the alfmeister

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Archive for the tag “reviews”

Friday Drinks – Heineken…


OK it has taken me ages to add this one to the list, I was caught up in that whole “buy Red n Black” thing there for a while, and while the beers reviewed during those dark times following February 22 were very nice indeed, this beer it must be said would rate as one of the finest in the world. For me, alongside Asahi, Holsten, Burtons, and Stella, it would be one of my personal treats. Ranfurly comes close in after that (Ha! kidding, just checking if you did in fact read this! There is a test later).

Few beers conjure up immediate thoughts as easily as Heineken, and fewer in my mind taste as good –  the only thing stopping me from buying it more often is the price.

Hold me baaaaack!

It is a Dutch pale lager (or pilsner if you will) which has been brewed for nearly 150 years and is now brewed in 39 countries around the world (you’d think that would bring the price down?); in 2006, 251million litres was produced (“Can I have a packet of crisps with that? I might also need a ride home”).

I cannot think of a time where drinking “Heinies” didn’t fit a situation, meal, or climate, it’s that good. I cannot really say much more than that, except make it cheaper!

It wouldn't be a beer review without the obligatory girl now would it?

 
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Book Review – Blood Money


By Clive Small & Tom Gilling

You know you’re onto a good book that has this; Darwiche had brought two rocket launchers to use in the attack. His plan had been to use one but he changed his mind when he learned that not all the Razzaks were inside. The second rocket launcher was to be used against police in the event of a chase.

OK, no real biggie there for any blokey type of crime novel, but the fact is this is part of the true story of the Australian crime scene!! This book chronicles some of the bikies, terrorists and Middle Eastern Gangs in Australia, specifically the last 30 years. Clive Small should know what he’s talking about, he is a retired detective and Assistant Commissioner of Police.

For those fans of Underbelly, this is a must read, and it shows that the series (about the Kings Cross) is about as true a depiction as you are going to get. This was a real hard book to put down, although sometimes got difficult due to following all the characters as they are so intertwined keeping track is a skill…not to mention the names of the Middle Eastern gangs, especially when most of them are related.

It starts off with the infamous Frank Hakim (The Lebanese Godfather)the Bayehs, and then into the Ibrahims – in these cases you will easily picture them from the series. There are some great tales of drugs, violence, corruption etc etc (not that I condone that sort of thing), but when it gets to Danny Karam and his “Boys” it really becomes something you think can only be make-believe! Karam is the nutter he was portrayed on TV, but Kanaan (his boy who killed him) was off the planet!

Moving on from this it moves to the Darwiches and Razzaks from the excerpt above – this is a gang war of almost biblical proportions, and it makes you think that South Auckland is a veritable pre-school in comparison (not taking the police work their lightly of course!).

After the Lebanese (as most were) gangs have been covered, it moves into the bikie gang culture, and again it must be said that those here are (or seem to be portrayed as) small fish in a big pond – who do you think supplied the rockets launchers from above!?

The last section is about the growing threat of terrorism – in fact growing doesn’t seem the right term – there have been over 150 terrorism attacks in or on Australian interests since 1966…the difference nowadays seems to be where the funding is coming from – drugs. The slowest of all the sections, but somewhat disturbing to comprehend.

Well written with a great photo library (you should see some of the ugly mug shots they have) and highly recommended.

Book Review – Over The Edge


I cannot honestly say why I picked this book out of the “Just Returned” trolley at my library; maybe it was the title, the picture of the mountain, the four people on the cover. The byword of the title sort of did it – “A True Story of Kidnap and Escape in the Mountains of Central Asia”. It made me flick to the back and everything it detailed in the story still didn’t register with me; terrorism and mountain climbing, hardly topics to get me hooked into a book, let alone when they are together. But I am glad I did as this was a very good read with some great facts and background, followed by a gripping tale of these four young Americans taken hostage by terrorists and marched around some of the most desolate countryside known to man, and then the aftermath of their safe return, and a comprehensive post-mortem – actually I thought in reading it that the final chapters would take too much away from the story, and at times slowed the pace to a crawl, but on completing the story, it helped answer so much and finalise an engrossing book.

Whether you are into these themes or not, the story against all odds in itself is worth the effort to get through the 300 pages, but also learning more about terrorism in the Independent States and how they all link into Islam, Al Qaeda, and drug trafficking. And then to see how the struggling armies of the former Soviet Union combat these insurgents and how they view tourists and deal with their inadequacies is a story unto itself.

Wholly recommended, not overly fantasised, but the picture gallery could have been so much better.

A Meal Out…Pukeko Junction


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As I have mentioned in my pages and previous posts, this place has been one of my (our) favourite places to eat lunch since being down here in Canterbury…mind you, we haven’t been to a lot of places, but no real need when you find one that you can trust. I have been here many times before in previous years, mostly for breakky on the way in or our of Christchurch on work, bikes, or holidays, and inroduced Katie to it on the way to Cheviot one day. It is a first choice if we want to head out on a fine day.

