summer evening

In search of a change of scene and a new place to walk, David and I drove on a recent evening to St Heliers, a bay on the edge of the harbour about 20 minutes from the city central. How beautiful it is. At one end are cliffs surrounded by steep streets, ideal for a brisk walk and a touch of calorie burning. Pausing frequently from my huffing and puffing I made a note to self to take my next overseas visitors here on their first evening.

Here’s a view from the cliff top, looking back towards the city.

Beneath the cliffs is a little bay at the bottom of a steep path. It’s known as Ladies’ Bay but the sign indicates that Gentlemen have been now been included.

Clinging to the cliff are our ancient friends, the pohutukawa trees. Thank you, trees, for holding the cliffs together and providing such a beautiful frame along our coastline.  You have been here for a long time, I know, hundreds of years for some.

Before we went walking, I made my favourite summer salad. It’s a hybrid of Caesar and Niçoise, and it could easily veer more towards either, depending on what you choose to add to it. Beans and tuna for Niçoise, grated parmesan for Caesar. Anyway, it’s not so much what’s in the salad, but what you put on it that counts. The dressing is the star. It’s delicious on anything, even a plate of plain cucumber.

a moment of appreciation for the beauty of lettuce green.

Croutons, the most caesar-y ingredient, are fried in a little curry powder, homage to my father’s fried bread. Mmmmm. I once tried baking them in the oven to see what that might be like. It makes them very crisp, but almost too crunchy, tooth breakingly so.

Here’s my recipe:

Mel’s Caesar

several leaves of Romaine [cos] lettuce

2 eggs

8 cherry tomatoes sliced in halves

1 scallion, chopped

3 slices whole wheat bread, diced into cubes.

2 tbspn olive oil

½ tsp curry powder

4 asparagus spears

4 olives, sliced


Snap asparagus spears where they break naturally and blanch for 1 min in boiling water. Set aside to cool.

Boil eggs for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a frying pan, combine oil and curry powder. Bring to a heat and add cubed bread. Gently stir bread and oil until the cubes are coated. Fry until lightly browned, turn and fry other side. Drain on a paper towel.

Slice asparagus in thirds. Peel and slice eggs in half. Assemble the ingredients on a plate or in a bowl. My arrangement is pretty casual. It tastes just as good if you chop the ingredients more.

Drizzle the chilled dressing. Toss if desired.


Makes 1 cup.

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1½ tbspns lemon juice

1 large clove garlic

1 egg

3 tbspns olive oil

a dash of Worcestershire sauce or 1/4 tsp anchovy paste

Combine crushed garlic, mustard and lemon juice.

Put mixture in blender.

Coddle the egg by placing in boiling water for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Add olive oil gradually, 1 tbspn at a time, to other ingredients in blender, blending on a low speed after each addition.

Scoop inside of coddled egg (white and yolk) from shell and add to blended mixture. Blend to a smooth, thick liquid.

Taste dressing. If too tart, add more olive oil.

Add Worcestershire sauce or anchovy paste and blend again. Chill before serving. Refrigerate for ½ hour before serving.

foot note: this gadget is very useful. If you prefer to buy your olives intact, as I do, this so easily pops the pits out to make them sliceable, you’ll be amazed. No more carving little bits and pieces off the olive! It works well for cherries, too.

8 Responses to “summer evening”

  1. lisa miller Says:

    hi Mel- such a beautiful spot, thank you for the exquisite visual reminder
    of summer. It reminds me of views of Mallorca and northern california.
    would love to visit at some point. I will certainly try the Caesar Nicoise
    combo- looks yummy- love the lettuce green. Just used that colour in
    two new collections. thank you so much for your wonderful blog and always your aesthetic and strong point of view. Happy New Year from santa monica…….

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Such beautiful photos! It’s lovely to see a little bit of summer in the middle of winter, here in the northern hemisphere. And the salad looks delicious. Happy new year! Hope yours is full of good things.

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    by the way – I made a pair of house slippers from your book for my daughter for Christmas. Decorated with little butterflies. I love seeing them on her feet – she’s almost a teenager, so it’s that much sweeter when she actually wears something I’ve made. They’re a hit!

  4. Lisa Says:

    Mel that salad looks great, I’ve often considered getting an olive pitter – maybe I should take the plunge! :) ( no pun intended)

  5. Mylyne Says:

    It’s so refreshing to see a lot of green in the midst of the winter when most people are shoveling snow off their driveways. Thanks for sharing your recipe! :)

  6. Denise Says:

    Thank you for the NZ photos … I get so homesick so I really appreciate your blog and your wonderful photos!!

  7. India Says:

    that beautiful light!!

  8. Peggy Says:

    I popped over to reacquaint myself with your terrific stretchy bind-off and was captivated by the words “summer evening” and the lovely photos. So alluring when you’re stuck in the middle of winter (it was snowing a while ago, then the sun came out, now it’s both sunny AND snowing). I must visit your blog more often!

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