How many of us, if we are really honest, can hand-on-heart say that they have had lunch in Pirongia? Well, I did today.
I was invited to join William Chen, New Zealand’s greatest ever magazine designer and a former colleague of mine at Metro, and Peter Shaw, art/architecture writer and curator and a former colleague of ours at Metro, for lunch at Peter’s house near Pirongia. It is only a 30-minute drive, I like my old friends and was curious about the Shaw house, as it will be known in future architecture histories. It was the last house designed by Jim Hackshaw, a member of the massively influential Group Architects, and it is wonderful.
Peter took us to the Pirongia market which is, frankly, a pale shadow of the one in Cambridge but it means well. The gingerbread men were sharply priced and, my children report, taste awesome.
Then we drove halfway up Mt Pirongia which is a spectacular exploded volcano and affords a spectacular view north to Hamilton and beyond (Bombays and Coromandel), east to Maungatautari and southish to decent peaks I’d never heard of. I said that from the bird sanctuary on Maungatautari one can see Taupo. Peter trumped this with the fact that from their house they can see Ruapehu glowing pink in the sunset.
Peter had promised curried-egg sandwiches for lunch, and he did not fail us. I was apprehensive – this didn’t sound like food to me – but it was good. William cannot help himself in these matters and so photographed the dish from several angles, then took the plate to another table with better lighting and arranged three elegant bowls around them and photographed them again (as seen above). Once an art director, always an art director.
Like me, Peter has to go to Auckland for work occasionally and, like me, he hates it and can’t wait to get home. So lunch conversation was largely about that – until William and I got onto magazine and book publishing gossip. Peter had a view of the industry too. So that took a while.
Next we went to visit the hens so William could collect the eggs. William is the most fastidious, urban, non-livestock-friendly person I know but the chickens were amenable. Then there were feijoas to harvest and, later, eggplants, carrots (two varieties) and chillies (two varieties) from the magnificent vegetable garden, so William and I returned to our respective homes well laden with provisions.