Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Tongan Odyssey

On a cold winter’s night in 2011, we were tucked up in front of the fire with the Marlborough Farmer and his wife the Marlborough Writer.  Talk turned to possible family holidays that would enable a temporary escape from a New Zealand winter.  After Australian theme parks were mentioned, the Marlborough Farmer expressed extreme reluctance, followed by a wistful, “why can’t we just go sailing”.  Your friendly blogger grabbed the nearest laptop and within 15 minutes we had identified possible locations, flight details and costs.  We all looked at each other, slightly startled, and said “yes, let’s”!

Scroll forward a year, and we meet up in Auckland.  The Marlborough F&W have brought with them a supply of frozen meat from the wonderful Mike at Meaters of Marlborough, Miss 11, Miss 9 and Master 7.  We supply a box of dry goods, Miss 9 and Miss 7.  Duty free provides the wine, a touch of gin and some whiskey.  In Tonga, we pre-order heavy items, and collect fresh food and bread at the Neiafu market.
We start our holiday at the wonderful, relaxing and friendly Tongan Beach Resort.  We relax, shrug off winter, work and school - replacing them with eating, swimming, snorkelling and snoozing.
When we've just about had enough of that (3 nights), it's time to head to the marina to begin our seven days on a 40 foot catamaran, with four adults, five children and Mellony (the melon).

We had designed an approximate itinerary (which bore little relation to the actual itinerary), together with a general menu plan. All of which had to be produced from within the galley, or on an outdoor BBQ.  Here's the galley:
Breakfasts were a mix of cereal, toast, bacon & eggs and pancakes.
Lunches involved Panini, bread rolls, sandwiches and 2 minute noodles (fast refuelling for the smaller team members).
Snacks included cheese & crackers, various snack bars, freshly made bread, wrap toasties (2 wraps sandwiched with relish and cheese, lightly fried), Edmonds chocolate biscuit slice and Betty Crocker cookies.
The oven was marginal, but managed to deliver delicious fresh bread rolls [recipe here].
The Edmonds slice only required cooking on the stove top and chilling, so was much easier:

Dinners involved:
  • Pasta with tomato, vege and salami sauce
  • Lamb rumps and backstraps, mashed potato and salad
  • Beef stir fry with rice
  • Dinner out at La Paella Restaurant
    • Delicious tapas - this one aubergine and feta:
    • Paella cooking:
  • Ribeye steak, mashed potato and salad
  • Sausages with rice and veges
  • Pasta with tomato, vege and bacon sauce
Total failure on the fishing front meant that we had to rely more on our emergency supplies (pasta dishes) than planned, but we still managed to eat very well.

The cooking was nicely shared between all the adults - MOTH and the MF in charge of the BBQ, the MF delivering spectacular bacon and eggs, the MW providing lunches, snacks and dinners, and your friendly blogger pitching in too.  One ingredient of a successful holiday - lots of willing cooks.  Another ingredient was the excellent bar staff!

The sailing was gentle and fun, the weather was perfect, and the water was perfect for swimming at every opportunity.  The snorkelling was great, we saw lots of coral and coral fish, as well as one pod of whales (a very welcome surprise).  Best of all, we didn't make it to Kenutu Island, or Hunga Island, so we will just have to go back!


laughykate said...

I think that post was way worse than a postcard.

Food That Tastes Great said...

There was a resort on an island that we sailed past that looked amazing (http://www.mounuisland.com/). Perhaps you should book in when we next go and have day sails with us???