Tuesday, 22 January 2008

to bee, or not to bee

the passing and commemoration of Aotearoa's best-loved beekeeper is in many minds today. family members reminiscing about Sir Ed remind us of his humility and his extraordinary insistence on the state of ordinariness. his response to an interviewer pointing out his modesty regarding his achievements makes me smile..."well, there's a lot to be modest about." we wish him well on his next adventure...which, according to Peter Pan, is an "awfully big one".

with beekeeper in mind and a fondness for bees, when friends suggest we break our evening bread together at the Busy Bee (in Raumati) given our first choice Lembas is closed on Tuesdays and there is a hurricane blowing i am favourably disposed to be pleased by the establishment.

having experienced aromatic deliciousness, warm smiling speedy service, unparalleled cleanliness, soothing surroundings and general bliss at the Mussel Boys in Paraparaumu some nights ago i could even describe my attitude as comfortably optimistic. the waitress at the Mussel Boys understood her wine list, was clearly delighted by the food she was able to offer and indicated by her very demeanour that she had been waiting all day, just for us to walk in the door. this is how i like to be welcomed, particularly when i am far from home and especially when hard earned shekels are to be exchanged for edible commodities.

sadly the Busy Bee now joins the list of places to be avoided at all costs when visiting Wingnutcentral; among a range of dining experiences which are rapidly beginning to resemble local terrain - peaks of achievement separated by deep valleys of despair. if only those metaphoric valleys had rivers to flush out the dining debris. high points have included the Wellington Trawling Seamarket, that nice place on Cuba Street called Satay Palace or something very similar, the aforementioned Mollusc Fraternity and of course the octogenarian favourite, the Green Parrot.
lows have included an appalling cafe in Kaikoura, whose chowder brought to mind Lord Blackadder's pungent and graphic description of one of Baldrick's cream-coloured culinary offerings. the chowder presented by the Bee's ample waitress isn't quite in that league and redeemed by recognisable morsels of sea-creatures; however finding a small black hair at the bottom of the dish was more than a little disconcerting.
the crowning glory of my present evening is provided by the appearance of four diminutive and decidedly deceased objects erroneously described on the menu as king prawns. it is obvious from their dessicated appearance that some time has elapsed since the Reaper popped by for cocktails and canapes at the prawn family residence and despite the promising description of the dish on the menu it is a dull affair.
in contrast my friends are pleased with their meals. the scallops are certainly plumper than their crustacean cousins...however once immediate hunger is assuaged and we begin to more closely observe our surroundings it is clear all is not well at the Bee. the waitress keeps flicking her hair everywhere. the state of said hair conjuring lines from an early Dire Straits song, that bit about the conductress on the number nineteen. the hair slides over a plate of muffins she carries to another table. uggh. too tired and too stunned to protest, we cough up the cash and depart.

grub may well be a simile meaning food, but grubby is not a descriptor one likes to associate with dining.
and $16.50 for four shrivelled shrimps is scandalous. no wonder i have a bee in my bonnet.

ps, actually posted on tuesday, non-usa time...

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