As I mentioned in my last Music Monday post (this is where I was going with that one, but I got distracted talking about music apps), I have several playlists.
Christmas music – this is because I have music I like to listen to at Christmas, but I don’t want to be hearing it all year!
Classical music – This is what I listen to if I’m tired or need to zone out, or maybe I just wanna concentrate on my book. It’s also what I listen to when I write fiction. It’s mostly heavier classical music – Tchaikovsky’s 1812, Edgar’s Pomp & Circumstance, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, etc. Robust classical music, not quiet elevator music. There are some film scores in there too – Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Die Hard… And a few choral pieces I like, mostly by Pavarotti.
Housework – This is upbeat music designed to impart energy. When it comes to housework, I need all the help I can get! We play this one loud.
Party music – This is a playlist designed to be played loud when we’re drinking, preferably with guests over. It devolves into Steve’s old clubbing music at the end, for some reason.
Soundtrack of my life – Yeah, this is a playlist I put together after the first time I did Writing.com’s Soundtrackers activity. It’s super weird to listen to, because it goes from the songs I remember from my childhood (mostly older music that my parents listened to), then music from the 90s when I was a teenager and some Christian stuff, then songs influenced by my husband which are much heavier and cruder than anything I listened to, then random songs my kids liked when they were little, including such things as Thomas the Tank Engine which I used to play for them in the car, and then finally, more recent stuff. It makes for an interesting playlist.
I made a general playlist which is imaginatively titled Elle’s playlist but YouTube also automatically puts all my ‘liked’ music into a playlist, so there’s a lot of double-up there. When I was listening to YouTube Music, I just used to like the new songs I liked, rather than adding them to a playlist, mostly because I was often driving, so the automatically generated ‘liked’ playlist is more comprehensive than Elle’s playlist.
I was going somewhere with this ramble.
Okay, no, I was definitely going somewhere with this. So, I recently got a hankering just to listen to some good old classic rock without listening to all the other ones. So I made a Classic rock playlist. It was inspired by mine and Steve’s recent wedding anniversary. Here’s what happened.
So, it was our wedding anniversary on 18 January. 16 years. Which means that this month we’ve been together 19 years. And I was 19 when we started dating. So we’ve literally been together half my life. Woah.
Steve sent me a gorgeous bouquet of roses to the office. The roses were all in different colours, including some gorgeous pink and yellow variegated ones. I gave his dad one of them to see if he could propagate it for me. So pretty.
Then he picked me up from work at 5pm and said he was taking me out to dinner. We went home and called an Uber so that we could both drink. Steve wouldn’t tell me where we going and that it was a surprise, but the moment we got in the Uber, the GPS said ‘Directions to the Hunting Lodge’. Fail.
I hadn’t been to the Hunting Lodge before, but I’d heard a lot about it. Steve’s dad used to be the head chef there in the ‘80s. It had been known as a very expensive, exclusive restaurant. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere (although as Auckland continues sprawling, it doesn’t seem so way out anymore) and people would helicopter from Auckland to the Hunting Lodge for dinner. When Steve’s parents got married, they were able to use the Hunting Lodge grounds for free, which was a massive coup at the time. A decade or so later, long after Steve’s dad had moved on to other jobs, the Hunting Lodge closed. It remained closed for about 15 years, during which time I heard about it over and over again from Steve’s family. It re-opened in 2016 and Steve’s parents went there for their wedding anniversary. And now we were going there.
I don’t know why, but somehow I expected a restaurant called ‘The Hunting Lodge’ to be…well, a lodge. A longish building. And maybe to have dark wood panelling and some semblance of a rustic theme. Steve told me that when he was a kid, it had animal heads on the walls. I’m okay without the animal heads, especially while I’m eating, but it had nothing of the hunting OR the lodge about it. It was instead a small house (that’s the impression I got from the rooms I went in), that made me think the word ‘homestead’ rather than ‘lodge’. The interior walls were painted in pastel shades that made me think ‘cottage’. It was quite open, as if they’d knocked down some walls to turn three small rooms into one large dining area with three sort of areas within it. For a fine dining restaurant, I felt that the whole set up was very ordinary. The tables and chairs, the place settings, all very ordinary. The glasses were all engraved with the Hunting Lodge name and symbol.
I started with the heirloom tomato salad ($16). It was delicious. Beautifully seasoned with herbs and what I assume was balsamic vinegar. Very nice. Steve had the buttermilk fried chicken ($20), which he said was delicious.
I tried the rosé, but it wasn’t for me. I am starting to wonder if that one rosé I liked was just a fluke, or maybe I was extra thirsty and it was a hot day or something. Anyway, we went for the Hunting Lodge pinot noir 2017 from Central Otago. It was superb. Absolutely delicious. We want to buy a couple of bottles for home, but of course it was too late for their cellar door purchases that evening. We’d come back. It’d be worth it! It’s only $39 a bottle in the shop whereas it’s $85 in the restaurant. Which is ludicrous actually, because the shop is literally next door to the restaurant, you could walk between them in about 30 seconds.
As we were sitting there, in this supposedly fancy restaurant, eating delicious food and drinking fabulous wine, Steve said “Oh my god. They’re playing Iron Maiden.”
Firstly, it’s astonishing that Steve could even hear what music was playing. He has noise-induced hearing loss, and struggles to isolate sounds in a noisy environment. It makes it incredibly difficult for him to follow conversations in noisy restaurants or pubs. And this music was playing so quietly in the background that few people would even be aware of it.
But sure enough, as we concentrated, we heard Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills playing. So funny. We joked that you’d only get that in a fine dining restaurant in West Auckland (West Auckland being known as the place where people wear black jeans and Metallica t shirts and drive Holden station wagons listening to Deep Purple). Technically we were in Waimauku, which is north west of Auckland, but clearly still Westie enough to play Iron Maiden in a fine dining restaurant. So funny.
After that, we also heard Guns N Roses, AC/DC, Aerosmith and others. There was a guy at the table next to us who was humming along too. And then there were some nattily dressed older people who didn’t even seem to notice that they were being serenaded with classic rock.
For mains, I had the beef sirloin with pinot noir butter, shoestring fries, shallots and parsley salad ($36). It was okay, but I’ve definitely had better. Hell, I’ve cooked better. It desperately needed seasoning, even if it was just with some cracked pepper. The fries were delicious though. Steve had caramelised duck breast with boudin noir, beetroot, anise and cherries ($38). It was beautifully presented, and he quite enjoyed it, especially the beetroot.
For dessert we shared the stracciatella and chocolate ice cream bar ($17) which was nice, but not really $17 nice, if you know what I mean. It was a bit like an ice cream bar you might buy at the dairy or supermarket. And also the vanilla creme brulee which came with strawberry sorbet and freeze dried strawberries ($16). Steve thought the creme brulee was amazing, and kept raving about the texture of it. I particularly enjoyed the sorbet.
I had a wee port to finish, only it came in a dessert wine glass and so ended up being a massive port. It was nice, but I couldn’t finish it after having had wine as well.
Overall, the food was good albeit a bit hi and miss. The wine was excellent. Service was good, decor was disappointing and the music was hilarious. I leave you with Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills which has since made it on to my playlist.