in many different forms – as Santa, Santa’s friend and a baby. Each time she provided improvised entertainment in a cool and nonchalant manner.

Many audience members were also brought into the show throughout the evening. One audience member was thrown a New Zealand post shirt to put on and told to run up the stage with wind and snow-like props in his face. Many other audience members were asked to put on a ‘talking’ Santa outfit, and were encouraged to act spontaneously, dance, create handshakes and ‘go with the flow’. A different audience member was introduced into the show as one of the cast’s lovers, which pressed him to think up and share an elaborate tale of how they met.

Overall, the show had incredibly powerful sound effects, and the cast members blasted out some great Christmas songs. You have to go to the show with an open mind, and be willing to join in the fun and act. This play is not for you if you are reserved and don’t like taking part.

Spoiler alert: The show saw us witness one older gentleman from the audience kiss one of the actors in a very passionate, unrehearsed, spur of the moment gesture. It was absolutely hilarious.

The Basement Christmas Show is one of Auckland’s must-do Christmas offerings and sells out every year, so don’t miss it. You can get tickets from $32 to $50 on iTicket.

been | The Food Show 2013, Auckland

The Lucky Taco NZ - soft shell fish taco

August sees the return of The Food Show to Auckland and a second year of reviewing for yours truly. See my review from last year.

If you’re looking for something to do this cold winter weekend, I’d highly recommend heading along to the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane. And if you’re prone to some shopping as I am, I’d highly recommend a small suitcase or grocery trundler; hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Heading along just after midday, my friend Michael and I walked into a buzzing venue, full of aromas, bargains and conversation; a promising start.

the food show 2013 - arrival - busy   the food show 2013 - michael - clint

We spent a good 5 hours at the venue, giving each stand and every aisle a good going over, I’ll hopefully give you a hearty breakdown summary of the new, the improved, the surprises, the deals and the flavours that took our fancy.

The new

There’s a good mix of new products from established brands and new-to-show stalls. The two that caught my eye were new-to-market product from Pure Delish (stand E35) – kaffir lime and pistachio bites which are gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free, and Mexican food suppliers Tío Pablo (stand N8) who stock not only their own brand of ingredients but also La Morena brand from Mexico.

Pure Delish - Stand E35   Tio Pablo - Stand N8

The improved

My favourite peanut butter Pic’s (stand B12) have recently release a ‘no added salt’ range depicted by a red lid and black star, or in the 1KG jar with red lid, taste just as great as the original! And as I mentioned in an instagram pic on Thursday, if you bring in a half-eaten jar of ordinary peanut butter they’ll swap ya with one of their 200g jars. Secondly is the recently rebranded Altezano Brothers aka Altezano Coffee (stand D23), they make great coffees and their beans sourced from South American come in regular, organic or decaf.

Pic's peanut butter   Altezano Brothers coffee

The surprises

Michael and I stumbled across Wise Cicada (Stand D22) and their rather nondescript display of young drinking coconuts that were for sale. At $5 a pop I couldn’t resist; it was worth it; nothing beats fresh coconut juice; and Michael went back two more times. Earlier in our perusing I came across Moondarra (stand C33), a cream cheese brand from Australia, had a peculiar melon & mango (and coconut) infused cream cheese which was simply delectable. They also have garlic and herb, cracked pepper, sweet chilli, and cranberry & macadamia nut.

Wise Cicada's young drinking coconuts - Stand D22   Moondarra Cheeses - Stand C33

Oh and worth a mention is student business project OHUNZ (stand H34) from Otahuhu College, South Auckland – who sourced, developed and marketed their own brand of honey. They’re part of the AUCKLAND on the menu initiative of ATEED.

The deals

I’m definitely a sucker for deals and there were plenty available. ENZA under their Freshfields (stand E15) brand were there with some yummy fruit pulp squeeze containers, apple sauce in a sachet and their delectable Apple Syrup! 3 things for $15. Farrah (stand A5) were touting their delicious non-flake/break wraps 3 packets for $10 plus a great little cookbook, of which I’ve already made a version of the pizza recipe found inside.

Freshfields - Stand E15   Farrah Wraps - Stand A5

The flavours

Two products that I will peg my reputation to are the smoke garlic infused salt from The Original Smoke & Spice Co (stand P5) and Jamaican Jerk Seasoning imported by West Indies Spice Traders (stand G4). Some seriously great seasonings for meats or otherwise, you will be back for these each year! I am!

Original - smoke - spice - salt   

These are only the things we’ve discovered and love, there’s plenty more I haven’t talked about, lots of food sampling, wines, kitchenware, cooking utensils, demostrations, the Masterclass series etc.

The helpful

Head along to the The Food Show website for more info and when you make it to the show hopefully you’ll find your own favourites to keep coming back for.

Adults $28
Under 12s $15
Under 5s FREE

Saturday 3 August 10am – 6pm
Sunday 4 August 10am – 5pm

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interviewed | Mitchell Grant, Director AGATHA Paris NZ

French fashion jewellery brand AGATHA Paris  has been around since the 70’s.  Founded in Paris by Michael Quinou and his dog Scottie, AGATHA Paris is a brand that combines fashion and style, making it a unique offering in the jewellery market.  We caught up with AGATHA’s NZ Director Mitchell Grant to find out more about the brand that’s fast becoming a staple in jewellery collections’ around the country.

