Girl About Town
When Woolston and I first met, I felt the place a little too industrial for my tastes. Today, it's what's inside the brick and steel that's getting me excited.
Chimneys blow white clouds into the sky and trucks hurtle through my half-lost gaze. With a backdrop of the hills and the murky Heathcote running on by, the industrial area continues its industrial ways. Except for in one spot, The Tannery.
If you have missed the hype around the former Woolston Tanneries site, you are either not from Christchurch, or have no interest in wood-fired pizza or craft beer. The Brewery has been open for two years now, and it was the first landmark on Garlands Rd, enticing people to forget about the smells of the nearby gelatine factory.
Today, doors are being flung open left, right and centre and a wide-range of retailers are setting up shop at The Tannery.
With an outlook of Tanner St, The Bikery, The Kite Shop, Sadhana Surfboards, Wyrcan Book Art Studio, and The Silversmiths Guild of Canterbury are all now Woolston residents. In the last week, they've been joined by Where The Fox Lives, Smith's Bookshop and postal centre, The Flock, Dead Set, Absolution, all of which have opened within The Tannery's retail arcade, a place on which no expense has been spared.
Yes the temperature is dropping, but there's still a whole lot to see in do this month. Plus, there are more new places to experience and they're opening all the time.
Taste Events' Feast of Canterbury is gathering momentum through March and finishing with something for the kids. The Children's Food Festival on March 30 will inspire young foodies and future Master Chefs, as well as provide some good life skills.
If it's the adults after some education, check out Mercato, at 100 Fitzgerald Ave. It has started its free 45-minute cooking demonstrations again. Better yet, pop in between 9.30am and 2pm on March 23, and meet the finalists and winner of Cuisine's Artisan Awards and try their top produce. The Canterbury finalists are Chorizos Garcia Fresh Hot Chorizo (made by the chef at the Curator's House); Aroha Drinks Wild Rose-Hip Cordial and Moko Smoked Eel.
This weekend (March 24) is a particular highlight on the Waipara calendar, with the annual festival kicking off for another year. Now based at Glenmark Domain (following earthquake damage to the church), the Waipara Valley Wine and Food festival is a great Sunday out for the whole family, with live entertainment, stalls and plenty of food and wine. All in celebration of the impending harvest.
Also this weekend is the NZ House & Garden Tours Christchurch event, where 12 homes are open to the public on Friday, March 22. In the central city, Opawa and Cashmere, there'll be new post-quake homes and some heritage homes brought back to life, all open to support the Cancer Society of New Zealand and Look Good Feel Better, which will receive contributions from the nationwide tour.
There's plenty more come in Christchurch as more and more businesses get back on their feet.
With the new year comes the promise of new restaurants, cafés and bars, and the return of yet more old favourites. Nobanno will be serving its Bangladeshi cuisine at 1060 Ferry Rd from as early as February 14 and, by the end of the month, the Belgian Beer Café Torenhof plans to open its doors at 13 Stanley St, in a new building found in The Colombo's car park.
Vietnamese restaurant Little Saigon has expanded to add a second branch at 345 Stanmore Rd, meaning you can get your fix in town (547 Colombo St) and in Richmond. Edgeware village is welcoming a newcomer, too, as Tomi Japanese Restaurant has opened at 76 Edgeware Rd.
The Holmwood shops in Merivale have added Le Panier Boulangerie, but owner, French baker and chef Gilles Thebault can still be found at the Christchurch Farmers' Market on Saturdays.
When you're next soaking up the sun in Sumner, pop into Scarborough Fare (147 Esplanade) and check on what the new owners are doing. The restaurant is now open for dinner.
Ditch the dinner plans tonight, there are two more reasons to leave the house. Today, Costas Taverna and Dux Dine are open for business.
Costas Taverna, the Greek restaurant formerly on Victoria St, was often the pick when you had a group looking for a table or a penchant for pita. Now it's back, at a new premises that has the added bonus of an ouzo bar. Sounds like trouble.
Costas is not alone in its move to 478 Cranford St. Not only is it joining long established eateries Thai Temple and La Porchetta, but it's going to be rubbing shoulders with Chillingworth Road and Burgers and Beers, which is adding to its Sydenham branch.
Chillingworth Road is the new venture by award-winning chef Darren Wright, and is planning to open on November 20. More than a restaurant and bar, it is promising a cook school and kitchen shop, too, but all will be revealed in due course.
There's more excitement planned for Cranford St, with a collection of shops getting ready to open before the year is out. The corner of Cranford and Westminster streets will soon be home to newcomers Sugar Baby Cakery and Blanc Interior and Gifts, another Café Metro, Papa's Pizza and Waveline Hair Studio. What a cool corner. Who would have thought little ol' Cranford St would become such a destination?
There's a vineyard on top of a café in Christchurch and I know where to find it.
With Tuam St open to east-bound traffic, many passengers are taking the opportunity to lean out car windows and snap pictures of a corner of High St showing plenty of promise. The Old Post Office Building, standing tall and proud, is one of the only high points in an area mostly returned to rubble. What's happening inside this 1930s building is cause for excitement.
I meet Tim McIntosh next to a somewhat iconic and colourful garden outisde the front door, which sports a bright yellow logo for C1. Tim's one of the enthusiastic men behind the café's rebirth, helping oversee the ground level's transformation. The cafe will share walls and doors with Alice In Videoland, and intends to open mid November.
For dedicated C1 fans, familiar with the cosy and eclectic surroundings of the cafe's previous site across at 150 High St, it will be little surprise to learn this will be no ordinary coffee zone. As Tim takes me on a tour of what is still a construction site, a picture is painted of a café nurturing the past as it hurtles head-first into the present.
With two long feature tables made from recycled rimu from the old premises and five huge spherical lights from the Arts Centre's Great Hall, there's a story behind the carefully chosen components of this new café. Take, for instance, the tube that runs around the ceiling. It's not an apparatus for combating coffee roasting by-products, but a pneumatic tube system that will take orders from the front counter out to the kitchen. I can't wait to see it in action - and to see happens if an order or two gets stuck along the way.
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