Today was a stunning day in Christchurch yet the mood in our house was decidedly grey, and when Katie’s parents offered to take the kids to a community picnic, Katie asked me what should we do now that we were shot of them for a few hours. Well you can imagine what I was thinking, however it seemed we were on different pages and she suggested we go to Pukeko Junction…high fives all round and off we went.

Pukeko Junction is situated on the SH1 about half an hour’s drive north of Christchurch in Leithfield. It has always proved popular due to it being right on the roadside in the middle of nowhere in the same vein as Amercian truck stops you see in the movies. But I am guessing that most of its clients are in fact those who return from around the region, and locals as the food is always of a high standard.

Well, with a seemingly unbiased approach, I wanted to review it in my own way as I had done to others.

Me: Smoked Chicken with bacon, mushrooms and cheese on creamy fettucine. 2 x Bundy Ginger Beer, and a Rhubarb cake with toffee topping and cream
Katie; Pork Spare Ribs with sweet chilli sauce, a salad, 1 x Bundy, and a Lemon Yoghurt cake with cream – Katie actually wanted the pizza, however this was not available.

To a lot of people, waiting on a meal seems to be an annoying part to their experience and I have seen some patrons over the years be completely abusinve, mostly without justification. It just so happens that sometimes you have to wait for things and in the case of Pukeko Junction, waitingt is well worth it as it is obvious the staff take pride in what thye present to you, and good things take time.

I don’t know how long we waited, it might have been 20 or 30mins, but it doesn’t normally bother us, more so today as we needed the time to chill out, read a paper (although it just reminded us why we were getting out of Dodge) and we could hear some tales of woe and experience from other patrons who obviously were in the same situation as us…

You pretty much view everything on offer, except specials
and pasta/soup of the day…mmmmmm.

Our meals came to us and OMG! I have listed a previous pasta dish at Pukeko as one of my favourite ever, and while this one didn’t come lcose to it, it was fanatstically tasty, creamy, and cheesy. Nice and hot, and a great mix of meats and pasta. Katie knew immediately she had chosen the wrong dish (despite ribs being an all-time fave) and I promised her I would eat half of mine and she could finish it off – if I got some of her ribs!
In changing over (which was bloody hard to do!) I started on the ribs. The best ribs I think I have ever had were in Lone Star Rotorua, which were bigger than Texas and doused in BBQ sauce. Now in seeing these were servied with sweet chilli didn’t seem right, but hey, they know what they’re doing as it was a great compliment, something I probably never would have conisdered. The ribs themselves were very good, not great, but worth the money. The odd one was quite dry, maybe overcooked, but all in all, if you are prepared to strip them to bare bone and have no qualms about sucking your own fingers in public, then they can’t be all bad right?

We had decided we were going to have a dessert, something I don’t often do (I am an ince-cream kind of guy after dinner sometimes, but that normally is about it) but I was intrigued by the rhubarb cake and Katie (who loves all things sweet) had her eyes on it too, but seeing as I was getting it she chose anohter to get two for one. As with lunch, we swapped midway. I have to say, I am not a big fan of sweets after meals, but of the two the rhubarb was moist but not particulalry strong tasting, or if it was, the toffee topping below it away. Very nice, but in smaller servings for me. The same with the lemon yoghurt cake – nice and moist, and I love the tanginess of the topping, but it becomes too much for me as a large slice. Nothing against the cakes, and I am certain most will love the generously large slices they will get.

 

For the benefit of overseas viewers – this is
a Pukeko – an annoying bird to farmers and cars

 

The total meal cost $63 dollars which I think is pretty smart for what we had – no serving left us feeling short-changed, none being more than $15. This can seem pricey for cafe style food (who in their right mind would pay $14 for a gourmet sausage rool? I have previously and glad I did – they are the size of a small ox, and damn near as tasty). The staff are nice and cheerful, and were appreciative of me bringing plates back in (they seemed real busy so I like to help out), and they are easy to talk to if you get a chance (as again, they are so busy). Teh place itself is nice and cosy, and on a warm day I highly recommend outside and is quite well sheltered from the nor’wester and colder easterlies). Inside is quite noisy, the proximity of the kitchen and serving staff, plus people chatting and making orders. They have a covered outer area which is very pleasant in sunshine, but can be cold on rainey days. The toilets are fascinating – I think they used to be your tradtional public toilets done up in a cosy feel with nice fittings, however it still feels and smells like a public unrinal…I have a distinct distaste for public toilets and avoid them where I can. Off the cafe is a shop selling local art and momentos – painting and photo canvases, iron works, wine, food and just about everything else – a stunning large photo of a naked woman in shadow was considered as a purchase, but a bit pricey.
 
Setting: 4 out of 5

Staff: 4 out of 5

Food: 5 out of 5

Value: 5 out of 5

Overall Score: 4.5 out of 5

Pukeko Junction
SH 1, Leithfield

Canterbury

+643 3148834

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