Tell us about Scottie, he’s such a prominent figure in the AGATHA family…
Michael Quinou, founder of AGATHA Paris had a cute little Scottie dog that never left his side.  One day Michael sketched and created a Scottie shaped pendant and put it for sale in a Paris boutique, it sold immediately and now you’ll see our delightful little Scottie frolicking around pieces to this day – he’s our loveable Mascot and what most people recognise when they first see the brand.

What’s the story behind the AGATHA collections?
We have a team of designers in France that attend Paris runway and watch the trends and style, we then launch 6 fashion jewellery collections per year that fit. This makes for a busy schedule as the turnaround from design to launch is so quick, but it means all of our countries (AGATHA Paris is in 25 countries) get the latest trends as they happen from France – keeping AGATHA fans at the front of fashion.  On top of that we also launch 4-6 special and permanent ranges throughout the year – like our MiNi Gold Joaillerie range which is very fine 9 carat gold, our best selling range.

What sets AGATHA apart from the rest?
French and Fashion! This is what drives us everyday – we try to fuse the fashionable with the affordable, making it as accessible as possible so get French design and quality – and it  seems to be working!

Describe your typical AGATHA customer…
In France you will find a piece of AGATHA Paris in every woman’s jewellery box, because it’s a full boutique of jewellery from the basics to the fashionable and appeals to women every age from 7 to 77. It is very feminine jewellery – women only, who appreciate French design, fashion and quality.

How is AGATHA involved with Fashion in the BIG little city?
We’re showcasing our first fashion jewellery collection of 2013 – Garden Party. It is a beautiful collection of silver and gold gilded jewellery with French wild flower motifs, it’s in-store now so you can come and check it out.

We’ll also be celebrating our most popular collection – the MiNi Gold Joaillerie collection with a party in our boutique at the top of Vulcan Lane, Auckland Central – a night of gold and sparkle – 8th March from 4-7pm.

There are some great things happening over the 11-day campaign, do you have any recommendations for must-dos over the period?
Being in the High Street district, fashion is at our door step with AGATHA Paris, Workshop, Fabric,  Ruby, tkStore and Moochi to name just a few, spend over $20 at participating stores and you can go into the draw to win a $2,500 shopping spree, handy! There are also tonnes of fashion shows and a street style competition – BIG little City has been amazing in putting it all together for Aucklanders to enjoy.

Where does one find AGATHA in the BIG little city?  And otherwise, what other cities/countries can AGATHA be found?
We have our opulent blue boutique at the top of Vulcan Lane. We’re also in big department stores Smith and Caughey’s and Kirkcaldie and Stains.  Around the world we have 330 boutiques in 25 countries – So many in France, Spain and Italy, very popular in Korea, Japan, more recently China and Hong Kong and the Middle East.

What are you currently…

Reading: We only have time for snippets of reading 🙂 FQ, can’t miss a Viva on a Wednesday. I also have a cool app on my iPad called “Pocket” so I can save articles when I’m busy to read later at a cafe, or at the beach.

Listening to: The office booms with George FM – that, and coffee from Cafe Melba helps us get through the day!
At home we are going through a folk phase with Mumford and Son’s.  Out and about we have recently seen Bangladesh and Vessel and loving it! They both put on great live shows.

Wearing (Favourite designer): We love international brands: I’ve noticed recently that Kun has had a number of packages coming through the door with Jimmy Choo written on them… we get to travel a lot so are able to play with lots of brands that aren’t in New Zealand, that’s actually why we knew AGATHA Paris would work so well because every time we went overseas we couldn’t stop buying it!

Eating/Drinking (Favourite watering hole in the BIG little City): We have the boutique, office and live all in a 100m radius of each other in the city so eating out is too easy, but there are sooooo many places to choose from – favourite lunch is the little known Sushi Pac for sure, downtown. Imperial Lane/Everybodies, we love the atmosphere (and pizza) at Fort Street Union then there is Mexico, Mezza Bar, Cafe Hanoi – the city really has amazing and yummy restaurants, many popped up only within in the last couple of years.

What makes you get up in the morning?
Knowing we are doing something cool and it’s working, we have a habit of checking our Facebook page first thing and seeing all the love. Walking into the boutique just transports you into another world – oh and Kun’s fresh morning orange, apple, carrot and goji juice helps!!

What’s in store for AGATHA in 2013?
After Fashion in the Big Little City we are off to see the Paris team to decide on the next 3 fashion jewellery collections for Spring/Summer this year – think walking to a room full of fashion, jewellery, designers and lots of coffee!
We also have been expanding fast around New Zealand and into Australia with a stockist in Sydney at the end of last year. Our fans are screaming for AGATHA Paris so we need to take it to them – it’s going to be another big year of growth and we are currently looking for stockists.

*WIN*  – Every woman needs AGATHA Paris in her jewellery collection and we’re giving one lucky winner the chance to WIN their very own signature AGATHA Paris necklace worth $130!  Winning is easy, just head on over to our Facebook page and fill out the form to be in to win.